NPD: The Xbox One Continues Its Streak As The Best-Selling Console

According to Microsoft, the Xbox One has been the best-selling console three months in a row.

The NPD numbers are not yet public, but Microsoft has issued a statement celebrating its three month streak on top. According to the statement, the Xbox One was the best-selling console in both the U.S. and U.K. (according to GfK Entertainment U.K.) for the month of September. The statement also cites growth in its Xbox Live user base, and attributes the console’s recent sales success to the Xbox One S, Forza Horizon 3, and Gears of War 4.

 

Our Take
The Xbox One had a rough start, but it seems to have more than caught up to PlayStation 4. I’m curious to see how next month plays out with PlayStation VR. I don’t think it will boost PlayStation 4 console sales, but I am curious to see how the headset sells. I am guessing it’s going to sell pretty well.

Beta Test NPD: The Xbox One Continues Its Streak As The Best-Selling Console

All The Major VR Headsets Are Available – What’s The State Of The Platform?

Today marks the release of PlayStation VR, the final major release for this new generation of virtual reality. Kyle Hilliard and I have been playing games on that device in the past few weeks, as well as on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR. There are a lot of competing formats, which makes the idea of spending hundreds of dollars to get into VR a little scary. With that in mind, we thought it would be useful to share our experiences and opinions on the current state of virtual reality, now that the major options are now on shelves.

Jeff: Kyle, do you know what today is?

Kyle: Sammy Hagar and Sacha Baron Cohen’s birthday?

Jeff: Sure? I know I kind of unwrapped the present in that opener, but it’s the release of the PlayStation 4’s VR kit. Now console players can see what those PC guys have been raving about (or railing against) for the past few months. You reviewed the PS4’s VR, so I won’t make you rehash all of that again. But for the sake of discussion, what are your ultimate thoughts about it? I’m particularly interested to hear how you think it compares with other units on the market.

Kyle: You can find my full review here, but the core takeaway for me is that PlayStation VR is a legitimate virtual reality experience – with a few caveats. It doesn’t look as sharp as the competition, and I was more prone to motion sickness while using it. That won’t be the case for everyone, but I did get sicker in PlayStation VR than I did with Vive or Oculus. It ranks third for me after Vive and Oculus, but I would still place it before Samsung Gear VR, which I admit is the one I’ve spent the least amount of time with. You however, hold Samsung Gear in fairly high regard.

Jeff: I do, with a qualifier: It’s cheap, if you already own a supported mobile device. I got it with my phone when I last upgraded, which was a nice price of admission. And while it doesn’t offer the same experience as some of the full-fledged VR units, it does provide a good-enough alternative. That’s not to say I haven’t had a lot of fun playing with the office VR setups. Not everyone can just borrow one from work, however, or run down to a dedicated VR room and check it out. We’re lucky. People who want to experience the tech at home are going to have to pony up a significant chunk of change, and personally I don’t think there are enough games to justify that kind of investment. You?

Kyle: The sheer number of games is certainly high, but you’re right – the number of games that justify the investment is low, maybe even non-existent. I have had some very engaging VR experiences, like Rec Room and The Lab for Vive or Until Dawn on PlayStation VR, but there really hasn’t been anything that I eagerly wanted to return to after taking off the headset, Those experiences all felt very disposable. They were cool, but I felt satisfied with my one short experience. Oddly, one game that I have felt myself wanting to keep playing is Thumper on PlayStation VR, but that game is playable without VR. RIGS has the potential to be a game I return to, but that one makes me sick if I play it too long, which, unsurprisingly, is a big turn off. Which raises another question: Does VR make you sick?

