Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss the rise of free-to-play gaming, Rocksteady’s inclusion of Robin in Batman: Arkham City, getting to know Master Chief, leaked details for Sonic Generations, and Link’s upcoming high-def outing.

Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.

William Case

F2P 4 ALL

A few Banters back, I mentioned that the industry seemed to be going towards Free-2-Play slowly, yet surely. As time went on, it turns out that not only I had the right idea, but that I was going to get smacked in the face with it. With the announcement that Valve’s Team Fortress 2 heads F2P permanently, the long-standing MMORPG City of Heroes getting its own F2P option, along with LEGO Universe in August, F2P is the way to go.

While more developers are getting fond on the idea, Valve letting loose Team Fortress may have very well unleashed the flood gates, opening the doors to a world of possibilities. Imagine what would happen if an MMO like World of Warcraft had a permanent F2P option: almost instantly Blizzard would corner the MMO market, even when they already have a registered 11 million subscribers.

Plus, it’s not just developers that will get the chance to show off their F2P opportunities. Microsoft has been under the hood of Xbox Live in preparation to deliver possible F2P deals as well, which ultimately means more users on their console. Mark my words; by this time next year if a developer doesn’t offer a F2P option, they won’t make it in the industry. All because the game is changing, right before our very eyes.

Anthony Taormina

Holy Pre-Order Bonus, Batman

After it was recently confirmed that Robin would be playable in Batman: Arkham City, there arose responses from fans that were partly positive, but also partly negative. This backlash over Robin, even before he was confirmed for the game, had me wondering what gamers were expecting from a Batman property. Robin is one of the most iconic superhero sidekicks after all.

Obviously there is a negative stigma associated with Robin after Schumacher’s two films featured him played by Chris O’Donnell, but those films also featured a horribly campy Batman. As far as the Batman mythology is concerned, Robin is up there with some of the series’ classic villains as a necessary inclusion.

With this pre-order bonus, Rocksteady Studios is testing the waters — seeing if fans will respond favorably to their version of Robin. If gamers approve, I imagine that he will have a larger role in the next game.

Riley Little

Mastering the Chief

Nobody really knew what to expect from 343 Industries and their take on the Halo universe, but now that the cat is out of the bag, I’m not quite sure what to think. 343 plans on getting a little more intimate with the Master Chief character in Halo 4, but is that really such a good thing? I’m all for character development, but a large reason that Master Chief is such a bad-ass is the mystery surrounding him. Nobody even knows what John-117 looks like for crying out loud, so 343 is going to have to approach this character redevelopment very carefully.

Still, in order for Halo 4 to correctly pull off a successful redefining of characters than they have to leave intact a lot of what made them all so appealing in the first place. We get that Master Chief is human underneath that suit — that much is obvious after watching a camera pan around his innards in the reveal trailer — and it’s about time that we get to know the man behind the helmet. I’m not saying he should take his helmet off, but as the series progresses, the characters need to evolve. We don’t want to look back on Master Chief in ten years and realize that he’s suffered the same fate as Duke Nukem — in the sense that the character is no longer a likeable protagonist.

C.J. Smillie

Sonic: The Next Generation

So apparently, someone got into the Sonic Generations demo and found a ton of information about what the game contains, namely levels, DLC, and bosses. There’s a lot of debate over whether or not the story is true, but personally, I hope it isn’t. Not so much because it just encourages others to dig into demos and games, but more because the info we received was absolutely abysmal. There were only a handful of levels, including the DLC one, and I think there was only one from each Sonic game in the series.

I really hope this story isn’t true, or at least partially untrue, and that there’s more to the game than that. Eight levels total might have worked in the olden days of gaming, but I want more bang for my buck, especially with a game that celebrates the very first game series I got involved with. If this story is true, Sega and Sonic Team may have just made their last big screw-up with the Sonic franchise.

Jacob Siegal

Link to the HD

Miyamoto has confirmed that we will be seeing an HD Legend of Zelda on the Wii U, which will allow Nintendo to fully realize Hyrule in a way that they have never been able to before. There will be more room for content and more possibilities for Link’s adventure. That April Fool’s prank from EGM all those years ago is finally coming true!

And somehow I am still not excited. Skyward Sword will no doubt be a fantastic addition to a rather flawless series of games, but now that I know what the Wii U really is, I can’t muster up any excitement for anything on the console. There’s no question that I would love to play a new Zelda, a new Mario, Pikmin, Metroid, what-have-you, but it’s time Nintendo came out of their Koopa shell for long enough to create a new IP.

Nintendo wants us to believe they are innovators in a field where more of the same is becoming a trend. The Wii U does not accomplish that for me, and even the prospect of an HD Zelda leaves me looking for other news.

What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments, on Twitter @GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant.

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