Talking Point: Why Pokémon Sword & Shield's Expansion Pass Changes The Rules For The Series – Nintendo Life
Since Pikachu took the starring role in Pokémon Yellow, the expectation has been that every Pokémon duology will be followed by a third, slightly revamped edition. This strategy has actually changed somewhat over the past decade, with Black and White each getting a direct sequel, as did the previous core RPG outings with Ultra Sun and Moon. (In fact, only 3DS titles X and Y have no direct follow-up).
But Nintendo and Game Freak are tweaking this formula yet again for Sword and Shield with yesterday’s announcement of an Expansion Pass. While this isn’t the first time the platform holder has dabbled in multiple DLC packs, it’s a noticeable step-change for the Pokémon series as the follow-up content will now be adding new ground, not retreading the same region.
Both The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra add new areas to explore, with a new storyline to take players through them, plus a ton of new monsters and additional features to extend their Sword and Shield adventures. They will be releasing in June and Autumn 2020 respectively, staggering the expansion over the course of the year, but together they essentially represent a brand new Pokémon game – something rarely seen this soon after launch.
The pricing is particularly interesting. As with previous Nintendo DLC, you can purchase the packs separately or buy the Expansion Pass for a reduced price to access both. It’s one of the most expensive passes the platform holder has released to date at $29.99, equal only to Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
By comparison, Smash Bros Ultimate’s Expansion Pass was $24.99, Fire Emblem Warriors was $19.99, the passes for both Breath of the Wild and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 were $17.99, and Mario Kart 8 (Wii U, not the Switch DX version) charged $11.99.
So it’s understandable if the price reveal during yesterday’s Pokémon Direct caused a short intake of breath for some fans, but it’s worth making a more direct comparison. Both Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon launched at $39.99 each, meaning fans had to fork out close to $80 to catch ‘em all. Previous third/alternate editions were also full-price, even though the bulk of the content (namely the region you explore) was exactly the same.
Whether the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass truly represents good value for money depends on how big these new areas are and how fleshed out the storyline is. But personally, we find the prospect of $30 worth of brand new content far more appealing than spending $40-$50 on one of two rehashed (sorry, ‘Ultra’) versions of a game we’re already played.
And we’re sure we’re not alone in that – when Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon launched in the UK back in 2017, their week one sales were 74% lower than that of their forebears. (That said, they were 32% higher than Black 2 and White 2, the previous sequels, suggesting the appetite for Pokémon expansions has been growing over the years.)
There’s another interesting factor, here. According to Nintendo, Sword and Shield players will be able to “experience the beginning of the Expansion Pass’ story” even if they haven’t purchased any of the DLC. This indicates a greater focus on ‘upselling’ current players on these next releases; give them a taste and hope they buy the Pass to continue the story.
This may be an effort to make up for the potential lack of a big launch for Pokémon in 2020. Thanks to the alternate or Ultra version, plus a few spin-offs, Pokémon has stealthily been an annual franchise for the past four years: Sun and Moon (2016), Ultra Sun/Moon (2017), Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee (2019), Sword and Shield (2020). Prior to that, there were annual releases from 2012 to 2014 and from 2008 to 2010.
While it’s always possible we’ll see a Diamond/Pearl remake or perhaps Let’s Go Johto come October, it would arguably be more beneficial for the series to take a year off (at least in terms of a full release – we’ve still got Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX to look forward to this year). It would only be the third year in 13 that didn’t see a new mainline Pokémon RPG on shelves.
And before the #Dexit brigade begin their war cry of “Year off? Lazy developers!”, the fact that past Pokémon are included in the expansions suggests that this has been part of the plan all along – and that it’s entirely possible for more missing ‘mon to be added in future expansions (although this is unlikely, since Game Freak will probably be concentrating on the next edition). Perhaps they will be patched in, like the free fighters added to Smash Bros. or new tools introduced to Super Mario Maker 2.
Sword and Shield might not have been the series-redefining moment some may have hoped for, but the introduction of expansions does show Nintendo and Game Freak will be taking a different approach to the series going forward. Depending how well these packs perform, it could dictate how Pokémon sequels and alternate editions are handled in the generations to come. The Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra could be the first steps into an even bigger Pokémon world.
Apple WWDC 2023: Date, Time, Live Streaming Details And What To Expect From Apples Event – BQ Prime
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Meta reveals the new Quest 3 VR headset with a $499.99 price tag – Space.com
Meta has revealed that the Quest 3 is to be their newest VR headset and we’ll know more about the plans for it in September.
The announcement came via an Instagram post from their co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Meta has also revealed that the 128GB model of the next generation of VR headset will cost $499.99 and there will be additional storage options for those that want extra space.
You can check out the specs – that we know of – below but more information and the plans for the Quest 3 VR headset will be shared on September 27 at Meta’s Connect event. What we do know currently is that unsurprisingly, the new model is slimmer, delivers stronger performance and higher performance.
If this wasn’t good news enough, the price of the Meta Quest 2 is being reduced to $299.99. The Quest 2 is sits atop our best VR headsets rankings at the moment due largely to how affordable and accessible it is, and that price drop only makes things better.
Related: Best space VR games
The main takeaways from Meta’s new announcement, other than the Quest 3 is going to be their new major VR headset, is that the new model will have a 40% slimmer optic profile, compared to the Quest 2. The outer tracking rings have been dropped to take up less space and to feel more natural. It will also use next-generation Snapdragon chipset to power extra pixels and deliver twice the graphical performance of the Quest 2.
More good news is that the Quest 3 will be compatible with the Quest 2’s 500 plus library of VR games and experiences. Meta also claim that this is due to be a supercharged all-in-one headset with no wires required.
If you already own the current generation of Meta Quest VR headset then there’s also some good news as a software update is coming to the Quest 2 that will see a dramatic performance increase. Up-to 26% CPU performance increase and an up-to 19% GPU speed increase for the Quest 2 and 11% for the Pro model. That means smoother gameplay, more responsive UI and greater pixel density without dropping frames.
If you can’t wait for September and virtual reality is your thing then it could be worth your time to check out our guides to the latest VR headset deals and best free VR experiences.
Apple's AR/VR Headset Expected to Enter Mass Production in October Ahead of Late 2023 Launch – MacRumors
Apple’s long-rumored AR/VR headset will enter mass production in October and launch by December, according to investment firm Morgan Stanley. Apple is still expected to unveil the headset at WWDC next week, and provide developers with tools to create apps for the device, which is expected to have its own App Store.
“While we expect Apple’s AR/VR headset to be unveiled next week, our supply chain checks suggest mass production won’t start until October ’23, with general availability most likely ahead of the December holidays,” said Erik Woodring, an Apple analyst at Morgan Stanley, in a research note obtained by MacRumors.
Apple’s supply chain is preparing to assemble only 300,000 to 500,000 headsets in 2023, according to Woodring. As widely rumored, he believes the headset will have a starting price of around $3,000, and he expects gross margins to be “close to breakeven at first,” suggesting that Apple will initially make minimal profits on the device.
Morgan Stanley also reiterated that Apple plans to announce a new MacBook Air at WWDC, but it’s unclear if this information is independently sourced or simply corroborating other rumors. Apple’s keynote begins on Monday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.
Earlier this year, Google announced that it planned to unify its Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync apps into a single Google Drive for desktop app. The company now says the new sync client will roll out “in the coming weeks” and has released additional information about what users can expect from the transition.
To recap, there are currently two desktop sync solutions for using Google…
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