It’s a time when Gamers worldwide are suffering from the most delightful of troubling problems, a severe bout of too many games. The stars don’t align this way often, but rarely, when the moon shines in the 16th quarter and the stars fall upon each other blurring the celestial axis, a time of plenty is triggered for the hallowed gaming ones. A time of constant quality games pouring forth from all directions. A time of joy and delight as we decide what fantastic diversion we want to get swept away with next. A time of working out how we are going to manage to play all these games before the next one comes hurtling along. A time to manage those gaming finances. A time of, yeah actually, too many games.The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild
Of course, we shouldn’t cry out in dismay at being troubled by so many delightful distractions and of course, we can wait. Every game doesn’t absolutely have to be consumed on release day does it? Of course not, but for some gamers out there an influx of fantastic games, whilst being a wonderful thing, can also be fraught with pondering, calculating and decision. Which game to get? Is only one open world required or do others provide enough distinctive difference to justify a purchase at the same time and what about the time? Being hit with many a 40 / 50 / 60 hour (and in many cases beyond) game can back a dedicated gamer to the wall with the important (and nice) decision of just what is the best use of their time and money. Which game is the one to go for or can they all be squeezed in at once and if such an undertaking is undertaken, is there a risk of rushing them and perhaps not enjoying them as much as if they were all treated individually? Continue reading →
On this weeks’ treat for your earbuds, the Sparks chat as usual about the news that’s making the news in the world of gaming. There’s plenty to discuss this week with some fantastic games and also a fair chunk of VR related news and innovations.
Sony have gone on record with their announcement that their PSVR foray into the VR strata has sold almost a million units in the four months that it has been available (915,000 to be more precise). This is a great start for VR on the PS4 with sales figures hitting higher than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive combined so Sony have a right to be pleased enough with themselves to make this announcement. That 55 Million PS4 install base will certainly have helped, that’s for sure and teh figure would most probably have been higher in terms of sales if Sony had taken a risk on manufacturing more units. Nevertheless though, in terms of VR, this is a strong start and shows a demand and passion out there in the gaming massive for VR type gaming goodness.
The podcast turns into a bit of an expensive shopping list for Dazza as the guys discuss the just announced GTX 1080ti from Nvidia, HTC’s Motion Tracker peripheral and Deluxe Audio Headset (now priced) and Nullspace’s haptic-fantastic Hardlight suit. So, much, shiny, tech!
Antony and Darren also get down to discussing a matter that most of us deal with occasionally – our local game stores. Has customer service declined, or was it never there to begin with and should a business based around fun really act at point of sale in a manner that threatens to deflate a gamers happy enthusiasm for their hobby? Is your local store one of the good guys, or do you find the whole process wearing? Antony tells his story and makes his compelling case this week.
Thrown into the midst of this weeks jam packed podcast is the sad tale of Titanfall 2. It’s a disheartening story of lack of sales, which is so sad when the Sparks’ both agree that Respawn’s second iteration of their Pilot/Mech shooter not only feels amazing to play, with the tightest control and gameplay out of the big three FPS releases of the moment (Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare), but also boasts the most refined and enjoyable campaign mode too.
With flashes of inspiration from the likes of Mirror’s Edge to Super Mario Galaxy, this is one FPS that really has the player relishing each and every moment of minute-to-minute action in a campaign that really does feel like the start of a great future for the franchise.
Unfortunately, a bad release strategy – releasing in between the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty – seems to have hampered the pick up of this great title and really, it’s fair to say that we understand why.
It is rather a baffling release strategy that leaves the Spark’s wondering if EA will back the franchise further, or was this plan perhaps designed as a way of giving the Titanfall universe one last hurrah before relinquishing any future commitment to sequels based upon sales figures?
We also discuss how Respawn got Titanfall 2 to just feel, you know, so good. With some light shed on the matter from Respawn’s own CEO Vince Zampella in an interview he recently did with glixl.com. Hear about Respawn’s development mantra and just how those controls were honed on the pod.
In this week’s podtastic episode it’s no surprise that the Sparks’ eyes are firmly on the new PS4 Pro. Antony gives his hands on verdict of the hardware and games he has tested so far. Much of the discussion revolves around 4K and what Sony’s box delivers in this area. Is there a noticeably bump in visuals and performance or both and who exactly is the target consumer for the new system?
As the discussion deepens the question emerges regarding how this new format is going to spread to more than just the early adopter market and the guys can’t help wondering whether it’s 4K screen owners flocking to buy these new consoles. Or is it perhaps the other way around with gamers buying a 4K ready console and then finding that desire to upgrade their screen to get the most out of their gaming hardware? Darren certainly went through that very same process with the Xbox 360, where the HD aspect of the console drove the purchase of an HD screen in order to fully appreciate what that system could do.
With 4K sales looking strong, Microsoft and Sony displaying a huge vote of confidence in the standard by developing hardware specifically designed to harness this technology and also the sales figures for the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One S also showing a high consumer take up the guys ask, are those 4K screens pushing the sales of the consoles or are the new 4K consoles pushing the sales of 4K screens?
Going forward, is the gaming industries choices on supported resolutions and standards going to have more and more influence on sales and standards of screen sales and the technologies used therein.
With 4K and HDR being the buzzwords of recent times, especially since the advent of this mid-generation console refresh, the Sparks’ take it upon themselves to try and diffuse some of the confusion around what this new resolution offers the consumer, where it came from, how the name 4K came about, what it offers in terms of visual improvement and how much of a ‘true’ 4K experience the PS4 Pro offers us. Tune in to hear the Lost Sparks’ (hopefully) definitive 4K breakdown. A couple of taster stats are included below to get you started!