Jeff: I haven’t thrown up yet, if that’s what you’re asking. Developers are in a tough spot, which I sympathize with. On one hand, they have access to technology that can make people feel like they’re “present” in a game in ways that haven’t previously been possible. And they want to have fun with that. It’s like designing a roller coaster; it needs to be thrilling and make you feel a little something in your stomach, or else what’s the point? VR games’ focus on action can touch on that same territory, and it’s been fun to see developers poking around with it. They’re not always successful, as with the stomach churning I felt with one of the VR control schemes in the Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Fortunately, most developers seem to be playing it pretty safe, sometimes to the detriment of what they’re offering. Take the Batman VR game. You choose from the Batwing and Batmobile, and I was excited to see how my choice played out. Would I get to streak across the sky, or tear down Gotham’s streets? The reality was, neither. Instead, the screen went black and I was teleported away while accompanied by the sound of the vehicle’s engine. Lame. I can only assume here that Rockstead was playing it safe – great for keeping carpets clean, but not great for those of us who don’t mind pushing it a little bit, as long as there are ways to tell the system, “Enough!” Can we talk about VR in general for a bit? Do you think it’s viable in the long term? I have my doubts, and I’m curious what you think.

Kyle: I’ve always been tepid about VR. I want to see it as a brave new frontier in the world of interactive media, because we’re about due for the next big thing, but I think the whole experience is just too isolating. Gaming doesn’t have to be social. I’m a weirdo who generally doesn’t like playing games online with other people, but virtual reality just closes me off too much. I don’t want to wear the headset for long stretches of time, which means I am usually eager to take it off, even if I am in the middle of an engaging experience. I think developers are accounting for this right now, by making its experiences short and sweet, but it’s not enough to build a huge fully invested, long-term audience. There’s a disconnect there that really makes me wonder if virtual reality will find a foothold.

All of that being said, I do think that if any of the platforms are going to create a groundswell, it’s going to be PlayStation VR, despite its technical inferiority. I think Oculus and Vive work better, but the lower price and PlayStation 4 install base make it a much tastier pill to swallow, even if it makes you feel a little ill.

Jeff: I do think that PlayStation VR is going to be the proving ground for the technology, thanks to its comparatively cheaper price and the fact that it’ll be available in most big-box stores. “Comparatively cheaper” is, of course, relative. At about $400 for the base-bones bundle, it’s not exactly an impulse buy. I gave my parents a demo of it, and it highlighted just about all of the technical issues that come with either PSVR or VR in general. The headset cord is annoying. The motion-sensing controllers range from “pretty good” with the Vive – the most expensive and time-intensive to set up – to frustratingly inaccurate at times on PSVR. And, most importantly, there aren’t any games that I’d consider must-plays on any of the platforms. 

The best of the bunch are also available on traditional screens, which is probably because nobody is ready to develop a fully formed AAA game on a platform that only a tiny subset of the gaming population can access. It’s a chicken and egg situation that, frankly, I don’t know that will ever sort itself out. Are there interesting, fun experiences in VR? Absolutely. Are there enough of them to justify the purchase? Nope. People on event stages are certainly jazzed about its potential, but that’s because they’ll make money if people buy their products. And, for me at least, there haven’t been nearly enough reasons to do so. Novelty is great, but I think I’d rather save the four large in case they end up building Westworld in real life.

Kyle: I haven’t watched or read Westworld yet, but I assume it’s all fun and games without any danger or anything going awry, so that seems like a solid investment.

I’m not really sure what would put me over the edge and make me invest in virtual reality. I think it would be a price drop before the sudden appearance of a must-play experience. As it stands right now, having had at least some experience with all the major headsets, nothing is screaming “This is the future!” at me. It’s more of a dejected shoulder shrug that whispers with wavering confidence, “This is pretty cool, right?” I’m willing to agree with that voice that it is pretty cool, but it’s simply not the revelation I had when I first played Super Mario 64 on a demo unit at a store or saw how physics worked in Half-Life 2, which were mind-blowing experiences for me. Seeing those games in action demanded I seek out the full experiences, but my virtual-reality experiences have mostly just made me happy to have played them before moving back to traditional gaming experiences.

Jeff: You really should watch Westworld.

Beta Test All The Major VR Headsets Are Available – What’s The State Of The Platform?

Japanese Assassin's Creed Manga Getting English Localization

Titan Comics has revealed some of the interior art for the upcoming manga mini-series Assassin’s Creed: Awakening.

Awakening centers on Edward Kenway, who starred in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. The series is written by Yano Takashi and drawn by Oiwa Kenji, and follows Kenway’s path from steerage to the quarterdeck. This will be the first time this manga has been published in English.

