PIXEL BURN – Goodbye Konami? (We can but hope)

In which Matt covers more Konami bullshit for what he hopes will be the final time.
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Hello you beautiful misfits. My name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at the week’s gaming news.

Starting with more news about Konami, because there just hasn’t bloody well been enough of that over the past few weeks has there? They were out at the Tokyo Game Show this week to show off Metal Gear Online, Metal Gear Solid V’s team-based multiplayer mode, which is coming out for consoles next month but won’t hit the PC until early next year. So while Xbox One and PS4 players will be shooting each other round corners on a bunch of brand new maps, all I’ll be able to do is watch videos of it and sulk.

Speaking of new maps, one of the areas featured in Metal Gear Online is Camp Omega from Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes, albeit beefed up with 9 years worth of security enhancements. Which isn’t quite what Metal Gear fans expected when Hideo Kojima promised they’d eventually revisit the site in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Konami also unveiled some forthcoming singleplayer DLC. Nothing story-related alas, as most fans secretly hoped-for yet deep down knew they’d never get because Konami is Konami, but rather a bunch of costumes instead. Specifically the kind of costumes that used to be included for free in previous Metal Gear Solid games. Alright, you had to jump through a million different gameplay hoops to actually unlock them, but they were still free!

Not this time of course. If you want to run around Afghanistan or the Angola-Zaire border region in a snazzy tuxedo, the sneaking suit from Metal Gear Solid 3 or Snake’s regular combat fatigues…also from Metal Gear Solid 3, you’re going to have to pay for them! Just as you’ll also have to pay for these outfits – for any lady soldiers you might choose to send out on missions from your Mother Base – which are also taken from two characters from Metal Gear Solid 3.

Costume DLC by itself isn’t all entertaining or interesting though. Not unless it also includes something completely ridiculous like…I dunno, new outfits for your in-game horse?

But then you’d have to be a complete idiot to try selling something like that nowad-

Yep, hold on to your hoverboards people! Konami are taking us back in time to 2006. A more innocent age when Bethesda Studios, having just released The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and trying to figure out this newfangled thing called “downloadable content”, thought that selling decorative in-game horse armour for $2.50 was a great idea. And not something people would still be taking the piss out of them for nine years later.

Although as much as we still laugh at Bethesda’s Horse Armour tomfoolery nowadays, according to Bethesda Studios senior level designer Joel Burgess it was an important step towards Oblivion’s larger, more story-focused expansions like Knights of the Nine and The Shivering Isles. The latter being very much a fan favourite.

The chances of Konami following up their Horse Armour DLC with some meaty single-player story content however are…well, about as likely as them making a triple-A videogame ever again. Practically none.

That is if you believe the rumour posted on a French game blog called…erm, Gameblog…dot France, that Konami’s worldwide technology director Julien Merceron has parted ways with the company this week, allegedly because Konami are now finally abandoning triple-A videogame development altogether.

According to Gameblog, Konami’s slate for upcoming triple-A titles is almost entirely blank with the exception of Metal Gear Online and Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, leaving Merceron with bugger-all else to do except skip off to pastures new.

So much for that new Kojima-less Metal Gear Solid sequel Konami were advertising for a while back.

While Konami have yet to comment oficially on these allegations their community managers have publicly denied them, in an unofficial capacity, on various social media outlets and elsewhere. And why wouldn’t they? A company still trying to flog two more games – MGS V and Pro Evo in this case – isn’t going to say they’re not making games anymore until they’ve squeezed as many sales as possible out of them. It’s basic business, innit.

And even if Konami were to stay in the triple-A games development business, who the fuck are they going to get to make them? They’ve scattered their best creative talent to the four winds and built a reputation as an absolutely horrible place to work. You’d have to be mad or desperate to accept a job there now!

[MGS V CREMATION SCENE, GAME MONTAGE]

Nope, this is quite probably the last we’ll ever hear of Konami in regards to videogame development ever again. They’ll hoarde their franchises like a jealous dragon of course, flat-out refusing to license them out to people who’ll actually treat them with respect, but that’s probably for the best. Sure some gamers will be sad they’ll never see another Castlevania, Contra, Suikoden, Bomberman or Silent Hill ever again, but speaking as a Silent Hill fan that’s infinitely preferable to another Homecoming, Downpour or…god forbid…Book of Memories. Even if that also means we’ll never get another Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

On the bright side, this should also mean I’ll never have to report on Konami ever again. Well, aside from a brief remark about the inevitable Metal Gear Solid pachinko machine.

