Games Inbox: Was Halo Infinite and the Xbox Games Showcase a letdown?

The Friday Inbox has trouble going back to other games after The Last Of Us Part 2 , as a reader pays 88p for Contra Anniversary Collection.

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Combat devolved
As a long-time Halo fan who has thoroughly enjoyed all the games and read several novels, I’m a little shocked (and saddened) by how bad the demo was. I thought going into this that Microsoft had to knock it out of the park to have a chance with this crazy cross-gen strategy, but Halo Infinite certainly didn’t set the world on fire.

There were the actual graphics, which an Xbox One S shouldn’t have any difficulty with – the pop-in, the textures (seriously, some of the screen grabs going round on Twitter are horrendous), the poor plasma explosions, the animation of the enemy ships that makes them look like they are on a Scalextric set… Unreal Engine 5 this is not.

I see what they are going for with the art style, but from the first look at the game I was worried about it. To me at least, it looks like a major step backward, and so… basic. At least then you think they would have loads of nice particle effects and the like, but that doesn’t seem present either.

Then we have the gameplay, which looks EXACTLY like the game I played almost 20 years ago. I don’t think that’s a good thing and I’m not buying a grappling hook as combat evolved.

What they showed didn’t give me a sense of the game nor a burning desire to play it. In fact, I am less enthusiastic about it now. Is this a reactionary take? Yes, absolutely. I’m not throwing a strop about it, I just hope I am proved wrong and that I have a ball with the game.

No rush
The Xbox Games Showcase left a similar taste to the Sony PlayStation 5 reveal only a little stronger. Some really nice games to look forward to but nothing that screams next gen. As next gen showcases both Sony and Microsoft have underwhelmed.

We’ve know for a while Microsoft’s USP for the next gen is a consumer friendly business model with Xbox Game Pass at the centre. In that regard though the showcase was hugely impressive. That all the games shown will be on Game Pass confirms the service will only get stronger and stronger. Microsoft are predominately selling a service next gen and the Xbox Series X is just one means to do that. It’s an observation and not a criticism, I think Game Pass is fantastic and it could win Microsoft my next gen cash.

Halo Infinite was disappointing. I love Halo and will enjoy Infinite. It’s the gunplay and colourful aesthetic I like most about Halo, both were in good form in the demo. But after Sony and Nintendo gave fresh takes on their games in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and God Of War I’d hoped Microsoft would do the same with Halo. Maybe it’ll prove to be the case but from the demo seen they’ve tried to recreate what made Halo: Combat Evolved so loved only a bit bigger and nicer looking.

All gens take a few years to get going and it’s looking like this will prove to be the case more than ever with the next gen. The hardware is beefy and impressive and I’ve no doubt that it will be home to amazing games. But right now, I’m not feeling the urge to pick either console up at launch. Renewing Game Pass in November on my Xbox One X and working through my PlayStation 4 back catalogue for at the least the first year of the next gen seems fine to me.

GC: All of that makes sense to us.

Third time lucky?
I’ve just watch the Xbox live event and the only good looking game was Forza Motorsport, which let’s be honest one game from an hour of games is poor. Does Phil sit in a meeting and say, ‘Right, we messed up in the first event, how do we mess up the second one even more?’ What a joke.

I know it’s a fresh gen but my word there was nothing there really. An hour of my life I’ll never get back. Is Xbox Series X hellbent on giving Sony another win? At the moment Xbox needs to give up on hardware and games and stick with PC software. It’s going to be a very interesting weekend Hot Topic on the event when you hold it.

And before you say anything GC, it’s July. There is four months till things start getting delivered. You’re meant to build hype. Xbox has gotta make 110 million PlayStation fans jump ship. They needed to start on the first event, they didn’t. They needed to do it in second event and they didn’t. How many times do they need to realise they’re going wrong?

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Unremarkable mic drop
Xbox just had their showcase, it was a decent if unremarkable showing. Truly disappointed not to see any Hellblade 2 gameplay or really much of any gameplay barring Halo Infinite and The Medium (the two worlds thing is pretty awesome). I’d put it totally on par with the PlayStation event but they did have Resident Evil 8 to give me tingles, though I’m not sure if it really counts as it’s a multiplatform game anyway. Horizon Forbidden West didn’t do much for me as I didn’t really like the original.

