They say the orig­i­nal sin­ners never felt a drop of pain

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We all hope to grow. Hu­man­ity thrives on for­ward mo­men­tum, on the sense that we are im­prov­ing, and game mak­ers are no ex­cep­tion. Any cre­ator hopes that their next game will be better re­ceived, and more suc­cess­ful, than their pre­vi­ous one. That de­sire is the game in­dus­try in mi­cro­cosm, a place where games get big­ger, broader, deeper and the­o­ret­i­cally better over time.

There’s plenty of that on show this is­sue – no sur­prise given the time of year, now the clocks have gone back and the se­quel sea­son is in full swing. As­sas­sin’s Creed is back after a year’s hia­tus and con­tin­ues to be the ar­che­typal videogame se­ries, its seem­ingly end­less sprawl stretched still fur­ther, fresh ideas sprin­kled in with the hoary old ones, a game that is huger than ever and just about new enough to pass muster. For­give us the spoiler, but we’re not ex­actly bowled over by Ori­gins.

Yet the real story of this is­sue is in two games with very sim­i­lar goals; games which seek to ap­peal to two very dif­fer­ent au­di­ences, and face stag­ger­ing suc­cess if they pull it off. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a deep, tech­ni­cal fight­ing game based on an IP known the world over. De­vel­oper Arc Sys­tem Works must please two camps: genre vet­er­ans who know the stu­dio for its work on such se­ries as Blazblue and Guilty Gear, and ex­pect more of the same; and fans of the source ma­te­rial who may never have played a fight­ing game in their lives, and think a su­per combo is some­thing you or­der at a fast-food joint. That is no small task. Be­gin­ning on p70, we dis­cover how the de­vel­oper is go­ing about it.

Cap­com knows a thing or two about turn­ing niche games into hits, but it’s been a while since the pub­lisher took a Street Fighter or a Res­i­dent Evil and turned it into a world­wide smash. Mon­ster Hunter: World looks like its most suc­cess­ful tilt at the main­stream in years – yet it has done so, some­how, with­out short-chang­ing its most pas­sion­ate fans, the game meet­ing two dif­fer­ent au­di­ence needs in style. Our story be­gins on p60.

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