With the release of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy only a meager five days away, I believe there has never been a better time to look back and analyse how gaming has evolved over time. Long gone are the days when Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and even the fabled Super Mario were the main attractions for gamers. The days of excellent story telling and compelling gameplay are also beginning to dwindle. The era of Massive Multiplayer Online games and games that don’t even have campaigns anymore, is what has come to replace the old greats. As a twenty-one year old man, who has been playing games on nearly every platform since I was five, I am extremely disappointed in the path that games have started to go down. However, the release of an old great in Crash, has lead me to look deep into my collection of games, to find a select few games from the current generation of gaming, that give me hope that the days of old are not completely gone.
Game 1: Firewatch.
Firewatch is a game that I only recently completed, but it showed me personally how storytelling in games is not dead. The first night I started playing this game, I turned it on at ten o’clock, intending to play for a couple of hours, see if it took my fancy and then continue with it in the morning. Low and behold I looked at the clock four and half hours later, to realise it was 2:30am and it was probably about time I got some sleep. The reason I’m telling you this story, is that this was the first time I have lost track of time, because a story was so consuming and intriguing since the release of The Last of Us four years ago. The games graphics are cartoony and are not really anything to write home about. The frame rate constantly dips while you’re playing and there is basically no face to face encounters with other characters throughout the game. I did not care in the slightest. Even with the cartoony graphics, the game has some absolutely stunning visuals and is just an extremely enjoyable game to lose yourself in for a few hours. When I finished it all I could do was smile, knowing that even inbetween all the clutter of exclusively online games such as Star Wars Battlefront and MMOs such as Destiny, there was still room in this day and age for some classic stroytelling goodness.
Game 2: Horizon Zero Dawn.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a completely different game to Firewatch but it is another brilliantly put together game. The combat in this game is phenomenal. Even when you have all of the best gear in the game, you will always be aware that any mistake in combat could lead to you being mauled by a giant mechanic dinosaur. The fact that this game is set on Earth was also something that I really liked. They took some new ideas and implemented them into a familiar landscape that really lets you relate to the places that you are exploring. Horizon Zero Dawn does not care about multiplayer aspects. Guerrila Games focused all of their attention on making a truly original story and it is safe to say that they did not dissapoint in the slightest. Aloy is a really interesting character and the game does an excellent job of revealing things about her past, and where the future of the world is headed intermitently. This allowed the game to remain extremely gripping throughout it’s 15-20 hour campaign. The game also offers a lot of side missions and other activities to take part in after you finish the main campaign. It is a game that, in the end has well over 100 hours of truly intriguing gameplay. It is one of those games that you can sit and play for hours on end and never find yourself with nothing to do.
Game 3: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
It can be extremely hard to find words to describe the absolute masterpiece that is The Witcher 3. It was truly one of the most enjoyable games I have ever had the pleasure of playing through. The game is also absolutely huge. There is approximately 50 hours of gameplay in the campaign alone and that’s only if you don’t get side tracked by all of the side quests that appear along your journey with Geralt. The Witcher 3 is also a difficult game to play, it doesn’t just allow you to run to whatever area you want from the start of the game. There is a levelling system and monsters are genuinely hard to kill. Some monsters are even physically impossible to kill if you are too low a level, which, I found so refreshing. Theres nothing like running through an area you’ve never been to before in the game, and seeing a monster with a red skull over its head and then literally having to turn and sprint in any direction just to save yourself from a gruesome death. The story is outstanding and even being 50 hours long, it never outstayed its welcome. I was gripped by it from start to finish and have played through it multiple times, because there are plenty of different possible ending scenarios. I truly cared about the characters in the game. When characters die in the game I was actually upset about the fact they had died. It was a feeling, that again, I had not experienced since The Last of Us four years ago. Since the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, this is definitely the game that stands out, as it was perfectly able to balance the wishes of the new generation of gamers, by having phenomenal graphics, and the old souls of gaming like myself, by having a truly immersive storyline.
None of this is to say that multiplayer games are bad. I love playing multiplayer games with my friends. I spent days of gameplay online on Call of Duty World at War and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. I loved the endless repetitive game modes of Team Deathmatch and Domination, to name just a couple. Even small online games such as Roblox, have given me and a few of my very best friends hours and hours of online fun together. I personally would just like to see more of a storyline experience to go along with the multiplayer aspects of games released these days.
I would also like to give an honurary mention to The Last of Us. I wanted to keep this article to do with games that were released in the era of the Xbox One and the PS4, but I can’t write an article about games that give me hope for the future of gaming without at least mentioning the masterpiece that was The Last of Us. Unsuprisingly the creator of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog, also produced the Crash Bandicoot game series.
Gaming is something that brings thousands of people together, through online immersive experiences. I am completely for this aspect of gaming, and I think the evolution of online gaming has been incredible throughout the last decade. My hope is that along with this online experience, we as gamers can still find games where we can stop for a moment and appreciate the beauty of a well told story, and lose ourselves in moments that you can’t experience doing anything else. So here’s to all of the great stroytellers out there, keep producing wonderful memories for all of the generations of kids still to come.