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DF Direct Weekly talks Microsoft/Activision, RX 6500 XT and Horizon Forbidden West

Plus: will Steam Deck suffer due to availability issues?

Welcome to the 45th edition of Digital Foundry Direct Weekly, where - as you may expect - the aftershocks of Microsoft's Activision acquisition continue to dominate discussion with a quarter-hour of chat in addition to the DF Direct special posted last week. I have little to add to this particular debate, except to say that the news continues an age-old tradition where you can guarantee that a major news event will kick off should I dare countenance taking a few days off. Yes, the rumours started to emerge as the doors shut at home, with the official Microsoft announcement arriving while on the road. Perhaps I should go on vacation more often, simply for the purpose of spicing up the news cycle.

Beyond the seismic Microsoft/Activision news, the team also cover the bizarre GPU that is the Radeon RX 6500 XT (see Will's more fully featured review right here. The product's attracted a lot of flak, lacks key features and performance is not great but it has led me to think about how GPUs are reviewed. The standard MO is simply to whack everything up to ultra then compare the new GPU to existing ones. From there we get a number, typically a percentage differential against a nearby-priced competitor. It's entirely fair enough, but the more GPU reviews I see, the more I tend to wonder whether we shouldn't be benching at optimised settings instead. It may well be that the percentage differentials will be the same, but then again, it may not - I'm curious to find out!

More news you say? Kingdom Hearts is coming to Switch and apparently it'll cost $90 for a cloud-only product. We've not taken a look at these cloud games on Switch but conceptually I can't say I'm a fan - the point of the console is its portability, its take-anywhere gaming. These cloud-only releases seem to contradict the whole point of the system. Are the experiences actually any good though? Well, at least there are plenty of free demos to test on the eShop and we'll be doing that soon.

DF Direct Weekly's 45th edition, with Audi Sorlie, Alex Battaglia and John Linneman perpetrating this particularly exciting episode.Watch on YouTube
  • 00:00:00 Introductions
  • 00:00:56 Microsoft/Activision
  • 00:16:11 Horizon Forbidden West story trailer
  • 00:20:27 Diablo 2 Remastered DRM troubles
  • 00:26:22 AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT
  • 00:35:30 Kingdom Hearts on Switch, cloud-only, $90
  • 00:43:16 Cuphead coming to Netflix, Shenmue The Animation debuts Feb
  • 00:48:13 Final Fantasy 7 classic version gets native 60fps support
  • 00:54:30 DF Content Discussion: John's Big Rig
  • 01:08:37 DF Content Discussion: Patreon content plans
  • 01:11:27 DF Content Discussion: PC Time Capsules
  • 01:14:53 DF Supporter Q1: With the upcoming Steam Deck I fear that it will flop because of availability issues. What are your thoughts on this?
  • 01:17:23 DF Supporter Q2: Is there any hope for Xbox in Japan?
  • 01:22:59 DF Supporter Q3: What are the chances that old Activision titles like Deadpool, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™: Out of the Shadows and the Transformers games by High Moon Studios will be re-listed for PC again?
  • 01:26:19 DF Supporter Q4: Take a favourite game, now have it remade in a completely different genre
  • 01:29:50 DF Supporter Q5: Is there anything you are looking forward to with HDMI 2.1a?
  • 01:31:10 DF Supporter Q6: Do you think that Microsoft's acquisitions will eventually include major TV and film content?
  • 01:33:28 DF Supporter Q7: Alex, what is the game box to the left of the white Quake box behind you?

More discussion points? John's failing Intel Skylake HEDT system has been upgraded with a Core i9 12900K on a Z690-based platform and he talks a bit about the transfer process, the performance benefits and the pitfalls he faced. We're also going to be committing more to our PC Time Capsule series, where we revisit PC games of the past, replaying them on era-appropriate PC hardware - and yes, stacking them up in real-time against console equivalents!

And as always, our show concludes with a range of questions raised by backers of the DF Supporter Program - and again, it's the Microsoft/Activision deal that dominates the line-up of topics... as well as Alex's collection of big-box PC games. And yes, for early access to DF Direct Weekly and a bunch of other content, along with DF Retro goodies and much more (including Discord access where you can hang out with the DF team), do consider the Supporter Program. Join us!

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