Leaving the various controversies to one side for the moment, 2015 had some fairly good moments in terms of game releases, such as Rocket League, Mad Max (but not if you read Polygon's review) and Splatoon, but it certainly had some disappointing ones too. Games such as Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5 and Evolve came out and certainly left a bad taste in my mouth, especially Evolve, as not only did it rely on post release DLC, a season pass and an extra monster available on its own, but a second season pass was released to try and keep the dwindling player-base interested. I am currently trying to clear space off of my Xbox One hard drive before I buy any new games, but then it occurred to me... what is coming out that is actually worth buying?
The first game I was intent on buying was Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, but I was put off by the commotion caused by its Kickstarter style pre-order system. Then when it was cancelled because of that commotion, I found myself interested again. However the game's release was pushed back to August for "post production improvements" and whilst I did not pick up on much in the way of disappointment from gamers, I couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't a small amount of spite involved with the delay. I'm probably wrong and I'm most likely reading too much into it, but with the way some game companies operate these days, it wouldn't surprise me.
For those of us that own Xbox Ones and have been waiting for the arrival of Rocket League on our platform, the wait is almost over and we will have it in February along with two exclusive cars. Rocket League has been a hit on both the PC and the PS4. There are plenty of archived streams on YouTube and there is usually someone playing it on Twitch. It just goes to show that a simple concept is used in such a brilliant way. It really is worth a gamer's time more than a full priced AAA release of the same old same old. I currently have a rule in place: not to pre-order anything. Rocket League would make me think of breaking that rule.
When I first saw gameplay footage of Tom Clancy's The Division, I was taken in by its concept; society falling on its ass after a virus outbreak and players taking on the role of those tasked with prevent society falling sounded great. Gameplay looks just as good. Its price, I still have yet to make my mind up on, but it is down to two certain factors that have given me reason to pause. First off, Ubisoft allegedly has used professionally recorded player dialogue in its trailers for the gameplay footage (as well as those of Rainbow Six Siege) to help sell the game. That throws me a little as it helps to give the game a false atmosphere. I rarely play with anyone other than friends because having random players join my game usually isn't fun. They tend to be mouthy little children full of insults about my mother and don't take the game seriously and that really ruins it. So Ubisoft using actors for this faked game chatter feels like they are showing the best possible scenario in order to sell the game and ignoring the harsh reality that there is usually a line of idiots ready to join in and spoil it. One of the main complaints I have come across regarding Rainbow Six Siege is the constant team killing, and that is just so disappointing. The second gripe I have with this game came from reading what it had to offer as according to the Xbox Marketplace, something that made me sigh when I read it:
"Pre-order Tom Clancy's The Division Gold Edition now to get a guaranteed beta access and a unique additional gear set at a lower price."
I hate the idea of having to put money down on the table to gain access to a beta. The best way for anyone to know if they are going to like a game is FREE ACCESS to a beta or maybe even a DEMO. Remember those things? Demos? They used to be frequent back in the day, but when games started to get more expensive and pre-orders started to become the norm, they suddenly started to fade out. I wonder why. I am thankful for the betas and alphas that I took part in last year as I managed to steer clear of games such as Evolve and Star Wars Battlefront because of them. I even tried the Doom 4 alpha and that has made me pause for thought on the whole thing.
Then I read the part about "gear set at a lower price" and think... "What gear exactly?" Ubisoft have already put micro transactions in Rainbow Six Siege. They are, quite frankly, unwelcome in any game that are full priced titles and sadly look like they are here to stay, and I find that a shame. I pride myself in the fact that I have so far avoided them in the games I have bought that contain them -- aside from the past experiences of Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space 3 and those two were literally to see what I got from them. Mass Effect 3's results were somewhat mixed and those from Dead Space 3 still make me think to this day that the game was ruined for me somewhat.
I approach 2016's releases cautiously and it's a stance I can see myself staying in with games until I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil. A stance experience has taught me well but the younger generation who do not know any better either have a lot to learn or will just accept it. When the YouTube game critic Angry Joe was reviewing Halo 5, he quite rightly attacked the game for its use of the Requisition System (micro transactions for gear in multiplayer) and how he was confused by the Halo fans defending it and attacking him over it. Even 343 Industries themselves were mocking people who dared to question it with an animated video they put out on the topic.
In a later video he discussed the response his review got from the community and in particular what he had said about the Requisition System. He said that in the first week it was announced the game made $500,000 in micro transactions, something that made me feel a little chill when he said it. He again stated his confusion as to why players were still defending it and felt it was the end of gaming as he knew it. I sadly agreed with him to some extent but as long as there are members of the old guard out there, like me, who will not go anywhere near that sort of thing, they haven't won yet.
Come on 2016, please don't disappoint me. Please?