We're too lazy to make our own New Year's Resolutions (we'd never keep to them anyway), so Leon and I decided to make some resolutions for video games instead. Here's what we'd like to see from games in 2015: more of the good, less of the bad.
After last year's plentiful high-profile technical failings - DriveClub barely working at all, Halo: Master Chief Collection needing weeks and weeks of patching, The Crew not allowing people to actually join a crew until after a day-one patch, Assassin's Creed Unity's impressive glitching - it's tempting to just never buy games until a few weeks after launch, when maybe the problems might have been fixed. And the price will be lower, too. It would be super great if games could actually work properly on or near the day of release.
Naturally I understand that making a fully-functioning game on a huge scale is extremely difficult, especially if it's an online one, but it can be done. Call of Duty and Destiny both managed. We've grown used to allowing a week's grace period for new launches, but now that it's extending to a month or more, it's getting ridiculous.
Games have gotten so much better at being inclusive of everyone who isn't a straight white dude over the past few years, and long may that continue. 2015's games look like they will be telling far more interesting stories than "man shoots things to save world," from plenty of different perspectives. We'll get to play as Ciri in The Witcher 3, revisit Vella and Shay in the next Broken Age chapter, play as… who/whatever's starring in Fullbright Studios' next game, and enjoy pretending to be a piece of bread. There's even a female Cid.
Now, what would really make my year would be playing an effed-up woman criminal in GTA in that forthcoming story DLC. Here is some good inspiration for that, Rockstar.
For a while it looked like mobile would be the next indie frontier. Then everybody caught on, and it was kinda ruined. Free-to-play giants subsumed everything else on the App Store, exploitative licensed rubbish proliferated unchecked, newspaper stories about children spending thousands on pretend ponies/hats/bases were all over the place, and now thousands of games appear every week, leaving even the best ones unlikely to be discovered.
But there have still been some wonderful games on mobile and I want to see more of them: Monument Valley, 80days and A Sailor's Dream, to name three from this year. Of course, when the developers of Monument Valley asked for some extra money for some new levels, people spammed them with one-star reviews.
This is why we can't have nice things, people.
Given that the survival game has enjoyed such a fertile period since Minecraft hit the big time, it's perhaps not a surprise that survival horror is experiencing a resurgence too. There's no escaping the fact that horror's slow return has, in part, been due to squawking YouTubers flapping at jump scares. There's a whole new genre of 'made for YouTube' games that are more about the reaction than the gameplay. However, whatever the cause, it has reignited an interest in good, old-fashioned horror games.
What started with the HOLYJESUSSHIT experience of things like Slender or Five Nights at Freddy's has led to things like Outlast, The Forest and Alien Isolation getting far more attention, and it feels like the genre is poised for a significant return. After a near complete generational dearth of horror games on on PS3/360, suddenly it feels like they're back as an actual thing, not occasional curio. The success of Outlast has secured a sequel, and while I'm not sure we'll see an Alien Isolation 2, the popularity of that will certainly have inspired someone to follow suit. The Evil Within did pretty well, too. It might not be a Flappy Bird-style explosion of cloning but 2015 feels like the year horror games will properly come back from the dead.
What is this? This is CONFUSING, is what this is.
Seriously, we're 15 years into the 21st century. If you're a developer making a game that loads up anything other than 'continue' after you've started, I want you think long and hard about your life. Several games in 2014 still defaulted to 'new game' whenever you restarted them. At best it's an annoyance, at worst it could be a disaster - Alien Isolation only has one save. A moment of inattentive button mashing nearly cost me my game there. Stop it, and think about what people playing your game want to do first.
Whilst we're here, EVERY GAME should have the option to turn off tutorial notifications/tooltips. It's been 60 hours, I know what damned button to press.
Pretty much an annual request here but I'll happily play a two-hour game if it's new and interesting. Many of my favourite games of 2014 were smaller games - and the accessibility of indie on both the home consoles and Steam is yielding better and better results every year. Stuff like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Broken Age and Shovel Knight have proved time and again that games don't have to be huge as long as the price point is good and there's something worth playing. Plus, larger studios seem to be struggling to maintain game size and quality on the newer generations. Ubi in particular has struggled to get a single game out without some kind of hitch and almost everything is being delayed "for polish." Now would be the perfect time to refocus on quality over over quantity and make games with more heart and less content. Like, well, Valiant Hearts, to pick a pertinent example.
I do love my Wii U, but ZombiU is still pretty much the ONE interesting thing anyone has done with the Wii U Gamepad. Nintendo's console had a good year last year after a shaky start, with plenty of excellent games - but none of them took advantage of that second screen. It's not too late! The Wii U is out of its adolescence, but it's far from over. There's still time. I've high hopes for Miyamoto's forthcoming projects, including the new Star Fox.
Oh, and whilst we're at it - how about less of the constant Nintendo doomsaying that made the first half of 2014 so tedious? Nintendo has all the money in the world. It is not about to go out of business.
The Witcher 3. That Dragon Cancer. Mad Max. The Witness. The Order 1886. Batman: Arkham Knight. The Division. There are even more, but I've made myself depressed listing them. 2014 was supposed to be so good. 2015 has a lot to make up for.
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