With the launch of the ninth console generation coming in just two more weeks, the excitement that is being felt within gaming circles is palpable. All of the next gen console preorders were sold out within minutes of them going live, and for those lucky few who managed to secure their orders, the week of November 9th will be a busy one. As has been the case for nearly two decades now, the big two competitors will be Sony and Microsoft, pitting their flagship consoles (The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X respectively) against each other, in a battle for the domination of the holiday market. However, in this generation, Microsoft has introduced a wrinkle into the traditional two console battle; a smaller, less powerful, but more cost efficient console known as the Xbox Series S, which is retailing for $200 less than its aforementioned competitors. 

The backlash to this announcement was sudden and harsh in the gaming community, with many expressing their belief that this console would be holding technological progress back so that Microsoft could enforce parity with the more powerful Series X. Others were confused, wondering why this console, barely an upgrade on current generation hardware, would need to exist at all. Suffice it to say, the general reaction to the announcement of the Series S has ranged from vitriolic to apathetic. However, for my money, this is the console I’m currently most excited about. 

I think that the Series S has the potential to serve a number of underappreciated, niche audiences, but for now I want to focus on a couple of key factors that I think will give the system a place in the new generation. To begin, consider the world that these consoles will be launching in. It’s one in which many people, especially in the West (one of the largest markets in this industry) are facing unemployment, eviction, and a loss of healthcare. While it is much too late to be pushing back the release of these consoles, both companies are being forced to market them as luxury products in a time where many don’t even know where their next paycheck is going to come from. By offering a much lower price point (almost half of the $500 price tag on the Series X and PS5), Microsoft is providing people with a way to enter into the next generation without bankrupting themselves on a flagship console. 

This ties in with a broader approach to the new generation that Microsoft is attempting, which is to get people invested in the Xbox ecosystem at any cost. According to a rumor floating around the internet, the company is taking a big hit on the production costs for these units, especially on the Series S. This indicates that they think the trade off is worth it in order to have an Xbox console be the one that occupies the most homes by Christmas. While there is a conversation to be had about corporate consolidation and the dangers of monopolies in any industry (especially given how large Microsoft has grown over the last two years), this means that there is a huge market that will be invested in the new generation that might otherwise have been ignored for several years. By extension, that means huge growth for an industry that will inevitably be hit hard by current events.

This should be reason enough for the existence of the Series S, but there are other factors that will contribute to its success. The price point at which it is launching is low enough to compete with the current consoles, despite the increase in power. This means that when current hardware inevitably breaks, it will be roughly the same price to upgrade to a newer generation, which will mean new sources of revenue for Microsoft. This, combined with their commitment to backwards compatibility with old tech and games, means that there will be more people than ever invested in the newer generation, and that’s something that anyone with even a passing interest in the industry, or medium, should be excited about. After all, what purpose is there in trying to exclude others from an industry that is making such strides towards inclusivity? There’s room for the Series S in this medium, and there’s room for new competition too.

In a massive stroke of luck that seems uncharacteristic for this year, I managed to secure pre-orders for two consoles over the last few months, and this last week, I’ve put in time with both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series S. While it’s likely to be a few more months until people who missed out on pre-orders can get their hands on either of these new machines, we now have a very good idea of what the next 6-8 years of console gaming are going to look like. There are things to be excited about, things to be cautiously optimistic about, and things to be just plain old cautious about. So, without any further preamble, let’s take a look at what the ninth generation of consoles has to offer. 

First Impressions

What immediately struck me in the months leading to these console launches is that this generation seemed much more focused on the experience of the consumer than the last one was. I’m sure many people still remember the infamous reveal of the Xbox One, and this time around, there was nothing so blatantly anti-consumer as that. Instead, we got two vastly different approaches to the way in which each console was advertised; with Microsoft, it was all about getting people invested in a familiar and increasingly ubiquitous Xbox ecosystem at any cost, while Sony went for a more traditional focus on more powerful hardware and a ton of exclusive games. Both approaches had merit, and both offered a particular experience for the consumer. I got my Xbox Series S so that I could continue to play all the games I’ve spent the last 12 years accumulating on a more powerful machine, not so that I could play the newest and shiniest games on the market. To that point, I haven’t been disappointed in the slightest. It feels like an iterative upgrade on the Xbox One, and for the price point of the Series S, that’s a great value to me. On the flip side, I got a PS5 to be my flagship console for the remainder of the generation, giving me a way to play new releases over the next few years the way they were intended to be played, and I haven’t been disappointed with it either. The technology, which we’ll get into soon, is genuinely  impressive, and I’ve had a blast diving into the launch games for it. 

Unfortunately, the lack of launch games is the biggest issue with the new consoles. Microsoft made the questionable choice to advertise the fact that there would be no exclusives to the Series X/S for a few years, and many of the games that Sony was promising were delayed until 2021. As a result, neither console has a particularly robust launch lineup, and much of what I’ve been playing on them since I finished the Demon’s Souls Remake are last-gen games. Granted, this isn’t a terrible thing; on the contrary, I love that both consoles have a way to access a back catalogue of games for a small subscription fee. It negates that ancient problem of unpacking your new console, finishing whatever game you got with it, then allowing it to gather dust while you wait to expand your library. However, there’s only so many times I can play Fallout 4 and Bloodborne, and unless you’re looking to play Demon’s Souls (a remake of a game that’s over a decade old) or replace a previous generation console with a new model, there’s no real reason to buy any of the new boxes yet. 