720p and 1080p were named from the count of pixels on screen from top to bottom, or, the number of horizontal lines of pixels that formed the screen.
The term 4K actually came from the movie industry format resolution of 4096 x 2160 that was first introduced in digital cinemas (called cinema 4k) and was named 4K.
The big news this week on the Lost Spark Podcast is the reveal of the Nintendo Switch and so of course, your friendly neighbourhood Sparks’ dive into the announcement with gusto discussing thoughts on Nintendo’s reveal trailer, speculation of those questions that the reveal didn’t answer and everything we know so far about Nintendo’s latest tech.
Is portability the killer move for Nintendo with this new platform in an era where smartphones and tablets do have a chunk of the market? Or does the fully fleshed out, more rounded and complete gaming experience that the Switch will offer give it the edge in that area, or is this a niche of its own, becoming what the Vita or even indeed the Wii U portable screen should have been? Continue reading →
It’s finally here! PlayStation VR launched worldwide this week to critical acclaim and fan excitement. Our very own Mr Early-adopter, Antony was there on launch day and now has a PlayStation VR at home and he is loving it! We are happy to report in our PlayStation VR verdict episode of the Lost Spark Podcast that PSVR is a hit in the Chesson household and is blowing Antony away everytime he uses it!
On the podcast this week Darren (@DazWhitham) and Antony (@ChessmanUK) walk you through the setup, the features and the must-play games for PlayStation VR.
In Antony’s extensive play-through of PlayStation VR the standout games and experiences were Batman Arkham VR (of course), London Heist and Ocean Decent, which are part of the PlayStation VR World disc, plus Superhypercube and the amazing 100ft Robot Golf.
Were you day one with PlayStation VR? What’s been the stand out game for you? Please let us know either via twitter or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
With Sony announcing that Uncharted 4’s Multiplayer experience will be underpinned by a new philosophy of ‘Fairness First’ the Sparks are stunned and elated to hear that all future maps and modes will be included in the game for free and that vanity and gameplay in-game store items will all be attainable by gameplay.
Yes, it’s exactly how it should be done and is it not a shame that this action is such a surprise? It really shows how the industry has changed over the years. Check out the core philosophies involved in more detail here.
With a huge industry player throwing down the gauntlet and getting back to basics with regard to how unlocks should be earned, will others follow and lead us off this path we have found ourselves on?
With Oculus Rift getting released on 28th March the Sparks spend time breaking down the reviews that dropped in to coincide with the release.
Antony and Darren give thanks to Palmer Luckey for his vision and for driving Oculus forward and look forward to the future of this new platform that will no doubt innovate and deliver amazing experiences to the consumers.
Also examined is the fact that having PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive active in the market can only be a good thing for the future of VR as it seems the industry has a razor sharp intent upon making VR relevant.
Once the affordability factor is overcome VR will surely become more mainstream but as it stands at the moment, which platform would you go for? Continue reading →
In this week’s episode Antony and Darren welcome James Thomas (@BigSheep) into the gaming fold to discuss the ins and outs of the latest gaming news, rumour and what we’ve been playing.
According to an article on Kotaku and corroborated by Eurogamer news of a PlayStation 4.5 or PS4K has surfaced…
With rumours of Sony working on a PS4.5 currently rife around the interwebs the Spark’s dive into the speculation pit and hammer out whether or not it’s a good thing for a more powerful PS4 to be just around the corner.
The idea of some increased functionality has happened before of course and we have been furnished with refinements in standard and slim models before – the Xbox 360 Elite having an HDMI input for instance – but, and this is just hypothesis at this stage as we do not truly know the difference that the rumoured new model would make – if this turned out to be more than just an iterative change, if a newer 4.5 model really was a jump in terms of graphical finesse and had the power to match that with an increased frames per second, where would this leave existing owners?
Surely it would not be prudent to incense a user base of 32 million happy PS4 customers with the news that their PS4 is now second best to a newer and shinier model?
It will of course depend on the extent of difference between the models, the cost will certainly be a factor and whether Sony will be able to offer an upgrade path to existing owners will also be interesting to see. Console owners, as a rule, buy a console because they know they are safe from upgrades. They know they are on the same level playing field as the rest of their console buddies. Are the lines between console and PC set to blur if this trend escalates? Could mid-cycle console upgrades become the norm?
And so at last, Sony have lifted the veil on the release and price of the eagerly anticipated PlayStation VR HMD. With a price of £349 / €399 / $399 and a release date set for October the Sparks are wild with excitement for Sony’s addition to 2016’s VR releases.
The specs look promising, and as expected, Sony’s contender won’t be able to deliver an experience to match it’s bigger brothers who harness the power of PC to deliver their brands of VR… However, with the specs it does have, the all important existing install base, Sony’s focus on VR as a social experience and of course that all important much more accessible price point, does that matter?
Could we see the leaner and cheaper option being the VR entry point into VR that many have longed for.
The Sparks debate this and wonder if, when concentrating on what PlayStation VR has and what it offers, opposed to just looking at differences between it and the other two big players on the scene, that perhaps Sony is releasing a David amongst us that, if the experience delivered meets expectation, will stand head and shoulders against the Goliath of it’s more powerful siblings resting upon its own very relevant attributes of harnessing that existing PS4 install base, bang for buck and of course, the incredibly positive developer support it has from being part of Sony’s Playstation brand – over 230 devs at time of going to press. Continue reading →