What We’re Playing Wednesdays

Phew! It’s been a scorcher this week, with the UK reaching recorded temperatures of 40° and above for the first time. This isn’t ‘hit the beach’ sunshine; it’s ‘cower inside’ weather, the kind that we’ll see more and more as our planet heads for certain ecological disaster. But while we are all cowering inside, why not pass the time with some video games? Here’s what we’re been playing this week.

Joe – Editor & Lead Writer

Dishonoured: Definitive Edition & Dishonoured 2

  • Playing on Xbox Series S via Game Pass

We’ve been a bit quiet recently at Average Joe Games as the first proper summer after the pandemic inevitably busies our diaries. But somehow I’ve managed to find time to play not one but two whole games this week: Dishonoured: The Definitive Edition and Dishonoured 2. The series passed me by when it first released, so I went in blind, or so I thought. But developer Arkane Studios’ DNA was instantly recognisable; from your supernatural powers to the immersive level design that I loved so much in Deathloop. A few words, then, about them both, if you’ll indulge me:

Dishonoured: The Definitive Edition

There’s something special about the first game that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the setting, Dunwall, a Victorian-London inspired City running on magic and steampunk. Or maybe it’s the intriguing political drama of the Empire, played out in an immersive environment in which you can interact with in many ways. Not that the second instalment doesn’t have this (although most of the game is set away from Dunwall), but it feels a little more polished in a way that smooths off some of the loveable rough edges of the first.

At the time of release, The Definitive Edition was criticised by some as a poor remaster, with janky visuals and frame rate issues apparent. While the graphics still retain a rough charm, the Xbox frame-rate boost is incredibly welcome. Particularly considering all the fast-paced, parkour-like traversal you’ll be doing.

Dishonoured 2

In the second of the series, we’re taken to the southernmost tip of the Empire, Karnaca, a Mediterranean style port town overrun by Bloodflies, an exotic parasite that feeds off the corpses in the street. The change of setting is welcome, although it does lack some of the Dickensian charm of Dunwall. Your base is now a rundown steam ship, ominously named the Dreadful Whale and serves as a much more coherent and interesting rendezvous than the Hounds Pit Pub in the first game.

As exciting as a change of scene is, the gameplay follows roughly a similar route to the first (infiltrate a building, take out an Advisor) and did leave me hoping for something new. That being said, both games are great fun and demonstrate why Arkane are the masters of environmental storytelling.

If you’re having a busy week like me, both games fully respect your time  (the first concluding in 12 – 15 hours depending on how thorough you are) which is very thoughtful of them in an era of epic AAAs.

Tom – Lead Writer

Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut

  • Playing on PlayStation 5 via PS Plus

When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time hanging out on the GameFAQs message boards. No, I didn’t date much, why do you ask? Anyway, back then, what gamers were clamouring for was an Assassin’s Creed game set in feudal Japan. It seemed like a perfect fit: imagine running over gabled roofs, and leaping off to stealthily assassinate your target ninja-style. Ubisoft never made that game, but years later, developer Sucker Punch made the next best thing in Ghost of Tsushima.

I can’t say that Ghost of Tsushima is a hugely unique game; it has too much in common with other open world games for that, many of them other PlayStation exclusives. What it is, though, is extremely polished. The samurai combat is fluid and satisfying; I haven’t shied away from an optional encounter yet. The graphics are stunning, particularly in the PS5 version; find a good vantage point and you could easily marvel for hours at the beautiful vistas. The game also loads insanely quickly; I barely have time to reach for my phone when fast travelling, let alone unlock it.

Games like Ghost of Tsuhima are a great reason to upgrade your PS Plus subscription to the Extra tier, which is how I’m playing it. I’ve said before that I don’t consider the Premium tier to be worthwhile, but the catalogue available at the Extra level is actually pretty good. Ghost of Tsushima is a lot of fun, and you don’t have to spend £70 upfront to access it.