The Technology

Something that’s really stuck out in this generation is that it seems as though the obsession with realistic graphics is finally over. Make no mistake, the games on the PS5 look fantastic and are incredibly detailed, but I think the general public has stopped being impressed by games trying to visually emulate real life, and the main innovations in the new consoles reflect that shift. From the marketing to the games themselves, it seems that Sony was less interested in showcasing the graphical power of their games, and more on how the PS5 would impact the experience of playing them. The SSD has enabled lightning fast loading times, and while that may not be a feature that’s immediately apparent to a spectator, it has completely changed the way I play. As I went through Demon’s Souls, I stared at the iconic “You Died” screen countless times, and more than once I caught myself reaching for my phone while I waited to respawn. It never took more than a second and a half. In fact, I was usually back to gameplay before I could even reach over to my phone. As someone who’s a big fan of Bethesda and From Software games, I’ve had to contend with some truly egregious load times over the years, and with their elimination, I can already tell I’m going to have trouble ever going back to old consoles. Even from the PS5 home screen, it takes less than ten seconds from the point in which I open the game to the point of having control of my character. Longtime PC players will talk about how they’ve had these kinds of load times for years, but having it on something as accessible and budget friendly as a console is going to fundamentally change game design in the coming years. 

Another huge innovation is the DualSense controller for the PS5, and it is something that Sony has boasted about to no end. To their credit, it is incredibly impressive technology, and despite my reservations about how it would actually feel to use, I was more than impressed. The adaptive triggers feel really satisfying to use, the haptic feedback was used to great effect in the handful of games I played, and from an ergonomic perspective, the design is the best that Playstation has ever had. It also feels a lot sturdier than the Dualshock 4, and given that it’s an expensive replacement, that’s reassuring. With all this being said, my biggest concern is still very much alive; outside of first party Sony exclusives, how many games will actually utilize these features? Even in Demon’s Souls, a game which you’d think could find all sorts of use for something like the adaptive triggers, the only controller function that it took advantage of was the haptic feedback. It’s really cool tech, and I’d love to see it put to good use, but only time will tell if it actually will. 

You might notice this section has been largely focused on the PS5, and that’s not an accident. The Series X, which I was not able (or particularly interested) to get my hands on seems to be largely the same in terms of performance to the PS5, and it’s good to see that they can keep parity with each other, but it lacks the big controller innovations that have defined the the move from PS4 to PS5. On the other hand, the Series S doesn’t have 4k support, a disc drive, or a few other key features of its stablemates, but for the functions I need it to serve, it serves them admirably. The one big new feature is the ability to have multiple games open at once, something that I’ve taken huge advantage of, as I tend to get bored of some games quickly. It’s nice to be able to switch between games in seconds, and while the PS5  doesn’t have the feature (at the time of writing at least), load times are so quick that it barely makes a difference.

As for the new Xbox controller, it’s more of the same, and that’s also not a terrible thing to my mind. As far as I’m concerned, the Xbox One had the best standard controller design of all time, and the Series S/X controller is almost identical, albeit with a better d-pad, more texture on the grips and triggers, and with a dedicated share button. There isn’t anything that will blow your mind like with the Dualsense, it’s just an all around well designed controller with few bells or whistles. 

And yes, 60 FPS seems to be the standard for everything I’ve played.

The Console War

Even when the consoles had just been revealed over the summer, people on the internet were declaring which side had won the console war for this generation. As always, this idea of some great battle of the brands is ludicrous; at best, it promotes unquestioning loyalty to a brand and corporation, and ultimately just serves to deepen divisions in the community. That being said, despite having owned and played primarily on an Xbox One last generation, I think in hindsight most people will recognize that the PS4 was the better piece of hardware. In this generation though, I think both sides have pretty equal footing, they just both serve very different spaces in the market. While Xbox tries to make gaming more inclusive and accessible to everyone through services like Games Pass and products like their accessible controller, Sony has pushed the technology for playing games farther than we could have imagined it would go this generation. Which one you want to play on will depend entirely on what you’re looking for in gaming, and that’s great. There will be a lot of healthy competition over the next few years, and I can’t wait to see what kind of innovations that competition will give rise to. For now though, I have both consoles sitting on my entertainment stand, and I think they’ve both done enough to earn their space there.

A while back, my Xbox One seemed like it had finally died on me. It turned out to just be a power supply issue, but for the week that it was out of order, I found myself revisiting a lot of games from when I was a kid. Most were from the PS1 and PS2 era, things like Twisted Metal, Tomb Raider, Spiderman, etc. Unsurprisingly, I found myself unable to play most of them for more than a couple of hours, as the controls, visuals, and cameras became too difficult to contend with. There turned out to only be a few that held up well under modern scrutiny, chief among them being Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. 