In other Japan-centric news From Software made two big announcements at this week’s Tokyo Game Show, the first regarding Bloodborne here. Wait a minute, hang on…no, this is Dark Souls 3! Sorry, the main character wearing a tricorne hat kinda threw me a bit there.

Nope, THIS is Bloodborne. Specifically Bloodborne: The Old Hunters, an expansion that adds new weapons, like this spinny buzzsaw jobbie, as well as some new areas like this blood-filled swamp. Because you can’t have a From Software souls game without some filthy, mucky location that makes you want to soak your skin in bleach afterwards.

Like the Valley of Defilement in Demon’s Souls

Or Blighttown in Dark Souls.

Like other souls-game DLC The Old Hunters will slip seamlessly into your game with barely a nod, leaving it up to you to find out how to access it. No menu-options or flashing neon arrows saying “DLC ENTRANCE THIS WAY!” All From Software have said is it’ll be accessible at some point in the first half of the game after a number of unnamed conditions have been met.

Though hopefully it won’t be quite as obscure as killing a crystal golem in an otherwise empty cave to free a sorceress from suspended animation, retrieving a broken necklace from another crystal golem much later on in the game, then going back to said remote cave where you freed said sorceress and getting pulled back in time by a giant shadowy monster.

But then figuring out that kind of stuff is all part the fun of souls games.

Fans anticipating more Bloodborne DLC after this however might be sad to know that The Old Hunters will be the only DLC released. From Software had originally planned to make two expansions but decided instead to combine them into one. So don’t look at it as you’re not getting anymore DLC, but rather that you don’t have to wait for the second one. And you don’t have much longer to wait for The Old Hunters either, since it launches on November 24 for $19.99, €14.99 and £11.99.

Fuck me, proper regional pricing!

And with that done its onto the other big bit of From Software news regarding Demon’s Souls 2! Wait a minute, hang on…no, this is Dark Souls 3 again! Sorry, the mana bar in the top-left corner kinda threw me a bit. Yep, despite the Demons’ Souls-esque mana-bar and the wardrobe straight from the finest hunter’s boutique in Bloodborne’s city of Yharnam, this is definitely Dark Souls 3. Which now has a confirmed European and North American release date of April 2016.

Hi honey, it’s me. Quick question: um, we’re not doing anything in April are we? No plans to go anywhere or anything?

Oh, nothing, no reason.

Just wondering is all.

We’ve also been treated to various bits of gameplay footage showing off many familiar elements of the Dark Souls series. The most obvious being a whopping great dragon burning enemies, and you if you’re a blundering idiot, to a charred crisp. The Estus flask also returns although you’ll be juggling two of them in this third instalment: the familiar orange Sunny Delight variety that restores your health, and an all new blue raspberry flavour called “Ash Estus” that tops up your magic pew-pew bar. Which you’ll still need even if you’re not playing a wizard, as melee-warriors can now use special “smash-things-in-the-face-with-a-huge-fuck-off-sword” abilities called “Critical Arts” which draw from the same energy pool. So it’s not so much a mana bar as a “do cool shit to fuck people up” bar.

Other familiar elements appear to have come filtered through bloodborne, and not just some of the fashion options. This tricorne hat-wearing chappie for example is referred to as an “Academy Assassin”, which raises interesting questions about a possibly in-game story connection to the city of Yharnam in Bloodborne.

In much the same way this grinning sod in Dark Souls 1 did.

It probably doesn’t actually mean anything and there’s likely no connection whatsoever, but it’ll keep the lore nerds busy!

Dark Souls 3 is also clearly built on the improved game engine From Software developed for Bloodborne, and some of the gothic horror elements of its architecture appear to have come along for the ride. There is however so far a distinct lack of obviously-Lovecraftian horrors. Combat is also reportedly faster-paced than previous Dark Souls titles, although not as fast as Bloodborne’s, and you still only regain health from bonfires or chugging Sunny Delight until you vomit. Fans worried that Dark Souls 3’s combat might have been similarly streamlined can rest easy however. According to various sources the combat is as versatile and tactical as ever, with the new Critical Arts system adding an extra layer of depth and strategy.

All in all Dark Souls 3 looks to be shaping up to be pretty bloody well. Best of all however, like Dark Souls 2 it’s coming out on PC alongside the console versions. So don’t be surprised if I don’t get a video done that week.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you still liked it then please let me know by clicking the button down below, and let your friends, family and vocal cord parasites know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. In the meantime, until next week as always, you can go now.

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.