Edge readers share their opinions; one wins a New Nintendo 3DS XL
As someone who’s grown up gaming, 2015 was equal parts spectacular and underwhelming for me. I say this because the sheer number of blockbusters has been incredible, but I haven’t seen any of them through to conclusion or stuck with them beyond the first couple of weeks. I’m not citing the hoary old ‘I’m older now and have less time to play games due to family commitments’ excuse (though that does factor into things in its own way), but rather a lack of any great reason to continue squeezing juice out of these games after I have experienced the core of what they have to offer. Just a cursory glance at the list of big releases raises the pulse. Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Call Of Duty: Black Ops III, Batman: Arkham Knight and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – these are all games with astonishingly high production values, which offer potentially dozens of hours of gameplay apiece, and in each case I booted them up full of excitement about what was to follow.
But every time the same sense of numbing familiarity crept in – both in the context of feeling like I’d run these same errands in slightly different configurations countless times before in other games, and that the game itself was quickly repurposing its own ideas once the basic mechanics and tools had been earned and explained to me.
It’s for that reason that I’ve increasingly found solace in shorter, simpler games that focus on one idea, then burn brightly for a short amount of time. Games like Her Story, The Room 3 and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. They might not offer me a big sandbox and the keys to the city, or provide incredible singleplayer campaigns riddled with barely interactive set pieces, but their narrower focus means that there’s no time for their brilliance to wear thin, and less chance for me to get bored of repeating my actions over and over again.
Richard Perry The open-world game does seem to have settled into something of a rhythm, true. But can’t you have both? Find one thing you enjoy in those sprawling productions, and just do that? What would that be like? If only someone would write in to us about it.
I read your piece on Fabulous Beasts with great interest. I have a two-year-old son and, like any self-respecting 30-something father, I’ve been trying to get him into Bloodborne, Halo and
Trials. He actually quite enjoys the latter, since he’s able to hold the accelerator button while I gently intervene and rotate the bike so that it’s wheel-side down. There are a few other games he likes, too, like Peggle, Geometry Wars and Flower. In all cases, he focuses on a single input – firing the ball, controlling the thrusters or, both within and without the game, wind creation – while I take care of the navigation.
At least, I do when he doesn’t yell “no!” and snatch the pad away with an angry little frown. All of these games are similar in that they offer a relatively simple control scheme, and all except Flower only require you to worry about a single plane of movement.
Reading about Fabulous Beasts in E288 reminded me of the frustration I feel when my son tries to play the games he wants to. I know already that he would love the blocks and colours of Fabulous Beasts, but the dexterity that it would require to play is currently beyond him. That’s not the developer’s fault, of course, but I do find myself desperately wishing that developers would include a ‘toddler mode’ in any game for which that would be a good fit.
“I’ve increasingly found solace in shorter, simpler games that focus on one idea, then burn brightly”
My son would happily sit and accelerate bikes in Trials all day, if they’d just jump and land and stick to the track all on their own. The same is true of Geometry Wars – he loves making the enemies explode, but without my involvement it’s game over for him in 30 seconds, even on the easiest difficulty. An invincible ship moving around the play area on its own would be all that he needed to take charge and not have his annoying father keep reaching for his controller. Even Peggle is too much for him, as he loves to fire the balls but can’t work out how to aim the launcher yet – easily fixed by a mode in which the launcher keeps moving from side to side.
Most of the games aimed at his age group fail to interest him (or, for that matter, me), and he clearly wants to replicate what I’m doing. Soon, this will no longer be my problem, as he’ll be old enough that we can play Minecraft together at last. But it does seem to me that there’s an unfortunate dead zone for budding players aged two to three who are just starting to get their gaming chops in place but are presented with few options to help them develop those skills.
Jason Evans Surely developers don’t cater to players of that age because they’re too young to buy their own games – or coherently pester parents into buying them – and are also pretty busy mastering the fundamentals of real-world movement and communication to worry about the virtual equivalents. Give it time, hmm? Before long you may be worrying that he’s playing them too much.
My take on 2015? Every game has felt like catching a meteor as it comes crashing into Earth’s surface. So bright and shiny from afar, but it burns the hand on the initial touch. Every triple-A game came in hot and semi-stable upon release this year. It makes sense: these games are overflowing with gigabytes, and have so many moving pieces. I stopped buying games on release this year, because why should I? What’s the incentive for playing a game the day it comes out if experience tells me it will be unstable from the first minute of play?
As a result of the hot stardust of triple-A games in recent years, and this one in particular, I’ve seen a growing division of ‘triple-A indie’ games and the Wild West experimentation available on itch.io and Gamejolt. That’s really been a blessing, but when you look at all of these indie titles on Steam it feels more like a curse. Where the big-budget games have so many eyes waiting to critique their many parts, indiegame curation grew more important in 2015. How will we find more games like Her Story and Undertale in the future? Word of mouth? Will there be more indie game sites cropping up to help rogue indie devs get better exposure? I can only hope.
The honeymoon is over with crowdfunding. I’m still not sure if there was one thing that contributed to the sour feeling of seeing a tweet with the words, “Here’s my Kickstarter.” Maybe it was Star Citizen? Yeah, it was probably Star Citizen. But, hey, here’s hoping Tim Schafer’s new crowdfunding home, Fig, bucks the trend. I won’t hold my breath.
Finally, VR is still not happening. Stop trying to make it happen. It’s too expensive for the average household, and the only people talking highly about VR are the enthusiast press and developers. That’s usually a big red flag.
Isaiah T Taylor And we thought we were a bit down on things. Thanks for putting our Edge Awards crotchetiness into slightly warmer context.
He sells Sanctuary
I can’t be the only one who hasn’t ventured beyond Sanctuary yet. I’ve got properly stuck into Fallout 4, but perhaps not in the way the people who made it probably hoped I would when they briefly waved a baby under my nose and shrilly called out, “Chase me!” I didn’t really ever have the chance to get to know Shaun, a name I would never choose for any son of mine (Bethesda missed a trick when they let me name my own character, but not the poor kid), and I can neither remember the name of my wife or anything that we discussed in the six minutes we had together before the apocalypse hit.
So instead I’m focused on building a family I actually care about. I’ve stripped the entire town of all of its scrap and resources (after spending a little time getting my bearings in a place that’s meant to be my home town, but which I was never shown around) and have constructed a base worthy of Mad Max 2. Stacks of tyres, corrugated metal and other junk form double-thick walls around a perimeter that encompasses a few houses and runs along the side of the river. Defensive garrisons overlook convoluted entry points designed to slow down intruders and give my new surrogate family the advantage. And a pair of heavy gates must be pushed open in order to wander out into the wasteland beyond.
OK, so maybe I have explored outside of Sanctuary a little, but only so that I can find more resources with which to protect my home from home and allow new people to come and use the chair I’ve set up on the roof. I might never find Shaun, but in all honesty I’m not that interested in doing so. He’s welcome to seek me out if he ever becomes curious once he’s grown up, but until then, Codsworth, Dogmeat, the others and I will have a happy life together.
David Chamberlain On the contrary, we expect Bethesda would be delighted to discover that you’ve yet to venture beyond the starting town – you’re far less likely to have encountered the same volume of crashes and bugs that we’ve run into. Enjoy your New 3DS XL – Animal Crossing is going to be right up your needlessly well-fortified street.