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DF Direct Weekly takes on God of War Ragnarök and potential Xbox price rises

Plus: looking forward to AMD's RDNA 3 graphics reveal.

The new DF Direct Weekly arrives, with myself, John Linneman and Alex Battaglia diving straight into a packed week of news... though we kick off with our own God of War Ragnarök impressions a whole week after the preview embargo lifted. Unfortunately, media outlets were prohibited from showing their own captured footage which essentially precluded us from producing a video, but in the wake of the impressions pieces that did follow, we did feel compelled to share some initial thoughts - and the extent to which Ragnarök leverages the power of PlayStation 5.

As you'll hear in our discussions, this seems to be a very different proposition to Horizon Forbidden West, where there was a clear night and day difference between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions. I won't spoil John's hands-on thoughts too much, but I think it's perfectly valid to consider the PS5 version as similar to the idea of what a PC version would look like: the same core game, but ramped up significantly in terms of clarity, performance and other 'ultra settings' niceties. We'll be sharing our full tech review as soon as the main embargo lifts.

It's also fair to say that we're hugely excited about the reveal of the new RDNA 3 graphics hardware later this week - and it represents a golden opportunity to AMD in the wake of the highs and lows of the Nvidia RTX 40-series launch. RTX 4090 is a simply tremendous - but extremely expensive - piece of hardware, but questions marks around the RTX 4080 were enough to see the 12GB model 'unlaunched' while the 16GB edition has it all to prove. There's also the RTX 4090 power adaptor issue adding to the controversy (a story that took a new turn over the weekend after excellent GamersNexus coverage)

The new DF Direct Weekly, with Alex Battaglia, Rich Leadbetter and John Linneman perpetrating this one.
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:37 News 01: God of War Ragnarök impressions!
  • 00:16:54 News 02: AMD RDNA 3 GPU reveal incoming
  • 00:26:05 News 03: Xbox price increases hinted by Phil Spencer
  • 00:35:33 News 04: Original The Witcher game gets UE5 remake
  • 00:40:18 News 05: Age of Empires makes console return on Xbox
  • 00:44:23 News 06: MW2 uses just 70MB of data on PS5 disc
  • 00:49:33 DF Supporter Q1: Is it feasible to launch a current-gen game at 30fps and later patch in 60fps support?
  • 00:52:42 DF Supporter Q2: With most games supporting high frame-rate options, was cross-gen a good thing?
  • 00:58:16 DF Supporter Q3: Why do 30fps games look so much better now than they used to?
  • 01:02:37 DF Supporter Q4: What retro genres should be brought back?
  • 01:06:10 DF Supporter Q5: Will DLSS 3 be on the next Switch? Could it be enough for 4K60?
  • 01:10:35 DF Supporter Q6: I loved Rich’s shirt last week - any other shirt ideas?

Leaked specs are starting to coalesce into what looks like something believable, revealing a massive leap in compute power that should - on paper - challenge RTX 4090 in terms of rasterisation performance. Even if AMD does not beef up RDNA 2's ray tracing hardware, the extra compute power and clock speeds should still provide a big leap there too. However, what I've also found interesting about the leaks are the complete lack of benchmarks - usually something crops up via 3DMark at least! We still have no idea on whether RT hardware is augmented or not, whether there's an accelerated machine learning component - or what the possible performance impact of moving away from a single monolithic chip to various chiplets may be. How RDNA 3 performs across the board and how much it's going to cost are hopefully where we'll see answers later this week.

And what to make of Phil Spencer's remarks this week on Xbox pricing? Inflation and currency fluctuations have already seen Sony increase prices for PlayStation 5 in several territories and while not making any firm statements on timing, Spencer does seem to suggest that prices may shift after the holiday season. Also telling are reported comments that Xbox consoles are still losing between $100 to $200 per unit. Typically, at this point in a console's life-cycle, it's reasonable to expect the platform holders to reach break-even - or even a small profit, as Sony has suggested is the case with PlayStation 5. Quite how Microsoft would raise prices without losing competitive momentum against its rivals is quite the challenge. An increase to the Game Pass subscription cost? Console price hikes? In Microsoft's position, I'd expect to see some kind of value increase in line with any rises in cost - something a little more subtle than simply making their hardware more expensive, but as the saying goes: only time will tell.

There's lots more discussed in this week's DF Direct Weekly. The 70MB contents of the Modern Warfare 2 Blu-ray doesn't go down particularly well, though Age of Empires and Age of Mythology announcements certainly made Alex happy, while the prospect of a remake for The Witcher is definitely intriguing - but as always we end the show with supporter Q+A, where backers of the DF Supporter Program submit their questions for the team. It's a lot of fun for us, in addition to interacting with our community on Discord. And this week, we're 'dropping' one of our most ambitious DF Retro projects yet for retro tier backers - a 100 minute documentary on Final Fantasy 13. Expect to hear more about that and our other premium content later on this week - but if you are already a retro supporter, it's available now. Join us!

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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