HTC, you done lost your mind. For those who've been waiting to see how much a HTC Vive Pro was, well, the news isn't good. They've announced that you can pre-order the HMD now for a whopping $799.99. Yeah.
For $800, you get a HMD that has 78% increase in resolution bumping it up to 2880x1600 compared to 2160x1200 of the Vive, which is good. What's not good is that it uses the same Fresnel lenses as the original one and the field of vision is still the same.
The HTC Vive Pro has an updated headstrap along with the whole thing being lighter for a better fit. There's amplifiers in the headset so sound should be better than the Deluxe Audio Strap.
Dual mics and dual cameras offer up better sound and maybe AR features in the future. HTC has said they'll use the cameras to track hand motion like if you strapped a Leap Motion in front of it.
All told, it looks like a good upgrade IF it wasn't for the fact that HTC is charging a mega-ton for it. We're talking $800 JUST for the HMD, no lighthouses or wands. To put it in perspective, you could get an original Vive for a reduced price of $499 and a Vive Pro for $799 ($1300 total) cheaper than a Vive Pro with two controllers ($130 x 2) and two ligthhouses ($135 x 2) ($1330 total), which you would have to if you didn't own an original Vive. (Yeah, lost in this was HTC reducing the price of the original Vive bundle to $499.)
I was ready to go in upgrading to the HTC Vive Pro and just like at CES three years ago when Oculus announced their pricing, I put my credit card away. I just don't see the value here paying $800 for just the HMD because while it has some nice updates, it's definitely not a Gen 2 product and there's not enough updates on paper to warrant that price. Like the Rift, I just can't come to bring myself to purchase this on principal.
The Samsung Odyssey has the same screens and comes with controllers and is priced at $500. Yes, it doesn't use Lighthouse tracking and it isn't as reliable in tracking as the Vive, but hardware wise, the most expensive part is the same as the Vive Pro.
And now, I'm worried about how much HTC will charge for the wireless adapter, something that I was passing up on other solutions for. If they are going to go too much over $250, well I'll just turn around and pick up a TPCast because it offers up an already great solution for wireless VR. It's been to market a while now and there are many people reporting it works quite well.
HTC, I don't know what you're thinking, but you've really priced this out of a lot of people's ranges. You made a compelling case in 2015 and I saw the value in your product even though it was more expensive than the Rift. I had no problems paying the extra for a higher quality HMD at that time. Now though, I just don't see it and many others don't either. Sure, you'll have the die hards who will upgrade at any price and not think twice, but this is one product I can't recommend at that price point. There are some HMDs being announced shortly that will blow away the resolution of the Vive Pro so I'm going to wait on those. I'd rather spend that amount of money on a bigger jump than what HTC has in the Pro. You would have had me at $500. But at $800, sorry, I'll put my credit card away again like I did with Oculus and wait. It worked out really well the last time I did this.
If you, like me, were pumped for Overkill's The Walking Dead game when it was first announced last year, but kind of forgot about it, well I have some good news. And I mean literally, I only have some news.
It's a VFX breakdown of the Aidan trailer from December. Now, while this isn't exactly a more detailed drop on the game's plot, design, and characters, it does at least give an insight into how it's made.
The CG and VFX is done by Goodbye Kansas Studios, and while the details of how they do all the rendering aren't explained in the most excruciating of details, it's clear that a ton of work is going into this. From adapting the actor's face to the digital world, to then manipulating the muscles to get different expressions, this is promising to at least be a good-looking game.
You can visit Goodbye Kansas Studios' website here, and Overkill's here. Funny enough, we actually do get a small detail drop on Overkill's site. Paraphrasing, it's a four-player co-op requiring teamwork, with each player getting their own Special Abilities, Skill Trees, and even Story Arcs. Overkill's The Walking Dead will be out later this year.
Man, am I excited about this! Tecmo Koei has announced the return of the series that a lot of Musou fans have been waiting a long time for. Warriors Orochi 4 is confirmed and it's coming to the west later this year. No other details have been announced at this time.
Warriors Orochi is a series which takes characters from Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, Soul Calibur and more and throws them all together into one hack and slash adventure. No word on what the story for Orochi 4 will be yet but my guess is something to do with all the characters being sucked through a portal into another dimension where they have to save the world from impending doom. I have hundreds of hours in Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate as all of the characters are fun to play and the progression system and fun missions add a ton of replay value.
As much attention as I pay to gaming culture and news, sometimes cool-looking stuff just slips right by me. This is the case with The Council, a very cool looking episodic Narrative Adventure title that released its first episode on March 13.
The Council – Episode 1: The Mad Ones, developed by Big Bad Wolf, seems to have made a splash with some critics. Focus Home Interactive have released a new Accolades trailer to celebrate the game’s success.
I have not played the game myself, but I do find the Gothic vibe on display in the trailer very appealing. The dark shadowy settings are very striking, and the story looks to be mature (not in a creepy “Lion’s-Den-adult” way, but more in a “historic-horror-fiction-adult” way).
