Weekend Short-Takes: 5/2/14

Dark Souls developer From Software acquired by Japanese publisher Kadokawa


Simon Wu:

Our resident Japan expert Jonathan has some excellent analysis below, but here are a couple of thoughts I have. Firstly, from a neutral outsider, this makes perfect sense. Dark Souls 2 has been positively exploding, especially if WikiGameGuides is any indication. John's been streaming and playing absolutely nonstop since it released, with nary a mention of Titanfall. And, what's more, the game is doing this largely in spite of its difficulty and lack of real narrative, two things that usually get neutered in order to broaden mass market appeal. Secondly, as a follow up, will Kadokawa pull a 'Dead Space' on Dark Souls, or will they let it keep the essence that's made it popular in the first place?

Jonathan Tung:

If the name Kadokawa doesn't ring any bells, then let me break it down to you in the easiest manner possible: these guys are literally responsible for publishing The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, a popular light novel from the mid-2000s that literally kickstarted the trend of adapting anime from popular light novels. That and they also published Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead in Japan, two of Suda 51's more recent titles prior to GungHo's acquisition of Grasshopper Manufacture in January 2013. That being said, the only popular video game that Kadokawa currently has out right now prior to From Software's acquisition is an online browser-based/mobile game titled Kantai Collection. It essentially involves building an army of cute girls based on Japanese warships from World War II. This, of course, has some people worried, as From might end up being relegated to making nothing but browser games from now on. Then again, there have been worse acquisitions in the past.

Alex Miller:

As Jonathan mentioned, Kadokawa's game library is pretty sparse. The only games recognizable to Western gamers would probably be Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead, neither of which were actually developed by the studio (they did create the PC port of Killer is Dead, admittedly.) When Kadokawa says From Software will be working on Kadokawa's core titles, I'm left wondering what exactly that means. Hopefully it doesn't mean the end of the Demon/Dark Souls franchise, as that has been a wild success as Simon mentioned. Hopefully this acquisition means From Software will have access to greater funds to produce the content it wants to make rather than it becoming and in house port maker.


Lead character artist Michael Knowland leaves Naughty Dog


Simon Wu:

Quitting while you're ahead? This is just the latest in a long string of high-profile departures from the company following the release of The Last of Us, including creative director Amy Hennig, who you will recall went to Visceral to work on Star Wars a few weeks ago. There's clearly something at work behind the scenes that we're not privy to, but whether it's something as innocuous as people wanting to work on something new, or a large purge to start fresh in the new console generation is unknown. Naughty Dog has been criticized in the past for releasing titles too slowly, and only doing one franchise per generation, so this might be an attempt to change that cadence internally by presumably removing people that believed in that schedule.

Alex Miller:

Hopefully this doesn't lead to a decline in the quality of the content Naughty Dog put out, and I don't think it will, but losing two top talents in a few week isn't usually a good thing. Perhaps Simon is right and this is some sort of generational reset, a clean slate for the PS4. Or maybe its just a coincidence. Unless either of them decide to explain their departure, we won't really know. However, we can certainly wish Mr. Knowland the best in his future endeavors, which I know I definitely do.


Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Is Real, Here's The Debut Trailer


Simon Wu:

I'm surprised that Activision still allowed Microsoft to get priority on DLC, given the latter's obsession with EA's prized Titanfall. Perhaps it's a contractual thing, and Activision was simply tied to it, or, rather rightly so, believed that Titanfall wouldn't be the tremendous out-and-out next-gen console game changer that it was hyped up to be. As of right now, I think that the general gaming audience still unequivocally regards Call of Duty as the superior game far and away. And to add another disappointing twist to the irritating reality that is preorder DLC, now preordering at different retailers will not only get you different DLC for this game, but also for previous titles.

