Games Inbox: Why I sold Horizon Forbidden West

The Tuesday Inbox thinks that Metacritic is allowing in too many review sites, as one reader is unconvinced about Gotham Knights.

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Lost Horizons
Why I sold Horizon Forbidden West. So I’m a lover of the first instalment of Aloy’s journey. I’ve grown to appreciate her journey, her character, and that flaming red hair. So I was excited, as many others, to further pursue her journey. I purchased the game from my local CeX using a voucher and paid only £11.95 as the difference.

I started the journey as soon as I could and I found myself slowly growing to dislike this game, aside from the improved graphics and the stellar side quests. One example is rescuing two workers from a caved-in mine and exploring the underwater sections. The game is just a boring and uninspiring slog. I’ve tried to connect with the characters, with Sylens proving the most interesting and layered of them all. However, the criticism is indeed proven right.

They aren’t very interesting or strong, that you find yourself digging up a reason to care or latch onto them. The story is barebones and the characterisation of Aloy is done poorly. She’s basically a woman on a mission and nothing else deeply matters. The world is gorgeous to look at, but as was the case with the first game it’s a beautiful looking disappointment. Elden Ring has done more miracles to keep my attention further and Forbidden West has done exceptionally less.
Shahzaib Sadiq

GC: Are you sure you liked the first one?

Ultimate team-up
I’ve been playing Elden Ring just over a week now and man is it an amazing game. Me and my cousin have both been discussing the game online whilst playing it and we came to agreement that it’s one of those games that has that special pull that very few games nowadays have. I can only ever remember two games that did this to me, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Breath Of The Wild.

You know it’s special when you’re at work and all you can think about is getting home quicky and just playing it. But I have to agree with the Reader’s Feature saying that Breath Of The Wild is a better game, as the world in Breath Of The Wild is more interactive and purposeful.

Elden Ring is just a more refined Dark Souls in an open world setting. It’s the best of everything that From have learnt through their past games.

Nintendo and From are probably the best game developers in the world right now, would love to see a collaboration between the two one day.

Also currently playing Gran Turismo 7 which is the best it’s been since Gran Turismo 2.
F_Epicx (PSN ID)

Narrow victory
So this could be a big month for Sony, eh? If now is when they unveil the PlayStation Game Pass equivalent. Strange to think that the whole fate of the generation could be sealed within the next few days, because if Sony doesn’t get this right then Microsoft has basically got free reign because as big as the recent PlayStation exclusives have been they’ve not been THAT big. Not enough to move the dial on someone buying an Xbox or being all anyone is talking about – that honour goes to Elden Ring at the moment.

What struck me recently was the story about Elden Ring’s overall sales, including digital, and how PlayStation and Xbox sales were much closer than I expected – 41% to 29% by my calculations. That’s a lead for Sony but it’s not total domination or anything, which I found interesting for a major release that isn’t seen as being particularly for one format or the other.

Seems to me it would only take a small nudge to give Xbox the edge and at the moment none of Sony games are doing the job.

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Late night driving
I picked up Gran Turismo 7 at the weekend and had a good four to five hour session last night for the first time. Really enjoying the gameplay and much prefer the sterile presentation to something like, say, Forza Horizon, which is probably targeted at a younger audience than myself. But the biggest problem I’m having is the DualSense controller.

I’m seemingly one of the few people who generally thinks the controller is a backwards step from Sony’s previous efforts. To me the trigger resistance feels more like one of my kids has spilt some juice on my controller rather than having any immersive quality, but my problem today is bigger than that. My hands and wrists are in complete agony and I’m finding it difficult to actually work. I’ve previously turned down the ‘trigger effect intensity’ in the options, but I think now I’m going to have to ditch the controller entirely in favour of the DualShock 4.

I don’t think it is just the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback that is causing the pain either, but also the shape of the controller which I find to be too bulky and cumbersome. And this is from someone who preferred the original Duke Xbox controller. Anyone else feel the same or having issues with physical pain?
AgentCole1981 (PSN ID)

Armour over it
Elden Ring is great; The horseback combat is much more fun now I’ve got myself a long reach weapon but that’s not the main reason for my letter today.

I was browsing the wiki to see what armour sets are available, and while what I did see looks nice, there doesn’t seem to be as much of an inspired set of armours as in previous games and nothing imaginative like the Iron Golem or Smough’s set that you can pick up.

As someone who enjoys medieval history and armour, I can’t complain about the quality of the armour that does exist in the game, but it’s supposed to be a fantasy setting and I feel they’ve missed out on not having some more interesting sets available.

GC: We thought that. There are some odd/interesting ones but, as you say, it is a bit conservative overall.

