Games Inbox: Will Xbox give up on Game Pass?

The Thursday Inbox has some mixed feedback on Metroid Dread, as one reader wishes there was a Snatcher 2.

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In it to win it
I was pretty shocked to see the story that Microsoft has missed its targets for Game Pass. I know we’re not in lockdown anymore, but I would’ve thought things were still on a high. But they weren’t even close and nowhere near what things were last year. It was still a big increase but if we’ve learnt one thing about companies it’s that the second exec’s money is on the line you see a sudden change in approach.

But what could they do to change Game Pass? Spend even more money on buying up exclusives? Buy even more developers to make their own exclusives? To be honest I think it’s probably as simple as that. I know some will argue that that at some point Microsoft will just give up, but I get the feeling that Game Pass is going to be around forever. There is already a sunk cost fallacy feeling to it all, where the only answer anyone has is to spend even more.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect that’ll probably work in the long run. You know… after Microsoft has strip-minded the games industry and outspent every possible rival, probably including Sony. Win or lose I just don’t see them ever giving up on Game Pass, which as GC says will only become more relevant once streaming is reliable for everyone. Game Pass is here to stay, no matter how much money it loses.
Bors

Expiration date
Just wanted to pass on a warning to other Nintendo voucher users, the ones you can buy if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription (2 for €99 for me).

I recently purchased the new OLED Switch, as I plan on gifting my old model to my nephew and niece, after transferring my data I noticed my two vouchers had disappeared from my account.

I contacted Nintendo customer service and after investigating was informed that they had expired as 12 months had elapsed since purchase.

They had indeed been purchased in July of last year and the last full price game I bought was Paper Mario, so I was at fault, but as I pointed out to them last year wasn’t exactly a normal year and their release schedule was barren to say the least and that they could have extended the life of the vouchers in light of the Covid situation. They should at least send some sort of notification that the vouchers are about to expire to give you the option to at least pre-order something so the vouchers don’t go to waste.

Lesson learned and €99 poorer.
digdis121

Forgotten pleasures
I think I wrote to you back when the PC Engine Mini was released, hoping that we would get an English version of Snatcher included, as I always recall it being one of my favourite childhood gaming experiences. Alas, it was the Japanese version only, but I was delighted to find it included on an Anbernic handheld I recently purchased.

It was with some trepidation that I sat down to start playing it again after all these years. I was eager to reacquaint myself with the story and characters, but I didn’t want my memories ruined, as I know how badly these things date over time.

Happy to say I needn’t have worried. Great characters, script and setting. Some really top notch music and also the plot really sucked me in again, as I’d forgotten much of it over the years.

If anything, playing this again so many years later had me wondering why Konami has left this in limbo for so many years? It is a ripe project for remastering, remaking, or simply just giving us the option to play it again on Switch or something. In many ways, it reminds me a lot of Phoenix Wright without the courtroom stuff, but in a much more intriguing and appealing setting.

For once, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t remembering it through rose-tinted spectacles.
Arcadian73

GC: Both Snatcher and Ace Attorney are visual novels so that comparison makes sense. As for why there hasn’t been a new game, Konami probably feels that, as Metal Gear Survive proved, it’s impossible to make a sequel without the original creator.

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Strange love
I’m a few hours into Metroid Dread and have to say I’m loving it. That said I can totally understand people questioning the £50 price tag (I paid £35) or it scoring a 9.

The gameplay is great, rewarding, highly satisfying; all good things. From a story perspective though it’s awful and I’m not sure an argument that the games which tried to have more of a story weren’t great really works as an excuse. Maybe it’s made worse as I’ve never played any of the previous games but starting a game with a recap of some games which I assume consist of bad thing needs killing, killed it. Next game bad thing is back, kill it again. Really is a great idea as the intro was basically that repeated for however many games there’s been followed by you guessed it, bad thing is back again go kill it.

The graphics also don’t wow. They aren’t bad, but there’s nothing overly impressive about them, nor are any of the rooms particularly memorable. This all leads to a first impression where you question, is it any better than all the cheap 2D games out there?

I also don’t feel like any argument of it being quite long justifies anything either. If a game being short doesn’t make it bad, then. It stands to reason just being long doesn’t make it good.

So overall, fun game, I’d give it a 7 or 8. Not sure I’d class if as AAA, but £35 feels like the right price and that’s what I paid, so couldn’t be happier.

Thanks to whoever put the offer code in the comments.
Tim

The price is right
Just a heads up for anyone planning to buy Metroid Dread for the Switch. Currys is currently selling it for £39.99. However, if you buy it via their website you can use the code ‘GAMENEXTDAY’ to take another £5 off to take it to £34.99.

