Am I getting old? I might be getting old. Maybe I already am old, because I’m about to say that thing that I never thought I would. You know, the “not as good as it used to be” thing. Gaming isn’t as good as it used to be. There, I said it. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s that the gaming industry is getting a bit on the bloated side now, but there are some things about this hobby that have been winding me up lately because I’m such a grumpy old bugger now. So here they are. A bunch of things about a thing a like that really wind me up. Enjoy my sadness!
Constant sequels, reboots, remakes and spin offs
Alright, these aren’t all bad. DOOM and XCOM have great reboots and Dark Souls 3 is a top sequel. But good god are there a lot of sequels these days. Everything is a direct follow up, a spiritual successor or an unnecessary next installment of a game or series that had already tied up its plot nicely. Gears of War 4 continues a story that was wrapped up nicely with a lacklustre follow up. The Star Wars: Battlefront reboot was a weaker version of a classic game. Look at Street Fighter V! A venerable series treated poorly and released half finished to grab money from consumers who don’t know any better.
2017 has Metal Gear Survive on the horizon. What the hell is that? A well respected series of political intrigue and bonkers giant robots having a zombie survival game inserted into its catalogue. Konami is Konami and Konami is the worst as its clearly just a cash grab now they’ve realised their pulling out of the main games industry was a bad move. We have 2 Kingdom Hearts remakes coming this year along with a Bulletstorm re-release (although I really enjoyed the original). And who was asking for a ToeJam and Earl resurrection? Luckily, 2017 seems to have a good number of new IPs incoming. Plus the indie scene is growing well with a number of games with seemingly fresh ideas on the way. Maybe this year will see new games outpace the sequels. Then again, there’s always Call of Duty.
I get it. It’s a free game, they have to make money somehow and selling card packs, or premium currency is how they do that. What I object to is microtransactions in full priced games. I have a problem with full priced games that sell items in the single and multiplayer modes that completely unbalance the game. Treasure maps in Forza, resource packs in Dead Space 3, XP boosts in pretty much any multiplayer game you care to mention. Anything that upsets the balance of a full priced game or have been added into a single player game simply to push people towards shortcuts that shouldn’t be needed really wind me up.
Now, I’m not talking about cosmetics so much. Whilst those do irritate me, they don’t alter the game beyond having pretty colours on your gun. Nor do most DLC practices annoy me (pre-order ones do, but more on that later) as the cost of games hasn’t changed much with inflation and companies need to ensure the increased cost of making a product is offset somehow. But those little costs that can quickly add up are a blight on the industry as far as I’m concerned. When a feature is added to a game solely so microtransactions can be included is bad form. I’m looking at you Dead Space 3!
Oh just piss off with this! Stop locking content out of your game if I don’t pre-order or buy the day one edition! If publishers don’t have faith that their game is good enough to garner good reviews and earn my money, then don’t release it at all. All this pre-order nonsense does is make me feel that you’re trying to take my money before I know if your game is actually good and worth the cost of entry. This goes double for you Bethesda! Not sending out review copies? Why? What are you trying to hide? Is it bugs? It’s bugs isn’t it!
Open World Games
Every other game has to have an open world these days. Is it to add longevity? To give an illusion of value for money? Perhaps. I feel that Falcon509 discussed this far better than I will with his blog post here. Anyway, I don’t have a problem with open worlds as much as the emptiness that pervades so many of them. If you have an open world, put interesting things to do in it. Saints Row (although I’m not a fan of the series) did this well, as did Watch Dogs 2. But so many have huge expenses of nothing filled with meaningless collectibles and pointless side quests that distract from the main story far too much. Just take a look at Mafia 2, L.A. Noire, and of course No Man’s Sky. Big worlds with lots of nothing in them. That’s not to say you should just throw in a million meaningless collectibles. Turning your game into Assassin’s Creed: Unity‘s map is never going to be a good thing.
Achievements and Trophies
I used to love these. Achievement hunting was something I enjoyed and would look up the lists for games as they came out, hoping to see interesting and inventive ones. Lots of games did too! Fable II had ones that would encourage you to experience many aspects of the game. Half-Life 2 was very creative with the Episode One one bullet challenge. But now pretty much every game has “Kill 2 billion enemies” or “Collect 1300 sandwiches” or the ever present, ever annoying online achievements. They’re just dull now for the most parts, but developers have to put them in (for console games at least). They don’t have to be easy, just make them interesting, and ideally not a grind-fest.
I don’t have as much of this as I used to. Game developers, please respect my time and don’t waste it with aimless sections of game that add nothing to the experience! Allow fast travel between locations, avoid unnecessarily long scripted animations (DOOM did these really well), and allow me to skip cutscenes if I choose to!
Well, that was cathartic. Is there anything that really hacks your off about gaming these days? Do you think I’m wrong and I’m just turning into a grouchy sod as my age continues to increase. Let me know!