Games Inbox: The inevitability of a God Of War Ragnarök delay

The Friday letters page looks forward to new game announcements from Capcom, as one reader is worried about the 2022 summer games drought.

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The shadow of Covid
So, the delay of Starfield was a bit of a bummer. I don’t think anyone was too surprised given how little they’ve show of it but it’s still a shame as it’s a new IP and just about the only exciting thing scheduled for Christmas at the moment. Now things are looking bleak and with God Of War Ragnarök being the only major title left that isn’t a yearly sequel I’m wondering… how long until that gets delayed too?

I know they recently said that it wasn’t delayed, but that wasn’t Sony it was just a random developer. And besides it wasn’t long ago that Microsoft was counting down 200 days till Starfield.

I’m not blaming anyone here, I would much rather a game be delayed than launch as a buggy mess, but I think it underlines how long the pandemic is going to have a negative effect on games. It might be largely over now but it’s going to be delaying games, and limiting stock, for years ahead – at least two from what I can see.

I won’t be surprised if God Of War is delayed and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 and Starfield don’t make it out until next Christmas at the earliest.

The new norm
So that Indie World livestream from Nintendo really was nothing at all, not very exciting. It’s only a small example but it makes me think that the excitement of the first three months of the year is just going to end up with a completely barren Christmas and even more barren summer games drought than usual. Especially after those two Xbox games were delayed.

No one’s fault perhaps but as with most things in the world right now I can’t wait till everything goes back to normal, if it even will. If companies start releasing more games at the start of the year on purpose, I certainly won’t complain about that but is it really such a crazy idea to have them spread out across all 12 months?

Is there a time when people don’t buy games? I can see that the summer months would be down, a bit, but how long does the British summer really last? Two or three weeks? If I have to wait until next January for any interesting games to come out that’s going to seem like forever.

Coming soon-ish
Getting very excited to hear that Capcom has a bunch of new games to announce this year. All this time and they’re still my favourite publisher, and I’m very glad they haven’t been bought up by someone yet.

Interesting that both they and Konami are recording record profits at the moment though, despite neither of them releasing much new lately.

I fear this will make it only less likely that Konami will make an effort but Capcom does seem to invest the money it makes into making new games and crazy stuff like Exoprimal is not a company just churning out identikit sequels.

I’m happy to be surprised by whatever they do and will be only slightly disappointed if one of them isn’t a new Power Stone.

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Sunken coast fallacy
I still don’t understand why Skull & Bones exists given that Sea Of Thieves is already out there and is practically the same idea, just with a sense of humour. Is that what Ubisoft thinks people are after? Sea Of Thieves but boring and five years too late?

I would’ve bet good money that game would be cancelled and while I haven’t been proven wrong just yet it does seem an odd thing to spend 10 years making, especially if it was only meant to be a spin-off from Black Flag.

What do I know though? At least Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope looks good. So good in fact I’m curious as to whether XCOM 3 might end up borrowing its idea about not using movement grids.

Alien worlds
I was going to say that I can’t see the new Avatar film being as big as the first one but I was wrong about that too, so I’m not going to bet against James Cameron, even if I have no idea why his last two films have been as big as they are.

Much like the movies the only reason I might be interested in the game is to see the quality of the graphics, which do look impressive so far. I do feel we never get enough alien landscapes in games and films and GC were right to point out that Guardians Of The Galaxy was one of the few games to make an effort in that area.

I’m hoping that the same team’s Star Wars game will be similarly adventurous, even though I bet all we get is more desert worlds. It’s kind of got lost in all the other more serious complaints about the new films but what’s disappointed me since the prequels is how un-alien most of the alien worlds look. The lack of new aliens in the sequel trilogy too. What’s the point of exploring space if it all looks like the Sahara Desert?

Once is enough
An interesting question about Switch 2 backwards compatibility but I like to think that Nintendo are savvy enough to understand this is now a big issue. They’re stubborn but they’re not stupid and I suspect they keep very close tabs on the rest of the industry – they just tend to ignore it in the end and decide it’s not for them.

