Xbox Game Pass for Console, PC, and Android

Been playing Redfall for a bit. My take away is that Ghostwire Tokyo has gone up from a 7 to a 8 for me. Redfall seems to be a fine 6.5 or 7 game but gameplay feels bland so far.

After another evening of Redfall I'd like to upgrade to my review from "fine" to "garbage fire." Started hitting some graphical glitches, but the main issue is on the default difficulty this is one of the easiest games I've ever played, and the AI is comically horrible. I ran out into the open in a big dockyard area filled with enemies with assault rifles while I was just holding a revolver. I didn't take a single hit. Later, I climbed on a roof, and heard somebody yell something. I realized I was standing about ten feet away from somebody holding a sniper rifle who was pointing it at me for a good 3-4 seconds, politely allowing me to shoot them.

Maybe, just maybe, rule #1 of building enemy AI; guns are not melee weapons, so running directly at targets while holding them is bad. Seriously. I can just stand in a spot and they all charge forward. This is ridiculously easy.

The frustrating thing is there are a whole lot of elements of this game that are pretty good. The gunplay is reasonably satisfying, the art style is really nice, the town itself is interesting enough to run around, your abilities give a variety of options to interact with the world, and the game should just be better than it is. Between the glitches, terrible AI, and general lack of polish it's just plain not good.

It feels like some the hatred this game is getting is coming from the players/customers feeling like they've been betrayed by Arkane and Microsoft. If it were merely an ambitious and bad game from a no name developer, I doubt we'd be seeing this much vitriol. But, given the reputations of the companies involved, maybe the vitriol is deserved. At the very least, releasing the game in the state its in seems like a major management failure on Microsoft's part.

I guess, the next question is, "Can they turn this around through patches?" Is there enough value in the infrastructure (the level design, the modeling, the written story) to justify reworking the game systems to get it into a fun and playable state?

(FYI, is my own preference here is for them to rework things in a Ghost Recon style way where you are leading a squad of vampire hunters without the pesky nonsense of actually having to deal with human co-op players.)

The biggest problem I've encountered is really the AI behavior; I can handle graphics glitches and I'm not seeing them that much, but the AI is just so bad. The thing is, I don't expect this to be fixed. I do think this is a consequence of Game Pass in a way in that in another development environment, Microsoft would have looked at the state of this game, done a cost-benefit analysis of what it would take to make it better, and may well have just canceled the damn thing outright. With Game Pass, there's an option to more or less soft cancel things by just releasing them on a service, and get it out without having to expend any more resources at all. Game Pass isn't in any way responsible for the quality of the game, but, from a numbers perspective, it makes it easier to release a bad game than make the tough decision of burning more money to improve it vs. canceling it.

This isn't like Hello Games and No Man's Sky where they really had a stake in improving a game that was bad at launch; from Microsoft's perspective, this is a game they inherited mid-way through a development cycle, and they inherited a game that clearly wasn't going well, and I'm guessing they just shrugged and dumped it to be done with it.

I feel like we're starting to see a pattern of Gamepass being a place where games that aren't good, or ready, get released, and I think that's bad for Xbox longterm. The other one that immediately comes to mind is that D&D game that everyone has likely forgotten about by now.

Sony's reputation is for extremely high quality exclusives. Even if some of them aren't amazing, games like The Last of Us and Spider-Man kind of create that halo effect that some brands have. Microsoft is in danger of being the opposite.

Hell, the latest Halo is a bit of an example. It had the unimpressive preview that really hurt perception, then, as I recall, it shipped to an eager fanbase who were not thrilled with its initial condition.

And I'm about as big of an Xbot / Sony hater as you'll find.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

I feel like we're starting to see a pattern of Gamepass being a place where games that aren't good, or ready, get released, and I think that's bad for Xbox longterm. The other one that immediately comes to mind is that D&D game that everyone has likely forgotten about by now.

Sony's reputation is for extremely high quality exclusives. Even if some of them aren't amazing, games like The Last of Us and Spider-Man kind of create that halo effect that some brands have. Microsoft is in danger of being the opposite.

Hell, the latest Halo is a bit of an example. It had the unimpressive preview that really hurt perception, then, as I recall, it shipped to an eager fanbase who were not thrilled with its initial condition.

And I'm about as big of an Xbot / Sony hater as you'll find.

Hi-fi Rush, Tunic and a couple others have been wonderful games so I don’t think everything is going downhill

I think they were counting on a successful ActiBlizz merger to drown out Redfall's bad reception. Now, they're dealing with a double whammy of bad press/ill will. The PR problem just seems to be getting worse. I wouldn't be surprised if they pull Redfall from sale soon.

I'm a big fan of Xbox and the Gamepass strategy, but they've got a real problem here. The last six months of Gamepass have been not great and they don't seem to have a value argument until Starfield launches in another four months or so.

Think how much better off they would have been if they put up the money to launch Dead Island 2 on Gamepass.

