Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018: What We're Looking Forward To in Gaming

Now that we are a little more settled into 2018, let's look at some of the games hitting the market. But I want to take it a step further and lay out some of my hopes and expectations for the industry. 2018 might be the year of change we all need - or at least the start of the change to come.

A big game I'm ready to play and see more then the demo is Monster Hunter: World. While the small taste left something to be desired, the game looks great, the matchmaking is much improved, and the controls felt a lot smoother than past Monster Hunter games. They've even made their Loot Box system one of the least controversial of the bunch by keeping it to cosmetic only. Weapons, armor, and items will all be obtained within the game without having to use Loot Boxes. Thank you Capcom for listening to your audience.

Speaking of Loot Boxes, after the fallout from EA and Star Wars: Battlefront II last year, you bet developers/publishers are going to be cautious about how they roll out future systems. My hope is that more websites begin factoring in Loot Boxes to their reviews, like OpenCritic. I'm aware that this means some reviewers will have to update their content after the games are released, or start a new review style with multiple mini-posts. Some companies don't ship their games in full to reviewers, leaving them unaware of the loot box system. But it's something customers want and need to know. Don't be surprised to see changes to how your favorite reviewers look at games with loot boxes.

Detroit: Beyond Human has also caught my interest. I like games that play out as visual novels. When you have the creators of Heavy Rain behind a project, you know it's going to catch people's attention. The neo-noi sci-fi thriller will be another branching story game, with a focus on humanity and androids in the future. A group of androids are rebelling against society and are fighting against the humans hunting them. It sounds like 'Blade Runner' but it doesn't look like it. Curious to see how the game will hold it's own in 2018's market (release date still to be determined...) As of 1/16/18, The Geek Spot will no longer be supporting Quantic Dream, in light of recent allegations of their workplace conditions and harassment.

And then there's Red Dead Redemption 2. The game people have been clamoring for since the last one, and RockStar being dead silent on it until late last year. I'm still under the impression that they are messing with us. With the exception of the GTA franchise, RockStar rarely does sequels. I was hoping for a new IP, but RDR2 is a good trade off. With a supposed release date of 2018, a posse is coming into town...and that's all I know. I'm not going to make assumptions about the gameplay or the story. There are so many websites spreading false information, and this will not be one of them. Let's wait until RockStar officially comments on the content.

Among these Triple A games, I am always excited to see what indie studios bring to the table. My trip to PAX South this weekend will give me a glimpse into what we'll see for 2018. InnerSpace is finally releasing, which I played at PAX South 2 years ago. I had a blast with this title and I can't wait to see it in it's full form! There's also Nour, a game about playing with your food. You slay monsters and cook them in a competitive environment. Monster Hunter meets Top Chef. We'll see more crazy ideas in 2018 with the growth of this market.


I'm also looking forward to some of the potential biggest bombs of the year. Metal Gear: Survive tops that list. The first Metal Gear title post-Hideo Kojima, Survive is...something. The demo showcased at TGS in 2016 got a surging negative reaction from fans. Survive takes place after MGS5 where, through space magic, you are whisked away into an alternate reality with zombies. It's no longer a sneaking game, but an open world co-op survival. Yeah. Strange. It's almost like Konami is trying to kill off the franchise by making this game nothing like Metal Gear. I won't buy this game, but I am very curious to see how it fares when it releases this year.

Another trend that I hope to see continue to grow is inclusion in gaming. Meaning more diverse protagonists and developers providing more tools to gamers to report harassment. Two prong concept, but both are in need of being reviewed, discussed, and resolved to help gaming move forward. And I don't mean having female or POC leads because we ask for it. The stories for them need to make sense. They need to have proper character development. Token characters will no longer work for today's audience. We have grown up, and so should our games. At the same time, we need to ensure that everyone can play without feeling threatened for doing so. Developers need to be involved in providing means to let people report bad behavior, verbal abuse, and threats of violence. AND follow-up on those reports. Too often the reporting tool does nothing and the abuser is allowed to keep playing. This needs to stop. Developers are just as responsible for this as gamers. This is a growing issue, and we are ready for changes.

Happy 2018 and happy gaming!

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