Games Inbox: Is Apex Legends the best free-to-play shooter?

Apex Legends – the best of battle royale? (pic: EA)

The Friday letters page asks how much The Witcher games have in common with the novels, as one reader is glad he bought the Switch OLED.

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Superior freebie
Pretty shocking news about the Apex Legends leak. Two year’s worth of news in one go… I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing before. It’s got to be a disgruntled employee, I would think, either that or someone is getting sacked from here to eternity.

I hadn’t played Apex Legends in a month or so, but the news made me want to look it out again and it confirmed to me that it really is the best of the free-to-play battle royale games. Call Of Duty is filled with cheats and too straightlaced, Fortnite is too silly and full of kids (although I do like the idea of no building), and PUBG is yesterday’s news.

For me though, Apex Legends doesn’t only win by default, it’s head and shoulders the best game. It’s inventive, the characters are varied, and the gunplay is the best of any of them. Even the community seems nicer, as I’ve seen far less cheats and got on better playing with randos than any of the other games.

So I hope this leak doesn’t damage them or anything because the new content sounds good and I’m going to make a point of playing it again soon.

No upgrade
Talking about new Xbox hardware (I bet it’s just a TV dongle for streaming) makes me wonder if the PS5 Pro is going to be a thing this gen. I’ve seen rumours, but not from any good sources, and I’m not really sure whether it’s inevitable or not. What I suspect happened last gen is that Microsoft needed to upgrade the underpowered Xbox One and Sony got wind of their plans and got their own equivalent in first.

This gen though the Xbox Series X is already the most powerful console (allegedly, I’ve seen nothing to prove that) so I don’t think Microsoft will see the need to make an Xbox Series Y (or whatever) and so Sony probably won’t either. That’s my guess anyway.

Personally, I think the whole idea of upgrade consoles is a rip-off. If they’re released at the same time as the regular model then fine but buying a new console only to find out three years later that it’s old news is not being consumer friendly.

Stats entertainment
Interesting, reading the article about Game Pass. However, I don’t know how much you can read into the figures. For instance, does subscribing to Game Pass mean you spend more money on DLC, microtransactions, etc? Or, are the people that are likely to spend money on those things also the people that will pay for Game Pass?

While undoubtedly good exposure for indie games (although I don’t know who actually makes money from them being on there), as always, the devil is in the detail.

GC: Microsoft pays the indie companies.

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Plot driven
I think one reason to trust CD Projekt Red with The Witcher 4 is the fact that the lore of The Witcher originates from the books of Andrzej Sapkowski. It is hard to mess up good writing, and the folk lore created by such. I think the characters and the dialogue are the greater success of The Witcher, beyond it’s game mechanics, although CD did find a marvellous way to intertwine it all.

I think this raises a bigger point regarding why the plot writers of new AAA titles, are not a bigger feature. You would not buy a book without knowing the author’s name, so why buy a narrative driven game without a guarantee of a good plot?

Not wishing to point any fingers at Horizon Zero Dawn but I could not get past the early stage of the first due to actively disliking the story, even though the game mechanics are arguably tighter then The Witcher, which I loved.

Also, The Witcher is located in a countryside environment, with largely cardboard cut-out modelled towns. This is not going to take the same technical support as recreating a vast sprawling city with an expected million-plus or so population.

GC: Sapkowski has no involvement with the video games, which are not adaptations of any of the books.

The best of Jeff Minter
So finally Tempest 4000 is on the Switch and it looks glorious on the OLED screen but the controls feel a bit off and we’ll it’s no Space Giraffe, which I consider the better game with the ramming gameplay and Star Wars sound effects.

Still, it’s a good addition to the Switch library. What’s your take on the game four years after your original review?

GC: We do love Space Giraffe but Tempest 4000 has a smoother difficulty curve. It sounds like maybe it’s not a good port on the Switch though.