My metric for determining whether a game has held up well is to ask myself one question: If this game came out today, exactly as it is right now, could I still enjoy it? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games from the era that I still love, but I understand the power of nostalgia. The truth is, if the original Twisted Metal came out today, I doubt I would give it more than half an hour of my time. However, with THUG 2, and most of the Tony Hawk games, I honestly think I would enjoy them every bit as much, and I want to dive into why that is. 

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A Dead Genre

The thing with skating games is that, until recently, it seemed like they were a dead genre. We recently got the announcements of a new Skate game, as well remasters of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, but before that, the closest we had was the disastrous Pro Skater 5 (a game that isn’t even available to purchase anymore on digital storefronts). In the absence of new proper entries into either franchise or any newcomers to the genre, skating games stagnated for well over a decade.

As a result, there was never any innovation, never any refinement of the formula after the golden age of the skating game genre in the early 2000’s. On the flip side, many of the other games from the era went on to newer generations, growing with the industry and their fan bases. Take Tomb Raider as a prime example. One of the reasons it can be so difficult to go back to the originals is because the medium has advanced so far past what they used to be. Third-person shooting, parkour, puzzle-solving, all the mechanics that made up the original Tomb Raider games have been improved massively in the last 20 years. The difference between the originals and the reboot trilogy is night and day, and unless you have rose-colored glasses the size of night-vision goggles, you’re going to find it difficult to go back. This isn’t the case with skating games. Because nothing has come out in the intervening years that have changed the game, so to speak, there are no improvements or refinements that I find I’m missing when I go back and play them. 

Another reason for the games aging well is the inherent simplicity. It’s the same reason that really old games, such as Tetris, are still commonly played to this day. Let’s focus specifically on THUG 2, which I personally consider to be the apex of the genre. While a lot of mainstream games these days tend to give us giant, sprawling worlds, packed to the brim with things to do, skating games never really tried to do that (and when they did, they failed miserably). They just wanted to be fun, and typically had no great ambitions beyond that.

In the case of THUG 2, there may be a lot to criticize, such as the camera controls when on foot, the shoddy voice acting, and the weird animations, but there were only a few things it really needed to get right. It made sure that the act of skating around open levels, causing chaos, and performing cool tricks was inherently fun. It felt like the rest of the game was built around that core mechanic, and everything else, while appreciated, was extraneous. As I mentioned before, the lack of any new games recently to build on that premise ensures that, if that’s what you want from a game, you aren’t going to find it done better than THUG 2 on the Playstation 2. Throw in a timeless and exceptionally well-curated soundtrack that combines punk rock, old school hip-hop, and some Frank Sinatra for good measure, and you have a game that’s going to hold up for decades to come. That’s a quality that just wasn’t shared by other games from the time, no matter their qualities. 

The Future of Skating Games

With a potential revival of the genre on the rise, I’m looking forward to seeing if I still think this in a few years. To be honest, I think I will. I’ve seen modern games try to do similar things, but none really seemed to grasp the essential components of a skating game. Take Sunset Overdrive, for example, an Xbox One launch title that you probably haven’t thought about in years. I heard people at the time compare it to a Tony Hawk game with guns, a fairly apt comparison.

That being said, I’ve played that game once since I got it, and I’ve played THUG 2 through to completion twice so far this year. The traversal was bare-bones, the soundtrack was forgettable, and the humor fell flat more often than not. However, it did make me think that if anyone were to try a new Tony Hawk game, and put some effort into it, it would be a smash hit. For that matter, it could be one of the very few live service games that I could see succeeding. After all, when you do something so much better than any of your competitors, it’s not really a competition at all, and in a medium where skating games are all but gone, I’m willing to bet that a new one would keep people coming back for years after launch. 

Please, for the love of God, leave the dub-step behind though. Bring back the punk. 

There’s been a lot lately that has had me considering the graphical power of modern gaming.  The PS5 reveal showed off some impressive tech, and the recent launch of The Last of Us: Part 2 has shown the power of current-gen consoles like arguably no other game has. Despite these advancements though, I’ve just ceased to be impressed by realistic looking graphics. 

Now, the graphics vs. gameplay debate has been done to death, especially by traditional games media. Frankly, I don’t think it’s worth even considering anymore. Just about every rational person is going to choose the game that’s fun to play over the one that looks as close to life as possible. After all, games are an interactive medium at their heart, and while pretty graphics can bolster the immersion or “wow-factor” of any game that’s already great, people simply looking for stunning, photo-realistic visuals can get them in another medium. What I don’t see talked about nearly as much, however, is the art style vs. photo realism debate. 

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What the next generation has in store

Allow me to get my exceptionally controversial stance out of the way before I go much further; I don’t see myself ever being impressed by “realistic” looking graphics in games again. I think that, if we’re talking about gaming technology in terms of how realistic we can make our games look, we’ve just about hit the ceiling on how impressive it can be. Sure, there will always be a million little details that could be added to make a game more true to life, but generally speaking, those details just do nothing to impress me or absorb me into an experience.

