Yennefer, the immensely powerful sorceress and one time love interest of Geralt is on the run. From what or to what we do not yet know, but her journey is very dangerous and requires quick thinking and determination merely to survive. Geralt the Witcher has not given up hope of once again finding Yennefer and pursues her through this harsh environment with the help of his mentor Vesemir.
The Witcher 3 is set to be the largest and most impressive entry to the series yet and boasts a open world 35 times larger than that of its predecessor. With the release still months away this new cinematic trailer begins to explore the story and setting behind one of the most impressive looking RPGs since we Fus-Ro-Dah’d our way across northern Tamriel.
The Witcher 3 launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in February 2015.
As the new generation (and the new war) of consoles rumbles reluctantly into second gear, I have decided that, for once, I won’t be jumping on this particular bandwagon only as it hurtles into retirement. For once I will be at the cusp of the technological curve, and damn all those who say “wait”. Damn them and their stupid neckbeards. So I took the step to a brighter future and bought myself a Playstation 4, along with Killzone and Battlefield 4. Four weeks on, here are my thoughts. …
The next generation of consoles is here at last, well at least it is the US with the PlayStation 4 going on sale yesterday. Over the next few weeks, us lucky Brits will see Sony’s machine and the Xbox One from Microsoft launch. I was in Game in Cardiff a few nights past and saw the new look shelves heralding the imminent arrival of the new machines.
It made me think about the generation which is now the old-gen. The humble Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are but things of a bygone era now. In reality they will still be fairly important to gamers and the industry for a year or so yet as people wait for the inevitable price cuts or a wider range of titles to launch. …
As the title of this article explains the basis of my writing, I feel the need to skip an explanatory first paragraph and will instead jump straight into the facts and rumours that support my thinking. So here goes…
Fact # 1 – Microsoft are already planning to test a similar concept with casual gamers later this year.
As reported at the end of 2012 Microsoft have already put plans in action to release a set-top box aimed at casual gamers this year, with users having access to “core entertainment services”. This probably means focusing on downloadable games and entertainment applications already available on Xbox consoles along with a host of new features.
But what if it was possible to integrate the Kinect with your TV and have a full range of games available? With no need for a controller or wires to connect the previously separate parts, you could literally plug-in and instantly play on a single integrated device. Kinect’s 2.0 technology will most likely be smaller making this an entirely feasible idea.
Fact # 2 – Other technology has successfully integrated itself with TV’s in the past few years.
In December 2009 the first HD TV channels rolled out across the mainstream UK. Since then the TV has been adapting to a new world of innovation and integration with other technology. DVD players are now a regular feature in HD TV’s, as are integrated Freeview boxes and even in some cases both of these at the same time.
If there is enough space to fit this technology onto existing TV’s then surely the concept of having a fully integrated console is not all that far-fetched?
Fact #3 – Microsoft already have good relationships with many TV broadcasters.
Here in the UK I can access a whole range of on demand TV and film solely through my Xbox 360 console. I don’t have or need a TV licence, I don’t have or need a freeview box or any other kind of set-top box. Instead I watch all my TV on demand through the Xbox thanks to applications such as BBCi, 4oD, YouTube, Blinkbox and Love Film. The list of applications allowing me to view TV and listen to music are growing all the time, which just goes to show that Microsoft are viewed in good standing with the TV and music broadcasters.
The strong response could aid them in integrating the next-gen Xbox with TV’s and bringing about the multi-entertainment system that they so desire. Advertising to a mass audience and exclusive shows could be aired to console owners much like what we see on YouTube today.
Rumour #1 – Microsoft have been researching this technology for a long time.
Rumours have been around for a long time that Microsoft have been planning integration of their consoles with TV’s. It’s only recently that this has been proven somewhat true with the Xbox set-top box news mentioned above.
But if the rumours were true, Microsoft could have been planning and researching this since the release of the Xbox 360. They would have had plenty of time to concentrate on making this a possibility with the next-gen Xbox console.
Of course all of this comes with a few if’s and butts.