Titan already has several Assassin’s Creed manga series running, including Assassins, Templars, and Last Descendants – Locus. Awakening is due to hit digital and store shelves Nov. 9.

For more interior art and cover variants, check out Comics Alliance.

[Source: Comics Alliance]

Beta Test Japanese Assassin’s Creed Manga Getting English Localization

Reader Discussion: Did You Buy PlayStation VR?

PlayStation VR is out today! It’s the most accessible of all the virtual reality headsets currently available, and the cheapest (but still very expensive). Did you get one?

We won’t know how it sold for some time, nor do we know yet if the headset is currently hard to find, but there are certainly some players who are excited about it. Are you one of them? The poll on our front page is leaning towards the, “No, I didn’t buy it direction,” but it is far from a scientific poll, so we’re curious for some more nuanced thoughts from our readers.

I spent a lot of time (and continue to spend a lot of time) with PlayStation VR, but I don’t have any plans on buying one for personal use. Let us know if you went out and bought one in the comments below, and let us know what you think!

For all of our PlayStation VR coverage, head here.

Beta Test Reader Discussion: Did You Buy PlayStation VR?

Kickstarter Project Aims To Finally Release Lost SNES Clinton Cat Game

If there’s one political question that’s sweeping the nation right now, it’s, “When can we play Socks the Cat, the lost Super Nintendo platformer based on Bill and Hillary Clinton’s cat?” If this Kickstarter hits its $30,000 goal, that question will finally have an answer.

Socks the Cat was an arguably complete SNES game made back in the early 1990s during Bill Clinton’s United States presidency. The game went missing after its publisher shut its doors, despite the game being supposedly “finished” and reviewed by some publications.

Then, in 2011, a private collector uploaded footage of the game to YouTube, which caught the eyes of collector, Tom Curtin. He then teamed up with publisher Second Dimension in hopes of releasing the game, hence the Kickstarter. Curtin has assembled a small team that specializes in retro games to clean up the code, squash bugs, and get the game ready for release.

Backer tiers range from the a digital emulated version of Socks the Cat, to new Second Dimension-developed SNES games, to physical Super Nintendo copies, and more.

Second Dimension has also addressed the elephant in the room by giving us Socks the Cat’s political beliefs by stating that he can’t vote in this upcoming election because, “he’s a cat. And he’s dead.”

[Source: Socks the Cat on KickStarter]

 

Our Take
While the timing is incredibly coincidental, reviving a once-dead game is an intriguing proposition. Whether or not the game is any good is another story, but just being able to resurrect a dead game, see it, and maybe play it marks an interesting point in gaming’s history.

Beta Test Kickstarter Project Aims To Finally Release Lost SNES Clinton Cat Game

Dark Souls III's Latest Ashes Of Ariandel DLC Trailer Shows Off Undead Matches

Dark Souls III’s first injection of DLC, arriving October 25, has a new trailer that shows off the new multiplayer content.

Ashes of Ariandel will be $14.99 and will include Undead Matches, which allows the game’s assorted factions to do battle. You can see it in action below. For more on Ashes of Ariandel, head here.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Another downloadable expansion is planned for 2017. It’s unclear what the second piece will offer, but you can buy into it immediately with the $24.99 season pass.

Beta Test Dark Souls III’s Latest Ashes Of Ariandel DLC Trailer Shows Off Undead Matches

Kirby: Canvas Curse And Animal Crossing: Wild World Available Now On Wii U Virtual Console

The Wii U got two well-received DS games on the Virtual Console today.

Kirby: Canvas Curse is the main draw of today’s update. Turned into a ball by a witch, Kirby must navigate the world using a rainbow colored line while absorbing abilities and trying to return to normal. This game will be great for people who enjoyed Rainbow Curse though without all the adorable claymation.

If you’d like to take life a little slower you can chill out with Animal Crossing: Wild World. This finally gives the Wii U a proper game in the series, Collect various bugs, fish, and villagers while trying to distract yourself from the crushing debt you accumulate so your house can have a small basement. Both games are priced at $9.99

 

Our Take
I can’t wait to have a ball with Canvas Curse, especially after having so much fun with Rainbow Curse. On the other hand Wild World seems like a strange choice since New Leaf is getting an update for amiibo functionality soon.

