Edge read­ers share their opin­ions; one wins a New Nin­tendo 3DS XL

Fo­cus test­ing

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.

Parental con­trols

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.

In­ter­est-free moan

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.

Is­sue 288

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