While I was watching the PS5 reveal, I remember the utter apathy that I felt at the 2K21 reveal, watching the sweat slide down the nose of the man in the trailer. It wasn’t interesting, impressive, fun, or anything else that might make the visuals something to take note of. If you had told me that this level of detail could already be achieved on current-gen consoles, I would have believed you without question, because there just doesn’t seem to be the same technical jump in visual quality that there has been in other generations. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there was plenty in the PS5 reveal that did impress me. Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Goodbye Volcano High, Deathloop, and more, all boasted unique art styles that looked visually spectacular and set them apart from many of the other games shown. Out of all the games that were shown, those are the ones I remember most, not the ones that looked like glorified tech demos. So, why buy a new console for games that, on a visual level, look like they could be played on a PS5?

Well, we won’t know for sure until it comes out and we can see the difference that the new box makes on the ways those games are played. For all Sony did right in that presentation, arguably their biggest misstep was keeping the biggest improvements somewhat more subtle than you’d expect. The Project Athia trailer didn’t impress me, but the new Ratchet and Clank game did. The speed at which new worlds loaded, the fluidity of not just the gameplay, but the dimension-hopping, demonstrated a massive improvement over the current-gen. Those are the innovations that I want to see trumpeted, not the realistic-looking sweat from 2K21. 

I’ve been asked what I think the best looking game of the generation is, and people always expect one of several recent games as my response: God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Last of Us: Part 2, or some other big-budget, Triple-A blockbuster. The truth is, I think the best looking game of the generation is Cuphead.

Never before have I seen visuals that truly elevated an experience so high above what it would have been otherwise. I showed that game to relatives who had no interest in gaming and watched their jaws drop as they soaked in the lovingly crafted environments, character models, and animations. Every ounce of that game dripped with love and passion, and the art style was a true testament to that. Things like Red Dead Redemption 2 just don’t even come close to that for me. 

The aforementioned games aren’t even the best in class for triple-A, in my opinion. Aside from Cuphead, I personally feel as though Dishonored 2 was the best looking game of the last generation. Gorgeous and immersive, the watercolor look of the world was such that I found myself thoroughly exploring every room in the game, soaking in the atmosphere. It was so much more impressive to me than anything else I’ve played lately and more impressive than most of what I saw in the PS5 reveal.

Why are publishers still pushing realistic visuals?

A lot of the reason that realistic graphics have been pushed as an essential part of the future of gaming is that they are arguably the easiest way to measure and demonstrate progress. The easiest way to sell a new console to someone who might only be a casual player of video games is to show them the leap in graphical power. If the reveal of the PS5 told me anything, though, it’s that that isn’t enough anymore. People have come to expect more, they’re bored with realism. The aforementioned 2K21 trailer was the subject of a lot of mockery, because it advertised the game in a way that just isn’t effective anymore. Even Project Athia, supposedly the big tech showcase, hasn’t garnered nearly as much coverage as, say, Bugsnax.

This isn’t to say that there’s no place for realistic graphics. There will always be an audience for those kinds of games. The thing is, publishers are starting to realize that audience is not the only one they need to serve. A lot of people are ready to move on from that, and it’s time for the industry to start providing choices.

With the PlayStation 5 reveal event having wrapped up earlier today, it seems the eighth generation of consoles is about to make way for the next. There is a lot to unpack with the presentation, which was focused mainly on gameplay and new announcements. So, let’s dispense with the preamble and take a closer look at what the next generation will offer us. 

In many ways, this felt like an exceptionally fast paced E3 conference, with announcement after announcement and barely a breath in between. If this is how other companies choose to promote themselves throughout the summer with E3 2020 having been cancelled, the coming months are going to be an exciting time for gamers. It was actually refreshing compared to how the last generation of consoles was announced (who could forget that infamous Xbox One reveal). 

The Games

Sony kicked off the live stream in a puzzling way with an announcement that they would be continuing a partnership with Rockstar and a trailer for GTA 5. To be frank, I found this set my expectations for the rest of the presentation very low. It was a strange choice to have a game from the seventh generation of consoles as the first thing we see on the ninth. What followed was the announcement of a followup to the wildly successful Marvel’s Spiderman, then a new Gran Turismo game. While the Spider-man game was interesting, and i’m sure Gran Turismo will excite a more niche audience of racing game fans, I feel the first few minutes were a misstep. The games looked gorgeous, but there was nothing that I felt I couldn’t have gotten on PS4. Thankfully, things picked up quickly from there and didn’t slow down for over an hour. 

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By my count, there were 24 games shown during the roughly 90 streams, many of which featured actual gameplay. While there is far too much to go into depth on everything shown in this article, some of the highlights included the following. Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart – This was the first of the games shown that really impressed me. It’s nice to see that, as the mainstream industry pushes closer and closer to photorealism in games, there are still studios out there who are using the tech to make gorgeous games that are full of colour and almost Pixar-like animation. 