In order to gain the support of a large portion of the current console market, the integrated console/TV would need to provide everything a current console does. USB ports, a disk drive, the possibility of additional memory, internet access and the list goes on. The recent rise in popularity for cloud storage could solve the problem of additional memory. Currently however, cloud storage does not seem to be the stable house that we want it to be.
Then of course there’s the problem of breakdowns (or as the 360 generation knows it, the dreaded red ring of death). If one part of the integrated machine broke down, you couldn’t very well just sent your entire TV away to be fixed. The components of each device would need to be detachable in some way. This would further complicate the design features and compatibility of the devices.
Another problem that springs to mind. What if you wanted a next-gen Xbox but you didn’t need a new TV. Would there be a separate console available to anyone who didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to integrate? What positives or negatives would this hold over the integrated system?
These are all very interesting things to think about but the truth is that until Microsoft announce their next console, no one will ever really know.
‘Next-Gen’ is a term that’s being thrown around quite loosely at the moment. We already know details about the Wii U, but what about Sony and Microsoft, third-party accessories and PC’s that seem to advance in spec every day. Everything from next-gen consoles, to next-gen graphics and next-gen gaming accessories are hot topics of discussion and speculation right now. But forget hype, advertisement and what developers are saying. What does next-gen really mean to the gamers of this generation? What advancements and improvements would they like to see in the next instalment of consoles and PC’s to hit the market? These are the very questions I asked myself, my friends and the writers and followers of The Reticule. In the following paragraphs you will find all the opinions of this generation of gamers and their hopes and dreams of what the ‘next-gen’ will hold.
PC’s Mostly Always Have It Better – Bring Modding To Consoles
As a mostly console gamer I look to my PC gaming friends and sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself. There are a number of things that I just wish I had access to that aren’t available on consoles. Being able to upgrade parts of my gaming platform almost at will, cheaper games, better graphics, more precise controls and a more open platform are just some of the benefits. For me the biggest one has to be the ability to mod games. One of my favourite games of the past while has been Skyrim. I’ve gladly sunk over a hundred hours into this game and while I have access to added content via paid DLC, it’s not anywhere near the scale of content available to PC gamers. One look on the Steam Workshop shows there are thousands of free user made mods such as ThirteenOranges brilliant series of quest lines and in-game items. This trend of user-created content is very popular and is certainly not limited to Skyrim or indeed to Steam.
Below is an example of just some of the content that console gamers are missing out on.
What I would love to see in the next generation of gaming is a way to bring that creativity and freedom to consoles. With the current generation of consoles increasingly heading in the direction of being multimedia focused, surely it would be possible to set up an application that could securely download mods over the internet. People would of course encounter restrictions such as download limits and the fact that the mods would probably need to be developed on a PC first anyway. It seems as if it would be easy enough to implement but whether Microsoft and Sony would be willing to allow access to an area where they could potentially stop making as much profit is a totally different question. I believe in times to come that PC gamers will be making even further leaps ahead of their console brethren and that sooner or later something will have to be done to allow consoles to continue, at least in their current form. Quite frankly Sony and Microsoft would be mod not to allow it to happen…
Virtual Reality – Because Stabbing Someone Online Just Doesn’t Feel Real Enough
Martin and Stephen over on Facebook both agree that virtual reality headsets are the way forward for the next generation. While in its relative infancy in terms of the video gaming industry, virtual reality is not a new concept and has been dreamed about in films and books for many years. Back in 1994 the Forte VFX-1 virtual headset was released on the market for £400. Sadly it seemed to be before its time and never reached its full potential, lacking the availability of reasonably priced hardware able to run the headset. Flash forward to 2012 and VR gaming is back with a bang. The most popular example of this is the Kickstarter funded Oculus Rift developed entirely for use with video games and due for release next year. The Oculus Rift promises “to raise gaming to the next level” and offers 110° vision for total immersion in your gameplay. Developers from companies like Epic Games and Valve have been so impressed when testing the Oculus Rift that they instantly backed its development.
While the Oculus Rift may be the most popular example of things to come, it’s not the only VR headset in development. Sony have been developing their own headset for use with films and gaming. While this headset offers a 3D virtual experience it also replicates 5.1 surround sound using headphones built onto the headset. When released, Sony’s headset will be compatible with current Blue-Ray players and can even hook up for use with the PS3.
