A tale as old as time. Well, a tale slightly older than me at least. The video game industry has brought forth some of the most compelling stories I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. From all encompassing narratives such as Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” to simple restrained story telling such as Team Ico’s “Shadow of the Colossus” have taken gamers to the edge of their seat. Video Games have had a surprisingly rich history of plot driven escapades for a medium that started with classics such as “Pong.”
However, a disturbing new frontier has emerged with the dawn of the latest generation of console gaming. The slow disappearance of engrossing campaigns and it all began with one title, “Destiny.” Bungie’s “Destiny” was perhaps one of the most hyped games to come along in recent history. The game was hailed as the future of first person shooters. After all, the alleged masterpiece was designed by the brains behind “Halo” as well as published by none other than Activison who also published “Call of Duty.” As my childhood friend Busby would say, “What could possibly go wrong?” A lot, apparently, and in a hurry. Upon the games release many avid gamers were disappointed to find little to no narrative in the main campaign. Bungie was even able to obtain “Game of Thornes” star Peter Dinklage as a voice actor for the character “Ghost” and to almost completely waste such an astounding talent. Upon the start of the new franchise, Dinklages characters revives then hastens the player to hurry to safety. The beginning feels like this could be an astounding epic. The Guardian, as the main character is called, is then thrown into a world that is quite massive and seemingly full of potential. However, the slug like realization sets in after several missions that this world is alarmingly empty. The game itself even tends to highlight this fact after it asks you to replay missions just on harder difficulties as if the developers couldn’t think of any more quests for the player to encounter. Not long after the release of “Destiny” my friends and I started playing “NBA 2k15.” I made the joke to friends and Noice Entertainment personalities, Jeff Hirst and Korey Bridges, that “NBA 2k15” had more of a story than “Destiny.” A sports game. Let that sink in.
“Destiny” has gone on to have downloadable content that supposedly enhances the experience and brings forth a narrative. However, DLC these days is highway robbery. The “season pass” is new age gang extortion and video game consumers are the tired old man that just wants to run his store in peace without having his kneecaps busted. That being said I did not partake in the DLC. Anyway, the game was not a complete train wreck. The game play was quite stellar as well as addictive. I can remember many players who stated that the title was the worst game they couldn’t stop playing solely because of the game play.
Many games have followed in the foot steps of “Destiny.” Titles such as Ubisoft’s “The Division.” Ubisoft’s installment into massively multiplayer shooters has become a ghost town for still active gamers. The irony is that the “story” of the game is that the a disease has been introduced killing most of the inhabitants of New York City. Who new the disease would be excessive grinding for gear only to grind for more gear that you use to grind for more gear? Unlike “Destiny” the gameplay could not salvage the lack luster campaign of “The Divison.”
Parts of the video game industry have become deceitful with the main culprit being trailers. Trailers are, in my opinion, the source of over hyping new installments or franchises in this medium we all love so dearly. One trailer that stands out was the epic reverse slow motion zombie thriller-esque clip from Techlands “Dead Island.” The video was simply astounding and gamers were understandably chomping at the bits to play the title. However, once released the realization hit that the game was nothing like the trailer. Although not a terrible game. “Dead Island” even received an eight out of ten from IGN. Although, this was a clear cut example of bait and switch.
Will over hyping of titles lead to another video game crash? With new franchises emerging such as “No Man’s Sky,” over hyping is at a fever pitch. Some gamers have crossed the line with death threats to developers of “No Man’s Sky” after release date delays were reported on by kotaku.com. Leaked videos of gameplay has also surfaced after a gamer allegedly purchased the title for $1,300 according to polygon.com. Developer Sean Murray even pleaded with gamers not to spoil the game for themselves by viewing the videos.
So, where do we go from here? Do we just accept that games will now be overhyped and narrative will slowly take a back seat? Do we allow the gaming community to slowly descend into chaos? Are you content with games just being online multiplayer? Do we just stop buying these titles to punish developers or are we hurting ourselves by possibly missing on great experiences? What do you think?