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Playing Wolfenstein: The New Order recently I was pleased to discover how focused that game felt. There is no multiplayer. No long list of side missions or side quests to collect. No co-op mode or some “second screen experience” where someone on a tablet taps a map and sort of affects your game.
Instead the newest Wolfenstein is focused on being one thing. A super well made and fun to play single player shooter. That is all MachineGames wanted to make and to Bethesda’s credit they were allowed to make just that: A single player only shooter. Within in that shooter MachineGames created a fantastic world filled with interesting and engaging characters as well as satisfying combat.
But sadly Wolfenstein: The New Order is a rarity in the gaming industry today. Outside of what the indie scene is doing, most games released in the last few years have been huge, in a bad way. Bloated. Filled with worthless and usually repetitive content. Hideouts to capture, hundreds of collectibles, mobile apps, coop modes, multiplayer modes, map packs, horde modes, large maps filled with random things to do and see and more.
Watch_Dogs is in many ways the polar opposite of Wolfenstein. To me Wolfenstein feels like a lean and fit athlete running straight towards their one and only goal. Meanwhile Watch_Dogs feels like a large group of people, some in shape others not so much, running in multiple directions, crashing in to each other and knocking things over. Watch_Dogs feels messy and only some of Ubisoft’s open-world game feels rewarding or worth doing.
I wonder how many people out there who played Watch_Dogs actually cared about the convoy missions or its hundreds of cameras and computers to hack. How much of that meant anything or added anything to the experience. How many people even know or remember why they were doing most of the things they did in Watch_Dogs. I know I don’t.
Watch_Dogs isn’t the only recent game to have this issue. To feel bloated. It seems almost every game being announced or released has so much stuffed into it. It feels like a way to make sure that gamers get their money’s worth. In fact the whole AAA gaming industry feels afraid of being short. Afraid of being small or considered a “rental”. Even at E3 and other conferences the big companies feel afraid to show indie games by themselves. They will seem too “Small” so they throw up these big and exciting sizzle reels containing snippets of dozens of indie games. AAA gaming seems to fear small.
A game has to be filled with stuff for the sake of checkmarking a list. It doesn’t matter if that stuff is well built or fun to play. It just needs to be there so marketing can spit out a long list of stuff. So a publisher can have tons of stuff to slowly tease. So some gamers who fear buying a short or small game will have their fears erased. Not only are games filled with stuff like maps or guns but more and more games are coming with statues, posters, CDs, keychains, hats and more stuff.
“See over here!” Yells a publisher, “We have TONS of stuff!” SO MUCH STUFF!!”
And in fairness asking a gamer to plop down $60 for a game is asking for a lot. That isn’t a small amount to most people. I know I’ve been burned by a bad game before. And there is a fear that starts to build in you more and more that you are going to just waste your hard earned $60.
But that shouldn’t keep this industry paralyzed from making more focused and dare I say “smaller” games. And as digital becomes more a part of this industry and more diverse pricing options become available I hope we see more publishers in the AAA gaming industry greenlighting and supporting games like Wolfenstein: The New Order. Allowing developers to make the game they want to make, regardless of factors like it’s only an online experience or a single player game.
Otherwise games are just going to become more and more bloated and overstuffed. I didn’t even enjoy most of the stuff I did in Watch_Dogs. I just did it to check it off the big list of stuff to do that the game has in it. That isn’t fun. Watch_Dogs and many games are starting to feel more like chores. Things I have to do. And I just want to have fun and enjoy my time. Not finish a long list of chores.