There’s A New Worst Game Of 2023, And It’s A Switch Exclusive

Remember that awful looking The Last of Us clone, The Last Hope, that got released earlier this month? Well, it turns out the game is much worse than the trailer first suggested. Apparently, the whole game is only about 20 minutes long, takes place in one street, and is a broken mess.

Let’s cast our minds back to last week. That’s when a horrible-looking Nintendo Switch The Last of Us clone went viral online. A trailer for the game looked like a blatant copy of Naughty Dog’s award-winning franchise, complete with its own Ellie-like companion. It was even called The Last Hope. Yeah, the people who made it weren’t being subtle about where they were pulling their “inspiration” from. Most would agree, it looked bad, but now thanks to Digital Foundry, it’s clear this is much worse than we thought. In fact, it might be the worst game of 2023.

In a new upload on Thursday, the video game tech analysts at Digital Foundry ripped The Last Hope apart in a video that is about as long as the actual game.

Digital Foundry / West Connection Limited / VG Games

Where to even begin? For starters—this might be the most shocking—the entire game seems to take place mainly on one U-shaped street in a generic city. Thanks to the game’s reliance on Unity store props, it’s a rather confusing place. American flags can be seen next to European power outlets. Other assets also don’t seem to work together, with some being far too detailed compared to other, lower-res objects scattered about.

Playing The Last Hope is a frustrating, bad experience

When you actually start to play The Last Hope, you’ll also notice that the framerate is horrendous, often dipping well below 30. This makes it hard to play, as the game’s performance goes up and down constantly. What also makes it hard to play is that the game seems to have barely been playtested. As shown in the Digital Foundry video, it gives the player very limited resources.

For example, your stamina meter doesn’t recharge over time, limiting how many times you can swing your baseball bat. And there are only three MREs, that partially refill your stamina, in the entire game. Bullets are also rare, meaning that if you miss too many shots you could end up in an unwinnable situation.

At one part, players have to use a lockpick to unlock a police car, and while doing this you can be killed by zombies. The problem is the game doesn’t tell you this is happening. So you do your lockpicking, finish, and exit to a screen that simply states “You Dead.” This means that you’ll need to clear out the area of zombies before starting the lockpicking mini-game. But based on Digital Foundry’s math, you can only kill around 65 zombies with the resources offered in-game. So don’t miss a single shot, don’t sprint (as that wastes stamina), and also hope the game doesn’t randomly crash during all of this, erasing your progress in the process.

Oh and keep in mind that it’s only about 15 minutes long, assuming you manage your limited resources correctly and don’t get stuck trying to open a door that can only be opened with the “E” key. (Note: The Switch doesn’t have an E key.)

The Switch’s digital store is filled with this crap

The Last Hope is a comically bad video game from developers who have a track record of awful Switch shovelware, stuff like World War: Battle Heroes Field Army Call of Prison Duty Simulator.

And it’s easy to laugh at it, which I did and continue to do. But it’s sadly not an oddity on the Switch’s eShop, which in recent years has become filled with shovelware garbage that, some might say, is getting very close to scam territory. Not that I’m calling The Last Hope—a game that can be completed in 15 minutes and looks to be directly ripping off The Last of Us using poorly cobbled together Unity assets—a scam. Just, you know, some people might be saying that.

I think some folks just assume these shovelware games are bad and don’t think much of it. But I think Nintendo should try to bring back some quality control to its store.

For one, so many indie devs are working really hard on games that end up getting lost in a massive sea of content. Pruning some of the worst, most broken shovelware from the store might help these devs find more success. The Switch platform also has a lot of younger players and they or their parents might not know better and waste some money on something awful, broken, and terrible. Something like The Last Hope.

The Silly Story Behind The Weirdest Xbox Exclusive

Remember when the Xbox Series X and S launched with a Yakuza game, but the PS5 didn’t? That was weird, right? For such a long time the Yakuza franchise had been closely tied to PlayStation. But, at least for a few months, the then-latest game in the series skipped Sony’s next-gen machine for Xbox’s fancy console. Why? The answer just came to light today, and it’s both complicated and silly.

Back in November 2020, the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 launched with a handful of exclusives and a lot of ports. (It was mostly ports…) One of the oddest next-gen exclusives at the time was Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which was available at launch on PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. A few months later, this odd new entry in the popular Yakuza series finally landed on PS5. At the time, folks online assumed Microsoft had cut a deal with Sega to keep the game off the next-gen PlayStation. Others suggested the PS5 version had technical issues that forced it to be delayed. The real reason? Sega signed a few too many deals with too many companies.

As revealed in September 19’s massive Xbox leak, which included a load of emails and private documents from inside Microsoft, it seems Xbox boss Phil Spencer was just as surprised as gamers when he realized there wasn’t going to be a PS5 port of Like a Dragon.

In leaked emails from June 2020, Spencer is seen sharing this IGN tweet and asking if the game was “next-gen exclusive.” Another exec responds by telling Spencer that it isn’t, and that it will be available on PS4 as well as Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Spencer then replies how it’s “funny” that Sega doesn’t even list the PS5 on its website.

A screenshot shows Xbox execs talking about Yakuza.