Lower than 10
In lieu of the recent Metacritic scores of high profile game releases I’ve been wondering; does anyone else think that gaming reviews are totally broken? I say this as someone who would have previously argued against this proposition. I was of the mind that if a game can get a Metacritic score of anywhere near 90 (within 5 or 6 points) it must be pretty good. It’s highly unlikely, even with bad faith reviewers, that such a game could climb that highly without it having some universally enjoyable elements at least.

However, I had previously never considered something that’s currently difficult to ignore. It would seem that there are evermore publications being included on Metacritic and there’s a strange diversity of thought around what is considered a 10/10.

Obviously, a review will ultimately be subjective but numbers are absolutely objective. I’ve heard chatter that a 10/10 game doesn’t mean perfect, but surely if someone scores a game as that you would presume they at least think it’s almost perfect. At the very least, since there is no higher score, how can that appraisal not mean that the reviewer considers the game in question to be firmly in the highest echelon of games?

I haven’t played Deathloop, but I’ve read 10/10 reviews that failed to anywhere near justify the score. Is Deathloop really to be whispered forever in the same halls as Super Mario Bros. 3? With other cases I’m even more flummoxed. Is Halo Infinite really up to the same standards as Halo: Combat Evolved? Is Horizon Forbidden West really a match for Zelda? Some reviewers are unavoidably implying that they are with their score.

Don’t even get me started on Elden Ring. I’m enjoying the game so far, but there’s no getting around the fact that the production value ironically makes it look like a knock-off Demon’s Souls remake. These two games are as comparable as any two, and there are stark discrepancies. Do graphics and performance mean absolutely nothing? I see these nonsensical approaches to scoring becoming more and more of a feature on Metacritic, and I’m finding it hard to take anything indicative away from a games score on there now.
Twig Boss

GC: Metacritic does weight its scores, so those from little known sites won’t have the same impact as more reliable ones. Although we must say we did find some of the acclaim for Deathloop surprising. It’s an ambitious and entertaining game but very far from a 10/10, no matter what you define the score as meaning.

Joker time
I dunno about Gotham Knights or Suicide Squad, these really don’t seem like the sort of games I’d like to play and I’m a big fan of the DC universe. Warner has done anything interesting with the universe in years and I can only hope the Wonder Woman game is going to be something good because Suicide Squad Looks dull and Gotham Knights… it just seems so pointless. Why be all these characters when you could be Batman instead?

I don’t get why it has to be live action or a role-playing game either. When I punch Joker in the mouth I don’t expect a bunch of numbers to come flying out, showing whether I’m doing elemental damage to him or not. Although thinking about it, he’d probably find it funny.

Like a lot of people, I’m really enjoying Elden Ring at the moment. It’s heartening to hear of its big success too, as its high difficulty and lack of hand-holding is a welcome antithesis to a lot of triple-A design. There’s a funny picture around that shows what Elden Ring’s HUD would look like if Ubisoft had made the game. The Tarnished Sense made me laugh as I watching a streamer doing the early part of the game who’s very entertaining but about as casual a gamer as you could get and they said you know sometimes I really wish this game had Witcher sense.

Not that I want to stick the boot in too much to the Ubisoft copy and paste open world games, as I still enjoy them. I was playing Forbidden West before Elden Ring and loved the eight or so hours I played and I’m really looking forward to going back to it after Elden Ring. Immortals Fenyx Rising is one of my favourite games of recent times, paid for 60 hours and got the platinum trophy. I also still want to try Days Gone and will get to it at some point as it’s part of my PS Plus sub.

But I would put Elden Ring in with Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and Outer Wilds, whose approach and meticulously crafted worlds put them above the open world pack. Soulsborne games do have their share of cheese though. Input reading, where the moment you chug on a flask the boss goes from picking it’s nose to launching like an Exocet missile in a nanosecond. Double bosses can take a running jump too.

Sometimes the unexplained mechanics can be a tad annoying, I’m looking at you Dark Souls 2 and your life saving Invincibility frame enhancing adaptability stat. Having a hoard of low-level kill squads appear after picking up items is getting real old too.

Inbox also-rans
I’ve been using the same three words at the start of every game of Wordle and it has kept me right so far. I even got ‘bloke’, which I thought was a ridiculous word to use. Just find a few words with as little overlap of letters as possible and watch those yellow/green letters pop.

Triangle Strategy sounds just as awful as the demo made it out to be. I’m glad they made one though, because it made sure I didn’t waste any money on that turkey.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Scooter, who asks what is your favourite video game universe?

Many video game franchises have been going for decades now and have crafted their own unique worlds and backstories but which do you most enjoy coming back to? It doesn’t have to be a game with any sequels, but which fictional world, or worlds, do you have the most fun in?

How much does the backstory and lore matter to you and what else would you like to see done in the same universe, in terms of new games and spin-offs?

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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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