Games Inbox: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet performance issues exaggeration

The Thursday letters page discusses the best space combat simulators, as one reader celebrates the cheapness of Xbox Series S.

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Acceptable performance
I’ve been playing Pokémon Scarlet a lot over the last week and… am I the only one that thinks the complaints about performance are greatly exaggerated? I mean, it’s no God Of War but where were all these complaints for Sword and Shield or Pokémon Legends: Arcues, which were much, much worse?

The draw distance issue dates back to Sword and Shield and there’s at least some attempt to hide it here. I haven’t seen any major glitches and the frame rate is not an issue, it gets rough like once every five hours? And even then only for a few seconds, in my experience.

I’m not saying these things should be excused but why are we making a fuss of it now when the two games that came before it, one of which came out in January, were much worse? The only thing that’s actually worse in Scarlet is the weird frame rate cutting trick, which is super ugly and used a lot more than before, but that’s not performance exactly, that’s just how the game’s been made.

Game Freak absolutely need to be spending more time and money on their games, but all these tedious tech analysis sites and YouTube channels need to get some perspective and stop just chasing trends on what to complain about.

Streaming generation
I’m not surprised Sony already has plans for PlayStation 6. I don’t think there’s any danger of consoles going extinct until broadband is superfast and super reliable, which is not going to happen for at least 10 years and possibly never. If you can’t guarantee to be able to play your games at any time you want, at the highest possible quality, then it’s not worth having them.

I would bet that Microsoft will be the first to give up on consoles though and I suspect Sony will, as they so often do, sit back and watch how it goes. Since they’re signed up to use Microsoft’s streaming tech it should be fairly easy for them to copy, they’ve just got to decide when exactly to put their eggs in that basket.

Personally, I’m glad consoles aren’t going anywhere, given how quick companies are to switch off online services as soon as they’re not profitable. Nobody’s going to be dusting down an Xbox Series Z subscription from their attic one day, to give all those great retro games a god.

Chorus of approval
I didn’t realise how much I needed a space shooter until I started playing Chorus – what a great little hidden gem that is! Although it has its flaws, the combat is spectacular and worth the ticket price alone. Shame the script is not up to scratch, but at least it goes someway to explain what you’re doing in space and your powers.

It got me thinking though, that it would be cool if you could visit the planets as well. Then I remembered that Starfield is coming out. I don’t have much hope for the space combat in that game, based on Bethesda’s previous work, but if they can nail that, along with a good plot and interesting things to do on the planets, I think that might be my dream game!

What are GC’s favourite space-based games?

GC: TIE Fighter is one of the best video games ever made. Freespace 2 is pretty great too.

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Emotional response
If the Activision deal doesn’t go through, my gut feeling is the repercussions for PlayStation could be worse. I can’t imagine the heads at Activision will be best pleased and will hold Sony partially responsible, so they would kiss goodbye to renewing their marketing deal for Call Of Duty and all the perks that entails. So roles would reverse, with Xbox gaining all those nonsense additions that Sony currently deems so important.

Then there’s Microsoft themselves, who have a huge chunk of change they will be keen to invest to bolster Game Pass. I can foresee Microsoft going on a spending spree like no other, for studios and exclusive third party deals that don’t involve regulators. Sony are the biggest culprits for acquiring such deals, but I can envisage a ‘gloves are off’ scenario that would legitimately affect the consumer.

A 10 year (minimum) deal for Sony is their best option in my view. Phil Spencer’s approach is better for all concerned – which could even result in Call Of Duty on Switch. Maybe I’m being naive thinking Phil Spencer is being genuine when he asserts he doesn’t want PlayStation or Nintendo going anywhere. Being more competitive with their rivals, yes, but not to the extent of them ceasing to exist.

I suspect that Xbox’s plan B, coupled with some inevitable bad blood between Sony and Microsoft, could have far worse ramifications. Whilst I don’t anticipate a return to the console wars of old, recent statements from execs have got a bit spicy, which isn’t a good sign for how the situation might escalate. One thing is for certain, neither Sony or Microsoft are above acting petty.

