I remember watching E3 last month. Such an amazing time of the year for gamers. Games are unveiled, trailers are shown, and a multitude of people gather together to see a spectacle on stage.
Back in the day, games used to be about gameplay. It was exciting. What is this game doing different from the rest? What is the new mechanic or concept that will set this game apart from the rest?
Back to E3, the stage goes dark, and the atmosphere sets in. The Order 1886 is getting a ‘gameplay’ trailer, the main character is walking through a hallway which then leads to a cutscene. A monster soon pops out, our hero is randomly shooting, a quick time event happens and the player has to press triangle. Followed by more cut scenes and the demo ends.
Another dark and gritty shooter? Check
Forced walking? Check
Random quick time event? Check
95% cut scene 5% gameplay? Check.
And the crowd cheers in excitement and the people on youtube videos claim this is one game to be on the lookout for.
Another example, Uncharted 4 only got a couple of seconds of Nathan Drake waking up, standing, and walking away. Yet cheers and applause were everywhere. I have no doubt it will most likely be a good game, but even then, is that all it takes for us as gamers to be excited? Next, Rainbow Six. While it was playing, everyone was completely silent until the end. No cheering, applause or awe, but then something magical happens, the Rainbow Six logo splatters on the screen at the very end and the crowd goes wild - getting excited over a brand and not the game itself
What is wrong with this picture? How do people get excited over stuff like this? Why are gamers so eager to see a ‘cool’ cinematic moment? We expect it, but worse than that, we want it. We want to see that CGI Assassin’s Creed trailer to ‘wow’ us even when we are aware that it has nothing to do with actual gameplay.
Our brains are hardwired this way. We need to disconnect and get wired again.
Nintendo won E3 2014 for me not just because of the great amount of content, quality of games, and the way they delivered the message. But mostly because we got to see games, some real gameplay, as they are meant to be seen.
What a concept.
Gameplay is by far one of the most important things, if not the most important thing about a game. This used to be the general consensus but that has recently changed with time. Games could at times not be so visually impressive but have amazing gameplay and be a must have, now it seems a game must be visually striking first to decide whether it is good or not and then gameplay comes second. However, sometimes these concept of ‘visually impressive’ usually comes first in a trailer, or teaser that has nothing to do with the how good looking a game really is, since many times we are first introduced with CGI spectacles that do not communicate what a game really is like. The idea is to give the player a good first impression of the game, but how can we get impressed when we have not been shown the actual package; its like wrapping a gift with the most luxurious and beautiful wrapping paper but never see what is actually inside. Regardless, this is usually all it takes for modern gamers to be blown away.
I saw the first ever Monolith Soft X trailer (now called Xenoblade Chronicles X) back then in January of 2013. Even though this game was probably in its earlier stages, more so than now obviously, we got to see the game with a view of what seemed to be the main character and the massive and beautiful world around him. Exciting stuff, we were shown a live world and we saw right in front of our eyes what it REALLY looks like. This is an actual taste of what it is to come, an actual introduction to the game, not some CGI battle of mechs and mosters fighting in dubstep. The best part is, that this type of stuff is what is really exciting about a game. Seeing a game in all its glory and what it is trying to achieve. Being excited for a game because of its premise in the gameplay department, not in the spectacle department.
Every Nintendo game at this year’s E3 followed on this formula of gameplay > everything. From games we knew about like Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2, to new IPs like Splatoon and S.T.E.A.M., even Miyamoto’s 2 quirky concepts Project Giant Robot and Project Guard. We got a look to game after game with gameplay in mind, during their Digital Event and even after with their Treehouse Event, something very refreshing to see after a giant dose of explosions, music, and cinematic moments from the previous day.
I don’t know about you but a giant dose of gameplay is what really excites me about a game.
And so, I am pro gameplay. Let me see what a game really is like and don’t try to fool me with vague promises and outlandish trailers that does not represent the final product. Let’s get excited over what really sets a game apart.
Good old gameplay.