End­less space

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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.

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