The Future of Gaming: Big Gaming Producers vs Small.

So here it is, a piece I have spent a few days deliberating on, on the future  of gaming, which, like the movie industry has taken to great heights over the last few years with previous game releases and releases to come.

Mass Effect Series.

Bioware and Electronic Arts

There can be no doubt that there have been some awesome games that have been released within the last decade; Mass Effect being one of them, having been released in 2007 by Canadian company, Bioware. I remember as if it were yesterday being totally immersed in the gameplay; the storyline, the characters, the in-game  mechanics – it would help me escape this world and send my imagination soaring to other planets, space exploration (which has interested me since childhood), other dimensions, other universes and systems, as well as other alien lives that we may at least inhabit this universe with, not to mention beyond this very system in this galaxy. Then came its sequel released in 2010 – again capturing my imagination forcing me to not want to put the controller of my PS3 down or switch my console off. I would happily be able to play until the early hours of a morning and totally forget what time it was – this was of course enhanced by a great soundtrack and music score. The graphics were vastly improved, as was the voice acting, though there was nothing much wrong with the first one – in fact, for a first release the gameplay and graphics for the first Mass Effect were not bad at all, considering the time. I could not honestly get enough of the Mass Effect games, that is the first two at least. And then came the third instalment of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3. An excellently made game and it had the making of a fantastic ending to the trilogy; however, it was very much a different ending to what fans had hoped for. Not only was it confusing but it very much showed that Bioware rushed the ending and did not listen to their fans or investors. I, for one was thoroughly disappointed with the ending, that is myself and the professional gaming community and other people who poured hundreds of £, $,€ and the most valuable of all, time into the trilogy, I have seen other write ups such as Mass Effect 3’s Ending Disrespects Its Most Invested Players. Indeed, it was a horrible ending and despite the fact that Bioware later released a DLC to counter the ending the damage was already done. Long lasting damage. Gamers do not want to spend £45.00 odd on a game that is going to be terrible. However, it was visually a stunning game, it opened beautifully and followed on from how the second instalment ended, probably doing better than a lot of film trilogies – the voice acting was the best its ever been, the graphics pushed the boundaries of the previous two instalments and it had the makings of a great game. Bioware to even settle their disgruntled fans even released other free DLC’s to try and avert their fan base’ attention from the damage they had done with the ending but it was too late and the DLC’s were boring and not substantial, although in one DLC entitled Citadel which was set on the in game space station already called the Citadel,  it had some highly amusing but cheesy instances but, again, like the ending of the game held no substance and the ending sucked. A huge disappointment for myself and other hardcore Mass Effect fans.

Then came Andromeda released in March of this year, a sketchy one and very all over the place as far as reviews go. Some people say not to base the game on the first trilogy or you will be disappointed, other people sing its praises, other people hate it – me, well…I am a bit disappointed, although I did persuade myself before its release to not expect it to be anything like the first two Mass Effect’s as it is even set in a different galaxy (Andromeda galaxy) and yes, it is nothing like the first two. It is a let down on animations, acting, characters. The first one was by far better in design than this. Although, yet again it has a fantastic score but the voice acting is terrible and the game itself is pretty mundane and repetitive. It is a difficult game to NOT want to put down and even harder to pick up. I recall with ME1 & ME2 feeling a genuine excitement and at the end of playing it every time I wanted to come back and maybe try other strategies with an already infinitely powerful protagonist due to powers that you can give to your male or female Shepherd (the main protagonist for anyone who has never played Mass Effect). In ME2 when Shepherd got to meet up with Joker (the pilot) and the Normandy SR – 2 I remember being so excited my chest was beating and it felt like adrenalin was taking over, of course helped along by the incredibly powerful space music. In Andromeda I felt nothing, there was no excitement or will to want to play the game, I even re-started the game to see if it changed. But sadly I am just one of thousands of let down fans that have been scarred not only by the terrible ME3 ending and useless DLC’s but also with the fact that no care or emotion seems to have been put into the creation but sadly the big game companies are seeming to only focus on profit margins now rather than the happiness of their fan base.

Fallout 4

Bethesda

Released in 2015 and is the fifth instalment by Bethesda I have never really been a fan of the Fallout series but as I believe in community and I like the idea of “starting over” as well as the idea of survival and rebuilding I decided to give this a try, well…all I can say is that I wish I didn’t. Again, this game had so much potential. It started very well and with a great backstory to the main protagonist, the voice acting was great and it has a scary beginning, one you can actually imagine happening, especially if North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump decide to play Nuke tennis. This game was over in a flash and a blur and for a role playing game did not have much substance to it and although you could have much fun establishing outposts, rebuilding/building settlements and helping settlers and helping society there was not much else to it. Again, it turned out very mundane and repetitive and elements in the game that could have been used to enhance and prolong the main storyline were not used and it would seem, again…another big gaming production company rushed it (despite the number of years they had to work on the game) without realising that the resources within the game could actually be USED to enhance the main storyline giving the player more time to enjoy themselves rather than hurry through the main mission. As a first comer to the Fallout series surely Bethesda would want to do anything to enhance enjoyability, not only for new comers but for their already existing community? Sadly I doubt anyone from Bethesda will see this blog but if they were to miraculously challenge me on this I will gladly show them where they have gone wrong in the main story. Again, has this damaged their credibility with their fan base? A good friend of mine is a die hard fan of Fallout, as he also WAS of Mass Effect and as he was incredibly let down on Mass Effect 3, damaging Bioware’s credibility for him, the same is with Bethesda and Fallout 4. And again, Bethesda decided to release DLC’s for the game which held no substance and were a waste of money and time. I, in fact downloaded one DLC on my PS4 only to find that there was already an infinitely better MOD which is when you begin to note that there is a problem, when there are MODS that are actually better than some of the original in-game content that should have been there in the first place.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ubisoft