According to the sales page on the PlayStation Store, players “take the role of secret society member Louis de Richet after his invitation to a private island off the shores of 1793 England. Joining him are a number of guests, including Napoleon Bonaparte and George Washington. The strange nature of this reception goes beyond the prestigious guests – Richet’s mother has gone missing on the island, while each of the colorful cast has their own hidden agendas.”
This series looks like one to watch. The first episode is available on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox One, and retails for $6.99.
Next week on March 28th, the next major content expansion for The Elder Scrolls: Legends will launch. Houses of Morrowind will be the largest content expansion since last year's Heroes of Skyrim and will let players journey into the strange and unfamiliar lands of Vvardenfell and collect over one hundred forty new cards that capture the essence of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and its Elder Scrolls: Online prequel. For more info, check out the article over at Bethesda.net to learn more about the expansion as well as several of the new cards.
The paint isn’t even dry on Yakuza 6 (which doesn’t release until April 17, despite the recent wave of excited reviews), and SEGA is already announcing another Yakuza release for 2018. Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake/remaster of Yakuza 2, will release on August 18, 2018.
The remake uses the Dragon Engine, the same engine used to bring Yakuza 6 to life. Believe me, this engine is capable of some incredible things, rendering both facial close-ups and scenic vistas in stunning beauty and detail. This also means that this remake will have the same smooth transitions in and out of battle (and buildings!) that Yakuza 6 utilizes, eliminating a lot of time consuming load screens.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 will also have a bundle of new minigames, including Golf and Bingo and the usual gamut of Arcade cabinets (now with weird mech-fighter Virtua-On!).
Special attention has been paid to keeping the translation as close as possible to the intent of the original Japanese, so you can once again look forward to beloved hero Kiryu muttering “Soka” every other sentence, and seeing it translated 5000 different ways.
Yakuza’s popularity is on a major upswing in the US, so SEGA is probably wise to continue cranking these things out. As long at the quality is there (which it is), what’s the harm in releasing several Yakuza titles a year?
Yakuza Kiwami 2 will be a PS4 exclusive, and will be available for $49.99. Pre-orders and first run copies will be shipped in a pretty dope looking SteelBook, so that’s a bonus.
That was quick! I was just perusing the upcoming release list for PlayStation VR, and I saw that Snail Games' Ark Park VR is releasing this Thursday, March 27th.
I am absolutely intrigued by this game/museum/experience, particularly the multiplayer aspects. I had first assumed that the multiplayer was limited to the wave shooter portion of the game, but it seems that players can explore the zoo-like dino theme park with friends as well. I would love to grab three copies of this title and explore the park with my two teenage sons. This is a very cool idea, and I'm excited to see how it plays out.
Here are some good tidbits from Ark Park's Steam page:
Ark Park VR will release this Thursday, March 27th on the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality.
Last year I reviewed a golf game called The Golf Club 2 and was left both unimpressed and unrewarded. It was a game with glitches, below average graphics and a horrible swing system. Later this year, however, The Golf Club will be releasing their next game called The Golf Club 2019, and this may be the one to finally hit the green. Said to be "the deepest and most comprehensive golf game", this could be the successor that "2" was not.
Have they made the swing style more game-friendly? Is there a green system that actually works? Hopefully they answer "yes" to these issues and more as this could be the entertaining golf game players have been looking for.
Look for more information soon!
Here's the 90-second sizzle reel of violence in video games that President Trump says plays a role in mass shootings. This psychologist's research shows that 80 percent of mass shooters showed no interest in violent video games. While this opinion asks: If movies, music, and books can affect us, why do we pretend that video games can't?
So, what are you playing?
I might actually wrap up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild this weekend. I finally made it through all the DLC trials and unlocked the ancient motocross bike. So now I'm just not sure if I should spend the time farming monster parts to upgrade the rest of my gear, or just head to Hyrule castle and put Ganon down for good.
I'll also continue my playthrough of Castle of Heart, an exclusive little Switch action platformer that I'm reviewing.
I'm splitting my time between a couple of games in for review. First is Escape Room VR: Stories, which is surprisingly (well, not) a VR-based room escape game. It's actually a quite enjoyable room escape game except for one irritation, and that would be the "stories" part. The three rooms are very distinct from each other, so the designer thought there must be a need for some kind of story to tie them together into an unnecessarily cohesive bundle. It's almost as if these guys all bought the same Udemy game design class and it insists, insists that there absolutely must be a storyline for every game. It wouldn't have been nearly as irksome if they had refrained from breaking the VR fourth wall with stark, immersion-ruining interruptions.
When I'm not deep in VR struggling to figure out what purpose there is for a pink car to be up on a service lift, I'm in VR trying to get a handle on Apex Construct VR. It's early days with that one; I made it through a simple tutorial, the only thing about which I remember is that it involved a bow and some arrows. That's all I really know at this point, but...bow and arrows in VR. Really, what more do I need to know? I'm in!
