Sometimes it’s hard not to think of the modern videogaming audience as a kind of bottomless maw. Nowadays, accustomed to the niceties of thumbsticks and min-maxing, we munch through content at an alarming rate. ( Destiny 2 director Luke Smith rather hit the nail on the head in E312, comparing it to binge-eating a big bag of crisps.) Plenty of big studios have observed this behaviour and drawn an inevitable conclusion: the bigger, the better.
New series entries must balloon in size, they figure, in order to fulfill the growing appetite for more. We see not a city, but an entire country, in Assassin’s Creed
Origins (p100). A vast Egypt is teeming with life – and sidequests, collectibles and optional combat challenges, crafting craf materials and colour-coded gear. It’s as if Ubisoft is daring us to say we’re bored. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (p104) has opted for a more open approach to Nazi-nixing.
Middle-earth: Shadow Sha Of War (p112) has accepted the challenge to a detrimental degree, its sheer volume of stuff to shuffle about rather numbing.
Even survival horror sequel The Evil Within 2 (p108) has widened its view. Well, yes, the black bars have gone – but we’re really referring to the hub levels, which provide breathing room between tense linear chases. Sadly, poor execution doesn’t provide much incentive for stretching the legs. But while the reduced car count of Gran Turismo Sport (p118) might indicate a prioritisation of quality over quantity, this time, the overall step taken is too far backwards, rather than outwards. Thank goodness that Cuphead (p114) has emerged, from a flurry of forums demanding more content than ‘just boss fights’, mostly undiluted from its original vision. We might crave scope, sure, but focus truly satisfies.