  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure – With Knack having failed on nearly every conceivable level (twice), it looks like Sony is bringing back their last beloved mascot. Based off the Little Big Planet character, it looks like a fun and charming game that will boost the family friendly library on the console.
  • Oddworld: Soulstorm – I know this is one that will really resonate with a lot of people. I don’t have much of a history with the series myself, but I know the fanbase has an undying love for the Oddworld games, and based off the trailer, this will more than satisfy them. 
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo – Originally announced at E3 last year (by one of the most charming people to ever work in this industry, Ikumi Nakamura), we finally got our first look at this supernatural action game. From ghost people to shooting ice from your hands, this looks like it’ll be a blast. It also demonstrated the power of the PS5 in subtle ways that many of the other games hadn’t. I was amazed at how many windows seemed to have interiors, at how much detail was packed into the environment, even as the action drew your focus away from it. This was one that truly looks next-gen. 
  • Godfall – From Gearbox, this one was another game that was intent on showing the power of the new console. A third-person melee action game, this one oozes style, and the moment to moment gameplay looks like it will be a blast. 
  • Hitman 3 – I have to admit, I didn’t anticipate this one getting a third game. I love the Hitman series, especially the newer ones, but the previous two haven’t sold particularly well by most accounts. That being said, I’m thrilled to see a conclusion to this trilogy. Between the breathtaking graphics demonstrated here and the core gameplay which has only gotten more dialed in with every new entry, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. 
  • NBA 2K21 –  Yeah, those sweat physics looked neat. 
  • Bugsnax – I have no idea what’s going on in this one, but it looks fun and cute as hell. Between the intriguing glimpses of the world and the fact that it comes to us from the creators of Octodad, there’s good reason to keep your eyes on this one. 

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  • Demon’s Souls: Remake – This one is going to be the system seller for a lot of people. Demon’s Souls may not be From Softwares most well known game, but it was the one that started them on the path to the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. A lot of people missed out on the original given that it was a PS3 exclusive (and a somewhat more obscure one at that), so hopefully this will be enough to draw in a whole new group of people to the Soulsborne games. 
  • Deathloop – Also announced at E3 this year, this is the new game from Arkane, the studio behind the Dishonored series. I bring this up because that is exactly what Deathloop looks like; more Dishonored with a new art style and an intriguing new setting. While not revolutionary, it’s going to be exciting to see more from the studio. 
  • Resident Evil VIII – Not a particularly surprising announcement given that it was leaked beforehand, this is still something to be excited about. All of the last 3 Resident Evil releases were fantastic, and there is nothing to suggest that this will break that streak. Capcom has been knocking it out of the park lately, and this is bound to be another home run. 
  • Horizon: Forbidden West – Maybe the biggest announcement of the show, the sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn is what has truly convinced me of the power of next-gen. While there was no gameplay shown, the stunning beauty of the previous game leads me to believe that what we saw at the reveal wasn’t far off from what the finished product will look like.

There were a ton of other interesting titles, all of which look like they’ll round out an incredibly diverse library for the system. This is the biggest selling point of the console for me so far – I can’t think of a single generic looking game during the presentation. No modern military shooters or grey-brown action games here, just a wide array of impressive and fun looking games from all across the gaming spectrum. This is how to reveal a console; after all, playing games is why we buy these boxes. That being said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty a little bit. 

Some Nitty Gritty

There wasn’t much in terms of technical details, seeing as how those were revealed a while back. That being said, we did get confirmation that the system will support 4K. What was more interesting was the in depth look of the new controllers. The DualSense controller will feature USB-C, a built in microphone and speaker, haptic feedback,motion controls, and the adaptive triggers that caused a stir a few months ago. It will also feature a headphone jack, meaning that there will not be an adaptor needed to use headphones. From a design standpoint, the controller looks as sleak up close as it did when it was revealed a while back, and it seems to have taken a page from the Xbox One controller in terms of ergonomic design (a smart move in my opinion). 

Announced alongside the console was a slew of accessories, including a wireless headset with noise cancelling technology, a charging dock for the controller, and a camera, which is presumably to promote streaming on the device. These are currently assumed to be sold separately. Given that the Xbox One was a hundred bucks more expensive because it was bundled with the stupid Kinect, there are no complaints here. Sony also announced a digital edition with no disc drive. While it makes sense given that an all digital future is where the industry is headed, it is sad to think that this generation will likely signify the end of physical games.

There was no price or release date announced, although a few of the games claimed to be coming Holiday 2020, so we can assume it will be before the end of the year. 

So, with the reveal done and having had some time to think about it, I’m really excited about what the PS5, and the ninth generation of consoles, has to offer. A lot of what we’ve seen so far (which is, admittedly, fairly little) has been shown to be pretty pro-consumer, and that bodes well for the next 6-8 years of gaming, especially after the last generation. 

Arguably the perfect blend of historic facts and possible myth, Vikings is one of the most-watched TV series to date. But after Season 6, will there be a Vikings Season 7? There are different claims from different sources and the reason might well be a slight confusion. The most recent Vikings episodes aired from December 2019 to February 2020.

There will be a Vikings Season 7 but before that, we need to talk about the most anticipated second part of Vikings Season 6.