It can't be, and should not be, all work no play, so as long as I have my room configured for half-room scale (the best I can do) I take a break now and then to do some sailing in VR Regatta – The Sailing Game. Other than having to sit on the floor and getting hopelessly tangled up in the Rift umbilical cord every time I have to go over to the other side of the boat, it's a very relaxing experience: there are no interruptions.
I have been spending quite a lot of time as Kazuma Kiryu, wandering around Yakuza 6 and goofing off. The other night, I found myself sitting alone in a private karaoke room, yowling along to a very sappy love song and slapping my leg in a vaguely rhythmic manner. I did this for about 15 minutes before getting bored and wandering back out to the streets in search of some punks to pummel with bicycles and traffic cones. My current favorite move in battle is to pick a punk up over my head and then slam them crotch-first into a lamppost. The other day I was fighting four punks, and I grabbed them one at a time and dragged them over to a nearby truck, slamming their heads one by one into the side of the vehicle with a splat. Very satisfying.
On the handheld side, I have been fiddling around with The Alliance Alive on 3DS for an hour or so before bed every night. You can't slam dudes into the sides of buildings, but you can engage in some classic JRPG goodness, which is satisfying in a different way. I'm currently building up my core team with their alternate weapons, while still trying to move the story line forward on occasion.
Both games are playing into my favorite gaming activity: meandering. Boy oh boy, I'm a meanderer.
Call of Duty: WWII is still my jam and I finally hit my first prestige last week. It's still a fun and mindless game but I'm really just waiting for something else to grab me but so far nothing has. I was hoping that Fortnite Battle Royale might do it but so far I've spent most of my time parachuting out of the bus and being shot moments later. I do like how the tension ramps up the longer you survive but I still struggle with the construction mechanics, which puts me at an immediate disadvantage to everyone else.
Focus, Randy, focus. It's Assassin's Creed Origins for me, road to The Lost Ones and Curse of the Pharaohs DLC. I'm in my mid-30s, level-wise, so I'm inching closer to the level 40 cap and narrative end game. Still a lot of map to uncover, though. So much Sahara, so much Nile. Many sandy, very inundation, wow. I've never seen so many interactions between a main character and children, though. I mean, yes, you lose your son in the very beginning. But I didn't expect Origins' missions to meaningfully cross paths with the lives of so many kids. The origin of the Brotherhood of Assassins is the story of mothers and fathers, not just of masked villains and Illuminati conspiracies.
Be cool, Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I'll be back. Just got a little more business to handle down in the land of the pharaohs.
Planning on spending this weekend on tying up loose gaming ends, specifically finishing the campaign in Horizon Zero Dawn, finishing a long outstanding review in ARK: Survival Evolved, and polishing off the platinum trophy in Fallout 4. I will not be doing anything VR until I can find a better way to secure my base stations as I had one fall down twice this week.
This weekend will see me hopefully beating the initial stages of Bloodborne. I finally downloaded it from PlayStation Plus and have been enjoying getting my butt handed to me by the weakest of enemies. This is my first Souls game, and I'm finally experiencing the joyous frustration everyone talks about with these games. Hopefully I'll get better at it. Hopefully.
With the rapid exodus from the vanilla game known as Q.U.B.E. 2, I turn my attention toward other conquests. I am still reeling from a game that actually caused more nausea than excitement, but I'll make it...I think.
I promised myself that I would revisit Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and this week should do nicely. I can honestly say I am impressed with the graphics—especially the cutscenes, but are left lukewarm with the storyline and space fighting. I have never played an above-average game this slowly and I can honestly say I have no idea why. Time to look further into it.
Basketball...I need to find a basketball game. I have not balled for quite some time and rather enjoyed doing so for many years. Hopefully by next week, I will have some news on this front. I am surveying the field to choose. Comment your favorite for a vote.
Summer is coming, and with it comes Banner Saga 3. This will conclude the Nordic tactical strategy game trilogy. The series never took off in the way I thought it would, despite its 1959 Disney classic Sleeping Beauty looks, despite its Oregon Trail mass exodus overworld, and despite its smart and tough battlefield tactics. I don't know what to tell you. It should've hit 1 million sold in the first year, as far as I'm concerned, but that never happened.
In this video, you meet (or reacquaint yourself with) Bolverk, leader of the Ravens, a roughneck splinter group of the good guy side of things. It made me very, very nervous having Bolverk on my team in Banner Saga 2. That is, until I got to take his band in a different direction on the map, allowing me to explore a more grimdark approach to dealing with the game's Dredge and overarching Viking apocalypse.
Regardless, developer Stoic won't leave the story unfinished, since it's an honest-to-goodness trilogy. It's been a long time coming. I think it was even one of the first games to make me take a sidelong look at being a father to a (then) baby girl. This was before every God of War and Assassin's Creed decided that being a dad was the next logical step in the series.
Banner Saga 3 unfurls on PC in Summer 2018.