Considering how long the runup had been and all the stuff I'd heard about its development, the fact Dead Island 2 came out solid and Redfall's the train wreck is absolutely shocking to me.

farley3k wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:

I feel like we're starting to see a pattern of Gamepass being a place where games that aren't good, or ready, get released, and I think that's bad for Xbox longterm. The other one that immediately comes to mind is that D&D game that everyone has likely forgotten about by now.

Sony's reputation is for extremely high quality exclusives. Even if some of them aren't amazing, games like The Last of Us and Spider-Man kind of create that halo effect that some brands have. Microsoft is in danger of being the opposite.

Hell, the latest Halo is a bit of an example. It had the unimpressive preview that really hurt perception, then, as I recall, it shipped to an eager fanbase who were not thrilled with its initial condition.

And I'm about as big of an Xbot / Sony hater as you'll find.

Hi-fi Rush, Tunic and a couple others have been wonderful games so I don’t think everything is going downhill

Tunic is a small, 2D game - though it certainly looks great! I don't think it's in the convo of modern AAA games though.

Hi-Fi Rush, I've never heard of, and I consume a ton of gaming content.

I'm not saying everything MS touches is terrible, I'm just saying, they're developing a reputation, and it takes a lot longer to repair one once you've got it.

I don't necessarily disagree with the issues about Game Pass being discussed, but I'm not sure Redfall fits in. Redfall seems like a game that Sony or Nintendo likely would have outright cancelled much earlier in the development process. Here's a quote from an interview with Shuhei Yoshida of Playstation just last week:

PlayStation embraces new ideas, and many of them fail. We do a prototype, we evaluate, we decide whether to spend more time and resources, or we just stop. We cancel so many games," Yoshida said. "I usually try to convince the developer that I’m trying to save them from getting stuck with this project.

Perhaps Microsoft felt that Redfall was too far along to cancel entirely, but from the reviews and videos I've seen on it so far, I'm having a hard time seeing the creative spark that would have justified seeing it through as is. I watched this review from Skill Up yesterday. It looks so much worse than I expected.

Also, this is the origin of that Phil Spencer quote from above:

It's a good interview. I always appreciate how willing Phil Spencer is to talk when things aren't going great.

He's just acting like an executive. Plenty of talk and apologies. Any actions? How this game came out in this state...

Interesting to see the negative reaction to not just this game but Gamepass in general..especially so closely tied with the ruling against the Activision acquisition being framed so heavily around cloud gaming and cloud streaming. If Gamepass is a net negative and results in lower quality games and customer experience why then was it so crucial to make sure Microsoft didn’t get any potential or future benefits that might somehow lead to less competition in this space.. what’s really odd is the complete lack of enthusiasm for this space from either Sony or Nintendo.. if this space is so important to consumers you would have imagined way more investment and development from competitors.. instead Google pulled the plug on Stadia…Sony acquired OnLive and basically buried it..Amazon is probably next to shutdown and Apple seems completely disinterested in the space all together..

Just a very odd ruling given the realities of the market and consumer reception.

Balthezor wrote:

He's just acting like an executive. Plenty of talk and apologies. Any actions? How this game came out in this state...

Nothing he says now is going to fix the current sh*tstorm. His 2 options were to talk openly like this or hide until the June showcase. I prefer the former option.

Plus, I don't agree that he's talking just like an executive. As far as these talks go, this is about as candid as we could hope to expect, and he looks visibly flustered throughout the whole thing. I don't think he's pretending to be vulnerable. He's just had a rough couple of weeks and wasn't afraid to share his thoughts.

Here are a few interesting points from the interview (mostly stolen from Reddit because I'm lazy):

  • Redfall scored double digits lower than they expected from their internal mock reviews. Based on when the interview was conducted, that means they were probably expecting something in the mid-high 70s.
  • Phil says Xbox is not in the business of "out console-ing" Sony and Nintendo and he acknowledges they are in third place in the console marketplace. "There isn't a great win or solution for us."
  • Phil rejects the argument he hears from people that if Xbox just released great games, then things would turn around for them and Xbox could catch up in the console market. "It's just not true."
  • Says that Xbox lost the worst possible generation they could have lost (the Xbox One/PS4 gen) because that was the time when people really began building their digital libraries, and now they can take those libraries to the new generation of consoles as well as continue playing live service games like Fortnite.
  • Phil adds: "I see a lot of pundits out there that kind of want to go back to the time where we all had cartridges and discs and every new generation was a clean slate and you could switch the whole console share. That's just not the world we are in today. There is no world where Starfield is an 11 out of 10 and people start to sell their PS5s."
  • Phil ends the conversation by saying there's no way for Xbox to win by trying to be "the green version of what the blue guys do." He says they have to take a new path, which is why they are pushing things like Game Pass and Xcloud so heavily.

The point about Xbox losing the worst possible generation is an interesting one that I hadn't considered previously. It is so much more difficult to pull in primarily Sony or Nintendo players when they've already built much of their digital libraries the previous generation. At best, you're looking to be a second console purchase most of the time.