Screenshot: Kotaku

How two separate deals delayed the PS5 port

After some further chatter about possibly doing a Sega-themed Xbox in Japan, Damon Baker—then in charge of global gaming partnerships and development—laid out why Microsoft was going to have an exclusive next-gen port of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

  • According to him, Sony had a 12-month exclusivity deal with Sega for the PlayStation release of the game in Japan and Asia.
  • This meant Microsoft couldn’t release an Xbox version of the game in Japan until that deal ended.
  • However, Microsoft also had a contract with Sega that included a parity clause that prevented Sony from releasing a next-gen SKU of Like a Dragon in Japan until Xbox did, too.
  • And because Xbox couldn’t release any version of the game in Japan until the PlayStation deal was done, Sony was unable to release a PS5 port in the region.

In that same email, Baker shared the news that Sega had no plans to launch a PS5 version in the United States, adding: “Sounds like we now have a timed exclusivity for next-gen.”

A screenshot shows Xbox execs talking about Yakuza.

Screenshot: Kotaku

At this point, after pointing out that Microsoft had the rights to market the game outside of Japan, Spencer wondered if Xbox could advertise that the next Yakuza game was a next-gen exclusive on Series X/S, adding that it’s a “big deal” and later saying that it “might even be worth some money from us” if they can push that news in future marketing. Which happened, with Microsoft posting blogs talking about how the game would utilize the “next-gen” power of the Series X/S and hyping up the game’s release on its consoles.

In February 2021, about three months later, the Sony exclusivity deal in Japan expired, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon finally launched on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in Japan. The next month, it launched on PS5 in Japan and everywhere else, ending one of the weirdest bits of corporate contractual silliness I’ve seen in a long, long time.


Exclusive Persona 3 Portable Set Comes With Evoker

An image highlights the Evoker shadowbox that comes with Limited Run's collector's Persona 3 Portable edition.

Screenshot: Atlus / Limited Run / Kotaku

Role-playing game remasters Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are getting physical releases through distributor Limited Run, with pre-orders for the former beginning September 29, and the latter coming to the digital storefront on October 27. Physical copies for Persona 3 Portable will be available to play on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch consoles, and the priciest offering, dubbed the S.E.E.S. edition, comes with an Evoker replica shadowbox.

Though it would be funny for us and bad optics for P3P developer Atlus if it were distributing 3D replicas of the Evoker—a non-lethal, spiritual pistol Persona 3 characters use to shoot gunk out of their heads and call their Persona, a powerful alter ego—it’s not. The one-to-one replica is safely stuck behind shadowbox glass, above brooding, blue-haired teen Protagonist’s raging eyes.

Otherwise, the $200 S.E.E.S. edition, which takes its name from P3P’s after school club for Persona users, comes with a physical copy of P3P on a platform you choose, a steelbook case, S.E.E.S. armband, and other typical collectibles, like the P3P soundtrack. It also includes a checkered clothes patch and an image of its characters calling for an all-out attack in another shadowbox, which I assume has a $150 value in itself.

The standard, standalone P3P copies are priced a little more relaxedly—$35 each. None of the physical versions, including the collector’s edition and deluxe Grimoire Edition, have any purchase limits on them, though pre-orders for everything are set to close on November 12.

Read More: It’s Always A Good Time To Play Persona 3

Limited Run has not yet announced details for its physical run of formerly Vita-only Persona 4 Golden, just the fact that it was “coming to LRG on October 27th,” the distributor said on Twitter. It’ll share more information in the coming weeks.

Xbox’s Worst Exclusive, Redfall, Gets 60fps Mode In Major Patch

Vampire hunters catch one on the streets of a quiet New England town.

Image: Arkane / Bethesda

After months of silence, vampire shooter Redfall is receiving its biggest update yet following a disastrous launch back in May. The second big patch will add the Game Pass multiplayer game’s long-awaited 60 frames-per-second mode on Xbox Series X/S, as well as a host of gameplay improvements and bug fixes.

“Today’s update brings Performance Mode to Xbox Series X/S, stealth takedowns, a bevy of new controller settings, and a lot more changes to Redfall,” the development team wrote on Bethesda’s website. While the 60fps mode is the biggest addition, a raft of accessibility features and improvements to stealth gameplay and aiming sensitivity are also welcome changes. Whether it’s enough to begin addressing some of the deeper disappointment around Redfall’s lackluster enemy encounters and unfulfilling progression system remains to be seen.

Redfall was panned by many critics and players when it launched earlier this year. Expected to be the first-party blockbuster that would end Microsoft’s drought of console exclusives, it instead failed to live up to the months of marketing hype that preceded it. In addition to bugs, performance issues, and complaints about the core gameplay loop, it also launched on the “next-gen” Xbox Series X/S with a “next-gen” price tag of $70 but without the 60fps performance option that players on PC would have access to.

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer apologized for the situation at the time, but a report by Bloomberg later revealed other issues underlying the game’s rough development. Made by Arkane, best known for immersive sims like Prey and Dishonored, Redfall was instead an online multiplayer game that at one point was planned to include microtransactions as part of a push by parent company ZeniMax into live-service monetization. While those features were stripped out, a lack of development resources and constant turnover reportedly made it hard for the studio to deliver on Redfall’s confusing blend of genres and gameplay mechanics.

Recently, Bethesda marketing head Pete Hines said in an interview that despite the harsh reception, Redfall wouldn’t be abandoned. Instead, he expected new players joining Game Pass a decade from now to give the game a shot and enjoy it thanks to ongoing post-launch support. With Cyberpunk 2077‘s recent 2.0 victory lap after a botched release, many are wondering if Redfall can pull of something similar, or if Microsoft will pour the money into it required to make that happen.

If it does, it will still have a big uphill battle to fight. The game only has a few dozen players on Steam at any given moment. Still, Redfall’s second update is a start.

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