Games Inbox: Dark Souls 10th anniversary celebration

The Wednesday Inbox wonders if Microsoft might be thinking of buying Activision Blizzard, as one reader wishes there were more demos.

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Prepare to celebrate
There’s another big anniversary this week, which I imagine is going to go largely uncelebrated – I only found out about it by accident just now. But it’s the 10th anniversary of Dark Souls on Wednesday. Yes, 10 years. I was shocked too.

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the series and while I’d never heard of Demon’s Souls at the time I decided to give Dark Souls a go and after repeated, miserable failure slowly started to make progress and eventually mastered the game. A familiar experience, I think, for every player who at first thinks the game stupidly impossible and then slowly begins to become an expert, beating a game far harder then they ever thought possible.

I certainly would not consider myself an above average gamer in terms of skill and yet I’ve now beaten all FromSoftware games and actively seek out similar titles, because I know it’s grit and determination that sees you through to the end, far more than raw skill.

I don’t know if From are going to acknowledge the anniversary this week but I think we’ll all settle for Elden Ring not being delayed by ways of celebration. We’ve still seen so little of it that I worry the early 2021 release date may be too optimistic.

Circling the rumourmill
So have you seen the rumours circulating that Microsoft are about to announce another studio acquisition? Speculation is rife but it seems that the four companies being central to the gossip are Ubisoft, Take-Two, Sega, and Square Enix.

I know two of those are Japanese and I assume they will be impossible to buy. Take-Two surely will cost considerably more than the ZeniMax purchase, and surely Ubisoft have enough to fend off another takeover attempt?

Personally, when I started to think about who they could buy that was a big name I thought of Warner Bros. games, given all the restructuring and stuff that has gone on over there lately.

What do you and other readers think is possible?
PS: I’m aware it could all be rubbish but it seems to of gained some traction and usually there is no smoke without fire.

GC: We have not seen that rumour and from a quick search there don’t appear to be any good sources behind it.

Play before you buy
I miss game demos. Games I have purchased this year on the PlayStation 5 are all established franchises, so I knew what I was getting. There have been some recent releases such as Kena: Bridge Of Spirits, Deathloop, and Returnal which I am interested in but wary about getting without trying first.

Yes, there are gameplay videos on YouTube but it’s not the same. Back in the day you used to get the demo discs with Official PlayStation Magazine. Then there started to be plenty on the PlayStation Store instead. Recently though there don’t seem to many anymore.
Tony–1975 (PSN ID)

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A little ray of sunshine
I was going through Super Mario Sunshine again and was surprised how quickly I got up to 10 shines. Of course, as I moved through the first three levels it never really felt I had gone anywhere different. And the controls are much more slippery than I remember, it is much too easy for Mario to overshoot and off into the deadly void.

Even with the hover ability, on the big sky slide I still lost a few careless lives to too much speed. However, in the first level, after fixing the bridge I thought I would go on ahead and try to climb the windmill. And Petey the Piranha Plant was waiting for me! So, I was able to get a shine out of order! Which I didn’t know I was able to do. It doesn’t add an extra point or anything but it’s a nice surprise nonetheless.

What other games have had nice, unexpected surprises in them lately?

N64 Pass
After seeing that news about the Nintendo Switch Online subscription possibly increasing in price to accommodate N64 games, have you heard any more about how that might work? Would the N64 games be available for anyone with a regular subscription and the price will just go up whenever you need to renew, or will it be a separate tier that needs to be bought specifically?

I’d imagine the former, but you never know with Nintendo and my subscription needs renewing. I don’t want to pay for the year only for the ‘N64 Pass’ version to be released the next week!
Sparky the Yak

GC: There’s been no new rumours but the implication was that it was an addition fee. As you say though, it’s best not to assume anything with Nintendo.

Extraction from Vegas
So, I’m really not sure about Rainbow Six: Extraction. It looks pretty poor in terms of design and direction, with an almost soulless looking sci-fi setting. It feels like Ubisoft don’t know what to do with the franchise at this point and are hoping that it’ll just continue on from Siege as an online shooter.

So why not just make Rainbow Six Siege 2 and set another team to making something a little more in line with the original vision of the series? I surely can’t be the only one who wants something akin to classic Rainbow Six: tactical planning, painstakingly staffing teams and inventories, selecting routes and actioning said plan. Sure, it was difficult but it felt great when your plan worked.

Maybe there isn’t the audience for that anymore though but what about a Rainbow Six Vegas sequel as the next best thing? That series mixed a quasi-tactical nature with something a little more accessible and I always thought it did well, critically and financially unless GC can correct me.

The same situation goes for Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell I guess. Maybe a little Inbox magic can bring about some new life into these franchises. Here’s hoping.
Steven Jones

GC: Vegas got a sequel, so it must’ve done quite well. We are surprised there’s been no new single-player oriented game, although if it did happen there’s no way they’d call that Siege 2.

Stranger things
Maybe I’m getting carried away here but could… Activision Blizzard actually go under as a result of all these lawsuits and investigations? Unlikely I know but I’d bet the house that they’ll be caught lying about the situation, if they’re going to have to give up all their notes and emails, and that’s probably going to cause the exit of Bobby Kotick at the very least.

The vultures are circling I bet. Imagine if they ruined the company for themselves and then Microsoft swooped in to buy them? Stranger things have happened. Probably.

Knowingly wrong
I would never buy an NBA 2K game because I have no interest in basketball but reading about all the microtransactions is truly, well… disgusting. The bit about the BMX bike is just mind-boggling that anyone would put up with it and not realise they were being conned and yet, as you point out, people just put up with because they’re fans of the sports.

From my perspective, the fact that microtransactions on consoles are now limited almost solely to sports games is a good thing, because I don’t play any of them, but it’s still bad that it’s allowed, especially as all these game are rated 3 and that means kids play them all the time, trying to get their parents to buy all these ultra expensive extras for them and engaging in what is essentially gambling.

Leave the whole thing unchecked and I’m sure it wouldn’t be too long before EA and 2K and the like started trying to sneak them back into paid-for non-sports games too. They’re probably already in them anyway, and I’m just not aware because I don’t play them.

GC, I’m assuming that you weren’t sent a review copy in time to do a review before launch? A clear indication that 2K know what they’re doing is wrong.

GC: We weren’t sent a review copy until after launch. The week of release there were a mere five reviews on Metacritic for the PlayStation 5 version, so it clearly wasn’t just us.

Inbox also-rans
I would love to be contribute/read about a Hot Topic on best game box art, or maybe even broader – memorable ones. Any chance?

GC: The problem with that is that people are going to be tempted to just name drop a title and not write anything else, which isn’t going to be much fun to read. But we could give it a go if everyone agrees not to do that.

Just a quick one GC – are you reviewing Lost Judgment and when can we expect your review?
Steven Jones

GC: Yes, it should be up sometime this week.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader notoriouschucky, who asks what video game do you consider to be worth a full 10/10 score?

Accepting that 10/10 does not mean something is literally perfect, what game would you give that mark to and why? How well did it review on release and do you feel it got the recognition it deserved – and if not, why not?

What makes that particular game better than any sequels or similar games and how well do you expect it to age over time? If it’s already an old game how has its reputation changed over time and how much life does it still have in it?

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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 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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