Or something like that, anyway. If you have any sort of interest in video gaming or like to keep up with new releases in the industry, you’ll know that this week and the coming week are long anticipated for a lot of people.
For a start, we had Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 released on the 9th. Midnight launches and record-breaking sales suggest that November has had its biggest release already. However, Activision will certainly be facing some still competition tomorrow when the release of two games with huge and dedicated fan bases could challenge its new king of the gaming charts.
Eleven years ago, we saw the release of Diablo 2 for the PC. This game was one of the biggest names in the early 2000’s and continues to be popular with fans today. However, online multiplayer of Diablo 2 could see a decline soon as Blizzard releases Diablo 3, taking advantage of the 11/11/11 to release a game 11 years after its prequel. Some fans are upset at the online-only game play that Blizzard seems to favour (their other major title being MMO giant World of Warcraft). For some reason, Blizzard are surprised that not everyone’s happy with this.
However, even more startling about Diablo 3 is the ban Blizzard have placed on modding. For many people, myself included, part of the PC gaming experience is focused around mods. It’s quite possible that I would be a console gamer if not for The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. I played everything in that game to death and when I was about to shelve it away as ‘done’, I discovered the modding community, and a true PC gamer was born. Mods more than tripled the play time available to me in Morrowind.
When you look a little deeper, though, you start to work out why modding is prohibited. Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, have implemented an Auction House in the game, from which players will be able to buy items for their characters. Normal enough right? Nope, Blizzard have decided that they are going to be the pot and call the kettle black by making stuff for sale for real life money. In the past, Blizzard have spent huge amounts of resources trying to stop people on World of Warcraft exchanging real money (and other things) for in-game money, but it’s something they are implementing themselves in Diablo 3! Maybe they found out how lucrative the market was and decided they wanted their finger in that pie, too.
November the 18th sees the official release of Minecraft, though whether an official release date for a game which has already sold more than four million copies is necessary, I’m not sure. Minecraft started off at a very low price and was £7.99 when I bought my own copy, while it was still in its alpha stages. As time has gone on, the price of Minecraft has increased – now it’s £13.95, and it will be around twenty pounds on full release. So if you’re going to get it, do so now to avoid the price hike.
For me though, November has something else. As if those three huge-name titles weren’t already enough, November the 11th sees the release of a game that I have been anticipating for a very long time.
My whole computer gaming career was cemented in place as I said previously, by The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. I would spend hours shut in my bedroom, using the computer that my grandparents bought me for schoolwork, exploring the vast expanse of the island of Vvardenfall, wearing the faces of many different people, from noble knights to cunning thieves to maniacal magic-users and back again. Morrowind satisfied me for three years, until Bethesda released the PC-testing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
As soon as I caught a whif of the system requirements, I knew that my tired HP machine just wouldn’t cut it. I made my own machine, designed to play Oblivion on it’s most hardcore graphics settings. I finished the machine after Oblivion had been out for about two weeks, The wait was agonising but worth it. At that point, it was more worth it than anything I’d ever experienced before, and that included sex.
Now, it’s five years later. My baby, the looming black and silver machine whirring away in the corner of my bedroom has served me well, a true testament to the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’. However, five years of heavy use will tire out even the best computer, and with the latest installment of a series that has defined my life since I was a teenager on the horizon, I knew what needed to be done. One of the last jobs of the Oblivion Machine was to order its own replacement. Now it’s cold and silent and sad, as I cavort with the younger, sexier model, the Skyrim Machine, delivered to me a couple of weeks ago.
I am restless with excitement. The fact that many people have been able to already pre-download Skyrim on Steam has served only to agitate me further. As much of a Steam fan as I am (I really do believe that it’s the ‘future of gaming’), I have pre-ordered my copy of Skyrim from Game for one simple reason. The versions of TES III & IV I got (the GotY edition and the Limited Edition) both came with posters showing the world map, as did the Shivering Isles expansion to Oblivion. There are two ways to get the Skyrim version of the poster map – getting the Limited Edition, which is sadly way out of my budget, being £129, or pre-ordering the game from either Game or Gamestation stores. So, in exchange for a small delay (I will have to wait until Game opens, and then walk home and install the game before I can play it instead of playing as soon as I wake up) I will get to continue my much-loved map collection. It’s not Elder Scrolls without a map blu-tacced to the wall.
However, I’m not fifteen anymore. I’ve lived and loved since then and played a lot more video games too. My tastes have developed and changed and I’ve discovered that actually, maybe video games aren’t better than sex, after all.
The build up to Skyrim might have given me the same thrills and excitement as I experienced when Oblivion’s release date was creeping nearer, but will that first ‘New Game’ give me the same absolute astonishment? All PC games these days can acheive a level of graphic detail and scope that Oblivion had, so maybe Skyrim’s graphics won’t make me want to pinch myself, but will the rest of the game blow my socks off in the same way? Watch this space.
Sadly though, Skyrim has already become a part of the PC vs Consoles war. Bethesda has been lifted to power by fans of the Elder Scrolls series, and carried along by the PC modding community. However, there has already been the announcement that the first two pieces of extra content for Skyrim will be exclusive to the X-box for a month before us PC gamers or PS3 owners get our versions. the deal with Microsoft had better have been worth annoying such a huge portion of your customers, Bethesda! This is twice as infuriating when you learn that they have promised the DLC packs will be infrequent and substantial – there will be big parts of the internet that I will have to stay away from in order to avoid spoilers for the DLC for 30 days each time, if they are going to be big story-additions and extra content instead of things like the infamous horse armour add-on for Oblivion.
You might never find out just how much I enjoy Skyrim, though – I’ve already given Chris a warning that he shouldn’t expect me to be particularly sociable while I’m playing it. The chances of me finding the time to write about it are slim to none. I should have known I’d never manage NaNoWriMo.