Oblivion producer speaks warmly about his PS3 version
High Street retailer GAME has decided to hamper the sales of PS3 title, Oblivion. Why do we make such an outrageous claim? Because they're not going to stock the title for the PS3. It won't be available in any of their UK or Ireland stores.
Oblivion has sold very well on both 360 and PC, counting upward 3 million units sold and receiving various awards for being totally radical. The PS3 version is to see release in Europe today, but it won't be around in the biggest videogame retailer. That's very, very lame. What does GAME have to say for themselves? Nothing. They weren't available to comment.
[update: the problem lies in distribution troubles, not a denial to stock the game itself. A new report with actual information from GAME is now available!]
Now we can truly see what is different, what's the same, what's better, what's worse, and if some of the more annoying bugs have been fixed up, patched up, sewn up, et cetera. Let's see a show of hands -- how many of you will be grabbing this game up? Also, how many of you have it on another console (we include the PC) but will buy the PS3 version for the heck of it?
No more Oblivion after Shivering Isles
Quoting is fun: "Shivering Isles is our last big thing: it's our first and last expansion for Oblivion. Work pretty much started on Shivering Isles once Oblivion was done. We started looking at what we wanted to do, where we wanted to set it, all that stuff. It pretty much started last March." Rumor is that Bethesda has its hands full preparing the PS3 version of Oblivion as well as Fallout 3, so they'd like to move forward instead of continue to mess around with something that's already considered by many to be great. Oh well. Expect an Elder Scrolls V in a few years.
Pete Hines, VP of Public Relations, took the helm and decided to answer another set of questions regarding not only Oblivion, but Bethesda as a whole. We'll go ahead and make a fantastic list.
- Shivering Isles isn't a standalone game because they want you to keep the character you've worked so hard on... they want you to be able to trek back and forth between the main game and the expansion with that character.
- Bethesda is sticking to the first-person view of their RPGs and think JRPGs are all the same, too linear, etc. Obviously, they haven't played that many JRPGs or they probably wouldn't say that. For the most part, it's true, but there are some amazing non-linear titles from Japan. The Romancing SaGa games are fantastic non-linear JRPGs.
- There is a slight desire to create an MMO, but only if Bethesda can find a way to move the genre as a whole forward. They've been very focused on single-player interaction, making the world alive and not so "get this quest to get the items certain monsters may drop but probably won't so you can get an item to activate another quest to get more items that, in the end, amount to you accomplishing nothing at all." That's me quoting myself, not Pete Hines.
- About the PS3 and 360 versions, now Hines says this: "Sometimes folks see stuff there that's real, and oftentimes it's imagined. The PS3 and 360 versions are for all intents and purposes identical." What? Stop flip-flopping.
- Last but not least, Pete Hines says that "right now there are no plans internally for us to do anything other than role-playing."
Bethesda is going to go with those answers and we're gonna take them. But if he said before that the PS3 had some differences to the 360 version and now he says they're the same... which is true? Why the doublespeak, Mr. Public Relations? If they're the exact same, that's perfectly fine – just say so and stick to it. Anyone else want to offer up non-linear JRPGs also?
Rumor: There is a lack of downloadable content because of the PS3's technical limitations!!1!11!
- Hines: Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are two reasons why Orrery and Mehrunes's Razor will be absent from the get-go on the PS3. There's a concern about the balancing of the game and giving players access to the thieves den or wizard's tower right from the start of the game. The expansions may hit the PS-Store later, but not at initial launch.
- The other reason is that the designers haven't tested the PlayStation Network Store and the mechanisms for getting the content out there. The designers were rightfully concentrating on making the game itself much better and glitch-free. The PS-Store was low priority.
- The shader function that re-renders low-res textures will indeed get to the 360 and PC versions, but that's it. The other optimizations are specifically available on the PS3. Why? Because it's awesome.
Can we stop the rumor-mongering now? This isn't Sony saying this stuff -- it's Bethesda. Why would they lie on Sony's behalf? They wouldn't. In any case, look for the PS3 version of Oblivion in March. It should be super cool, if you're into that sort of thing.
"For one thing, the PS3 version has been optimized to take advantage of the Cell processor and hardware that the system offers. As a result, the game runs a lot faster than the 360 build." In the same vein, "the amount of framerate drops or hitches that cropped up in the wilderness as you accessed a new area on the 360 have been substantially reduced on the PS3 version. There is a plan to completely eradicate these issues as the game nears release." They're also getting rid of a number of bugs, including the "item duplication" glitch. Cheaters.
"The visual presentation of Oblivion has also been significantly enhanced. While it was a beautiful title on the 360, far off environmental details often displayed low resolution textures. This has been fixed with new shaders dedicated to rendering the foreground cleanly with sharper details, so rocky landscapes now have craggy appearances instead of smooth, non-distinct surfaces." This is surprising, since you often hear 360 advocates, er, advocating that the 360 has better texturing abilities (it's Greek to me).
Finally, "While there is still a fair amount of pop-in that occurs (which can't be helped due to the size of the world), the draw distance is farther than the 360 version. As a result, screens from the PS3 version should approach those from high end PCs running Oblivion, which is an impressive feat." Yes, the PS3 is capable of impressive feats. If you're a really, really hardcore Oblivion fan and own both the 360 and PS3, you may want to pick up the PS3 version for the enhancements, but keep the 360 version for the plug-ins. In all, this is awesome news for Sony.
PS3's Oblivion to include both expansions?
This new expansion takes you on a quest to take out an entirely different Daedric Prince, this one of "Madness". The size of the Shivering Isles is approximately one quarter that of the land of Oblivion, Cyrodiil. The quest itself? Well, aside from all the random time-wasting crap you can probably do, the main adventure is supposed to clock in around 30 hours. If you're wondering, you can go back and forth between the two lands with your character as you please. Anywho, there's no word on if this will be packaged with the PS3 Oblivion, but it's doubtful. It'll be out not too long after the initial release, though, as the PC and 360 are expecting the expansion sometime this Spring.
Retail listings, friends. That is what spawned this rumor. EB/Gamestop (let's try to find a collective title for them, like EBStop) has the title listed for a December 4th release -- which is in the "launch window" but falls short of a true launch title. Wal-Mart, whose heart lies within us all, the consumers, doesn't have the game listed as available until January 27th, 2007... which is actually my birthday in case anyone cares (insert smiley face with halo here). To contrast, Circuit City and other online stores still have the title listed as November 19th, which is probably the closest you can get. What do you guys think? Is EBStop and the 'Mart being too cautious, or is there something to this?
Is Oblivion really the secret PS3 launch title?
If this hypothesis rings true, what could it spell? Two more launch titles, really. We've gathered enough info to call Oblivion a launch title, but is it the launch title? Rumors are rumors, and this is only speculation until November, but why would Sony care so much about keeping a game secret that is not only popular, but has been released for several months on PC and XBox360? Exclusivity? That's hardly reason enough. Sony systems hardly ever cater to an RPG market aside from the JRPG side, so why would they hide something they usually don't care much for? Even though many will disagree, let's keep the guessing game going -- should Oblivion not be the secret title, what else could it be?