Digital Renaissance – 2018 and Beyond

I’ve decided to write this article for a few separate reasons – primarily its to highlight some important games coming out in 2018 – but I’m also writing this article to take a look back at games from 2017 and earlier, and to examine how they’ve been doing in the time since their launch.  Some, as you’ll see, have flourished in the time since their launch; actively listening to players and balancing demand with quality.  Others haven’t fared so well despite massive initial followings.

All of these games share one thing in common, however – that they have earned their fair share of attention in a number of interesting ways.  For a look ahead, as well as a bit of retrospect, read on.

All That Glitters

The first Destiny was initially a massive hit, boasting millions of active players across the globe.  If you’re unfamiliar, the Destiny franchise revolves around a blend of science fiction and fantasy elements in the form of a shared-world (read: MMO) first-person shooter.  You, as a Guardian of the Last City, are tasked with defending Earth’s last city and driving back the Darkness.  At launch myself and a number of close friends were not only eager to play from the stellar beta, but deeply involved in the world that Bungie had created.

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This wouldn’t last forever however, as content delays and underwhelming content updates plagued the rest of Destiny’s shelf-life.  It wasn’t all bad, and I played through every piece of content that they put out; they simply didn’t realize the full potential of the world they had promised players.

And so it goes with Destiny 2, with much of the focus being put upon the Eververse cosmetic cash shop, with the most recent holiday leaning heavily on real-money transactions in order to get the full scope of the event.  I’ve played some Destiny 2, and I will use the same argument I did for the first one: “Phenomenal mechanics, best shooting ever, terrible implementation.”  I hoped they would turn around with Destiny 2, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Divided We Fall

As a bit of a natural segue here, I’d like to discuss Tom Clancy’s ‘The Division’, perhaps the most hyped title of all time – with only maybe No Man’s sky edging it out based on expectation versus delivery ratios.  Ubisoft had the best lead-up to this title, even though it was plagued by delays and development issues; the footage that was released was jaw-dropping, and every trailer seemed to present some new and wonderful thing for us to wait for in agony.

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A close friend of mine and I were incredibly excited for this game’s launch, and for a while it was pretty much everything we had wanted from the title.  As time pressed on, though, the flaws became apparent.  Reaching the end-game presented some fun activities – raising your rank in the PvPvE ‘Dark Zone’, a no man’s land of sorts for example – but eventually you would run out of meaningful things to do.  Once players run out of conventional tasks to do in a game, a decent portion will form around the concept of finding and abusing exploits.  The Dark Zone became a chore for precisely this reason, with players engaging your entire squad in combat, only to glitch through a wall and kill everyone in short order.

Glitching and exploiting aside, the other problem that The Division faced was a long-standing silence between development team and the game’s then-thriving community.  The first real end-game activity released featuring a game-breaking exploit that allowed unscrupulous players to farm the last boss effortlessly, thus acquiring the best possible gear and then shitting upon the heads of any soul unfortunate enough to encounter them during PvP sessions in the Dark Zone.  The developers were silent for weeks on this issue, with it only being resolved after most of the playerbase had departed for greener pastures.

Pop Quiz, Hot Shot

So knowing that these two developers in particular have spurned their playerbase in the past, what do we decide we’ve learned going forward?  You could adopt the policy of flat-out refusing to support them anymore by not buying their products, but that’s simply unlikely to work; not everyone cares as much about the state of the game and will continue to be content simply having something to play.

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If you’re being reasonable, you could also state that you’ll simply not buy into the hype next time and be more careful about where you place your enthusiasm.  This worked for me leading up to Destiny 2 for the most part, and I didn’t feel nearly as let down the second time because I had prepared myself for a repeat of past experiences – and was right, for the most part.

That close friend I mentioned is much more patient than I am – and wiser, in many regards – so he wasn’t let down at all by Destiny 2; simply because he went in to it expecting nothing.

A conversation.

But if you look at where a game like The Division is now – a much better, more well-rounded version of itself – it proves that developers can eventually listen and learn.  The problem arises when they are praised for the success of something that should’ve worked in the first place – or worse, praised for completely and utterly dropping the ball, only to be recovered after another development team steps up to the plate.  On one hand, I want to be enthusiastic about where The Division is now, as I feel this is legitimately a very good version of itself; but on the other hand, I’m hesitant to get excited about the upcoming Year 2 content because we’ve all been burned before.

The takeaway here, then, is simply to say that you should be cautious and informed, but never against providing second chances to developers that might be doing their best – we know, for instance, that Activision regularly hamstring Bungie when it comes to Destiny 2 and RMT.

With that out of the way, lets take a look ahead at 2018.

2018 – What to Look For

There isn’t a shortage of titles to get excited about for the coming year, so let’s get started.  The hotly anticipated Monster Hunter: World will be making its way to PS4 early in the year on the 26th of January, and if the open beta was any indication, both fans and newbies will have a lot of fun.  The game feels well designed and looks great aesthetically, and as someone who hasn’t really played a Mon-Hun before I was drawn in pretty well.

January 30th sees the release of Dissidia Final Fantasy – NT.  This is a 3v3 brawler featuring the most popular or lead characters from every era of Final Fantasy, so fans of the series are in for an absolute treat.  The fighting in the beta was fast and fluid, and the visuals were positively gorgeous to look at.  The soundtrack is something else worth mentioning, as music has always been such a cornerstone of the Final Fantasy series.  You can select all of your favorite tracks in a battle playlist, which I felt was a very cool feature.

One of the biggest featured games from PSX was Ghost of Tsushima, an upcoming game for PlayStation 4.  Very few details are available about the game, apart from it’s being set in Japan during Feudal Times.  Sucker Punch is behind this one though, and they have a pretty phenomenal record in my book.  This is definitely something you want to keep an eye out for.

During my last semester of college there were two PS2 games that you couldn’t pull me away from: Fatal Frame and Beyond Good and Evil.  While I’ve since played some remastered/updated versions of Fatal Frame since then, Beyond Good and Evil is finally getting a sequel and I couldn’t be happier.  This ranks as one of my all-time favorites, alongside such lofty choices as Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 2.

The Last of Us: Part II and Death Stranding might be my most anticipated games of the year; TLoU for the riveting and heartwrenching narrative from the first game and it’s timeless multiplayer component, and Death Stranding because Kojima.  I can’t really brag on these games properly in the space allotted for the article, but please check them out.

Rounding out the list are Anthem – essentially a third-person shooter MMO set in an anachronistic future-ruins, which looks to reclaim the “sci-fi” shooter crown from Destiny – Days Gone, an action-adventure game where you control a motorcycle club member as he lives life in the post-apocalypse – and Detroit: Become Human, the next story based adventure game from Quantic Dream (the folks behind Beyond: Two Souls.