TheGameguru wrote:

Interesting to see the negative reaction to not just this game but Gamepass in general.

Sour grapes.

Very interesting stuff, Dyni - and I do agree that they flubbed the worst possible gen. To be fair, it's "easy" for Phil to say that since he wasn't in charge then - but I really do agree with him.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

Hi-Fi Rush, I've never heard of, and I consume a ton of gaming content.

That’s surprising. It made a decent sized splash. It was announced in a Microsoft online showcase in January and released the same day. It has an 87 on metacritic. I heard about it through multiple sources (podcasts, Twitter, twitch)

It’s not a tent pole game for gamepass though. It felt more like an Xbox 360 “summer of arcade” type of game.

Just watched a quick video about it. I don't recall ever seeing it before. The art style is great, but I don't think it's my thing. I see reviews are excellent as well.

Hi-Fi Rush is definitely a more niche title, but it is seriously excellent. It's my current GOTY. I really recommend at least giving it a shot if you are into either character action games or rhythm games.

Hi-Fi Rush just makes me smile, and the beat feels so good. IMAGE(https://em-content.zobj.net/thumbs/120/apple/354/smiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a.png)

IMAGE(https://media.giphy.com/media/ihkLA6sc43MYOuUGue/giphy.gif)

Dyni wrote:

Also, this is the origin of that Phil Spencer quote from above:

It's a good interview. I always appreciate how willing Phil Spencer is to talk when things aren't going great.

Phil is the best leader Xbox has had and the best to be in this position right now, he is very honest and transparent when talking where is Xbox right now, how to focus the business in what is the best for everyone, not just MS.
I support his idea of let the developers make all they are able with creative freedom. It will be imposibble to have games that every reviewer will put a 5/5, but at least the developers have the freedom to really make what they want.
Recomend to hear the whole interview, really though questions and honest answers.

Redfall is so close to being fun. Ignoring bugs like getting stuck on rocks as I assume those will be fixed.

Add one more weapon slot so you can have pistol, shotgun, machine gun, and special weapon. Make the red fog that marks do not go here thicker or higher compared to the ones you can clear. Raise weapon drops or increase percent chances for better tier weapons if the goal is to always be swapping weapons.

I can see the fun but I am having trouble getting there.

The frustrating thing about Redfall is a lot of it feels very done, and that's the world and level design. It's an interesting town, great art style, lots of gloomy places that fit the theme, but it's the rest that's garbage. It's like the level designers had a year head start, and the people responsible for enemy AI got about six months to work on things, and it's the worst enemy behavior I've ever encountered in a theoretically AAA game. Cultists will walk right past you, they won't figure out where you are after you've popped three of their friends, and the big scary vampires are defeated by the pro gamer move of "stepping backwards".

It's bad. Really, really bad, and I would think things like graphical glitches would be much easier to fix than the very fundamental issues with enemy behavior in this game. And, yes, it's close to being fun in the sense the basic shell of the game does actually feel polished enough to where you'd logically expect the, you know, actual game to match that in some way, but it doesn't. I don't think there's a chance they're fixing this; I read a rumor (which I'm not bothering to google up) that Xbox recognized the game was hot garbage and wanted to use the developers on something new, so they did, in fact, soft-cancel the game by dumping it on Game Pass so they wouldn't have to dump anymore resources into it. Would have been a better decision to just cancel it outright.

Or someone said "this is high profile and we need it to boost Game Pass" and someone else said
"I won't get credit for that revenue stream" and pulled their people from the project.

IMAGE(https://i0.wp.com/news.xbox.com/en-us/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2023/05/TW_Coming-Soon_5.16.2023-a872884188f60fc06468.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1)

Xbox wrote:

Leaving May 31st

  • Europa Universalis (PC)
  • Evil Genius 2: World Domination (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • FIFA 21 (Console and PC) EA Play
  • Floppy Knights (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Lawn Mowing Simulator (Cloud, Console, and PC)

Massive Chalice is a weird one to suddenly add. It's a great tactical game from about 10 years ago by DoubleFine, which has been owned by MS for 4 years now. Like where has it been, but also does anyone even remember it? Its like they found it in an old shoebox.

I think it's a great use case for Game Pass. Have the definitive collection of a first party studio's games, to help preserve them and bring them to new audiences. It won't be a big hit, no, but it's still worth making available to people.

Massive Chalice! I have vague memories of enjoying that. That was Double Fine's attempt to do kind of an X-Com strategy game, right? I'm going to have to fire it up again and see if I have the patience for it at this point in my life.

Massive Chalice Review

Ohh, Planet of Lana is in my wishlist.

I wholeheartedly recommend Chicory to everyone. It's a wonderful game. Just beware of letting little kids play by themselves because the story has some adult themes (depression, mental health) and some very mildly scary boss fights (as in scary for a 5y/o but sill).