Second Half of Vikings Season 6

Well, the more we love something the tougher it becomes to wait for it. Despite the fact that the first half of Vikings Season 6 grieved everyone who loved Bjorn Ironside, there is always something more engaging for the viewers. Vikings is one of those rare shows which didn’t lose engagement over time. Something better replaces to carry forward the legacy of the likes of Ragnar Lothbrok. For instance, Ivar the Boneless has now become the center stage not only of Kattegat but Norway as well.  

Vikings season 7

At the moment, Vikings are at the mid-season break and we don’t have any confirmed news about the release of the second half of Season 6. In addition, the current scenario could count it because the whole world is talking nothing but COVID-19. How long does the situation prevail will have an impact on the release dates of the popular TV Shows and even movies worldwide?

When Will Vikings Season 6 Part 2 Release?

You can expect the second part of Vikings Season 6 by November or December 2020.  But be noted that no official statement has yet confirmed anything about the release of the next Vikings episodes. The way the episode 10 of Vikings Season 6 ended left everyone shocked at the death of Bjorn Ironside.

Bjorn Ironside

There is no set deadline for the release of the post-mid-break Vikings episodes. This break in Season 4 lasted for 7 months and Season 5 lasted for 10 months.

Can We Expect Vikings Season 7?

Logically, there seems not too much room for Vikings Seasons 7 because historical evidence doesn’t show too much of collective Pagan Vikings’ progress after Ivar the boneless. Most of the Vikings leaders became Christians to promote their trade with surrounding Christian counties. Already, the show has shown a significant contradiction between thoughts and actions of major Vikings characters including Ragnar. The religion is losing its grip and even Floki can’t keep things intact. It seems as if Viking Season 6 Part 2 will mainly focus on Ivar’s adventures and it will end with his death. At least, history says so!

But they don’t always do what history reveals. Hirst has already said

I am beyond excited that we are announcing the continuation of our Vikings saga … I know that the millions of our fans across the globe will be thrilled by the belief being shown in our show by MGM and Netflix.

It is clear that Netflix and MGM are willing to push things further in an attempt to showcase the adventures of some other prominent Vikings including Freydis, Harald Hardrada, William the Conqueror, and also Leif Erikson. It means that the team is ready to push forward around 100 years of Vikings achievements after Ragnar Lothbrok and Rollo. Things are going to change for sure because the next lineage of Vikings is going to be the Christian version of these warriors fighting against their very own Pagan Vikings.

Vikings Season 7 will comprise of 24 episodes and the season will be Netflix Exclusive as Amazon and History will not air the next season. Ireland’s Ashford Studio in Wicklow is going to be the shooting site of Season 7 of Vikings.

Did We Just See the Last of Bjorn Ironside?

Something is confusing though. Talking to Entertainment Tonight Alexander Ludwig said

We don’t know that, do we? I’ve been ordered by the powers higher than me that I’m not allowed to speak on the subject.

Bjorn Ironside

But Ludwig also added, “I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way Bjorn’s ultimate finality came to a close”. It pretty much confirms the farewell of the legendary character.

Did Bill Gates predict COVID-19 Outbreak even before anybody mentioned the name of the Novel Coronavirus? This is arguably the most intriguing question the answer to which we all want to know. Well, the fact is, Bill Gates did predict Coronavirus outbreak yet at the same time, he never did predict it. It depends on what you exactly mean by this question.

If you ask whether or not Bill Gates anticipated a possible pandemic outbreak capable of claiming millions of lives then the answer is definitely YES. Bill Gates has been emphasizing the need to invest more in medical research focusing on developing a universal treatment for different viruses.

Explained Season 2 - The Next Pandemic

But if you are more specific on whether or not Bill Gates anticipated the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus then the answer is NO. He never mentioned anything about the specific details of the expected virus experts called Disease X. Having said that, Bill Gates did anticipate that the eating traditions and cultural food consumed in different Asian countries, especially China, Korea, and Japan could be the starting point of The Next Pandemic. Some sources do claim that Bill Gates got it right while referring to what he said in the Netflix Exclusive Explained Season 2 Episode 4 (The Next Pandemic). The episode was aired in November 2019 but the interview was recorded much earlier.

Bill Gates prophesized quite convincingly that nothing is more dangerously capable of killing a major portion of humanity on earth than a pandemic. He calls it the ultimate risk to the contemporary and organized human life and a pandemic has the potential of claiming more lives than the world lost during World War II.  

Spanish influenza epidemic 1918

Bill Gates has been much interested in studying and understanding the outbreaks that have played havoc in the past. His ambition is to stop anything like this before it happens but unfortunately, we are not anywhere closer to the real objective. The current pandemic casts frightening shadows across the globe and no country on earth is safe at the moment. Regardless of the technological advancements the power of economy, COVID-19 continues to leave all world leaders virtually clueless. No country in the world was prepared for that and neither does any of these countries have enough resources to help the ever-increasing number of patients.

