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Games Inbox: Can Xbox Series X beat PS5?

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 – a better looking game than Godfall? (pic: Microsoft)

The Monday Inbox is in agreement that Xbox Series X is a terrible name, as one reader wonders if Fast & Furious 12 will be a video game.

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PLEASE NOTE: As usual, GameCentral will only have a minimal service over Christmas and the New Year, although we will be running various end of the year (and decade) features and a preview of 2020. We always like to include Reader’s Features as well though, so if you’ve been meaning to write one but haven’t now would be a great time to send one in for us to use this month.


Everything but the name
For me the worst thing about the Xbox Series X name is that it takes all the attention away from the good stuff that Microsoft did do at The Game Awards. Yes, it’s a boring, needlessly confusing name but I applaud the box is not the usual form factor as all the others and I like that it’s not just change for change’s sake. It looks different and modern and interesting and that’s great.

The trailer for Hellblade 2 was also much more impressive than Godfall. I know Godfall wasn’t a Sony game but while technically competent it didn’t show or do anything new or interesting. Hellblade 2 not only looks pre-rendered (which it may well have been, we all know how often companies have scammed these things before) but has really impressive facial animation too.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Hellblade 1 all that much (I wasn’t a big fan) but this was a very impressive trailer for what is a second tier, at best game, for Microsoft. Now imagine how something like Fable 4 is going to look with something like the same tech. It’s obvious to me that Sony already has much more serious competition for the next generation and I think the inevitable Xbox Series X vs. PlayStation 5 showdown is going to make everyone forget the Xbox One almost instantly.


First blood
Was anyone else a little disappointed by Ghost Of Tsushima at The Game Awards? It looked good, but the facial animation, and just faces in general, looked a bit off to me. I’ve seen much better this gen and it’s clearly nowhere near as good as The Last Of Us Part 2, which will be coming out beforehand.

If there is a PlayStation 5 specific version, rather than just a straight port or backwards compatibility, that could be one way to show that there’s been an improvement. I know all companies lie with their next gen stuff but the Hellblade 2 trailer for Xbox Series X looked seriously good and surprised me by being quite a jump forward.

By comparison, Godfall looked okay but I wouldn’t say it was something I’d look at and immediately say was next gen. Probably I’d assume it was pre-rendered, which is impressive, but it’s not anything that blew me away. Apart from the stupid name I think it was a good opening salvo from Microsoft and Sony needs to have a good reply for it and soon.


Forever young
Strange that it’s taken this long to get a Fast & Furious game, I wonder what made them decide now rather than any other time in the last 10 years. Maybe it’s because the actors are starting to get old but their computer selves can always look at their peak?

Graphics obviously aren’t that good now but you can imagine in a generation or two that they’re going to look at least as good as something like Princess Leia from Rogue One, so at that point will we start to see Hollywood get properly interested in games? Maybe as the only way to do official sequels with the original cast?

I’m still impressed by the likenesses in Alien: Isolation, even though that was only cross-gen, but the thing in that game is that the characters looked young but their voice actors, at least the men, sounded very old. So maybe in the future it won’t be Hollywood actors that publishers will be paying for but Hollywood impersonators?


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Worse and worse
I completely agree with the Reader’s Feature Tater contributed this weekend, regarding Microsoft’s apparent inability to find a fitting name for their consoles.

In fact, I wrote in myself several weeks ago suggesting Infinite as a name for the new Xbox, marrying that with Halo and a new Forza Motorsport game, the eighth in the series, eight looking like the infinity symbol would’ve worked so well!

One thing I’d like to add to Tater’s concerns is, if we are to believe the Series X or XSX has multiple SKUs, will there be an XSX1 and an XSX2?

The new branding from here on could get a hell of a lot worse from a marketing standpoint.
Bad Edit


No chance
A very good Reader’s Feature at the weekend about Pokémon and I tend to agree with the basic idea. Sword and Shield is filled with rubbish, old pokémon and all the best ideas revolve around the new ones that have weird abilities and evolution requirements. Doubling down on that makes total sense to me or otherwise we’re just going to end up with 1,000+ cut designs that are basically just a bunch of stats.