The biggest game reveals were the new role-playing game from Obsidian, which looks really cool from the brief glimpse we got. Everwild looks pretty but I wish they’d tell us what on earth you do in the game. Halo Infinite looks like it’ll be a stellar entry and the map looks enormous and then of course we got FABLE!

This was their mic drop moment for me and the thing that excites me is that it’s obvious Playground gets it. I was worried that a new developer would change what made Fable special – my fears have been put at ease. Dark British fairy tale with a wicked sense of humour. Now show me more, in fact they can just hook Fable up to my veins, I am ready.

Almost free
Contra Anniversary Collection for £4 on Switch eShop is an absolute steal (and it only cost me 88 pence after using gold points).

I’d never played the Mega Drive or Game Boy games and they both look very good from my brief initial play. Unusually I prefer the NES versions to the arcade games of the first two as the controls just seem tighter.

Also, good to be able to play Super Probotector in 60Hz mode along with its Japanese equivalent Contra Spirits because I will be able to use the Konami code.

Not sure if any of the games have ray-tracing.
John (AKI)

Relaxing stream
In regards to the guy from last week, asking what compels people to watch game streamers, I can say from a bit of personal experience (I only watch a couple of people) that it can be a great way to relax. I watch a guy called RadRat who’s currently doing a zero stat run on the old Tony Hawk’s games, which is actually quite interesting. Plus, his narration is quite chilled with him not discussing heavy topics, no politics, and not even any swear words. The whole thing is oddly compelling and is a great way to unwind after a difficult day.

I also see a lot of posts from female streamers on Twitter and they seem to attract a lot of attention from male gamers, and from checking out a few of their streams I get the impression that most of the guys are just lonely, awkward dudes who enjoy interacting with attractive women they probably wouldn’t have the courage to approach in real life, while they play video games. As long as they are respectful, I don’t see that as an issue as I was that awkward in my early 20s and probably would have participated in that too.

Cutting differences
RE: the difference between The Last Of Us 2 and Ghost Of Tsushima. I got excited when a cut scene triggered for The Last Of Us.

I get frustrated when one kicks in for Ghost Of Tsushima. Every little action you do gets a little cut scene that’s unskippable and it’s so annoying. Other than that it’s a fine game.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Never again
I’ve read with interest the contrasting responses to The Last Of Us Part 2 and only now that I’ve completed it for the second time have I felt ready to contribute. Firstly, what an amazing job Naughty Dog have done in building a world filled with real, identifiable people. If the first game was the high watermark before for video game storytelling then this has moved it up another couple of levels. I’ll admit that at certain points of the games I felt anger at the things they made me do to characters I loved, before making me question why I actually loved those people, who are basically barbarians causing hurt and pain.

The empathy it made me feel in the end for people I really wanted to kill for much of the game was an amazing achievement. After this I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to relate to a character in a game who kills to get his MacGuffin.

I’ve just finished watching a movie on Netflix called extraction where a big buff idiot spends two hours killing endless supplies of brown-skinned baddies and I can’t stop comparing it negatively to the game. There’s literally no shades of grey – there’s just goodies and baddies. For me personally I’ll never be able to accept that again. Which is all down to Naughty Dog and the fantastic game they created.

Inbox also-rans
RE: RamboSi. The Ghost Of Tsushima load times have actually been made longer than they could be by the developer so people have more time to read the hints. So even though they’re very fast. They could be faster still.
Oni-Samurai (PSN ID)
Currently playing: Red Dead Redemption 2

Hurrah! Microsoft is bringing back Fable. A… beloved franchise? I mean is it? Did anyone really like it that much? It’s not like any of them were classics and somehow the world has managed to struggle on without another for the last decade.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Blitz, who asks what’s your least favourite aspect of modern gaming?

What gets you most upset about video games today and why? Is it unfinished games? The lack of variety and innovation in big budget titles? Maybe it’s performance issues like low frame rates or long load times? Or perhaps microtransactions, subscriptions, loot boxes, and other modern money-making schemes?

How serious do you consider these problems to be and have they ever put you off from buying a particular game or piece of hardware? And do you expect anything to change about them in the next generation?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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