Xbox bias
I got the latest Call Of Duty (my first dip into the franchise since Black Ops!) as me and my old Xbox clanmates were feeling nostalgic for it.

In the first couple of weeks, we noticed some annoying bugs (such as the loadouts not working properly in the menus) but once we were in games it was generally a lot of fun.

However, since the latest update with DMZ and Warzone, we are unable to create a game party of more than two people.

It’s been this way for over a week now and whilst fixed on PC and PlayStation 5, still not so on Xbox. How can this be?! A multi-billion dollar franchise and we can’t even play online properly in a group. Incredibly frustrating. So much so it’s basically killed all the momentum we had built up.

Anyone else on Xbox with this issue? Any solutions out there if so?

All or nothing
Clearly so much of Microsoft’s plan relies on Game Pass becoming dominant to succeed and evidently Call Of Duty is central to that ambition.

If they manage to get the deal done with Activision, it could eventually strong arm not just the industry but consumers down the subscription model, for better or worse.

(I personally share the fear of the creative malaise this would likely lead to, just look at most of Netflix’s output and indeed Microsoft’s own.)

They’re becoming increasingly desperate to get this deal, but one has to wonder what their plan B is?

Could they give up on games altogether? If they can only turn a modest profit with Game Pass (assuming it really does at all) how viable actually is it and is it enough, given that it already appears to have peaked in popularity?

It’s undoubtedly true that Sony and Nintendo are making vastly more profit from selling games than Game Pass’s subscription does, which if anything, makes Game Pass even seem like a poor idea.

Microsoft just might have dug their own grave with Game Pass in the end, as surely they’ll never be able to convince Xbox owners they need to pay for games ever again, should they need to diverge course.
Pilgrim Soul

Company crossover
I’m maybe a bit late but £200 for an Xbox Series S is an absolute steal. Between first and third party support for the next few years, backwards compatibility, and emulation there’s an absolutely eye-watering amount of stuff to play on it.

I’m currently playing F-Zero GX on my fancy new OLED TV and I’m made up with the set-up. A Microsoft console is definitely the best way to play a Nintendo game that was developed by Sega.

For all ages
Why can we not play as adults in traditional Pokémon games?

I’m 41 years young and have been playing said games on and off since January 2004, starting with Sapphire.

Every time I’m playing as a child or young teen but what about a story where said young person has fallen away from Pokémon, grows up, has a life away from collecting and battling but an event forces them to pick up a pokéball once again?

Maybe the protagonists’ life or family was saved from a wild pokémon that wanted a (new) trainer or the protagonists’ (favourite/first/starter) pokémon died and s/he couldn’t bare replacing it.

OK, those plots are a bit dark but The Pokémon Company and/or Game Freak can work that part out.

Even Power Rangers, my favourite franchise in everything ever, had a few dark episodes and even a dark(er) series in RPM but neither were too unsuitable for children.
PS: Currently playing FIFA23, No Man’s Sky, and Pokemon Violet all on Switch. I prefer Violet over Brilliant Diamond and Arceus but Sword is still my favourite Switch Pokémon game (maybe because I’m from England, the country it’s based on).
PPS: May the Power protect Jason David Frank who played Tommy Oliver over five Power Ranger teams. This is my first email to GC since his death and this sad news has absolutely devastated the Ranger Nation (the official term for PR fans). I never thought I’d ever get to see my childhood hero but I finally did when I met him at a Nottingham Comic Con in May 2018 (see attached photo).

Inbox also-rans
Reader Kets was looking for the new Horizon Forbidden West game and found it for £35. Smyths currently have it for £25 on PS4 and £27.50 on PS5.

That is a weird amount of cowboys vs. the supernatural video games you listed in your Evil West review. I wonder why they keep making them seeing as I’d never heard of any of them before?

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Grackle and their recent Reader’s Feature about the best-looking games on the PlayStation 4.

If it’s expanded to include all last gen consoles (so Xbox One, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch) what do you feel was the most technically impressive game of the last generation, as well as the one that made the most impression on an artistic level?

How impressed where you by the improvements made during the course of the generation and where you satisfied that they were a significant advancement on the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era?

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 via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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