This is purely a personal opinion and article, don’t get butthurt, please, but I’m gonna be honest here. Outside of Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Hitman, I haven’t really bought a AAA game in a long time.
I don’t hate them or anything. I don’t feel anything in particular towards the majority of AAA games, and I think that’s the problem. It’s a commonly discussed issue, but a lot of modern AAA games are just… not fun. This isn’t the same complaints I had about Mario, at least Mario tries to focus on gameplay still. The three I mentioned above do too, and I’m not saying that there’s not more like them. When Final Fantasy XV comes out I’m probably gonna pick that up too, because it looks fun, and the demos were fun.
There’s the keyword: Fun.
With advances in graphics, sound, and just general changes in audience, so many more games are focused on being these immersive, realistic “cinematic experiences”,(never mind that most films are NOT entirely realistic and even ones based in reality have immensely dramatized events.) and I gotta say, it’s really killing any kind of enjoyment I get. Video games are… games. Games are supposed to be entertaining, you know. Fun. Of course people will disagree, but man I just don’t think these “cinematic experiences” are fun. Especially when they sacrifice certain gameplay elements for realism, which I’ll get into again later.
I’m sorry, I just don’t find gameplay consisting of walking between pretty set pieces, with maybe a LITTLE shooting sometimes to be fun or engaging. It looks nice, sure, but if your goal is to seriously just work on pretty images with the actual game aspect as an afterthought, make a movie. If you’re chopping stuff out and because it’s “too videogame-y”, make a movie. I’m specifically gonna call out The Order 1886 on this one. Two easy werewolf fights, a few short shooting parts, and cutscenes. Lots of cutscenes.
Speaking of “too videogame-y”, that’s word-for-word the reason Bioware didn’t give Mass Effect 3 a final boss fight. That’s the reason a lot of western games are excluding final boss fights, or boss fights in general in favor of a QTE. Shadow of Mordor is another kick in the nuts, as is Uncharted 3, which is an especially bad one because the other two games had a final boss. Boss fights are my favorite part of games, and it hurts that they’re disappearing to appeal to realism, because I genuinely feel they’re a great mechanic. A boss fight tests your skill at the game, along with your mastery of whatever mechanic you picked up in the last level or two, so that it can throw harder challenges at you in later levels with confidence. That’s not to say a QTE is ALWAYS bad, no. When a game is built around them, like God of War and Asura’s Wrath, boss fights incorporating them are fine. Likewise, a boss shouldn’t be thrown into games just to have one, as those rushed fights often seem bizarre and hamfisted. Rather a good boss fight should fit the game’s mechanics, and when done correctly, a boss fight improves the game tenfold.
Also, boss battles are cool. Why do so many western developers hate cool things?
I’m not biased though, Asian developers can make some pretty awful garbage too, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that usually they don’t care about realism and just try to make something fun, and that’s what a game should be. I wouldn’t even mind these cinematic experiences if they weren’t branded as games. Beyond: Two Souls isn’t a game, it’s a movie with mild input. Games can be so much more while still telling a good story and having deep lore. Bloodborne and the “Souls” games have deep ass lore discovered through finding items in the game world and learning from their descriptions. That’s cool and melds gameplay and story without completely shredding one or the other to make room. Another example (and don’t go screaming about it being le tumblr meme game, that’s irrelevant.) is Undertale. It has a story and characters but actually has some degree of challenge at points.
Games can be fun while having characters and a story, but without developers realizing it, the concept of fun is withering away. Dying because amidst crews of writers and artists, there’s no one left who really seems to care about gameplay, and care about making something really worthy of the title “video game”. I know there are people who disagree and that’s why I mentioned it was an opinion at the start. If you like these games, good. I’m glad you could find enjoyment in something I couldn’t.
Let’s leave it off with one question though: Do you think people would have complained as much about Mass Effect 3 if it ended with a boss fight with the Elusive Man or Harbinger, or hell, anything, instead of one-shotting Maurader Shields and being done with it?