At $250, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is a $50 discount on the $300 price of the regular Xbox One S.
The only slight bonus to this version is that you get Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves bundled with the digital-only Xbox One
When this revision was rumored, I wondered what the pitch would be. It’s not an Xbox One X, so the All-Digital Edition is lacking in performance. The discount is practically speaking, nothing, today.
That $50-off-the-$300 MSRP of a regular S is not enough of a discount, especially when the Xbox One S is regularly on sale for $250. At the time of writing, you can get an Xbox One S 1TB console with a game and a disc drive for $250 from Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Gamestop.
My only guess to explain this odd strategy is that at E3 Microsoft could announce a price drop for the Xbox One X. Maybe $350, and cease producing the Xbox One S with the Blu-Ray drive. That distinction, a cheaper Xbox One X, and a Xbox One S All-Digital Edition that could be regularly discounted to $200 would be a good wrap-up price on this generation for Microsoft before their next console is released.
Hats off to Sony for upstaging Microsoft with their PlayStation 5 announcement. With new consoles coming in the next year or two I don’t think I’d buy or recommend a PlayStation 4 Pro at this point, or an Xbox One X, to anyone who owns a base PS4 or Xbox One. I’d expect much more from Microsoft about their commitment to a next generation console at their E3 presentation.
Also, this video Microsoft’s crack marketing team put together to announce this all-digital edition is supposed to be funny. Yikes.
My fear with anything like this as I sit here in April 2019 is that a PlayStation 5 would be noted to the press at length, and then the punchline when final details are announced is that it could be just the server that sits at a data center to host your game stream, but that isn’t the vibe I get from Rubin’s article.
Rubin also talks about the supported resolution of the new hardware in this parenthetical:
(While the next-gen console will support 8K graphics, TVs that deliver it are few and far between, so we’re using a 4K TV.)
I don’t for a second buy that this machine can do anything like real 8K rendering. Especially in combination with any kind of ray tracing.
I am not super interested in the ray-tracing GPU situation today. My read on it has been that enabling ray tracing features destroys performance on today’s modern, expensive, desktop gaming hardware from Nvidia. A 2020 (or 2021) release date isn’t going to magically make today’s performance issues and cost go down to the point where true 8K rendering and ray tracing can coexist. Sony isn’t even using Nvidia parts. Cerny doesn’t seem like the type to bullshit, and that quote above isn’t quoting Cerny.
Space explor-o-build-emup, Astroneer, exited Steam’sEarly Access program and it’s still as cool as ever if you’re interested in mostly calmly exploring unknown worlds, building new things on them, and then occasionally running low on oxygen.
In terms of the survival genre, Astroneer is definitely on the soft side of things. The leisurely pace of Astroneer puts it closer to a game like Stardew Valley-it feels like the little brother of the current version of No Man’s Sky at times-giving you a series of tasks that push you toward an end goal. The primary focus is exploration, as you push out further from wherever your shelter is located. The planets you find yourself on are randomly-generated; a series of bright, colorful alien landscapes. Mountains, plains of swaying grass, and odd-looking trees stretch out in every direction in neon greens, oranges, and blues. Astroneer looks inviting and fun, and your lone explorer bounding across the landscape never diminishes that.
The people behind the Zen Pinball games, Zen Studios, have put out a first-person, turn-based, dungeon crawling, RPG called Operencia: The Stolen Sun that looks a lot like a modern take on the old Wizardry games. Unfortunately there are very few reviews of the game available, the one I found from IGN Spain is worth reading (machine translated version to English) for Javier Artero’s comments on the game as well as its translation.
Seeing a turn-based first-person role-playing game makes me wish for a modern remake of the Doom RPG and Wolfenstein RPG games from id that have been lost to the sands of time.
Either way, you can play Theme Hospital through the Dosbox variations gog and Origin provide, or via an open-source engine called CorsixTH. That engine is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Just be prepared for ancient video intros and lots of midi music blaring through your brain.
Hempuli Oy’s Baba is You came out last month and has received nothing but praise, since. Baba is a puzzle game that is about re-writing the language of the game itself when you (Baba,Baba is You, remember?) move blocks of words. The developer, Arvi Teikari, is behind a ton of other games.