Beta Test Kirby: Canvas Curse And Animal Crossing: Wild World Available Now On Wii U Virtual Console

Here's All Of Our PlayStation VR Coverage In One Convenient Place

PlayStation VR is out today, and it has the potential to bring virtual reality to a wider audience than its competition thanks to a comparatively cheaper price and the PlayStation 4’s install base. We’ve been spending a lot of time with Sony’s headset and we’ve gathered up all of our coverage into one convenient place.

The PlayStation VR Review
The biggest question mark for Sony’s bold virtual reality vision is the hardware itself. You can find our review here where we gave a grade of C-. You can find our concluding thoughts from the review below.

PlayStation VR falls under the same argument that has plagued the ongoing war between PC gaming and console gaming for years. By the technical standards, Oculus and Vive on PC are stronger showcases for VR. However, PlayStation VR is cheaper, offers a legitimate virtual-reality experience that is more comfortable, and is easier to use than its competitors. For the console-exclusive gamers looking to enter the realm of virtual reality, PlayStation VR gets the job done. You can enter virtual worlds, get a sense that you’re really there, and have new interactive gaming experiences unlike anything you’ve seen before on consoles. You just might have a little bit of a headache as a result. – Kyle Hilliard

The Games
PlayStation VR has an impressive launch line-up, and while we haven’t been able to play and review everything, you can find our impressions for some of the standout games below.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood – 7

Rush of Blood is straightforward in its execution. It’s a simple action game that feels like an evolution of the light-gun shooter, but in this early age of virtual reality, it’s the right call. Pointing and shooting at scary things on a fun-house roller-coaster might not seem like the right direction for Until Dawn’s character-focused storytelling, but for PlayStation VR, it’s one of the best ways to get your feet wet, even if it doesn’t do anything bold or particularly innovative in the world of game design. – Kyle Hilliard

Batman: Arkham VR – 7.5

Yes, Batman: Arkham VR smacks of a proof-of-concept demo for VR, but even so, it’s a nice treat for Batman fans, and one of those experiences that you’ll want more of. – Andrew Reiner

Wayward Sky – 6.5

Wayward Sky is an entertaining adventure that never quite takes off. I enjoyed exploring the environments, but it doesn’t build on its delightfully charming world to make it memorable. It’s a good showcase for VR, where you feel immersed in its universe as you take control of several quirky machines, but the alluring concept falls flat as it never manages to be as intuitive as the world it presents. – Elise Favis

Thumper – 5.75

I enjoy challenging games when there’s a rewarding payoff. With Thumper, the reward of doing well is just more Thumper. If you’re really into the game’s bleak conceit, you may have the patience to hang with it for the duration. Personally, I was ready to leap out of the trough and never look back. – Jeff Cork

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Here They Lie – 8

While the story of what happens to the main characters is unfulfilling, the descent into the hellish world of Here They Lie is, on its own, worth taking. Its dreary, evocative environments, dark tone, and horrific imagery would stand out even outside the realm of VR games. Some of its places, acts, and monsters will stick with me for a while. It creates a strong sense of place, and while I wouldn’t say VR is crucial to experience, it definitely amplifies it. I may not fully get what happened during my time with Here They Lie, but I’m more than satisfied (and a little uneasy) about what I saw along the way. – Suriel Vazquez

(Please visit the site to view this media)

RIGS Mechanized Combat League Impressions

Rigs offers a mechanically simple, easy to grasp, and fun-to-play digital sports game. The nausea factor, however, absolutely has the potential to deter players. I could feel it in my stomach almost every time I dropped into the match after being taken out, and though it did get better the more I played (with frequent breaks) it still made me pause and take a deep breath every time I put the headset on. – Kyle Hilliard

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Rez Infinite Video Impressions

Rez Infinite has a new level, but is otherwise a nearly identical experience to its original release. The main difference is now you aim by looking, as opposed to moving a cursor with a control stick. VR ramps up the game’s intensity, and is easier to play as a result of its updated controls. Rez released 15 years ago on PlayStation 2, but despite its age, it feels like a game that was meant for virtual reality. – Kyle Hilliard

For more of our PlayStation VR games coverage, you can also watch the archive of our two-hour live stream where we dove deep into the hardware and played a handful of games, including a full playthrough of Batman: Arkham VR.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For still more coverage of PlayStation VR, head here to take part in our reader discussion about who is planning to pick up the device today.

