A LOOKBACKATGAMING IN 2015

HWM (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

2015 hasn’t been ex­actly a good year for games. The year started off in­no­cently enough though it’s mostly been a year of stu­dio clo­sures, cancellations, and de­par­tures since then.

The year fi­nally saw Nin­tendo suc­cumb to pres­sure and start mo­bile de­vel­op­ment. While its dab­bling in mo­bile gam­ing might be in its in­fancy, this could mean the end of Nin­tendo hand­helds as we know them. The 3DS or its suc­ces­sor might be the last Nin­tendo por­ta­ble if the com­pany de­cides to go the whole hog on mo­bile gam­ing. Nin­tendo’s not alone. Kon­ami, an­other ma­jor gam­ing com­pany, has com­pletely aban­doned AAA ti­tle de­vel­op­ment on con­soles to fo­cus on mo­bile games.

The ru­mor that Sony’s stopped first­party de­vel­op­ment on PS Vita games hit fans of the por­ta­ble hard. Vita stal­warts didn’t take it too well; es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the por­ta­ble isn’t even four years old yet. Though just a ru­mor at this point, the signs of Sony with­draw­ing sup­port for the por­ta­ble are eas­ily vis­i­ble. First-party ti­tles are non-ex­is­tent, Sony barely ac­knowl­edges the ma­chine at trade shows and pro­mo­tional ef­forts for the Vita mainly con­sist of new color schemes. If that’s not a death knell for the ma­chine, we don’t know what is.

VR’s re-en­try into the gen­eral pub­lic con­scious­ness is com­ing, though it’s been fraught with de­lays. Orig­i­nally slated to hit late 2015, the HTC Vive will now only have lim­ited quan­ti­ties on sale later this year, with full sup­ply ex­pected only in Q1 2016. With three dif­fer­ent head­sets set to launch in Q1 2016, early adopters will be spoilt for choice.

2015 also saw the re­turn of long dor­mant fran­chises, specif­i­cally Tony Hawk, Gui­tar Hero and Rock Band. While the lat­est Tony Hawk was lam­basted for be­ing bro­ken, buggy and visu­ally bland, Gui­tar Hero and Rock Band were both well re­ceived. With the warm re­cep­tion, ex­pect to see se­quels for those se­ries for the fore­see­able fu­ture. It seems like gamers have short mem­o­ries about why they got sick of those fran­chises in the first place.

Re­demp­tion was also on the cards for Des­tiny. With The Taken King ex­pan­sion, Bungie’s bun­gled ti­tle fi­nally started to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions. With a com­pletely over­hauled game­play ex­pe­ri­ence, Des­tiny 2.0 (an­other name for The Taken King ex­pan­sion) made Des­tiny into a game fi­nally worth play­ing, a year af­ter it came out. Even bet­ter, Bungie’s gone on the record say­ing that all con­tent from here on out will be free; with it charg­ing only for new emotes. That is un­til Des­tiny 2 hits late next year.

It was the op­po­site with Metal Gear Solid V. While the game­play was ex­em­plary, other aspects of the game were clearly rushed and un­fin­ished; an en­tire chap­ter left on the cut­ting room floor, as well as the game’s orig­i­nal end­ing scrapped due to time and bud­get con­straints. Need­less to say, many gamers were not happy with Kon­ami for re­leas­ing an in­com­plete game.

MGS V wasn’t the only hyped ti­tle that didn’t meet ex­pec­ta­tions. Halo 5, Mi­crosoft’s premier gam­ing se­ries, was only a shadow of its for­mer self, with a bor­ing sin­gle player cam­paign with all-too-fa­mil­iar set­tings and en­e­mies. Luck­ily, the new War­zone mode, REQ sys­tem, awe­some mul­ti­player, and the prom­ise of free DLC makes up for it.

Thank­fully, not all highly-an­tic­i­pated AAA ti­tles were duds. CD Pro­jekt RED’s The Witcher 3 not only ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, it did so un­der in­tense hype. Even with all the pres­sure, the game was still as great as the de­vel­op­ers billed it up to be, de­spite a drop in vis­ual qual­ity from ini­tial demos. On top of that, CD Pro­jekt RED took it one step fur­ther, with 15 pieces of free DLC, charg­ing only for the two lengthy ex­pan­sions to the game.

Cap­com also shook the gam­ing world when they de­cided to buck the trend of hav­ing paid DLC. Once no­to­ri­ous for nickel and dim­ing ev­ery­thing from ex­tra cos­tumes to new char­ac­ters, the com­pany has an­nounced that Street Fighter V, due next year on the PS4 and PC, will have no paid DLC that can’t be ob­tain­able through nor­mal game­play. That even in­cludes all the ex­pan­sions and other con­tent the com­pany is of­fer­ing for the whole of Street Fighter V’s life­span. It’s a ma­jor change that’s been met with great pos­i­tive re­sponse from fans, and has un­doubt­edly re­ju­ve­nated the jaded fight­ing game crowd who are used to pay­ing for ex­pan­sions of their fa­vorite fight­ing games.

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