2020 is leveling up for games


David J. San Miguel | Ad Designer

Joshua Haynes, Volunteer Writer

On New Year’s Eve, I –– as well as others –– had high hopes for the new year. “This is going to be my year! Everything will go great!” I thought. Wrong. It has strayed as far from great as possible. 

In January World War III nearly emerged. In February a continent was on fire. In March COVID-19 cases began to spread. In April we were deep into a transition to distance learning. By May we thought the worst of the COVID pandemic was over, but in June we realized it was not. In July many started to make the realization that even though we may be coming back to our beloved school, things are going to be very different. But do not worry, I’m here to tell you that if you are a gamer, all hope is not lost.

Yes, 2020 may have had a rough start, but for us gamers, we may be able to find some, albeit faint, hope for the remainder of the year. I will take you through a company-by-company, piece-by-piece exploration of the video game industry in an attempt to offer the hope we gamers all desperately cling to for our collective sanity’s sake. 

Let’s start our search by looking at the never-ending war of our generation: The console wars, Sony vs. Microsoft.

On June 11, Sony finally revealed the counsel the company has worked on for years: It’s magnum opus, the PlayStation 5. The PlayStation 5 is a sleek, bold console with a design the gaming industry has never seen the likes of. The internet immediately started generating the memes. 

This “wifi router” boasts a powerful Advanced Micro Devices computer with 3.5 gigahertz variably and an impressive graphics and memory system. The crown jewel is the custom-designed 825 gigabyte solid state drive with an additional SSD slot for another drive. Additionally, the console will have a disc-less version, which was rumored for a while. 

Along with this console, an impressive array of games were announced, including a “Demon Souls” remake and the sequel to “Horizon Zero Dawn, Horizon: Forbidden West.” Both of these promise to live up to their predecessors, but only time and IGN reviews will tell. 

Next up is the long awaited Xbox: Series X. I am personally an Xbox user, so there may be some bias here. We have known about the look and specs of the Series X for a while now, but with the release of the Sony’s PlayStation 5 specs, a comparison between the two consoles is now possible.

The Series X boasts a beast of a processor and a 3.8 Ghz AMD Zen 2 with a record of eight cores. The graphic processing unit will have a 12 teraflop AMD RDNA 2 that is twice the power of the One X and a staggering eight times the base of the Xbox One. It will have a custom 1TB SSD drive that has more memory than the PS5 but will only support an external HDD, not a built-in SSD like the PS5. The Xbox and Playstation will both have 4k-8k, Ray-Tracing and anywhere from a minimum of 60-120 frames per second. Graphics and look will not be the issue for this first wave of the next generation; instead, it will be of exclusives and how well the SSDs and processors perform.

Microsoft released a demo in late July, showcasing what it’s team had worked on for months. The long-awaited “Halo Infinite” gameplay disappointed many fans, myself included. However, there was a promise of full backward compatibility to the Xbox One, which Sony has not yet guaranteed for its console. 

Now that we’ve covered the new installment of the console wars, there are a few games to keep an eye on in the next few months.

Ubisoft is releasing “Assassins Creed: Valhalla,” which I was originally skeptical about. However, the developers at Ubisoft are completely overhauling everything players know about the series so far. The gameplay is impressive, but I would wait before pulling the trigger on a preorder until more details come out. 

The next game that I’m hopeful for is “Star Wars: Squadrons” from Entertainment Arts. I know what you may be thinking: “EA? Didn’t they botch the last two ‘Star Wars’ titles?” Yes they did. I played “Battlefront 2” from its release in 2017 until they stopped support for it earlier this year. However, “Squadrons” is a game that was built by a few developers who were making a small project that they loved. This project turned into a great title. There is nothing ported from “Battlefront” other than parts of the artificial intelligence for additional fighters. The early gameplay has been impressive and positive. The biggest selling point is cost efficiency. There are no pay-to-win costs, only cosmetic additions, and its $40 price tag is a large contrast to other AAA titles. I am not saying that you should buy it on release, but this could be the start of EA’s turn around. 

The first of two more games I want to highlight is “Cyberpunk 2077.” This game, created by the developers of the “Witcher” series, is promising to be the next in openworld adventure games. All of the footage released so far has met player expectations, except for in combat. The developers have made improvements to various aspects of the game and have already delayed it multiple times. I am hopeful that these delays will be very good for the game overall. We would not want another “No Man’s Sky” on our hands, now would we? 

Lastly, I want to call to your attention a game from a single developer named Louqou. It has created a game that was inspired by “Stardew Valley” and “Crossroads Inn.” In “Travellers Rest” the player manages an Inn/Tavern and completes various tasks to keep customers happy and satisfied. It is a very well done indie game and I would highly recommend it. Best of all, it is available on the steam store for only $15. 

So my fellow lovers of the games, yes, all of our favorite conventions and long-awaited games may be delayed, but I promise things are looking up. There is the sequel to “Breath of the Wild” coming, plus, “The Doc” is streaming again. Hold your heads high, it is going to get better, my friends.