How’s that industry doing? Q1 reflection and Bloodborne thoughts.

Bloodborne-Game-WallpaperAs we wrap up the last few weeks of February it’s time to take inventory of where the industry hardware giants stand in terms of positions of power going into 2015. So I’d like to take a minute to talk about it, and then I’ll leave my impressions so far of Bloodborne.

In terms of sales, the PS4 continued to dominate by outselling the WiiU and the Xbox One through the holiday season, although Sony didn’t edge Microsoft out by that much. They key to continued success for either console this year lay in what exclusive titles they have to bring to the table. Ironically it’s the dark horse Nintendo who has the best line up for the year with a number of highly anticipated first party titles and games that have been simmering for some time now (Zelda, Star Fox, Xenoblade Chronicles X, etc.). Comparatively Microsoft and Sony have had very little to show for themselves and in some cases are working with less all the time. Both consoles have a number of indie titles that seem destined to see limited sales and little or no potential to move a $400.00 console. Microsoft’s big go to, Halo 5, is still nearly a year out with rumors of rushed development looming over the franchise and the dismal technical performance of the Master Chief Collection.

For Sony it’s been a bad week on that front. Late last year the promise of a console version of Elder Scrolls online held less promise as time went on when it became increasingly clear that no one was interested in playing it anymore. Now the much touted “The Order: 1886” was dealt a serious blow when rumors and leaked information indicated that it was anywhere from 5-6 hours long, game play and cinematic story included. While it wouldn’t be the first time a short game moved consoles The Order appears to lack the re-playability necessary to entice, and videos of a game full of Quick Time Events isn’t helping. Sony’s last big push this quarter will be launching a few weeks from now with From Software’s Bloodborne.

Announced at E3 at the same time as The Order, Bloodborne is at it’s core a ‘Souls’ game that is promised as the natural evolution of their cult PS3 hit Demon Souls. Around the time the company was finishing the Artorias of the Abyss DLC and moving on to Dark Souls 2, Sony approached From Software with hat-in-hand in order to propose a new PS4 exclusive title in the vein of a souls game. The result is the Gothic styling of Bloodborne set in the dark city of Yharnam.

Full disclaimer, I love Souls way too much. I have logged a stupid amount of hours between the three existing games and will continue to. With that out of the way, the first impression I had of Bloodborne wasn’t positive. It’s presentation, aside from some blurred press only video’s that were leaked earlier that year, was a CG only teaser that did nothing to tell me about the game. This would remain that way till around august of 2014 when From Software finally started showing us the game proper. 

Now it’s hard to imagine not being excited for it’s release. Multiple game play videos point to it having all the same things you love from Dark Souls, but faster, tighter, and meaner. Shields are in the game, but can’t be used as a crutch so Director Miyazaki reports. No more clunky armor rolling either, the quick dodge looks like the natural evolution of the combat roll, responsive and keeping you ready to counter attack. I can’t really discuss the merits of gun play until I’ve played it myself, and the inclusion of magic in this title is minimal at best guess, even with an arcane stat, its presence hasn’t been felt or broadly acknowledged. One exciting tidbit is the evidence and rumors pointing to Bloodborne being a possible, if indirect, sequel to Demon Souls (A glitch during an early demo this year had NPC dialogue spoiling as much).

Graphically it continues to impress, early tech demo’s made the game seem like one of the first truly next generation games that would be launching. Amid rumors of downgrades (many spurred by the unfortunate downgrade that Dark Souls 2 received) video builds have been showing constant improvement where I’ve seen, especially, the lighting making huge adjustments to complement the atmosphere as well as texture improvement.

 I’d like to say that From might finally have a 10/10 on their hands but those games are a rare unicorn. If nothing else though from all appearances Bloodborne looks to take the world by storm. Ultimate Judgment reserved. I’ll be streaming game play when it launches on March 24th.

(P.S. Super excited)bb2