Weekly News Roundup Week 10 – Are 343 Industries Struggling?

Good evening everyone, and cheers for clicking on this weeks selection of gaming related news! The world is slowly getting back to normal… ish, but gaming news keeps coming thick and fast in this “new E3”. Following on from last week’s Xbox Games Showcase, which bred a whole lot of Halo Infinite memes amongst other things, this week I bring 5 more ordinary pieces of news to you, like are 343 Industries struggling?

Which is better for my sleep and eating pattern if I’m honest. Let’s get into it.

1 – Sony Announce “Ready For PlayStation 5” TVs That Can Cost… £9000?

Are YOU planning on buying a PS5? Do YOU need a new TV?

DO YOU have an unholy amount of disposable income OR… a penchant for huge debt? Then I’ve some exciting news for you! Sony have announced “ready for PS5” TVs.

They’re big. They’re spec’d to to gills, and they can cost you up to the price of a decent second hand car. No, I’m not exaggerating.

Head on over to this Sony link, and you can have a gander yourself. Coming in two skews, there’s the XH90, and the ZH8. Dubbed as “HDR Full Array LED”, it’s a bit of boring title if I’m honest.

The more “not boring” thing, is the price.

The XH90 ranges in size from 55″, all the way up to a whopping 85″, and is priced from £1,299.00 to an eye-watering £3,299.00.

The ZH8, just to ramp things up even more, is only available as either 75″ or 85″. The prices for this line of TV? The 75 inch clocks in at a spectacular £5,999.00, and the 85″?

£8,999.00.

I damn near choked on my water. Now don’t get me wrong, we haven’t seen many TVs like these. Both ranges support 4K at an impressive 120hz refresh rate, which is pretty rare in and of itself. In addition, in this mode, Sony claims each TV can produce only 7-8ms of latency, which is low for 4K TVs, and TVs in general.

Bear in mind that even 4K gaming monitors, at 120hz and low response times, cost upward of £1200 and even stretch toward the £2000-3000 mark.

The ZH8, the version that could set you back 9 grand, supports native 8k resolution at 60hz as well. Which on TVs of 75/85″, is NOT cheap to design or manufacture.

So yes, I’m willing to concede that the prices are warranted. But that doesn’t mean people will buy them… surely? If you’re buying a console, it’s because you like the relatively low entertainment cost of console gaming. You’re not likely to then go out and slap the price of a second hand car down on the table are you?

Or maybe you are, I don’t judge. From my perspective, despite the undoubtedly impressive specifications these TVs boast, there’s no way I ever see myself considering a TV like this. Not unless I somehow come into millions of spare cash (not that I’d be complaining).

What about you? Can you see a market for these premier-than-premium TVs? Let us know!

2 – New Sekiro Update Adds Boss Rush Mode And More!

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the FromSoftware shinobi simulator, won GOTY in 2019 and… well it’s been rather quiet since. With no news of a story expansion, a crying shame considering the quality expansions for their other titles, the newly announced update might be a breath of fresh air for fans of the title.

We tweeted out the basic details as it was announced a couple of days ago:

But you can find the full details here. This update for Sekiro is a little ways out, due on 29th October for all platforms, and it actually marks the first FromSoftware game to get a conventional “boss rush” mode outside of mods. Chalice Dungeons for Bloodborne kind of count, but not really. So don’t sue me.

Here’s the official description of the mode:

“Rematch previously defeated bosses in single and consecutive battles. Extraordinary foes that once stood in the way of victory can be fought again and again to your heart’s content.”

Count me IN. Sekiro’s bosses are amongst the most entertaining that I’ve faced across the entirety of games in general, so the opportunity to face them without having to jump into NG+ or start a new save is fantastic for me. Also, I’ve been dying for a chance to smack Isshin about but that’s neither here nor there.

No word on if other features might tie into this, like time trials or leaderboards, but we’ll have to wait and see. Worth noting that you have to have beaten the boss to face them in this mode though. I made a point of beating every boss, optional or otherwise, in my first playthrough (humble brag) but for those of you who skipped/ missed Demon of Hatred or Owl Father? Get back in there.