However, the most interesting headset I’ve laid eyes on so far has to be Sensics ‘Smart Goggles’. This VR headset allows for 360° head tracking and all in full 3D. So when using this headset the illusion of looking at a large screen in front of your eyes would be completely erased. It’s also powered by Android allowing for full compatibility with not just consoles and PC’s, but smart phones and tablets too. The headset will also have use as a standalone, using augmented reality to change the world around you.
Valve, possibly as a direct result of their financial backing of the Oculus Rift, have also shown possible interest in developing their own VR headset. It was revealed in April that they had been conducting in-house R&D for “wearable computers”, but whether that means something other than a VR headset is anyone’s guess. With all the competition for Virtual Reality headsets it seems as if they are bound to feature heavily at some point in the lifetime of the next generation of gaming. My concern is that most gamers (yeah, I asked a few) including myself, don’t seem to be bothered about the current 3D technology available to them. Is VR just an advanced 3D, or is it the immersive push that’s really needed?
Below is a video of three members of the Totally Rad Show (aka, the annoying intro show) getting some hands on time with Sony’s 3D VR headset.
Bite-Sized gaming, PC Power and Multiplayer With Two Hundred People
While I was happy to receive a ton of feedback from everyone on their thoughts about next-gen, to be able to include every idea would turn this article into somewhat of a book. This section is a run down of some great ideas submitted from social media and the minds of our very own writers.
Our very own Jordan Harling, who happens to be writing his dissertation on a similar subject later this year, had a lot of input. Ranging from next-gen consoles to where real gaming innovation will come from, here’s what he had to say.
“AAA games will continue being derivative on all consoles and on the PC, few advances will be made but it’ll just be bigger, prettier and boomier. We’ll get one or two games that break the norm however, the major innovations will again come through the indie industry, which hopefully will be nurtured by major publishers. Something like the 20th Century Fox/Fox Searchlight thing would be grand, where the indie companies will be funded but retain creative control of the product. Until a major overhaul of publishing rights happens that won’t be a possibility though.
I believe that tablet and mobile games will slowly become more prominent but will mature into their own segment of the industry, ones that don’t try to compete with consoles and PC gaming. They’ll perfect the art of bite-size gaming and some reputable companies will start producing genuinely high-quality games exclusive to mobiles and tablets. Rayman: Jungle Run looks like an early example of this.”
Another of our great minds Nick Wheeler says, “With a continual improvement in broadband speeds, I’d love for consoles to mature into machines capable of running the two hundred plus player games I’m used to on the PC. Games like Battlefield 3 seem absurdly constrained on Xbox when compared to their PC counterparts. In short, I just want everyone to experience gaming at its finest, whether that be on PC or console. If that means transforming the console under your TV into just another PC, then so be it.”
Over on Tumblr, Doablog thinks that next-gen will be all about PC power advancing way above that of any console. With vastly upgraded graphics cards and CPU’s PC’s will again be the more impressive machine to play games on.
With E3 around the corner next-gen gaming is the talk of the console town right now. Rumours and opinions are being spread all over the columns and the forums, suggesting anything from what the next Sony and Microsoft consoles will be called, to specs of said consoles, to games that will feature on said consoles and features that they may include. None of these rumours have yet been confirmed but what I’m sure about is the image in my mind of what next-gen gaming means to me. There are things that I would love to see changed and things that have been mentioned on the rumour wheel that I’m praying do not make an appearance. In the paragraphs ahead are five of the ideas I have pictured next-gen gaming to be composed of (or in some cases, hopefully not). I would love to hear your feedback on these ideas, maybe you could even share some of your own. These ideas are aimed to include the whole industry of consoles but as my experience with this generation is from PC and Xbox 360 it might swing heavily in that direction. …
As we get ever closer to possible reveals of the next generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft at E3 this Summer, musings about the future of the console market are bound to crop up here and there. The first sign of the changes to business of how we pay for consoles emerged yesterday with Microsoft launching a new bundle in the US where you get a 4GB 360 with Kinect for an initial fee of $99, with a two-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold at $14.99 a month. Hit the jump to see what might be in store for how we pay for the next gen. …