Beta Test Here’s All Of Our PlayStation VR Coverage In One Convenient Place

Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (October 13, 2016)

Another week, another round of blogs. One game that seemed
to shine this week is Virginia, which is pretty cool to see.

Community Blogs
For October 6 – October 12:

I’m Too Dumb to Understand Virginia
Refle’s headline is provocative,
but he’s being honest: Virginia is pretty nutso. If I’ve learned anything from
reading this week’s blogs, it’s that this game is kind of…confusing,
mysterious, and just a real head scratcher. This blog has more words than
Virginia has game time, but it’s a good piece to help you ponder just what
happened.

A Round of Applause for Pokémon
When it comes to the
Pocket Monsters, Haley Shipley says critters like Pikachu and Bulbasaur deserve
their due. And she’s not just writing about mobile game Pokémon Go – there’s
been a lot of Pokémon action this year, including some fantastic animated
shorts.

Small Screen, Great Adventures
You don’t need a fancy
graphics card for the best gaming experience, writes GerardoExber. In his very
first blog sentence he praises Castlevania for the Gameboy Advance, and that
series is reason enough to relax on a couch, handheld plugged into the nearest
outlet, with eight hours to kill.

The Best Games Period – Honorable Mention
– Skies of Arcadia

I think Jack Gardner forgot to delete honorable mention from his title, but joking aside, Skies of Arcadia is fantastic and deserves recognition. It’s
easily one of my favorite games (airships and base customization and crew
recruitment Suikoden-ish style for the win). Find out why Jack likes it so
much. And for the record, I prefer the OG Dreamcast version though I own and
have played both to completion…twice.   

Late To The Party
Being social can be hard, but Jolt the Cynic is getting better at it thanks to
video games. I’m sure many people can relate to his story, and the fact that it
uses Destiny to make his point is all the better. He’s even shared his PSN tag
if you’d like to join him in some Destiny.

Five Things I Absolutely Know About
Virginia

Back to Virginia, we have Haley writing about what she thinks are all concrete
events or things in the game. Okay, some of the things she knows are actually
outside of the game, such as how to properly use lipstick. Like, how do you get
that wrong? 0 out of 10 for believability, Virginia.

Virtual Reality – The Future of Gaming?
Jamiy128 wants to wax poetic about virtual reality. Like, is it even worth it? Spoiler alert: Our
blogger is not really a fan of VR. But there is one thing I disagree with, and
that’s that the Virtual Boy was a failure. I will always remember the funky
little console for allowing me to play tennis in all of its red-lined glory.

Community Writing
Challenge:

What game screams
fall to you? Is it a game where you farm? Is it a blockbuster that came out
right after you went back to grade school? Or is it a sign that the summer
drought is over? Blog at me.

Community Playdate:

I sound like a
broken record, but I will be out of town making wedding plans. Wish me luck!

I hope you enjoy
the blogs! Please contact me via my Game Informer page or on Twitter at @LouisGarcia12 with
any blog news or playdate suggestions.

Beta Test Blog Herding – The Best Blogs Of The Community (October 13, 2016)

Valve Prototyping New HTC Vive VR Controllers

Valve is holding its Steam Dev Days, and at the developer event the company revealed prototype controllers for the HTC Vive – the VR platform created by Valve and HTC.

From reports, the prototype’s main differentiator from the currently available Vive controllers is that the user can close his/her hand around the controller. This simulates your avatar picking up and dropping objects onscreen. As the photos from Pluto VR developer Shawn Whiting show, the controllers strap onto the hands and feature lights and other sensors.

No release date, pricing, or other details have been officially announced for these design-in-progress controllers.

For more on the Vive and its current controllers, check out our review of the hardware.

[Source: Verge and Shawn Whiting]

Beta Test Valve Prototyping New HTC Vive VR Controllers