RR-sama Talks: Don't get too excited about the 2016 hype train, your hopes might just get derailed
Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest RR-sama Talks article! It's been a while since I last wrote in this column as - oddly enough - I haven't had much to rant about in the past few months. In fact, my last RR-sama Talks article was back in November when I discussed a look at the GamerGate fiasco. However, with 2016 now upon us I thought it was about time we talked about something very important: the good ol' Hype Train.
Let's get hyped!
Whether I want to admit it or not, 2016 is going to be a big year for video games. I mean, just look at this beautiful list of upcoming titles:
- Street Fighter V
- Far Cry Primal
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Quantum Break
- Dark Souls 3
- Ratchet & Clank
- Uncharted 4
- StarFox Zero
- Mirror's Edge: Catalyst
- No Man's Sky
- Dishonored 2
- Final Fantasy XV
- Tom Clancy's The Division
- Zelda Wii U
And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Even I, your beloved hater of all things subjective, can't help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of wonderful content coming our way this year. But after taking a second to step back and breathe, I realized something... Wasn't 2015 just a month ago?
2015, the year of the flops...
When I think of big titles of 2015 I can think of Fallout 4, Batman: Arkham Knight, and the most infamous of them all, Star Wars: Battlefront. For those of us who didn't follow these games (or just need a good reminder) here are what they were best known for:
- Fallout 4's game-breaking bugs on release day
- Batman: Arkham Knight's overall disappointment, as well as terrible performance issues on PC even after its re-release
- Star Wars: Battlefront's incredible lack of content
I'm not sure about you readers, but I can't walk into an EB Games here in Canada without seeing a wall filled to the brim with used copies of Star Wars: Battlefront and Batman: Arkham Knight. You would think that after so many flops back in 2015 we have learned our lesson about hopping onto the Hype Train.
New year, new games!
More like "new year, new opportunities for disappointment." 2016 has just begun and already we have some big titles getting some negative praise. This doesn't necessarily come from mainstream critics, as the true critics are people like you and me who pay to play these games.
So far, some disappointing games this year include: Resident Evil: 0 HD Remaster, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India, and Firewatch.
I'm pretty sure the Dolphin emulator could do the same thing!
While no one really thought Resident Evil: 0 HD Remaster (damn that title is painful enough) was going to win any awards, the game lacked any luster. In fact, many fans and critics shot down the game for offering nothing more than minor visual tweaks. This basically boiled down to increasing the resolution of the game, and adding in the original texture files instead of compressed ones.
Most HD remasters nowadays, at least, try to make the gameplay better than the original by improving controls. Others, such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD add new elements to the game to help with pacing, gameplay, or even add several little features for fun.
Instead, Capcom decided to just give us buffed up textures and a higher native resolution.
Even the games that everyone expected to do well, didn't...
Take Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India for example. At best, ACC:I excelled at being exceedingly mediocre. At worst, it's a game that was bad and has enough bugs to make it even worse.
An overwhelming number of critics and fans stated that ACC:I lacked anything particularly enjoyable. While the game itself looked pretty (considering the hardware), dialogue was dull, writing was poor, and both combat and stealth felt tedious. It was nothing more than a forgettable platformer.
Some games just disappoint
For some on Twitter right now, Firewatch can be explained in brief with the following:
Firewatch is pretty cool so far https://t.co/o8EFMroNgG— Patrick Miller (@pattheflip) February 10, 2016
The obvious satire aside, the game isn't really that great. From the footage I've watched, the game consists of: making text-based choices similar to Telltale's The Walking Dead without any in-game changes based on them, walking in a straight line along a path, and pretty much being a first-person point-and-click adventure. The gameplay is hardly anything impressive.
Also, would it have killed the Firewatch dev team to set up the "pick up" feature to something a little more subtle than throwing items you pick up in a random direction? Even a "put back" button would be great. After all, I don't think I can sympathize with a grieving man who simply tosses his mentally decaying wife's framed picture on the floor or desk without caring. Who does that?
And then there's bug infestations!
XCOM was a fun game. XCOM 2 is also a fun game. However, like Fallout 4, XCOM 2 is also a very buggy game. Take this list of bug complaints from Forbes.com's Erik Kain:
"Bugs are as rampant as aliens in XCOM 2 right now. One time the game just went black. Other times, the animation freezes for an agonizingly long time when Overwatch is triggered. Sometimes animation goes all haywire for no apparent reason.
For example, one of my squad members was wrapped up by a big snake alien and killed it with a special “Bladestorm” retaliation ability, but the animation of being wrapped in a snake didn’t leave for the rest of the battle. So my poor toon zipped around the battlefield on her knees, slicing and shooting enemies without ever lifting a gun or blade.
I’ve heard of people having an even worse time. Missions not ending because non-existent aliens still need to be killed. The game crashing outright. Basically, right now XCOM 2 is a buggy mess. It may be small stuff that’s just annoying (like I’ve experienced) or it may be much worse. It’s hard to say. Hopefully these bugs will all be patched out, because they get in the way of some really terrific gameplay."
Erik Kain, via Forbes.com
While we can rest assured that games will eventually have their bugs chewed out over time, release date bugs can ruin a game's experience from day 1. If there is a lesson to be learned from Erik's complaints, it's that we should maybe learn to hold off on pre-orders unless we know a game has been tested thoroughly.
Hopefully, XCOM 2 will have continuing patches to the game in the future, because if we've learned one thing from Bethesda, it's that some companies just expect the players to fix it themselves. After all, just look at this long list of unresolved glitches that are still in the game.
So are you just telling us to stop being excited for upcoming video games, RR-sama?
What? No! Think of this as more of a warning before you decide to buy that Hype Train ticket to Hypeville, Hypeland. Not every game that gets hyped up should be, especially considering the recent history of underperforming games.
While I condone being a fan of something, I don't believe fans should be throwing money at games before reviews are out. Pre-orders are ultimately the result of the Hype Train, and I think we can more or less agree that pre-orders are hurting the industry by giving companies money they haven't yet earned.
There are always exceptions to the rule!
Overwatch is a game that I feel safe praising for its strategy moving into 2016. While the game does have a pre-order page, the closed beta that it has been operating for the last few months makes it feel just a bit safer than some of the earlier mentioned titles. Sure, it's much easier to run a public beta for a multiplayer game, but running a beta program like this allows the media to give fans a better picture of what to expect. That, and it allows the developers to catch many bugs or gameplay flaws that an internal testing team might not catch on their own.
As such, I suggest to fans the following: get excited about games that are coming out! Just remember that the more hyped you get, the more potential disappointment you will have when the game comes out. Also, don't pre-order something unless you know that it will satisfy your expectations beyond a reasonable doubt.
But hey, that's just my opinion, so why don't you leave your own in the comments section below!