That’s not all that was announced though. Along with the boss rush mode, we’re also getting new cosmetics and a completely new game mechanic.

For the cosmetics:

Change the Wolf’s outward appearance. There are 3 new forms to choose from to suit your mood, including “Old Ashina Shinobi” and “Tengu.”

*New forms are unlocked by meeting certain in-game conditions.

Yarp, new in-game cosmetics to be unlocked via “in-game conditions”. You love to see it. No details on two of the forms, but what I’m assuming is the “Tengu” form has been shown via a screenshot in the announcement.

Image courtesy of FromSoftware.

Looks cool right?

Lastly:

“Send a recording of your actions to the worlds of other shinobi. “Remnant” recordings can be up to 30 seconds long and may also be affixed with a message. Share strategies and hints via network to broaden the scope of play.”

For those who maybe aren’t aware, this is very similar to features found in both Bloodborne and the Dark Souls franchise. Also, ironically, one of the few complaints people had about Sekiro.

FromSoftware are pretty known for incorporating both passive and active cooperation into their games, along with PvP. Summoning people to help and leaving people helpful messages had become par for the course, and all but expected in FromSoftware titles.

Sekiro did away with all of that, leaving it entirely bare of any real online functionality at all. Which was fine with me, I never really took full advantage of the online features anyway. However, I know that a lot of people must be very happy right now.

Anyway, back to Remnants. Courtesy of a helpful image on the post we have a nice idea of how they’ll be presented in game.

Image courtesy of FromSoftware.

Being able to record 30 seconds of gameplay will be huge for newcomers and veterans alike. No information has been share on how what YOU see will be selected, but if we assume it’s random then there’s a lot of potential for helpful strategies, approaches and also… shenanigans. I’ll tell you right now, there’s not a FromSoftware player to exist that wouldn’t enjoy recording themselves jumping off an edge, just so others might follow suit.

Overall, the update sounds really promising. Why it’s been announced so far ahead of release date is a myth to me, but hey, it’s free and it adds notable content. Nothing wrong with that in my book. I’m just looking forward to getting whupped by Demon of Hatred again.

Also, why not go and read my review of Sekiro? I gave it an 87/100, and made it my personal pick for GOTY of 2019. Although Disco Elysium might just give it a run for its money.

3 – New Splinter Cell Announced! Except It’s an Animation!… on Netflix.

Ahh Splinter Cell. The living embodiment of dashed hopes and dreams. I don’t talk about it very much, mostly because I’m afraid I’ll never see another one, but Splinter Cell is one of my most loved franchises. Double Agent might be where the series peaked for me, but pretty much all the games are fantastic. In my opinion of course.

Which is why, whenever I hear a mild mention of the brand, I get excited. Sam Fisher’s appearance in a Wildlands DLC? I got excited. Why would they hire the original voice actor just for a one off DLC? It led nowhere.

Reference to Fourth Echelon in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? Maybe that’s a tease for a joined universe! Nope. Just kidding.

Sam Fisher appears in a… mobile game. Godammit.

I never learn. That’s why when I saw some headlining Splinter Cell news over at Variety, credit to them for the break of course, I got excited for a split second. Of course, I was disappointed yet again.

We’re getting 16 episodes, over the course of two seasons, of a Splinter Cell animated show. It will reportedly be written by Derek Kolstad, who you may recognise as the writer and one of the creators of the John Wick franchise. Referred to as an anime by Variety, this adaptation doesn’t have a release date or any other details at this time and isn’t actually confirmed to exist by anyone involved. Yet, that is.

While I’m obviously excited for a Splinter Cell/ Sam Fisher animation on Netflix, I also would just like a new game? Ubisoft clearly know the value of the IP and character, so why hold out? Mystery to me, but there we go.

4 – Trouble At 343 Industries? Or Just Disgruntled Ex-Employees?

Tinfoil hat time people, are you ready?

