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ratchet and morales
ratchet and morales

The Launch Lineup is Abysmal

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With the Xbox Series X and PS5 fast approaching, the weak launch-title lineup is disappointing. Promising first-day games, such as Halo Infinite, have been pushed into 2021 and more delays may come before the holidays arrive. Some third-party games, such as AC: Valhalla, are welcome additions to the lineup, though, it’s a shame to see how many first-party IP’s won’t be wrapped under Christmas trees this year.

Delays for Days

Despite what’s occurred in 2020, the gaming industry managed to generate hype during the year’s first half. Setback after setback, however, served to knock the wind out of many hopeful fans’ sails. One of the biggest delays, and least surprising, was that of Microsoft’s blockbuster title—Halo Infinite. The game’s demo debuted during Microsoft’s First Look event, garnering harsh criticism for its outdated and unimpressive graphics. Microsoft’s flagship console-seller was then delayed into 2021 for added polish. Odd, for a game in production long before COVID struck.

It doesn’t stop with the Master Chief either. Titles such as Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 and Gods and Monsters have also been delayed for further improvement. Deathloop, a unique new IP, was set to be a PS5 timed exclusive before being pushed back into 2021 as well, meaning an even longer than anticipated wait for non-PS5 console owners. Overall, a large segment of projects hyped up for 2020 won’t be in the public’s hands until next year.

Even Cyberpunk 2077, one of 2020’s most anticipated games, won’t be ready for Series X or PS5 until next year. These holidays, fans will only be able to purchase its Xbox One and PS4 variants. Xbox Series X and PS5 owners will either have to wait until 2021, or cave-in and buy the PS4 version while waiting. It’s doubtful CD Projekt Red intended this. The current-gen version has been delayed multiple times already, and it’s sure to have affected the updated version’s development.

Many would argue delays serve to provide users with a better overall experience, and they would be correct. However, despite the rationale behind it, fans around the world buying new consoles this year will feel the sting of a lackluster library. Sure, this time next year, after all the great games originally meant for 2020 have been released, people may look back with forgiving eyes. That doesn’t negate this pitiful lineup.

Party Over Here

Another concerning issue is the absence of first-party IP’s. Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Outriders, and sport titles such as Madden and NBA 2K will all be on shelves alongside the new consoles, but they’re third-party games. Exclusives are what drive console sales, and it looks like there isn’t much of a fight between the two console giants this year. They’re both coming up short on content. At least gamers can play Destiny 2 on their new cutting-edge hardware.

The PS5 has Miles Morales, which will be great, but a PS4 game’s expansion is hardly a console seller. Godfall looks promising, however, it doesn’t bear the same weight a game such as Ratchet and Clank would. In fact, Ratchet and Clank would be an iconic PlayStation launch title. Coincidentally, developer Insomniac Games just confirmed during the recent Gamescon event that it’ll be coming out in time for the PS5 launch window.

After losing the Master Chief’s 2020 appearance, Microsoft’s roster is looking weak. Call of the Sea has an attractive artstyle and design, but not enough reach to sell units. If only Fable or Hellblade 2 were confirmed for holiday 2020, both games would have made decent launch titles. As it stands, the Xbox Series X lineup is passable at best, and sorely lacking at worst.

Fishing Nets

Setting a release date is similar to casting a fishing net into a body of water. The fish may or may not be immediately visible, but the net is cast regardless, according to the best guess of the experienced caster. Many of these “launch titles” were given similar treatment, as developers provided estimates and publishers pushed for nets to be thrown. This year’s most popular netting was “Holiday 2020” and “Console Launch”, and many companies have come up short.

It’s understandable for developers not to give out specific dates, as those can quickly turn into false promises. However, it’s almost September and over half the games making up the alleged next-gen lineup have yet to announce a firm release date other than holiday 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has a definite role to play in all this, and yet, these games have all been in development for years.

It’s almost quarter four now, and usually a new generation of consoles would have definitive release dates in place, as well as day-one games confirmed. Instead, there’s still no specific launch date for the Xbox Series X or PS5 other than, again, holiday 2020. Anyone planning to buy a console, and researching which games will be available, will also be treated to multiple holiday 2020 “guesstimate” release dates. At least gamers can pass the time playing backwards compatible games during “Holiday 2020.”

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