Well, who isn’t a sucker for anything Tom Clancy? Those who like Special Forces Operations or tactical shooters or a good military thriller, anyway. With this being the tenth instalment of the Ghost Recon franchise this had to be good and to be fair, who the heck doesn’t want to bring down the  drug cartels? Those that are that way inclined anyway. As this is a tactical shooter with strategy and the first instalment that is open-world I had to get my hands on it and so for my thirty-eighth Birthday this is what I asked for from my best mate and his brother. In this game you can play it as you want. You can target whatever sector you want, smuggling, influence, or security and work that way. If it was me who was in charge of such an important task I would target smuggling and influence first and so, when I received this game and started it thats what I did, I went straight for the jugular by targeting smuggling, then I went for influence and then I brought down security, spending hours of my life (to be fair to Ubisoft, my choice, they didn’t hold me at gunpoint telling me to play but it was a great game, to a point) bringing down the cartel in Bolivia assassinating those who needed to be assassinated and arresting those who needed to be arrested, it was one of the first games of late that has managed to completely grab my attention, not only because of the story but it is a part of military life that interests me. Elite, covert special forces is a huge interest of mine, even though in Ghost Recon the units are fictional but believable. And anyway, I put hours and hours into this game only to get to the end. Without spoiling it for others as it is such a new game I will not be digressing so as to not spoil it but I was sorely disappointed – yes, it is a game and yes, we do need to sometimes keep reality a big part of our lives and if we were to have access to such information we would probably find that these kind of things happen more than we could even care to imagine. However, this is the point of a game, to escape reality. Those who have played the game and have got to the end will know what I mean. However, it was all-in-all a great game, the ending just…sucks.

And now to the smaller game companies

Witcher 3

CD Projekt Red

Well now, to one of my favourite games of all time with the third instalment of this magnificent creation. I have not played the first two but this game is fantastic, so well made with a great story, great characters, great graphics, great gameplay, a great soundtrack with everything you would want from a great piece of entertainment; romance, sex, action, comedy, drama, intrigue, sadness & sorrow. This game blew me away and being a writer myself will say it was fantastically written and I just cannot get enough of it. One of the great things CD Project Red have done with this is they have nailed questing perfectly and what’s great with the way they have done it is that you could be in the middle of the main story but the land is so perfectly laid out that it will make you take your horse off the beaten track and wander off and stumble upon a side quest which may affect the outcome of your games main quest. CD Projekt Red focused on what needs to be focused on and that is their fans, they released free DLC’s initially for their players which made an already long game even longer and the great thing is it didn’t make you bored, it made you to want to keep going. The scary thing is though is the choices you can make throughout the game are very human choices, you can play and make the decision you would make in a real situation (though the world is very fantasy but with a medieval feel) or you could decide you want a complete escape from reality and play a game with the view that it is just a game. In a lot of aspects the game will teach you a lot about yourself. CD Projekt Red surely won on that one. And has shown Bethesda up when it comes to questing.

Now to my final game which has not yet been released, but this is a time which interests me in history…

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Warhorse & Deep Silver

…………………………….I AM HYPED……………………………

As this is in its final days of development in Prague in the Czech Republic and the release date still yet to be released it is looking like it will be an end of the year release of which normally would be a bit of a let down, until I read on their forums a few days ago where they stated they want to delay the release date because they want to give their fans the best possible playing experience ever. The other great thing about this game is the story really happened and the characters really existed – adds a little more spice to the game, no?

The game is set in the Kingdom of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in 1403 as this is an era that interests me I am excited and have been watching some releases on YouTube. It has some fantastic voiceovers by British actors, including the legendary Brian Blessed who plays the voice of Lord Konrad Kyeser. Some of you will remember him from the beginning of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, as well as several other movies from the past, including Flash Gordon. A legendary, eccentric man that makes him so likeable with his voice of thunder.

And so, what gives with the gaming industry?

Every good thing in this life must end and so it is my belief that Bioware and Bethesda are on their way out, it is life’s way of making space for the smaller producers, such as Warhorse and CD Projekt Red, through my careful research and analysis Warhorse, like CD Projekt Red are focused on their fan base and what that base want as they are clearly companies that listen and so over the next few years I believe we will see a big change from the smaller companies over taking Ubisoft, Bethesda and Bioware. This is what profit has done with the bigger companies, they thought they knew what their base wants and when their base said what they want they did not listen.

Watch Warhorse and CD Projekt Red in the coming years, they are destined to do great things.