That said, they’ve obviously got very rich on the idea of re-selling their biggest classics on every new format that comes out. I couldn’t say how many times I’ve bought Super Mario Bros. over the years and even games like Zelda: The Wind Waker have been re-released multiple times, and probably will again on Switch.

But really, this needs to end. You’d never get that on Xbox and not even really on PlayStation. Once you’ve bought a game that should be it, you can run it again on any other format that comes out afterwards. If there are remasters or major changes then sure, charge us something extra, but you can’t keep charging the same amount of money for the same game.

I’m confident that won’t be the case going forward though, if the Switch 2 is even imminent, which I’m not convinced it is.

No distractions
I remember GC once mentioned that developers hate making demos because they take too much time away from the actual game, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use that as an actual excuse until the recent Alan Wake 2 news.

It’s a shame they can’t just show a bit of gameplay footage but I would much rather have the game come out when they intended rather than have it ending up being delayed just because they made a demo.

Track record
I may be getting (even more) cynical in my old age, but based on my personal experiences of Bethesda Game Studios output over the last few generations, I’d be amazed if Starfield ever runs smoothly and bug-free, much less at launch. Despite the open world, first person role-playing adventure being their signature genre for decades, when was the last time they managed to put out something that wasn’t a janky mess to some degree or another, right out of the gate? Have they ever?

I’m more of a Fallout fan, so I’ve not played them, but aren’t even the most recent spruced-up reissues of Skyrim still not still glitch-prone to some extent? And they’ve had well over a decade to polish that code since launch.

I’m sure that producing seamless, stable game worlds on the scale they aim for would be a monumental challenge for anyone, but given Bethesda’s track record I can’t help but think that them wanting to avoid Starfield being hailed as the next Cyberpunk 2077 is just fundamentally beyond them, however long they delay it for.

Seeing news of this new hold up did make me wonder something: are there any game studios that have ever managed to put of a first person, open world role-playing game that isn’t riddled with long term technical issues and serious bugs? Having now pretty much finished Cyberpunk 2077 (all but seeing every ending) it’s clear that CD Project Red are no better suited to the genre. Is there something about such a game being first person that makes them overly hard to make, do the issues lie with the studios themselves, or is it the proprietary game engines they use to create the games that causes the problems?

I’m only asking because I remember playing Grand Theft Auto 5 on my PlayStation 3 and being completely blown away by how massive and seamless the whole thing was. Similarly, Breath Of The Wild on the humble Switch is no less technically impressive in its finely crafted execution. I know they’re both third person games and have differing gameplay mechanics to Fallout/Skyrim/Cyberpunk, but they’re still games with massive environments, filled with huge numbers of quests and interactions and in my experience they don’t have anything like the same issues, even running on far lesser hardware.

Ignoring the embarrassing performance issues with the recent GTA Trilogy remasters (which weren’t handled by the main Rockstar A-team, if I’m not mistaken), is it just because Nintendo and Rockstar are better at making open world games? Are third person ones easier to do somehow? Or do Bethesda and CD Project Red just suck at their day jobs?

Whatever the reason, I can’t shake the feeling that whilst Microsoft scooped up some major talent when they bought Zenimax, Bethesda are nowhere near the top of that skill tree.

GC: Being first person doesn’t make any difference from a technical perspective. Bethesda games have alternate third person views anyway.

Inbox also-rans
Redout is also free on Epic Games Store, with a mystery game listed for next Thursday.
Andrew J.

Hoping A Plague Tale: Requiem isn’t the next delayed game. It has been rather quiet…

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gadfly, who asks what you feel is the most overrated video game ever?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed as a classic but what general consensus do you disagree with the most, when it comes to highly rated games? Why do you disagree and were you surprised to find out that you held a minority opinion about the game?

Do you often find yourself disagreeing about games in this way and if not why do you think it happened in this instance? Can you see what it is that others liked about the game or is it completely unappealing to you?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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