A LOOKBACKATGAMING IN 2015
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.