So, following the somewhat… tumultuous reveal of Halo Infinite at the Xbox Games Showcase last Thursday, the internet has been grasping at straws. Mostly regarding the clear lack of visual polish on show in the 10 minute gameplay trailer. Worth noting that I’m in agreement, the entire demo looked rough visually.

However. Since then 343i have come out and said the demo was on an old build, and not even running on the Series X. Although, the build was only a few weeks old. Now, yes, this was an odd choice to begin with. Why showcase your biggest IP, with an out of date build, and on different hardware? You got me.

(they claim the PC IS representative, but we’ll never know how accurate that is)

But since the trailer, and all the glorious memes that came out of it, something else may have risen to the surface. I shall now direct you over to ReviewTechUSA, as “required watching” if you will.

In the video, he addresses a bunch of company reviews of 343 Industries. Left mostly by ex-employees the reviews… well they aren’t great. I couldn’t access the reviews without adding my OWN company review on the website which I didn’t fancy, plus the website kept crashing anyway.

But if you’re interested, you can head over to Glassdoor and have a look for yourself. Now, some of these reviews have actually been there a while but some enterprising individual decided to go and have a look out of curiosity. Originally becoming seen through a, now removed sadly, reddit post, the contents of many of the reviews do not paint a pretty picture of 343 Industries. Here’s some images, courtesy of halomania:

You get the picture. Some of the more in depth reviews in the video above reference “tech debt”. Specifically, a codebase that’s in dire need of an overhaul, with decades of old workarounds and a poor development infrastructure. There’s also accusations of toxic work environments, crunch culture, and a complete lack of faith in senior management. Amongst other things.

Now, again, these could just be the words of ex-employees disgruntled by having to move on, or maybe not happy with their progress, or maybe just weren’t very good at their jobs and got fired. We won’t know, but the consistency in the types of issues these reviews refer to is concerning.

ReviewTechUSA, at the end of the video I linked above, actually claims that an insider who leaked him previous information agrees with the accusations and poor review. Which also doesn’t sound particularly promising.

Now we could all just sit back and wait for Jason Schrier to get a ton of anonymous interviews with current and ex-staff, and release a incredibly detailed report on the work ethics at 343 Industries. In fact that’s probably going to happen. But I for one, actually quite like discussing the “if, buts, and maybes” of game development. So until then? Tinfoil hat time.

5 – Marvel’s Avengers Gets War Table Dedicated to Beta Content!

Marvel’s Avengers. If this ain’t a comeback story, I don’t know what is! Back when it was originally announced I was NOT sold. The gameplay looked iffy, the visuals looked poor, and the whole “live service” approach looked… well not ideal for such a prominent IP.

Then came the next reveal. We got a cool Thor mission, very cool in fact, some more gameplay details, and then the announcement of an in-game store, where you can buy new outfits if you so wish. Not a fan of that.

Now, as of two days ago, we get a new War Table, with extensive coverage on mission types, and what will be included in the beta. Dare I say it? I’m in. In what is possibly the most succinct and well presented game showcase we’ve had all summer, Square Enix smashed it out of the park.

New Gameplay Footage

Not only did we get quite a bit of new gameplay footage with Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Khamala Khan, we also got a pretty in depth look at the mission types you’ll get to play in.

Now I’ll only give a brief overview of the missions here, so feel free to watch the full stream. Skip till about halfway, as for some reason the version they uploaded to YouTube includes the 30 minute countdown. I know, I’m the real MVP over here.

First up, during the beta you’ll get the chance to play the 25 minute opening that we all saw. The bit on the Golden Gate bridge, you know the one. So not only will you get to play as Captain America and Thor, you’ll also get the chance to fight Taskmaster in a boss fight. Oh and you’ll probably get to see Steve Rogers “die”.

War Table Missions

After that, you’ll get access the the “War Table” and will be able to play through two single-player story missions. Both featuring Ms. Marvel and Hulk, you’ll travel to two different areas. The first mission will have you travel to the Pacific in search of JARVIS. Who I assume isn’t transformed into a AI demi-god in this version of events.

