10 Video Games Responsible for Current Trends to Hate
The opinions about the current state of the video game industry are different. Some say it’s the age of greed and nihilism; anything is named good if it sells. Others argue that nowadays we have a great selection of better-than-ever games, and their main drawback is their absence in your childhood. Still, they note that these gems are to be sifted from trash.
What both would agree about is that this age is no Golden Age. And there’s a reason for it. There won’t be another Elvis in rock, or another Chaplin in comedy, and the new Space Invaders in gaming; they were lucky enough to be among the first, with much fewer examples to follow, if any. Today one just cannot live in isolation and create something groundbreaking. Society means interaction, and thus influence.
As soon as gaming formed an industry, it generated a pattern out of every innovation. Mario? Okay, let’s do platformers. Super Meat Boy? Okay, platformers are hard as hell from now on. Sid Meier’s Civilization? Let’s review history in strategies. Max Payne? Let there be bullet-time in any action game. Tower Defense? Now it’s the name of the genre. DotA? Welcome MOBA.
Some of these trends seem finished; when did you last encounter a good classical pre-MOBA RTS? Probably there’s only Age of Empires II to be endlessly redesigned. Others still flourish and prosper, and sometimes they even get a new idea or two injected. But then it all starts again, with cloning anything that was once fresh.
So, here are the ten games that share the blame for the current state in the gaming industry. Any of them, though, is good as itself, and may even be such a breakthrough that you still love them long after the release (it’s okay, so do we). Nevertheless, they too easily inspired other developers, and that’s when the hell opened wide. So, let’s name the initiators.
And suddenly no, we don’t blame Minecraft for those numerous sandboxes and craft-based survival games. Yes, they are all influenced, but this genre is creative by its very nature. The charge is different: Mojang was the first to offer “early access” with almost zero responsibility and zero obligations, but for a solid price. The first buyers were, in fact, the beta testers, with no deadline ahead. Instead, they could influence the development by their reports and wishes.
The problem is that now it becomes common. Developers offer more and more games in “early access”, and players are ready to pay for poor content and rich bugs if the idea seems promising. Alas, too many games get stuck in “early access” for longer, probably forever.
The Witcher 3
The downside of this otherwise enchanting game is the new approach to the open world concept. CD Projekt RED spared no effort on writing side quests, making them as thrilling and well-crafted as the main story. In addition, the open world is very large, and it’s stuffed with treasures and Easter eggs, and its texts are a real feast (especially if you have read the original book series).
There’s nothing bad about being that creative and industrious. The problem is about the industry itself that lacks creativity. While we’d like to have more unusual games with well labored lore, large territory with varying biomes and landscapes, and side quests worth novels, few manage to offer all that. Most just fill the terrain with dull quests that don’t catch.
The initiator or Battle Royale madness is not Fortnite, as some might think. PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds is the game that implemented the last-one-standing concept into modern gaming as its integral part. And the saddest part of it was that Battle Royale spread within existing games, substituting the original ideas with this simplicity.
Do you remember now that once Fortnite had no Battle Royale mode and was paid? But it was just the first of the followers. Then there were Counter-Strike, Battlefield, Call of Duty, and even Forza and Grand Theft Auto. Well, we hope at least The Sims series will remain immune to the disease.
When a game forms an entire “Souls-like” genre, this means that it’s very easy to mimic. Dark Souls had one feature that made it a trendsetter: a very hard and sophisticated combat system. This was enough to give birth to “Souls-like” games as a phenomenon. No one did it since Tower Defense (and, in fact, Rogue).
It would be a good example, but the Souls-like games mostly forget that all these ordeals must motivate players to perfect their skills. Leaving victory to chance while making it low is not a way to become cult classics.
Passes are common nowadays; why sell the game once if you can sell it a few more times? Even single-player games offer more content after you buy them. And L.A. Noire was the pioneer when it came to season passes for AAA games. Again, we don’t say that extras for extra payment are necessarily bad, but it becomes a disease when getting common with no sufficient reasons. For example, issuing an empty game and requiring a pass for content can’t be called fair.
Season passes are way more civilized in Fortnite; at least, they don’t provide advantages when free and paid users clash in one game. But when it comes to rewards, the best of them do require high tiers, and for that one needs more access, achieved through purchasing Battle Pass. It’s just another level of Season Pass; those without it miss a lot of fun. Well, it works in projects like Fortnite, but when it comes to other sort of games, like Anthem, it only causes anger and disappointment.
Unprepared games with only visuals and roadmap are now way more common than they should be. And Destiny is responsible for showing developers that it works. A heavily-advertised game sold well, and then almost immediately disappointed fans with total lack of content to enjoy. What next? The content arrives, but as DLCs, for extra fees! This makes you miss the “good old” season passes…
Team Fortress 2
Not that loot boxes are the root of all evil; there is even a special sort of games, so-called gacha, completely drawn on lootboxing. But Team Fortress 2 introduced loot boxes with purchasable keys, combining microtransactions and luck. In fact, you pay for you don’t know what. The example was followed by a number of games, from FIFA series to Gears of War and Call of Duty. Life is like a loot box: you never know what you’re gonna get. Paying for that, instead, is a sure thing.
Not that Gears 5 is a bad game. The problem is quite different: when you pay for a single game, you expect it to be worth each cent you have invested. When you get it as a part of the pack, you don’t care that much. It demotivates the developers; instead of great games, they start offering “good when free” games, despite they aren’t actually free. So it was with Microsoft offering Gears 5 under Xbox Game Pass, for $9.99 or $14.99/month. Within it, Gears 5 is free. But for the franchise, it’s too ordinary, overrated because of being seemingly free. The manner of dropping games on Xbox Game Pass on day one just motivates developers to make games faster, being sure they will be rated higher because of this effect.
The Last of Us
Making games pieces of art is quite an individual thing. There’s a thin line between zombie thrash and, say, The Walking Dead or Warm Bodies. The Last of Us is a fine take on post-apocalyptic dystopia, with violence, terror, fear, and gloom. This game is not an easy mindless fun; it’s a cathartic experience.
Unluckily, it has too many visual features easy to copy, from its overall manner to bleak colors. No wonder it started raining followers soon. Just compare The Last of Us to Days Gone that seems just a pale copy; and Days Gone is not the worst. Not that “all the other Shadies are just imitating”, but disaster games are too contagious.
Everything Comes to a Trend
What trends do you dislike the most about modern gaming? Who do you think is responsible for this? Particular developers? Overall situation? Critics involved in the hype? Or the audience with its lack of taste? Share your opinion in a comment. Speak your mind. We’ll appreciate that.