The Next Pandemic is episode 4 of the Netflix series Explained Season 4 in which the experts explained how two different viruses can combine to stimulate a hybrid virus never seen before. Animals such as bats and snakes are constantly studied by the researchers because these are the usual suspects. Around 30,000 viruses are known so far but there are millions not known yet. They call them Disease X or the unknown possible pandemic. In the current scenario, the disease X they tried to explain turns out to be COVID-19 or popularly called the Novel Coronavirus.

Don't touch your face
Asian, Indian young woman rubbing her eye and holding eyeglasses. She is suffering with aching eyes while working long hours on computer at home.

Suppose a person is suffering from normal influenza and there is a bird around carrying the virus of swine flu. At any unfortunate time, if these two viruses enter another animal at the same time, suppose a bat or a snake, which possibly happened in China, the integration of these two viruses gives birth to an unknown and potentially more dangerous virus called Zoonotic. If we recall history, The Spanish Influenza was also the result of the same phenomenon. People faced a similar situation in 1918 which we are facing right now.

Stay Home, Stay Safe!

We don’t know what to expect next and which country might be the next victim in the line of the coronavirus’ invasion. The only thing we can do right now is to take utmost care, stay home, follow every single instruction from the local and federal government and at the same time, turn a deaf ear to myths, speculations, and whistleblowers. Don’t forget to keep praying and remember God for He alone is the ultimate authority who could protect you from this invisible enemy.

Richard Jewel (2019) is the upcoming Clint Eastwood’s movie based on the true story featuring the heroic security guard, elevated initially as the hero and later reported as the major culprit behind the bombing incident at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.

Richard Jewell 2019 film review

Clint Eastwood once again takes charge in an attempt to glorify the unsung American hero who went through the harshest of circumstances virtually impossible to face for anyone with average nerves. But here we are talking about a hero, celebrated first for saving lives of the victims of the bombing incident but later suspected as the partner in crime, mainly because of the manipulative representation of media.

After The Mule, The 15:17 to Paris, Sully, and American Sniper, the director, Clint Eastwood is anticipating yet another huge success with the release of Richard Jewell on December 13, 2019. The best part, once more, about Eastwood’s film is that the focus remains on the ordinary individuals and real-life heroes. The movie seems to carry the real American emotion and patriotism face to face against the ever-scheming media and men who matter.

Clint Eastwood Richard Jewell

The theme and format of Richard Jewell seem pretty similar to that of Sully. Even the plot is similar, an ordinary man becomes a hero for a while and then put on trial at the hands of authorities and the press. Sully generated $241 million but don’t forget that the big name, Tom Hanks, was partially responsible for this success. Despite the fact that Tom Hanks isn’t playing a role in the upcoming Eastwood’s film but we can’t underestimate the Warner Bros. Let’s hope Richard Jewell shines to illuminates Eastwood’s lifelong efforts in the industry.

Billy Ray (the screenwriter) and Eastwood decided to take a different approach contrary to that of All the President’s Men in which free press is praised for being noble. Eastwood portrays free press as a reckless, immoral, and corrupt institution. Richard Jewell, the protagonist, has no clue whatsoever about the quickly erupting circumstances making life difficult for him by each passing hour.

The script seems well balanced. The trailer suggests that Richard Jewell is a Mama’s boy and he finds no clue of escaping or fighting against the ruthless occurrences. Yes, he studies the penal code ‘every night’. He loves spending most of his time at the shooting range to boast of his gun collection. His mom, Bobi, loves him a lot and she seems the only one trying to lift Jewell’s spirit in the need of the hour.

Richard Jewell is basically the story of the guy who initially seems to be destined for an unnoticed, non-entity, a life that does stand a chance of making a mark on the society. But then things take a sudden turn on July 27, during a musical performance. A warning call alarms the Centennial Olympic Park of the possible bombing. He is none else but Jewell who jumps in and begins to clear the area. Minutes later, the pipe bomb goes off that injures 110 and kills two (one at the spot and another later). Jewell becomes the hero for his zealous attempt that saves many lives by acting just in time.

Richard Jewell 2019 release date

Thanksgiving and appreciation weren’t even completed when everything went quiet. Someone suspects Jewell and calls the FBI in an attempt to trigger the suspicion against the overnight hero. Jewel quickly takes the road from being the savior to the suspected villain. Kathy Scruggs, the real-life reporter for Atlanta Journal-Constitution (now deceased) has been criticized in the movie for receiving bombshell tip in exchange for sexual favor to Tom Shaw (FBI honcho). Some reviewers criticize the depiction of the deceased reporter who lives no more to defend herself. This seems to be the only, but highly serious, criticism on Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell.

Jewell is the center of discussion on all TV channels and print media. His life turns into the living hell and the FBI is visiting his apartment frequently in an attempt to find any clue whatsoever. Jewell’s gun collection intensifies the situation as the authorities take him as the most fitting individual they are trying to hunt down.

Jewel has to find a way out, maybe a highly smart attorney. How he manages to earn back the respect and honor he deserves? You’ll have to wait till December 13, 2019.

