An anticipated game doesn't always mean a great reception at release...
Exactly where has the last eight months gone? In that time we’ve seen some amazing video games come and go, but also some rather controversial or even abysmal titles. We’ve still got four more months left of the year, and with E3 and GamesCom having announced most of the remaining line up for 2019, there are still a few big hitters on the horizon. For some of these games however, based on what we know and have seen, they have the potential to be critically acclaimed video games or be known as one of the worst or hugely controversial games of the year.
There’s no denying that Shenmue has a pretty large cult following, which was proven when Shenmue III made $6.3 million dollars from Kickstarter crowdfunding alone. While this was still $3.7 Million shy of the $10 million supposedly needed for the developers to make it what they truly wanted, it was still considered a massive achievement. However as time went on, things started to take an awkward turn. The developers began releasing trailers and gameplay of Shenmue III and for the most part players were disappointed in what they saw. Then most recently, the developers revealed that Shenmue III on PC would be a timed-exclusive for the Epic Store in the west after previously promising their Kickstarter backers they would receive Steam keys. Originally refunds were not going to be provided before Epic Games stepped in to offer a refund or the PS4 version of the game.
Fortunately in recent weeks players have begun seeing recent gameplay trailers and are more pleased about how the development is going compared to what they saw before. However there’s no denying that most recent events have slightly aimed some caution towards the developers, and one can only hope that increased pressure doesn’t take a toll on how the game plays.
Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Star Wars games”? Knights of the Old Republic? Star Wars Galaxies? EA Games? If it’s EA Games, I don’t think anybody would be surprised. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order is currently being developed by Respawn Entertainment, who previously developed both Titanfall and Titanfall 2 and most recently the free-to-play game Apex Legends. Prior to Apex Legends, both Titanfall games were considered solid first-person shooters, and helped put the developer on the map (or back on the map if you remember the whole Infinity Ward fiasco). Respawn then released Apex Legends, which was considered to be one of the best free-to-play battle royale games around. Suffice to say, there really seemed to be no stopping Respawn.
However, herein lies the problem: EA Games. As many of you probably know, a lot of EA’s games are more often than not stooped with controversy, usually due to the microtransactions that often plague them. A recent example is with Star Wars: Battlefront II, which allowed players to buy loot boxes with items that actually affected gameplay, something which is hugely frowned upon in video gaming as it creates unfair advantages. Prior to this as well, EA shut down Visceral Games, who were working on their own Star Wars game, where apparently development was not going the way it was planned and was indefinitely cancelled. EA has had the Star Wars license since 2013, and in that time they have only officially release two AAA titles, with Jedi: Fallen Order being their third. Respawn released gameplay of Jedi: Fallen Order back at EA Play 2019, and while some like the rough look it has (with Respawn comparing their game to Dark Souls), others were disappointed and thought there would be more to the game than what they showed. One thing is clear though: if Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order fails, there will certainly be trouble on the horizon for both Respawn and EA.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
Call of Duty has this history of releasing relatively good games followed by players who moan about it just because it’s Call of Duty (I used to be one of them…). Admittedly there’s no denying that the last few instalments have shown the franchise is a little tired, and with microtransactions becoming a more prominent thing, the games have become more reliant on the selling of loot boxes rather than actual good gameplay content. Prior to all this however, the Modern Warfare games have seen their fair share of controversy to say the least, most notably with Modern Warfare 2 and the “No Russian” level, which had players mowing down innocent civilians in an airport. With all the shootings that occur in the United States of America, Call of Duty is often blamed, even though numerous studies have shown it has nothing to do with said shootings.
With the release of the 2019 Modern Warfare game, Infinity Ward have stated on a few occasions that their single player campaign will be hard hitting, almost wanting the player feel uncomfortable with the choices they will be given. Some journalists who attended a screening of the single player campaign a few months ago stated they were left feeling distraught over the events they witnessed and began to speculate how the overall public will react to the campaign. On the flipside with the multiplayer, it too has seen quite a few changes with the removal of a mini map (except for special abilities), with killstreaks making a return (though most see this as a great thing) and with Call of Duty Points (the in-game currency for microtransactions) known to be returning. There’s also cause for concern that the unlocking of abilities may be hidden behind a pay wall.
No game in 2019 has taken more beatings than Borderlands 3 has. Although it is considered one of the most anticipated games of the year, before its initial reveal back in April 2019, so many things had come up around Gearbox Software’s overall handling of the game, and even after more things came about.
Let’s first off talk about the CEO of Gearbox Software Randy Pitchford. In 2018 a lawsuit was filed against him as he had apparently misused Gearbox funds for his own personal affairs. There were claims that he also used to own a USB that contained under age pornography, which while he revealed there was pornography on the USB, it was not of the underage type. Then when Borderlands 3 was revealed to the world, the original voice actor for Claptrap, David Eddings, who was replaced for Borderlands 3, claimed he had been assaulted physically and bullied by Pitchford. Pitchford also argued over Twitter with Troy Baker, the original voice actor for Rhys in Tales From the Borderlands, over not being asked to reprise his role for Borderlands 3. There have also been claims from inside Gearbox Software itself that Randy would often bully and manipulate his own staff.
Moving on from Randy, it was also revealed that, like Shenmue III on this list, Borderlands 3 would be time exclusive for the Epic Games store for the PC, a move that has angered a lot of people. Earlier in August 2019 as well, a YouTuber by the name of SupMatto claimed to have had private investigators from Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of 2K Games who publish Borderlands, sent to his own home, where they claimed he had unlawfully provided gameplay videos to people which were not for the public, even though SupMatto claimed to have found the videos legitimately. Fortunately for the game itself, public reaction to gameplay has been positive, but one has to wonder exactly how all of this will add up come the release of the game, especially as many have claimed they will be boycotting the game, most notably due to the SupMatto controversy.
For the past few years, Kojima Productions have essentially been drip feeding information regarding Death Stranding. As of this article, we are now just under 3 months away from release, and somehow things are still no clearer as to what the gameplay is actually like or what is going on with its story. What I personally have noticed is that players are fine with this analogy; they find this game as one of their most anticipated games of 2019 and will no doubt be game of the year… even if they know next to nothing about it.
Here’s the problem: this will either go superbly well for Kojima Productions, or it will hurt their reputation as a game developer. Whilst it’s understandable that a lot of game developers like to over promise what they’re making (take No Man’s Sky for example), Death Stranding has been doing that without actually showing anything. It might not make any sense, but a lot of people are just going on name alone; “it’s Kojima, it MUST be a fantastic game” due to his track record. That’s not, nor should ever be, how you sell a game. Players have seen time and time again developers who continuously make solid games, only for them to release bad game after bad game then on. Take Bioware for example with Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem, or Bethesda Game Studios with Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Blades, or even Ubisoft back when Assassin’s Creed was fantastic, when it was all about Ezio, only for the franchise to fall in quality afterwards. The name shouldn’t mean anything, and as we found out a few years ago with No Man’s Sky, not even what a developer shows can be trusted.
Death Stranding is a ballsy game, and I’m sorry to say but I get this odd feeling many, MANY people will come out hugely disappointed, but I hope to be wrong.