I think one of my absolute favourite things about this, beyond being a completely original and utterly brilliant puzzler, is how meticulously balanced it is in terms of offering progress. The difficulty curves up in each set of levels, getting pretty steep toward each groups’ end, but it unlocks the next set before you’ve completed them all. The difficulty of the next group dips back down again as it also introduces new rules, meaning that even if you’ve become completely stuck in one place, there’s likely somewhere else you can continue playing. Offering both super-difficulty and progress is all too rare, and something to celebrate.
Somehow I never got around to writing about the launch of Two-Point Hospital last year. It’s the silly hospital administration game from some ex-developers of the beloved classic from Bullfrog, Theme Hospital. Both have similarities in their management of the hospital you build and in the silly ailments that patients are seeking remedies for.
Two-Point Studios have already added a bunch of free updates including workshop support and two paid DLC packs. One on a tropical island and the other in a colder climate.
I finally got a chance to try Two-Point Hospital during a free weekend on Steam and had quite a bit of fun with it. It is a lot like Theme Hospital, except not running in DosBox and that really helps when you’re trying to play a game without watching your monitor throw a fit attempting to reach the old resolutions.
I really liked James Swinbanks’ description of that goofy attitude:
Part of Two Point Hospital’s overwhelming charm is its sense of humor, which permeates every corner of the game, from the fantastically funny radio station–complete with fake ads and feature segments–to the pun-laden disease names like Jest Infection or 8-bitten. Someone suffering Mock Star shuffles about with the look and swagger of Freddie Mercury, requiring a session with the psychiatrist to pull them out of it. Equally funny are the contraptions used to cure some of the rarer conditions. The Extract-a-Pan treats Pandemic and is a giant magnet on the end of a tube that pulls the pan off the top of the patient’s head. The writing throughout is sharp and witty, with the descriptions of various ailments being a particular high point.
But just discovering those diseases and their often darkly funny symptoms, as well as watching your staff and patients go about their day, feels rewarding enough. Everything moves with the look and flow of a cartoon pantomime; patients will die only to come back as ghosts and haunt your hallways until a janitor can come along and suck them up with a vacuum cleaner. At one point my receptionist got up from his desk, vomited in front of patients because he was disgusted by something, then left to pour a coffee in the break room before demanding a pay raise. It nails the Theme Hospital nostalgia and is so good that even the 20th time you hear the announcer ask patients “not to die in the hallways” is hilarious.
Two-Point Hospital is kind of unique these days, the Theme Hospital type of sillyness is rare. Heck, any kind of genuinely funny games are so rare.
Unfortunately the free weekend and sale are over on Steam, and the game is back up to $35. It does support macOS and Linux as well as Windows.
As I’ve remarked before, the Xbox One is such an odd console. Every exclusive game I want for it is now either available on Windows 10 or will be. Sunset Overdrive is even finally available on Steam for Windows. Still, I keep the Xbox One because of the backwards compatibility features for some 360 and original Xbox discs. However, the 360 games I’d like to play with my family are Kinect games that won’t work on the One.
I don’t know what a disc-less machine really offers anyone picking out a console besides, possibly, being slightly cheaper and more reliable. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft makes the pitch for this revision, if it happens.
An Ape has escaped, but he isn’t a friendly little hominid with a siren. No, this is a vicious one from Gabe Cuzzillo, Matt Boch, and Bennett Foddy, oddly enough. Ape Out is an overhead smash-em-up with noisy drums and it looks like much fun for anyone who enjoys escapism.
The whole game has an algorithmic masterpiece of a score by Matt Boch, frenetic drums that grow louder and faster as the violence increases, or dip into a lull at times of calm. Each death is greeted by a triumphant crash of cymbals, so you feel like a conductor in your own mad orchestra of carnage. You, somehow, feel part of the creative process. The way you smashed three men together, just so, leaving a blush of red over the blue carpet, and adding just a soupçon of orange viscera from your own wounds. “Ah, exquisite,” you think. “Perhaps I was always meant to be a great improvisational artist.” But there is no time to pause and admire your work, for you must knuckle on and create another.
Ape Out is $15 on the Nintendo Switch, and various stores for Windows, like itch.io, Humble, and Steam.