In my opinion 2018 has been a mixed year for gaming. Some games took one big step for mankind whilst others took one giant leap down the plug hole of the medium. In this article I will be looking at my three biggest successes and three biggest let downs of the year. Before I dive in further this is not to say the games listed in the let downs were bad but it is more to highlight where something didn’t quite meet my personal expectations. Others may have loved it but this is why blogs are great as people do not necessarily have to agree with me. If you don’t agree with me please leave comment below. If you think I have missed something (very likely as only doing three of each) then please tell me below.
High #1 – God of War
Whenever a game decides to go in a different direction there is always that nagging leech of disappointment that attached itself to the nostalgia USB port in your brain and main lines equal measures of anxiety and hype to achieve similar results to your sixth double vodka redbull in the club. Your heart rate quickens and the excitement hits you but the numbing effect of the alcohol numbs you to the pain and it will only let you down again. Sony’s Santa Monica took away that anxiety and just gave you that sweet sweet hit with none of the side effects other than disappointment that other game haven’t reimagined themselves in such as way. The characterisation of Kratos is explored in much more depth than previous narratives in the franchise but not at the expense of the gameplay. The game is emotive, the storytelling compelling and the execution seamless not just with the absence of form of loading screens but also through the pacing, characterisation and changes to the battle system. The over the shoulder combat view was the change we didn’t know we wanted. I personally never looked at the God of War’s on consoles past and thought to myself “Do you know what would make this game better? Changing the combat!”. No longer are you rolling down wave after wave of enemy mobs with one attack but the action is now up close and personal with every enemy that you down feeling like a personal victory.
High #2 – Decision making is Detroit: Become Human.
The main thing that made me pick up the game was my enjoyment of the channel 4 series Humans dallying in a similar genre. Often games give you choices and often the choices seem to be illusions of freedom and playing the game as you want. The game is not perfect and it often tells the story with a brick to the face rather than a gentle caress. I have recently enjoyed Bandersnatch on Netflix and the intrigue that comes from how the character might change based on choices you have made kept me going back to make new decisions even after it became apparent the story would not change dramatically. Like Bandersnatch, Detroit: Become Human is a linear experience but the exploration comes not from the story or the environment (beautiful by the way) but from the branching choices and their impact on the characters. There are many other things to talk about in this game, It is visually stunning game that handles interesting topics in a somewhat indelicate manner but the main success of this game for me is the way it implements the idea that your choices matter more so than previous games of this genre.
High #3 – Dragon Quest XI
For me there is something to be said for doing everything really well. Dragon Quest XI is not going to change the gaming world forever but what it will do is show game developers that there is still an appetite for traditional RPG’s that do not reinvent the wheel to succeed. The characters are lovable, the story engaging in a world teaming with life. When you look at FFXV in comparison, it’s world seems so empty in comparison. The variety of side quests, monsters and loot available raises this game above that of many other games in its genre and although some areas are not perfect (music somewhat average compared to expectations) it is a game I simply could not put down from start to finish even with the post game difficulty spike. I feel like the developers really concentrated on what the fans wanted rather to play than what the developers wanted to release in a flexing of their muscles. Too often are we seeing half completed games with clever, innovative ideas that fall short and to quote Ben Kenobi “are not the
droids games you’re looking for”.
Low #1 – Rise of the Fortniters
Fortnite is a well designed “free” game. It is bringing gaming ever to the forefront of the mainstream which should be a good thing. It is colourful, fun and does not dive down the recent trend of increasingly dull and realistic games. (I have one game in mind, but I will talk more about this below). As a result the world is constantly changing and massively social. Now you may look at this and think why is this a let down? It is everywhere and everyone is hopping on the bandwagon. Now I am being massively bitter here and I will not pretend otherwise but there are so many superior games of past and present out there that I wish received the same appreciation. We have seen the success of YouTubers and Twitch streamers alike who play fortnite, I cannot help but feel Fortnite Fatigue and a tinge of sadness that its success will inevitably lead to more games of this nature in a similar way to the open world overkill we have experienced of late.
Low #2 – This game is really fun…isn’t it?
I am not going to mention a game of this year I believe this applies to. But Video Games are meant to be fun right? For me there is a point in which games but too realistic and become a chore to play. I can’t speak for anyone else playing their respective console but I play it for the escapism and not to immerse myself in a world that is slow, tedious and depressing. Said game is a technological marvel and whilst considering the controversial 100 hour work weeks that staff put in to create it you can almost sense the chore of making it through playing it. There are other features that further compound the issue such as not being able to save mid mission and multiple complex button combinations to perform the simplest of tasks. This game has to be applauded for pushing the boundaries of gaming and world realism however are we near the breaking point where games no longer become fun and are there to be experienced and not enjoyed.
Low #3 – Will games ever be finished again?
This has been a growing trend in recent years. Incomplete stories, glitch ridden nightmares and features that you expect to the main feature to have are extra DLC often further extracting the last pennies from you pocket like festering mosquitoes whilst you sleep. This year we have seen Fallout 76 despite many issues in the Beta release continue to release as a steaming cesspool of gamma glitches and not even the nuclear apocalypse could make it affect that. We have also seen the cancellation of further DLC to actually complete the FFXV story. (no bitterness here I swear). This is the main issue with the rise in episodic gaming and needing DLC to get the full experience. Like many a TV Show it is reliant on continuing success to experience the full game release and I fear in the year to come we may see more games that despite enjoyed by a significant number are cut adrift for reasons unknown.
Like anything with History looking towards the past is to ensure we do not make the same mistakes in the future and whilst I feel mistakes of the above nature will continue to be made. The gamer is a natually optimistic creature and with games like God of War, Celeste and Dragon Quest shining through this year coupled with Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 remake on the horizon who can blame them?
Signing off for 2018.