Videogame Releases: Week of March 30th, 2014

It’s another full week for big videogame releases. ‘Elder Scrolls’, ‘Batman’ and ‘MLB’ are just some of the franchises with new titles on tap.

Elder Scrolls Online (PC, Mac)

One unstoppable force in gaming over the last decade or so has been punctuated with titles like ‘Skyrim‘, ‘Oblivion’, and ‘Morrowind’ – each bearing the ‘Elder Scrolls’ name and particular vision of first-person, free roam RPG play. Those of course were single player games. ‘Elder Scrolls Online‘ seeks to bring the freedom, questing, lore, etc. of the series to an online massively multiplayer stage. That will likely mean diluting the singular focus for the sake of an MMO environment, but for many the draw of ‘Elder Scrolls’ will be inescapable.

Xbox One and PS4 versions due later this year.

MLB 14: The Show (PS3, Vita)

Sony’s ‘MLB’ series is not only the end-all/be-all for baseball videogames, it’s also easily the highest rated sports title. With ‘MLB 14: The Show‘, the biggest deal is the PS4 version set to follow next month. Beyond that, the series will now support year-to-year save transfers, which is huge for fans of the “Road to the Show” player creation mode. The game also has an ability to share the franchise mode with other players in Online Franchise Mode. That’s a really intriguing feature and sounds great for groups of fans. The PS3, PS4 and Vita versions all support cross-save. For new players, there’s a dynamic difficulty that can scale the game as the player improves.

Mercenary Kings (PSN for PS4, PC)

Mercenary Kings‘ looks like a blast for fans of games like ‘Contra’ and ‘Metal Slug’. The art style and co-op options give this run-and-gun its most obvious distinct characteristics. The PC version was released last week, but since the game is a PS Plus title, I had to wait until now to dive in.

Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate Deluxe Edition (PSN for PS3, XBLA for 360, PC)

The ‘Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate Deluxe Edition‘ is the console version of the Vita/3DS title that promised more than it could deliver. (Read that review here.) By moving to consoles and the PC, the game’s resolution has been bumped up and the sound has been remixed for 5.1. This should make the Deluxe Edition worthy for hardcore ‘Arkham’ fans. Of course, some current owners (say of the Vita version) aren’t thrilled by the cheap rereleases of former exclusives.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE (PS3, Vita)

Fans of ‘Ragnarok Odyssey’ should know that this enhanced version adds a new Tower of Yggdrasil dungeon among other skill and class additions. For everyone else, ‘Ragnarok Odyssey ACE‘ is a RPG/dungeon crawler that can be played on either the PS3 or Vita (with cross-save).

FTL: Advanced Edition (PC, iOS)

One of my favorite games (and serious time-sinks) is the roguelike, last-ditch space mission ‘FTL’. Take your ship and crew and start making the jumps. Each stop likely means desperate combat, but also the chance to upgrade the ship in preparation for the final battle. I tend to let the all-human crew morph into representatives from each race through attrition and bartering, and then make the most of their skills. (Sometimes those boarding parties I send out just don’t make it back.)

FTL: Advanced Edition‘ not only adds a new race and ton of mind-bending features (forget a Med Bay, the Clone Bay will replace hurt crew), it also marks the debut of the game on tablets. Too bad it’s been ages since a decent ‘Star Trek’ game made use of the “Send all power to the weapons” balancing system that is so well utilized in ‘FTL’. The Advanced Edition is available as a free update for current owners.


    • Shame. Mercenary Kings is addictive fun and its out on PC. FTL on the other hand can sometimes be found on sale for only $2.50 (on GOG/Steam/Amazon, etc.), and it’s worth many, many times that.

      • William Henley

        Yeah, but I am weird with my tastes. Right now the game I am eating up is South Park: The Stick of Truth. I LOVE RPGs, but I also love games that I can pick up and play for a few minutes at a time. SP:TSOT right now meets both of those requirements. I LOVE the save anywhere feature.

        Along the lines of the save anywhere feature, also playing Final Fantasy for Android.