I was on the fence initially as it’s not the type of game I’d go for but with all the good reviews and at such a good price I thought I’d give it a try and now I’m looking forward to playing it either today or tomorrow when I pick it up.
matc7884

Dread-ful exploration
I just defeated the fantastic final boss of Metroid Dread last night. I loved the design of the boss, in particularly their attack pattern which was very well thought through and forced you to utilise all your abilities to win. In fact, all the bosses in the game were a real highlight, showcasing the fantastic graphics and offering a good challenge without being frustrating. It was a wise decision to lean into the boss battles for the last third of the game and play to the title’s strengths. Unfortunately I was not as satisfied with some of the game’s other elements, particularly the exploration.

Mercury Steam made a couple of basic design decisions that I fundamentally disagree with. The first is the design of the map. Splitting planet ZDR into disparate areas divided by transports and loading screens made the game world feel very disjointed, disrupting the flow of exploration. Instead of starting at a central point and slowly working your way out, expanding the game world, Dread felt strangely linear as you were lead on a set path through each separate area. The use of teleporters exacerbated the sense of being pulled by the nose as you warp around the map to self-contained sections which feel fairly detached from the main area they inhabit.

The maps in general didn’t have a good sense of cohesion with a few too many dead ends and blocked corridors that meant traipsing around the long way. Journeying from one place to another could feel very stilted, making exploration feel much more of a chore than it should be. The embodiment of this complaint is the E.M.M.I.s. I understand the thought behind them, to add a new element and mix up the gameplay, but in practice I mostly just found them an annoyance. At one point I got slightly stuck and had to cross an E.M.M.I. zone repeatedly to see where to go next. Trying to get from A to B through a forced stealth section is not my idea of fun.

Let’s hope when the new 3D Metroid emerges it showcases a cohesive, interconnected world like the ones I fell in love with in Super Metroid and Metroid Prime.
Ryan O’D
PS: I have to disagree with you on Hollow Knight, I think it’s a far better game than Dread.

GC: Metroid Prime was also split up into different areas, in a very similar manner. Even Super Metroid had its distinct zones, as you can see on the map.

Relative praise
Nice to see some love for Far Cry 6 in the Inbox. So many side missions, bases, hunting, and checkpoints to do that I’m enjoying, I find myself forgetting to start a main mission!
Adam Lion 23 (Xbox gamertag)
PS: I’ve played every Far Cry since the third game. Though I’d rank Primal the lowest of the bunch I really enjoyed the game. There… I said it.

Role-playing purity
To me, Mass Effect 2 was a much better action role-player than The Witcher 3. It’s the only one of those that Preston listed where I gave much attention to a lot of the characters, wanted to learn more about them and spend more time with them.

I also wasn’t put off within the first couple of hours by the dry menus, the inventory system, the reliance on detective mode, which was cliched even in 2015, and the torrents of map icons. Regarding the latter, I hope the trend going forward is for developers to move away from designing open world content in this way.

I doubt The Witcher 3’s reputation will be tainted by its team’s cynical actions. The thing that might is if people replay it and decide all the appealing stuff Preston highlights could easily have fit into a tighter, more focused experience like the Mass Effect games mostly were.

Anyway, for me FromSoftware’s games are better role-playing games than both of them because more of the role-playing elements really matter, including the direction you take your build, how you distribute your stats, what equipment you have, and how you approach certain problems. The world building is also far more interesting than the overdone and uninteresting tone and setting of The Witcher (as is Mass Effect’s universe).

Character interaction and story outcomes aren’t the only things that make role-playing games what they are. When you consider how traditional tabletop ones work, Dark Souls is arguably more of a role-player than any of them.

It feels like the sort of pure game that you would expect to emerge from those origins, one that might have been made in the 80s if the tech existed. It might just be parts of The Witcher’s presentation and the odd American accent but that felt more to me like I was playing through some sort of 90s fantasy TV production rather than a pure role-playing game.
Panda

Inbox also-rans
Are you planning on reviewing Gloomhaven? As you seem to enjoy turn-based strategy games I’d recommend you having a look, and I’d like to see your take on it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far.
Matt

GC: It wasn’t on our radar, but it does seem interesting.

There is the requested link about the ideal PlayStation 5 SSD.
Sheel

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grant, who asks what do you want to see from GTA 6?

Rumours of GTA 6 have been going on for years now and yet the most recent ones suggest the game won’t be out for several years yet and perhaps not until 2025. Given that huge gap from GTA 5 what do you want to see from the new game to make the wait worthwhile?

You can focus on story, characters, setting, graphics, or everything at once but what do you want from the next GTA 6 and its online companion? For example, would you prefer a brand new GTA Online 2 or an extension to the existing game?

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 and content.

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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