Hate Box: Why The Hype Train Needs To Crash

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This weekend saw E3 2015 come to a close – another year of shameless willy-waving, showboating, empty promises and of course, a seemingly never ending golden piss stream of CGI trailers and hollow vertical slices of gameplay we’ll never experience. There was great stuff too of course, but that’s been covered at length in many outlets elsewhere. What I want to talk to you about is bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit.

E3 is a time for the biggest games publishers and platform holders in the world to come together and lay out their battle plans for the coming year and beyond. Shots are fired, surprises come thick and fast (when they’re not being leaked like an embarrassing wet patch on the corporate Y fronts first) and most importantly many new games are announced. The problem is; a lot of what you’re being sold is a big fat lie.

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Remember Watch Dogs from last year? No? Anyone? Well let me remind you – the game was first announced at E3 2012, three years ago this week. In a ten minute, carefully constructed gameplay demo Ubisoft lit the gaming world on fire with a stunning looking open world game in which you could hack into anyone and anything and control an entire city. The graphics were stunning and the possibilities seemed endless. Although the PS4 and Xbox One hadn’t been announced yet, the feeling that a new generation of gaming was on the horizon felt tangible at long last.

Fast forward three years and the game finally released after an initial six month delay. The internet once again exploded, but this time due to the dawning realisation that the stunning visuals of 2012 had been significantly reined in, replaced by a duller, flatter, muddier looking game. The internet was not happy. Further compounding the issue was the fact that the three-years-in-the-waiting game changer was a 7/10 game – not shit but not particularly memorable either. Hell, I played through the game twice (on PS4 then XB1 to compare) and I struggle to remember a thing about it one year on.

bioshock infiniteThis is not an isolated incident – Bioshock Infinite had an entire gameplay sequence shown that didn’t make it into the final game and Metal Gear Rising ended up a very different game from the one initially revealed. These are just two examples. Don’t even get me started on Duke Nukem Forever, Colonial Marines or Final Fantasy 15.

This year, we got some more incredible announcements and fantastic footage of games in the pipeline. The problem is, we’re still being lied to. Of all the big conference holders, Sony and Ubisoft are the most at fault here. I don’t want to get too bogged down here about who ‘won’ E3 this year (Bethesda followed by Sony for me). This is a rant about who the biggest bullshit merchants are.

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Sony had a blinder of a show featuring pure fan service for a generation of gamers, people like me of a certain age who grew up playing Final Fantasy 7 and Shenmue. It was pure nostalgia and pretty damn exciting. The problem is, the aforementioned games are years from release. Am I excited about the FF7 remake? Fuck yes I am, it was my best moment of E3 2015. But all we know is that its coming. A short CGI trailer was perfect fanboy bait, but this game will not be out by next E3. Shenmue 3 was even worse – a Kickstarter campaign announcement has no place during an E3 keynote. This game, while long awaited, isn’t even in DEVELOPMENT yet. Instead we got a begging letter for our money. We also have The Last Guardian, a long-running industry joke 9 years in the making and counting. Opening the show with some new footage and a vague 2016 release window was a smart move from Sony, but we basically know no more about this game than we did when it was first announced. Its ridiculous.

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Over to Ubisoft, and Tom Clancy’s The Division in its THIRD year at E3. Another hugely promising title when first revealed; the game has clearly received the dreaded graphics downgrade. It has also had features removed, such as the drone controlled by someone playing on a tablet device. The footage showed the same old stuff we’ve seen for the last two years except worse.

This is a real problem and one that needs to be addressed. We are being sold hype and false promises, and fatigue is setting in long before a game is even out. Another very important thing that no one ever remembers about E3 is that a lot of these mega exciting games will turn out to be mediocre in reality. While it may be unfair to do so; this year my money is on Horizon: Zero Dawn being the new Watch Dogs – it looks beautiful, original and exciting, but it is being developed by the kings of the 6/10 genero-game Guerilla.

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Childbirth is a well-documented agonising experience for women – the worst pain imaginable. And yet a woman who has one child will happily have another – the pain a faded memory that can’t quite be recalled. And so with the video game hype train, an experience we all willingly participate in year after year with glee, despite the unpleasantness of the moment when our dreams are dashed. Its time for a change.

The reason I feel Bethesda won E3 is because they got it RIGHT – they announced Fallout 4; showed us a significant chunk of the game and revealed its out in SIX MONTHS’ TIME.

More of this please. Less bullshit.

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