Richard Jewel 2019 – Credits

  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Production: 75 Year Plan, Appian Way, Misher Films, Malpaso
  • Distributor: Warner Bros.
  • Cast: Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell, Hon Hamm, Nina Arianda, Olivia Wilde, Ian Gomez, Paul Walter Hauser, Wayne Duvall
  • Screenwriter: Billy Ray – inspired by Marie Brenner’s  American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Kevin Misher, Tim Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Jessica Meier, Jennifer Davisson

Before its release, ‘The Lion King’ 2019 review wasn’t so promising mainly because of low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics didn’t like the similarities between the ‘The Lion King’ 1994 and its reboot. Though, I always appreciated the highly realistic representation of arguably the most iconic animated wildlife characters depicted on screen.

 The Lion King official poster

Critics have a habit of presenting a harsh view on anything set to release. ‘The Lion King’ 2019 review featured everything based on assumptions and everybody seemed like rejecting the idea of presenting the same thing once more after 25 years. They say whatever they like and it doesn’t matter in the end as the performance of the movie always speaks louder. I am extremely happy to see Simba roaring across continents announcing his success.

Let me tell you the good news is that ‘The Lion King’ hits box office with a bang and the early success announces a shut-up call. The first weekend in the US marks Disney’s dominating performance just as it did in China and other countries.

The Realism in the ‘The Lion King’

After watching this extremely realistic animation I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘The Lion King’ 2019 is far from fiction. I am convinced that this is due to the wildlife documentaries which serve us with an insight into the lives of animals, especially the lion’s pride. The movie depicts the harsh realities of how the ‘Game of Thrones’ dominates the planes of Africa. The same holds true to other animal species.

The Lion King from Disney

Yes, we all love personification and this is what attracts millions. If you closely observe wildlife documentaries, they try their best to bring out emotions, identify them with human names and assign heroic and villainy characteristics to different animal characters.

According to the senior media analyst, Paul Dergarabedian, the reboot of The Lion King provides the current generation with an opportunity to fall in love with the most beloved animal characters.

‘The Lion King’ Roars Across Continents

Following the footsteps of its predecessor, the rebooted version sets new records which effectively silences all critics. The public is simply loving this extremely realistic representation. 

Simba The Lion King roars

Not only that it achieves success for Disney but it also gives enough to the disappointing US box office. This year hasn’t been so good for box office and 4 major hits from Disney feed the US cinema with sufficient profit.

‘The Lion King’ Pre-release Reviews

Based on assumptions, online reviewers had a lot of discouraging things to associate with ‘The Lion King’ 2019. Every reboot of a movie suffers from the same. The so-called movie gurus didn’t like the idea of representing the same exact action in a new way. But the crowd simply loved it. People mostly turned a deaf ear to whatever these gurus had to tell.

The reason is simple, no matter how much you scold something for being the same as the predecessor, people still love to watch it themselves. People love their kids to have a good time and enjoy their childhood. They don’t mind if anything is similar to what they saw 25 years ago.


Secondly, everybody who watched ‘The Lion King’ 1994 in cinema, 25 years ago, would love to watch it again in order to relive his/her experiences of the past. Everyone loves having a chance of recalling the bright spring days of their lives. ‘The Lion King’ 2019 simply gives you a tremendous opportunity to have the same experience which, once you had with your parents in cinema quarter-century ago.

It attracted my emotions and did so with everyone watching the movie. You’d love watching Simba doing the same things in a much more realistic way. We appreciate Disney for coming up with this amazing idea to make our summer even better.

Jon Favreau, the director of the movie tells in an interview to Variety that people have their own formulas. There are multiple ways of doing things, and this is the way he has done it.

He simply rejected the idea of trying multiple things at a time to give it a whole new look to bring in the element of surprise. I am convinced that he did the right thing because curiosity is already there. People who watched it in 1994 would always love to watch it again even if each and every dialogue is the same. They just want to see smiles across their kids’ faces. Critics have a job at hand and their judgment is instant most of the times and is based on assumptions. Just a 2-minute trailer provided these odd-minds with so much bad to say about ‘The Lion King’.

‘The Lion King’ is a Huge Success

Back in 1994, the original release was a risk because Disney had just recovered from bad days. Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast established Disney’s authority but all of these movies were released during the Christmas holidays. ‘The Lion King’ 1994 was released during the summer. It wasn’t just another summer, because the season presented a tough competition because Speed, Clear and Present Danger, True Lies, and Forrest Gump were also looking for the lion’s share. But ‘The Lion King’ 1994 turned out to be a major phenomenon.

 Simba poster

Critics back then had a lot to say about the selection of characters and voice actors. Carolyn Newberger criticized the gestures of hyena. Janet M. Walker called it a sambo-ish hyena and also didn’t like the idea of a white actor featuring Simba’s voice and colored actors featuring the voice of other lion characters.

Haven’t Watched ‘The Lion King’ Yet?

If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to do it now. This impressive recreation of a major hit is sweeping box offices across the globe. Make this summer a memorable season for the rest of your life. Don’t forget to let us know via comments what you liked the most about this movie and what you think could have been avoided or improved.