Jonathan Tung:

Another year, another Call of Duty title. As always, Microsoft gets first dibs on DLC, and this time around, we have soldiers running around in high-tech exoskeletons a la Elysium. We also get Kevin Spacey playing the big bad, probably to cash in on his ever-growing popularity as Frank Underwood on Netflix's House of Cards. Looking at what we have so far in terms of gameplay footage, it feels as if Activision is trying to get back at EA for stealing some of their thunder following the release of Titanfall a few months ago (no doubt due to the fact that it was developed by several ex-Infinity Ward members as well as being Xbox/PC exclusive). Whether or not it will pay off remains to be seen, as the last Call of Duty title was harshly criticized by some players, some calling it "utterly terrible," at least, according to some of the many players I have talked with on PSN and Xbox Live.

Alex Miller:

When I showed a friend of mine the new trailer and told him the name, he simply remarked that they had missed a golden opportunity by not calling this game Call of Duty: Postmodern Warfare and filling it with bizarre costumes and weapons. That the announcement of a new Call of Duty game has fallen from unleashing mass excitement to merely supplying people with (fantastic) pun fodder says much about the respect this series has lost in the gaming world. However, it continues to rake in the big bucks year after year, and with big name Kevin Spacey attached to this project I don't expect this game to end that streak. A positive you could take away from the trailer is that Kevin Spacey is a fantastic actor who is not only lending his voice but also his image to the project, hopefully meaning the story in the main campaign might be half decent. Another is the fact that this is the first game created by Sledgehammer Games, who have been working on it for three years after co-developing Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward following the drama that led to the latter studios split. Hopefully this means we might see something new and interesting in this title. The trailer seems to suggest that this title may fully utilize the next gen capabilities now available to developers. Power of positive thinking and all, but CoD can get better, right?


Whiplash's picture

I should point out that Kadokawa are the same people responsible for the manga adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. As for yet another Call of Duty game, I'm getting the feeling that they're really desperate now. Kevin Spacey? That's cool and all, but that's not selling me on an utterly generic franchise that, somehow, continues to sell like hotcakes. I really can't wait for the day when a massive exodus occurs with CoD, where tens of millions of people do not go out and buy the next title for the next 3 years. I would pay great money to see KoDick's face when this happens—but alas, not yet. I'm still hoping that the market corrects itself in the future, given the way that Call of Duty just waltzed in on the fun and took the mantle of the industry.

LenZeppel1n's picture

This might be a historic event:  A Call of Duty game where you actually shoot white dudes, instead of everyone else in the world.

OmegaZero's picture

First off, let me say congrats on 2 years! I finally got around to making an account on WGG to comment here.

It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out of this move for Kadokawa. It would be a complete PR coup for them if they get the rights to something that could be a big hit in the West.

As for COD 11: Modern Warfare 4: Future Soldier 2 or whatever the hell this incarnation is called...*sigh*. Ghosts popularity nosedived for a multitude of small reasons. If/when the masses buy millions of copies of COD AW, I get the feeling they're going to be similarly dissapointed. I see jumpjets, mechsuits, and bullshit everywhere. Honestly, it looks like someone took the COD "Infantry everywhere" formula and added in some of the Battlefield "Michael Bay is our Editor," a cup of Halo "Science, Bitches!" and a dash of Crysis "Physics have no power here!" It looks...kinda ridiculous. It's a big departure from the norm (Sledgehammer Games) in it's addition of these new mechanics and playstyles. I'm fairly sure that the ballistic wall (stolen from any number of games) and jumpjets (stolen from Halo?) will replace a tactical and the mechsuit (stolen from GoW?)will be a killstreak reward in multiplayer, so we will get to see those outside of the campaign, and these new dynamics in multiplayer will be very interesting. The climbing gloves (stolen from Crysis?) and the hoverbikes/helicopters (also possibly from Halo) will probably not be available in MP and are likely the requisite vehicles for filler levels. I am excited to see how they make their futuristic weapons not seem overpowered but still cool, though. Given the addition of the futuro-style Ripper to Ghosts, which is an SMG/AR combo weapon that pretty much guarantees you a victory, it could be difficult to maintain balance in COD AW. Although they'll probably plot-wall it off with 'advanced body armor.'

Solifluktion's picture

When will the CoD-Bubble burst?

It's getting ridiculous.

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