Thursday, June 10, 2021

My Life As A Gamer: Behold, Thy Field Is Barren

That E3 pre-show continues with The Game Awards' live stream. If you want to catch it after the fact, I'll embed the archive, but below are my takes on what was shown.

  • Wonderlands, starring Ashley Burch. HARD PASS.
  • Metal Slug Tactics. Interested.
  • Kojima doing a shitpost tech demo merging Death Stranding and Metal Gear for the PS5 to announce Death Stranding: Director's Cut.
  • Jeff Goldblume introduces Jurassic World: Evolution 2
  • Lost Ark. Pretty. May be vapid. Amazon shills it.
  • Some arty game footage played over some fungible chick that sounds like Elon's girlfriend.
  • COD. Whatever.
  • More Among Us stuff coming.
  • Salt and Sacrifice, de facto sequel to Salt and Sanctuary.
  • Solar Ash. Some parkour adventure game.
  • Chivalry II.
  • Valorant. Meh.
  • Two Point Campus. Meh.
  • Smite does a Stranger Things crossover.
  • New publisher: Prime Matter. Publishing twelve games now, with a 13th soon to follow.
  • The Anacruisis. Left4Dead IN SPACE and Snarky.
  • New World. August launch.
  • Rocket League does Fast & Furious. Meh.
  • New Vampire: The Masquerade game. "Blood Hunt" Looks like PVP-focused.
  • House of Ashes. "Until Dawn" devs doing soldiers in a cursed temple.
  • Tales of Arise new trailer.
  • Escape From Tarkov gets a new map. Whatever.
  • Sky has "Le Petit Prince" coming soon.
  • Planet of Lana, XBox. 2022.
  • Overwatch 2. Do not care.
  • D&D Dark Alliance. Dorito Pope did a stunt game with stunt players.
  • Monster Hunter Stories next month.
  • Weezer did a thing to make DCMA-friendly music. Wave Break featured.
  • Endless Dungeon update and new trailer.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Not feeling it.
  • Far Cry 6 segment. Giancarlo Esposito featured to talk about the villain. Not caring.
  • Fall Guys cosmetics. Whatever.
  • Genshin Impact stuff. Ditto.
  • Back 4 Blood. Or "Left 4 Dead 3, Totes".
  • Tribes of Midgard. Viking-themed Diablo-style RPG w/ multiplayer and base-building.
  • New Evil Dead game footage. Campbell shills it. Totally not Left 4 Dead.
  • Finally, a new Elden Ring trailer to end the show. Totally not Dark Souls 4. January 21st, 2022.

If you want to watch, here you go.

Okay, now to draw some conclusions.

There was a whole lot of nothing on show. A lot of what was announced were teasers or cinematics. A lot of what was more substantial than that was not that substantial; new maps, expansions, DLCs, repeats of previous announcements (e.g. Monster Hunter Stories, previously on a Nintendo Direct). This was a two-hour sizzle reel, and not a good one at that, which made the next point quite clear to observant watchers.

The industry as a whole is creatively bankrupt. Clear game archtype patterns are on display here. We have "Not Left For Dead" titles prominently displayed, the keynote game being a Dark Souls clone, and even indies are not immune--a little game called "Tunic" is a Zelda clone--and it is now clear that the same Elevator Pitch problem the Hellmouth is infamous for has set in with videogames. "It's (X) but with (Y)", where "X" and "Y" are known and successful titles or other known and proven tropes and Elden Ring shows this; "It's Dark Souls, but with Lord of the Rings aesthetics."

This assumes that the "game" is an actual game. Others--that House of Ashes game being typical--are little more than interactive movies, and are sold as such; Far Cry 6's segment being nothing more than a key actor talking about his character and not at all talking about what actually matters--actual gameplay is a red flag for massive suck if not outright poz.

You can reliably tell how pozzed a game is by its aesthetics. This includes its dialogue, with the uglier games being more likely to be pozzed as Death Cult vectors; this is why Wonderlands gets the Hard Pass, as Ashley Burch is a notorious Death Cultist on a mission to shit up gaming good and hard so no one enjoys anything. Similarly, you can reliably tell how slaved to Mammon a game is by the nonsensical crossovers and addons it has, with Rocket League and Smite showing the most blatant examples. Those games will either fall into the suck soon, or have already done so, and should be abandoned as microtransactions creep in and ruin everything by fucking over your ability to play as you like- nothing shows this like gatcha games such as Genshin Impact.

Out of that entire showcase, only Metal Slug Tactics got my interest and even that game looks like it's building on Final Fantasy Tactics as its archetype pattern. More E3 showcases and presentations are soon to follow, but so far this looks really bad--2020 almost killed Hollywood bad--and even Japan is being affected, though not as badly because Nintendo's management isn't stupid unlike MS and Sony, and the PC market looks to be in position to gain accordingly.

You get multiplayer, and you get multiplayer! Damn near every game showed or mentioned has either optional or mandatory multiplayer. Tunic may be an exception; check the demo if you care. Far Cry 6 is, but that was known at its announcement. Everything else? Co-op or forced co-op, and some are PVP-only while others have it as an optional mode. In itself, not a concern; as a wider industry trend, it is because it's showing bean counter inlfuence on design because it's popping up where it shouldn't and it's forcing out game modes and genres that don't do it. "But how will we monetize it after launch?" is increasingly a real question, and shit like this is one common answer. Not good long-term.

Go ahead and suck, industry. I have plenty in the backlog to keep me busy until you either collapse (again) or fix your shit.


  1. I'm OK with Metal Slug Tactics building on the FFT base. Many games have tried to do that over the years, and nobody yet has managed to top FFT in my book. The other Tactics tangents I've seen like Phantom Brave or the shallow but endless parade of Heroes of Might and Magic sorts of games have been interesting but not inspiring. If anything, I wish more games would look to FFT and Tactics Ogre for inspiration instead of managing to make worse games with better graphics.

    ...but yeah, slim pickings in the industry. Really stinks as a game dev, too, since there's nothing really exciting to *work on*, and that's if you can manage to get hired in the first place.

  2. Elden Ring, Metal Slug Tactics, and Final Form were the only things that interested me that were revealed today. I'm not expecting much from the rest of E3, but I'm willing to be surprised. Thanks for covering this.


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