E3 2014 Countdown – Manifest Familiar Destiny

A new video game generation sees the launch of new IP. Given that the game industry gets notoriously risk-averse and skittish thanks to the presence of The Man when large amounts of money are involved, companies have been unsurprisingly conservative about what they’re doing with the new generation of consoles.

Case in point: Sony Santa Monica has teamed with one of the premier former PSP developers, Ready at Dawn, to release a brand new IP set in a striking alternate past universe where templars hunt werewolves with steampunk technology. Sounds gripping, right?

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Brave new letterboxed world, that has such familiar gameplay and camera angles in it.

We were given a first look at the actual gameplay of The Order: 1886 a few months ago. What we got looked like a fairly bog standard third person cover shooter with shinier graphics and letterboxed presentation.

Not that this is a problem, mind – there’s nothing wrong with building on an existing gameplay skeleton, but it results in making all your games play largely the same despite all the window dressing you throw on top. And that’s what we play for – the meat and potatoes, not the window dressing. There’s no point in spending thousands of man-hours crafting this gorgeously realized world if Uncharted essentially does the same job. People can only play so many TPSes before they get sick of it. I like games where I shoot people in the face from a first person perspective a lot and I can’t play more than three of them concurrently, to say nothing of learning three fighting games at the same goddamn time.

So Bungie’s Destiny is coming out later this year, and if there was any game with a name more apt, it’s this one. It’s the first new IP Bungie’s crafted in over a decade, with a new publisher known for Skeletor-esque business practices and large amounts of new staff.

And I mean large amounts of new staff. During a recent interview one of the representatives from Bungie talked openly about how they had ballooned to 500 staff members from the team of 150 that put Halo: Reach together.

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Completely …new… experiences… for the new generation.

Call me a cynical bastard, but in the collaborative process, the more cooks you throw into the mix, the less focused the entire end project feels. What you tend to get is a bland mess devoid of personality that tries to show input from everyone who worked on the thing, with so many elements to it that even the best editor in the world can’t figure a way to trim it down into a streamlined, focused product that knows what it is and knows what it wants to be.

Still, it’s Bungie. There’s no way they could screw up an FPS, is there? 

I’ve decided to take June 9th and 10th off work to cover the three major E3 conferences on this blog. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.

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