History Repeats Itself
A tale of many platforms.
Even though I claimed to have been on the fence regarding Fallout 4, I know that as soon as I start with the “ehhhhh…” diatribes, the battle is already lost. I pre-ordered and consequently pre-loaded the game on my Xbox Oneonly hours after publishing my earlier post.
I am fortunate to have had a choice as to where I wanted my depressing, post-apocalyptic saga to take place. I claim seniority on the PC, but I threw my hat into the current-gen ring by purchasing a PS4. Later, intense pressure and a stroke of opportunity allowed me to pick up an XB1. I am now in a situation — once again — where I own all of the powerful gaming platforms (sorry, Wii U), which means I am also — once again — in the position where I need to determine which platform will receive the bulk of my attention.
In more general terms, the divide between the PC and console ecosystems is pretty cut and dried. For me, there’s some things I must have (and can only have) on the PC, and some things which I must have on a console, and in most cases there’s no difficulty in deciding which platform gets which game. But when it comes to which console gets which game, the struggle is real #firstnerdproblems.
I opted to get Fallout 4 on the Xbox One mainly because my brother had pre-ordered it for that platform. He’s become a big console gamer, and is a massive Fallout fan, and while the game is single-player only, some part of my mind equated playing the game on the same platform as him would achieve some kind of parity between us. Maybe we could discuss the game without the vagaries of different bugs or something.
Then I saw this off-the-cuff screenshot from my friend Pete of Dragonchasers fame:
— Peter Smith (@pasmith) November 9, 2015
I was kind of bummed. Why didn’t I get Fallout 4 on PS4? They both have “4” in their names, right? I talk to Pete more than I talk to my brother, truth be told, so if that was a factor in my platform of choice, PS4 would have been the better option.
Or is it more than that? Last gen, I heavily favored the Xbox 360 over the PS3. I don’t know why; I suspect it’s because Xbox games tend to speak to the Western gamer more, while the Playstation lineup also includes a very large contingent of Eastern games. While I like Sony just fine, I will not gloss over the fact that I am a Microsoft fan, and in the end, I guess I just preferred the Xbox 360 over the PS3.
This generation, though, I went with the crowd and picked up the PS4 first (and for a while, swore that it would be the only console this time around). I did not regret my decision, especially since I managed to pick it up for about $150 new, thanks to trade-ins of last gen-hardware and games. It wasn’t until a somewhat recent spate of circumstance — getting a fantastic price for a new XB1, availability of games I like for the XB1, available of people to play with on XB1 — that I opted to pick up the new Xbox.
Since then, all of my purchases have favored the XB1. The last game I bought for the the PS4 was Disney Inifinity 3.0, and that was only because it was a digital download for $20 (I had PS3 hardware and figures already from 2.0). When I considered Fallout 4, I thought that I should get it for the PS4 because it would give me an excuse to use the device more often, and to use the PSTV I have hooked up to the TV in the computer room. But then I remembered that I could play the XB1 on the couch, or stream it to my PC, or to my Surface tablet, effectively allowing me to play Fallout 4 anywhere in my house.
Last night I considered trading in the PS4. Right now it’s only playing DI3.0, and since I have a portal for the 360 that would work on the XB1, I could easily shift that to the XB1 (I’d lose my progress, but that’s life). Of course, Dragon Age: Inquisition and FarCry 4 are on the PS4, but they’re gathering (virtual) dust. The few exclusives for the PS4 that I might be interested in, like Uncharted 4…I don’t know that I’m so invested in the franchise that I’d end up feeling that I missed out. Games like No Man’s Sky will be coming to PC as well, so that takes the wind out of the PS4’s sails in that regard.
I suppose I won’t do anything at all. I’ve got both consoles, and both are paid off. The crisis of conscious comes from having the device sitting there staring at me under a pile of dust while I favor the second-place purchase. It’s effectively “useless hardware” right now as I pay more attention to recently released titles I bought for the XB1.
I Don’t Even Know Me Anymore
As if my whining about the perils of good fortune weren’t enough to turn you off on this Monday morning, I want to talk about Call of Duty: Black Ops III.
For some unfathomable reason, I bought this game. I have owned approximately one CoD game in my life, and I think it was the first. I’ve never really given the franchise another look because shooters aren’t usually my thing, and because CoD is the epitome of brogamer douchebag gaming (slightly ahead of Assassin’s Creed).
But I am apparently on a shooter kick. I blame Destiny, and the timely arrival of Halo 5. I’m still playing Destiny here and there, soloing bounties and playing with friends through The Taken King content now whenever we’re able to convene. I completed Halo 5 in almost one sitting.
CoD is a well-done franchise, though, albeit a kind of on-rails shooting gallery where you are pushed through set-pieces that have all the contrived majesty of “thrill rides” at high-end amusement parks. Oh, that giant ship is going to plow into the docks? An airplane is going to crash into the road ahead, leaving just enough room for my jeep to coast underneath the wreckage? Just go with it, man, and keep shooting. But I guess I don’t mind the staged venues, especially since they’re pretty well done and give a better sense of “story” than Destiny does, but is a little more overboard than Halo 5 was with its story.
I don’t do multiplayer, and I certainly won’t do CoD multiplayer. Case closed.
I was intrigued by this entry’s “zombie mode”, which is apparently some kind of a requirement for CoD games now. It takes place in the 1920’s, which is not a time period that gets a lot of attention in games (I think Bioshock might have been the most recent, closest analogue). I don’t even know what the heck “zombie mode” is about, but the videos I saw on it a while back made me make that face that I make when I think “yeah, I might be interested in that.”
So far the game is “nice”. I really don’t know what other adjective to use there. It doesn’t suck. It’s not mind-blowing. I’m enjoying it, but it’s a different experience from the always-online Destiny and the more accessible Halo 5. You can tell it follows a set of it’s own tropes handed down through the CoD lineage, but since it’s “futuristic” you get some new things like “cybercores” that allow you to use cybernetic abilities like shutting down or taking over robots and remote turrets, or sending out swarms of nanobots to envelop enemies and confuse them. You can’t take a punch in this game like you can in the others, and the gogogo nature of a more cinematic presentation means you need to be both cautious and on the move all the time. The shooting parts are otherwise unremarkable; they work the same as any other shooter out there, so I guess I’m playing for the narrative mechanics and because I apparently have to have another shooter that isn’t all Destiny, all the time.