        I’ve also started playing Eternal Sonatra again (this has got to be the prettiest game on the last gen of consoles), but its one of those games where you can only save at a save point. As such, I only play when I know I can invest at least two hours at a time into it. As I normally only play games for about 30 minutes at a time, RPGs just don’t get played much (and that is my favorite genera).

        I need to get Diablo 2 loaded. It came in last week, but the past week and a half has been crazy busy for me. Will probably get to it on Thursday.

        • I know what you mean. The Vita is really great for bitesized amounts of playtime provided you charge it occasionally. It can instant resume its games, but doesn’t have to multitask like a phone or a tablet. (Bitesized Borderlands 2 might be really popular when it releases.) Speaking of the South Park game, there is a video about ‘Child of Light’s battle system where this action gamer talks about how South Park introduced him to turn-based RPG battle systems and how he’s now he’s fascinated by them.

          • William Henley

            Interesting – its like a side-scrolling RPG. I know it is not the same thing, but the first thing that it brought to my mind was Actraiser for the Super Nintendo.

            I think what is great about SP is not only is it a great game, but the game is self-aware of what it is. I love how they actually explain why it is turn based. It is also gratifying when you don’t actually kill someone but just beat the crap out of them enough to send them running home crying. The burning, bleeding, grossouts…. Then (at least where I am in in the game) you never fight the same kid twice. It’s like they pull from the entire South Park universe, even obscure background characters, to populate the world to make sure you don’t deal with the same person again and again. The attention to details like that makes this feel like the most realistic RPG I have ever played, despite the fact that it is set in the South Park universe (although, I don’t know if that level of realism would translate well to something like Final Fantasy – I mean, if Cloud and Tifa became self aware that they were in a video game, it would not have fit with the world they were in. This type of thing is probably only possible in the South Park world).

            You know, I have been considering doing some game videos for a while. I enjoy watching them on Youtube. Maybe the first I will do is a top ten of most beautiful games, followed by Best RPGs. Maybe do a tribute to Sierra Online. Hmmm, looks like I got homework this weekend.

  1. Drew

    Can you please offer some insight on why Sony would cater to PS3 owners and release ‘The Show’ on PS3 more than a month before its PS4 release? Shouldn’t Sony be catering to the early adopters of their next-gen console?

    • Not to be an apologist, but I think Sony was in a tough spot here. They needed the PS4 version to be better than just a PS3 port, but also needed to have a game out for the start of the season. So the PS3 and Vita versions get some updates while the PS4 version doesn’t come out until May. Ultimately, the PS4 version gets the bulk of the development focus, but needs an extra month.

  2. Drew


    I appreciate your thoughts. They are in line with what I was thinking. I guess I’m just sour on the idea of Sony needing more time. Shouldn’t all of their development hours been contributing to the PS4 version? It’s not like Sony hasn’t known that the PS4 would have been released almost 7 months before ‘The Show’ was set to come out. And it’s not like they couldn’t have been developing the PS4 version, before the PS4 hardware had even been released, right?

    • Sports titles are really laborious, and developing a next-gen/PS4 version from a PS3 code base is a huge undertaking. If you think of the dev team in terms of a cone shape, it’s the small end of the cone that has to get the PS4 version just to a point where the all-new (remade/retouched from scratch or pre-existing source files) art can begin to be placed into the game. All this from a team that normally produces the yearly updates, and still is developing a PS3/vita version. Putting the PS4 version out in May already sets back the 2015 version. They have to get the PS4 version out with its new online infrastructure and cross-generational, continuing season, online franchise all stable and patched. Then have the post-mortem/ concepting begin for next year, which has to happen well before the project is in full swing (largest team actively working).

      It’s possible as well that Sony saw EA’s next-gen sports titles hurt sales by not being feature complete (or offering new features) while the next-gen NBA2K14 really stunned fans before suffering from ongoing server/micro-transaction issues and then decided to broaden their plans for the PS4 version of The Show. The Show has a great rep, but a half-hearted, play-it-safe PS4 version could really hurt perception of the series.

  3. Drew

    Fascinating! Thank you, for taking the time to go into such great detail! Knowing all of that, I think I can safely say that I forgive Sony.

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