The second will have to travel to Russia looking for SHIELD secrets. Interestingly this will include a boss fight with Abomination, a villain I absolutely didn’t expect to show up. But I’m always up for a Hulk/ Abomination boxing match me.

After these two missions are complete, you’ll be given access to a slice of the game’s multiplayer content. There are three types:

  • HARM Rooms
  • Warzones
  • Dropzones

HARM Rooms are virtual reality training simulators that pit you and 3 others against waves of increasingly challenging enemies. You might recall the training room at the start of X-Men 3, it’s kinda similar to that. What is cool, is that if you complete all of them you get a special nameplate that you can use in the full release of Marvel’s Avengers. Love a little extra incentive.

Warzones!

Warzones are being presented as something akin to dungeons that you might find in other games of the type, but we have no idea on the scale of these yet. Likewise, we have no information regarding specific locations as of yet, only that enemy types will be varied. Warzones seem to end in some mild puzzle solving, and a loot filled bunker to open at the end. Which sounds addictive if I’m honest.

Dropzones!

Dropzones are apparently “smaller more focused versions of Warzones”. Designed for quick drop-in/ drop-out play sessions, they’re apparently great for earning new gear, and levelling your heroes.

Speaking of gear and heroes, the progression system that will be available to you in the beta was also defined. While there are 3 skill trees for each hero in the full game, in the beta you’ll have access to just one.

That’s about it for the meaty stuff, but there was more!

Hulkbuster!

The Hulkbuster armour that was teased in the other trailer, is in fact Iron Man’s ultimate. The gameplay in the trailer of the Hulkbuster looks startlingly alike to the top tier animations seen in the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, so that can only mean good things. They also spoke of “alternate deployment methods” for the Hulkbuster, but didn’t go any further. I’m gonna assume that you can “titanfall” it, and have it running around as an extra man. But we’ll have to see.

Traversal!

In addition, traversal was touched on. Including leaps and bounds from Hulk, swinging from Khamala Khan and Black Widow, and flying from Iron Man, I’m left thinking only one thing. Why does the swinging look so much worse than the Spiderman PS4 swinging?

Hawkeye!

Lastly. Phew. Lastly! We had a new character reveal! Hawkeye will be the first new hero released, free of charge I might add, to the roster after launch. Seemingly following the Matt Fraction Hawkeye run in terms of visual design, the alternate skin they showed for him looked pretty great. If a little vanilla. The trailer was pretty hype though.

All in all, I came away mightily impressed with what I’ve seen of Marvel’s Avengers. I’ve got a soft spot for looters myself, with hundreds and thousands of hours spread out amongst Borderlands, Anthem, Destiny, Diablo, and more. This showing has got me thinking that Marvel’s Avengers could be a real powerhouse in the genre.

All it has to do is hit the ground running.

6 – What We’ve Been playing!

Well aside from finishing Disco Elysium for review… not a lot really! I’ve fallen back into habits, and I’ve been contributing some real hours to Valorant and FIFA 20. Following my reviews for The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, I think I just needed a break from single player epics. No fear though, Horizon Zero Dawn for PC is right around the corner!

Kyle here! I’ve had an interesting week or so, with games anyway. Last week I finished like 5 games. I finally went through the first Dishonored, finished Tales of Berseria, started and finished the first Fable. Then beat King Boo in Luigi’s Mansion 3, and finished up the final boss run in Final Fantasy 9.

Then this week I was played some Grounded, wrote a small first impression for it too! I was lucky enough to get the free download of Psychonauts on Xbox, it’s an enhanced version and looks fantastic. Then finally I downloaded the Ultimate Edition of Dragon Age on Steam and started that again.

Grounded - How to Upgrade Tools - Slyther Games

With that out of the way, that’s today’s article all done and dusted! Don’t forget to let us know what you’ve been playing, and if they’re anything you think we should try don’t hesitate to recommend it to us!

Until next time, have a fantastic weekend. Don’t forget to check out our socials if you want regular bites of news, especially on Twitter!

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