Review Predictions for Fall/Holiday 2017: Part 1

Now’s as good of a time as any to discuss, if only briefly, whether or not some upcoming titles look better than others and why that’s the case. I’ve found that my guesses are rarely wrong on whether or not a game will be any good, so let’s dive right into the last of this year’s upcoming releases:

Agents of Mayhem: 

Volition is a studio that always seems to nail the tone and absurdity of its projects, but continues to rely too much on humor as the strongest selling point of their titles. In Saints Row 3 there was a perfect marriage between comedy and gameplay, but Saints Row 4, while a fun game in its own right, put less focus on developing fun content and spent more time trying to be as absurd as possible. Agents of Mayhem seems to pick up right where SR4 left off in terms of tone, which isn’t an exciting prospect when you consider that the normally over-the-top jokes seem about as bland and uninspiring as the actual combat. Take the clip above for instance; circa 2010 it would have been a great idea to poke fun at male popstars with over-inflated egos, but the jokes about their cologne or obsession with materialism seem beyond stale. I understand that any AAA title is an arduous process that takes years to develop, and that some systems or jokes may not age as well, but Agents of Mayhem refuses to bring anything note-eworthy to the table. Why go through the trouble of creating so many different classes to play as when there’s no co-op? Wouldn’t a skill tree accomplish the same concept and eliminate the need to constantly switch classes? Outside of a unique setting I’m finding it hard to see anything about this game that strikes me as innovative. Unfortunately all I see instead is a canvas of bland ideas that can only guarantee a bland reception.

Sonic Mania 

While this isn’t the first time the Sonic franchise has tried to reboot itself, this does look like the most promising way to rekindle the troubled series. Hiring fans of Sonic to work on designing and/or re-imagining Sonic levels that harken back to the very first days of the blue blur is at once both a smart marketing move and a genius decision from a development perspective that will draw in a divided fanbase. I can see very positive reviews for this, but more importantly I can see a good Sonic game, which after six years feels more than welcome.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy 

Despite the fact that we’ve seen very little of the game, what’s been shown looks nothing short of  incredible in true Naughty Dog fashion. Trying to excuse my own bias is difficult considering Uncharted 4 is easily one of my favorite games of all time. ND has never let players down when it comes to polish or depth, and if they really have created the largest area in an Uncharted game for one level, I’m eager to see how many cool moments are tucked away in the game’s world. Since it was originally designed to be a single player expansion for Uncharted 4 that’s now expanded into a full game, expect an excellent narrative that (at least for now) ends the franchise on a high note.

Absolver 

Man, I want to say how excited I am for this but…I don’t know. There’s an intriguing combat system at play here, but For Honor was a good reminder that A) Online multiplayer melee combat is no easy feat and B) It’s a risky idea to structure an entire game around combat. Devolver clearly sees potential in the game, and from a presentation perspective alone its easy to see why, but the game continues to market its combat system and nothing else. I want the game to be great, but I can see this falling into that same trap For Honor did, where the main attraction is fun for awhile, but that fun isn’t meant to last long term. It won’t be a bad game, but its likely to stay in the alright to good sphere of fighting games. Here’s hoping though.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm 

Gaming, like any other branch of the entertainment industry, seems intent on giving us too much of a good thing. I’ll even go out of my way to avoid the easy complaint that there’s going to be different voice actors, and just start by asking why we’re getting yet another needless prequel. I get that they’re just easy to write, but Life is Strange gave all the backstory we needed for any of these characters over the course of its five episodes. I enjoyed the game’s story and the way it handled a lot of difficult choices, but seeing as this is a prequel, what significant choices could you make as a player if no matter what, the beginning of Life is Strange will always stay the same? I’m expecting mediocre to negative reviews for this and would be pretty surprised to see something this pointless get glowing reviews.

Destiny 2 

The first Destiny has to be one of the biggest disappointments in gaming history. When addressing player complaints about improving the story (seeing as there was almost none of it in the first game), cinematic lead Matthew Ward stated, “I hope people complain about how much story we have…” 

 

I’m going to let that profoundly stupid statement sink in and give you an idea of my expectations for this game.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider 

Credit where its due to Arkane, because they could have easily tried to make a full game out of this and instead chose to take the same route as Naughty Dog and treat this as an extension to Dishonored 2. Ergo, a lot of my predictions about the Lost Legacy run parallel to this title as well, with the exception of gameplay. A new Dishonored protagonist means some new sadistic powers to create a macabre masterpiece with and it’ll be a treat to see how Arkane juggles new settings and powers with a narrative that, if it follows through with its promise on letting the player kill The Outsider, is going to shake up future titles considerably.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War 

Never have I been so excited for a game only to have all that excitement slowly dismantled over a matter of weeks. While at first the idea of building an army around the groundbreaking Nemesis system sounds incredible, it doesn’t take long to realize that there’s not much else to keep me excited. There’s a couple gameplay improvements, but a lot of the forts I’ve seen in gameplay don’t look well designed at all, the RPG elements feel needless, there doesn’t seem to be any interesting story missions, and of course the crown jewel of them all, the game will have microtransactions, the kind of thing that only belongs in a mobile game. It could turn out pretty good, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the game will nudge you to spend more real life money on it than you already have if you don’t want to spend hours doing the same activities over and over again. Its not a game I have high hopes for, which is sad considering Shadow of Mordor showed a lot of promise.

 

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