Xbox access
I paid for a year’s subscription to PS Plus recently. I did this mostly to have easy access to Disgaea 3 and D2, mostly for the sake of completionism. My early impressions are that it is definitely true what the fanbase says: Mao is just Laharl with a slight gimmick. Which isn’t too bad. He could be Killia. I have got as far as going into his heart, which was weird – even for this series. It plays some really great, sad music whilst there so I’m assuming he’s going to reveal some past heartbreak, probably related to heroes. I feel confident about this as, you know, I’ve read a story before.

Disgaea D2 has much nicer presentation, obviously, but much like their cameos in everything except perhaps Disgaea 4 (and maybe 3, I don’t know yet) it never feels like the main trio of Laharl, Etna, and Flonne have grown. What’s most irritating about the premise of D2 is Laharl’s authority still being in question. Did stopping a war with Heaven before it could really happen mean nothing? And what of the insane yet ingenious challenge he issued to draw out all those who would take the crown for themselves?

So, as such, D2 feels pretty stupid right off the bat. Also, I hate the idea of Etna having an older brother but Laharl having a younger sister works. I can’t really explain why exactly. I’ve just always seen Etna as a loner before she came to the castle. I don’t know.

Oh, and while I think I can access the DLC content for these two games it’s not true for everything. Oblivion and Fallout: New Vegas are on PSN but not their DLC or any kind of deluxe or Game of the Year editions. Which I find odd. Don’t you think that’s odd?

GC: Not now that Microsoft owns Bethesda, no.

Obsolete hardware
I bought an Xbox Series X about a year ago via the Xbox All Access programme. I didn’t particularly want or need it as we had an Xbox One X already at home but I also didn’t want to not have it.

I always love the buzz of getting a new console or tech item and bar a few games I tried from Game Pass it has been used as a YouTube/Netflix device by my son. I didn’t have much trouble getting it either.

Whilst the console itself hasn’t seen much gaming action, I have used the ultimate Game Pass sub on my PC and the cloud gaming on my phone to play a lot of games. I can definitely see consoles become less important, if not obsolete in the next 20 years.
Mark Matthews

Switch Pro
Very late here but with consoles back in stock I thought it was worth some thoughts. So after saying it was a waste of time and money upgrading, despite only being a handheld gamer, I found a buyer for my 2017 vintage Switch and decided to upgrade to the new OLED model… and holy moly what an upgrade it is.

The improved build quality just makes holding the device much nicer, but the screen is obviously the big one, and it really is a big one. Not only do the extra size, OLED lamination, and bezel reduction make handheld gaming much more immersive, the colour production is simply phenomenal compared to the original.

The best way to describe it is like going from the original old iPad to the latest iPad Air model. Something like Hades is such an upgrade it really can’t be overstated. Alien Isolation too, really it looks like a brand new game with its now dark proper blacks. The only slight against it is the glossiness, which does made it quite reflective.

There are also a few things that may have been in the last update that came with the Lite model. Battery life is a huge upgrade, lasting a few hours longer per charge. The Wi-Fi radios seem to have had a modest update too and I’m getting much faster wireless speeds (a huge understated problem with the Switch has been its Wi-Fi reception).

Anyway, for anyone rocking an OG Switch and who plays mostly (if not exclusively in) handheld, there are definitely more than a few worthwhile upgrades here and even if the Switch 2 is out sooner rather than later the chip shortage means it’ll be impossible to get for years. Just think of it like a smartphone upgrade.

Inbox also-rans
Loved Mbeet’s post about walking in video games. Thought it was just me that walked in video games. So immersion breaking to run everywhere. That’s one of the great things about the Souls games. It’s essential to make cautious progress.
Vaughan (Tidfdeydwarf – PSN ID)

Been playing on my new Xbox Series X today and the game Tunic. Just a quick message to say that there are two Cloud amiibo in stock on Nintendo Store currently! Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Andrew J.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader 84Colbat, who asks what’s the last game you played?

In order to make sure the answers are interesting, please also include the last game you played that wasn’t released this year – to ensure everyone doesn’t just say Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West.

What do you think of the game and is there any particular reason why you’re playing it right now? Have you played it before and if not why did you pick it? is the game part of a backlog and have you already decided what you’re going to play after it?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

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.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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