As was said though, I very much do not expect Game Freak to take anything like that daring a step. To them Sword and Shield was daring and they’ll probably just going to take a rest for the next few sequels as if they’ve made some massive change that needs time to settle.

Personally I think removing, or at least drastically reducing, Game Freak’s involvement is the only way to go. They’re too stuck in their ways, their tech is awful, and you need someone hungry and ambitious to take over. Ideally developers that grew up with Pokémon and think like the fans do in terms of where it should and how it should, well… evolve.

The only chance of that happening though is if one of the games flops and that definitely hasn’t happened this time.


Microsoft tradition
Sunday’s Reader’s Feature made me wonder: don’t companies do consumer focus groups? You know, put some punters in a room and get their feedback on product ideas. Why is a $1 trillion dollar company not doing this? Releasing a new console with a horrendous name is like running a marathon but tripping up and breaking both legs three feet away from the finish line. Why go to all that effort just to needlessly sabotage yourself?

Tater was of course right about skipping a number. If Apple could skip an iPhone then Microsoft can skip an Xbox. On the other hand, I’d feel a little sorry if they ever do see sense. Their laughable naming skills have become a fond idiosyncrasy of the gaming industry for me. Like Nintendo’s logic-defying unpredictability. Or the inability of every single publisher ever to look at a calendar.

Anyway, for the sake of healthy market competition, I wish Microsoft good luck marketing the Xbox Whatever X. They might need it…


People hunter
I agree I’d much rather play as a bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe than a Jedi. But what was interesting about the Reader’s Feature at the weekend was when they pointed out that there aren’t really any bounty hunter games of any kind. Where you have someone you’re trying to catch and have to follow clues and such to find them.

There’s a bit of that in other games, obvious Red Dead Redemption, but it’s never much of a focus and they don’t seem to put much real effort into it. Historical, modern day, or sci-fi it seems like the perfect set-up to a video game to me. Like Monster Hunter but with people. Wonder why it’s never happened.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Fast forward
I didn’t stay up to watch The Game Awards but I have now watched it all on YouTube… or at least that was my original intention. What the hell is this thing? More than three hours of nothing but adverts, either actual adverts or promotions for games that are thinly disguised adverts. I actually started to feel slightly dirty sitting through it all. And might have had some sort of existential crisis about the overpowering influence of capitalism, if it hadn’t got so boring and repetitive that I stopped after not much more than an hour and skimmed through the rest.

Looking at the least of announcements it seems like I didn’t miss anything in the other two hours, so it was also top-loaded in terms of news and you really could just watched the first 30 minutes and got all the good bits (Xbox Series X and Godfall). Clearly, given the time it’s on, it’s not aimed at European gamers but the whole thing from concept to execution is just plain weird.

I didn’t realise before either, that the awards were such a small part of it. Hardly any winners were on stage and most of the awards they just announced in a quick voice over, before getting to another pre-rendered trailer that told you absolutely nothing. No wonder the Nintendo Direct format has been adopted by Sony now. I advise Microsoft to do the same, because the best bit about those is that they rarely last longer than 20 minutes.


Inbox also-rans
Interesting feature by Tater regarding the new Xbox console’s name, and a good point made about not numbering it, as they would be forever a digit behind Sony. I personally would of opted for naming it after the Greek alphabet, Xbox Alpha vs. PlayStation 5 sounds much marketable in my opinion.
rael1974 (PSN ID)

GC: That would make it Xbox Delta vs. PlayStation 5. Which is still miles better than what they went with.

Just when you thought Microsoft can’t get any worse with console names, they have outdone themselves. You know the console will be shortened to S X, and everyone will just refer to it as the SexBox.
Alek Kazam

GC: We’re not going to refer to it as that.

I know it’s a long way off, but when you eventually review Godfall on PlayStation 5, if it turns out to be a very poor game you can say it’s God aw-fall! Hope you and all your readers have a very merry Christmas.
Tim Keeling

GC: Sure, but we’ll pretend we made it up!

Apologies if Game Central or anyone has mentioned this already but you can get The Wolf Among Us free on PC on Epic Games Store until Thursday 19th December at 4pm.
Andrew J.


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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 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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