E3 2016 Gave New Life to Three of Gaming’s Biggest Franchises
Popular gaming series, much like boxers, typically have the bad habit of sticking around too long after their primes. After all, once a publisher has had a taste of success with a series, how can you throw that all away? That’s why we see many series get run into the ground by yearly iterations, and a failure to innovate. That reasoning was why I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the prospect of another sequel-heavy E3, and while E3 2016 was certainly filled with new entries in beloved franchises, I actually came away excited.
In fact, three of my favorite games from the entire show ended up being sequels that are taking their respective series into brand new directions. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, and it’s great to see publishers letting developers radically change iconic series so they can grow instead of becoming increasingly stale. Let me break down why I’m so excited about the future:
Teach an Old Kratos New Tricks
God of War games have always been a lot of fun, but they really haven’t evolved any since God of War 2 on PlayStation 2. Each entry was more of the same formula: Kratos was mad for some reason, he’d end up taking his anger out on everyone around him, would eventually have a rendezvous with women, and kill some Gods. After more than six entries, I wasn’t looking forward to playing what was certainly going to be just a different spin on what I’ve already experienced.
I’ve never been happier to have been wrong. When Sony opened up their press conference with a gameplay demo of the new God of War, I immediately could tell that the game was different from its predecessors. The action now took place over the shoulder, had a focus on more meaningful strikes instead of mashing the square button, and it seemed like Sony Santa Monica was taking a cue from Naughty Dog by including a partner (Kratos’ son) for narrative reasons. Oh, and it clearly takes inspiration from Norse mythology instead of the Greek tales that already carried 6 games.
These are all meaningful changes, and it seems like we’re going to get a totally new type of God of War game. While some gamers will certainly prefer the old gameplay, I’m just glad that the developer is trying something new. It would’ve been so easy to have done a by-the-numbers sequel and have the hook be a new setting, but this is a complete revamp of everything we know the franchise to be. I’m excited to learn more about this new entry, and how Kratos somehow got Hot Ryu’s beard.
“This is Call of Duty?”
One of the most brilliant parts of Sony’s press conference was showing off Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare without introducing it first. This meant that all of the gamers that already have a preconceived hatred for the title would give this unknown title a shot. The trailer started off by showing off some spaceship combat, and the group of friends I was watching the conference with (who are far from fans of the series) were feverishly debating whether or not this was Call of Duty since it looked like so much fun to them. The title screen eventually flashed at the end, and they were all surprised at how now they were suddenly anticipating the series’ yearly release.
It’s only fitting that the next huge evolution for Call of Duty would come from the series’ original developer Infinity Ward. While they had a rare stumble with Call of Duty: Ghosts, they typically put out great shooters, and changed the FPS genre forever with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now they’re trying to do it again with exciting space combat, and I’m hopeful that they’ll pull it off.
I was late to the (disappointing) party with Resident Evil 6, as I only got around to playing it once it was re-released on current systems earlier this year. I absolutely hated the game’s four poorly constructed campaigns, and would’ve told someone to shut up if they said that Resident Evil 7 was going to be one of the most intriguing games at E3 2016. After all, how do you continue such a great series after it’s been humiliated with a mess of a game.
The answer is to change everything, apparently. Resident Evil 7 takes the (main) series into first-person for the first time, and it seems to be going back to its horror roots. While it does scare me that the cheesiness that has always surrounded the series might be gone, I’m still far more interested in checking out this new direction rather than watch Leon get into another conundrum.
While I would be surprised if all three of these games turned out poorly, it’s certainly not out of the question. That is the risk a developer takes when they’re foregoing established mechanics and trying to do something new with a beloved franchise. Whether they end up being successful or not is largely irrelevant, though, as I’m just glad that AAA publishers are showing that they aren’t afraid to take chances. This is what the industry needs, and it’s great to be excited about three series that I was tired of a month ago.
Let me know in the comments how excited you are for God of War, Resident Evil 7, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Are these E3 2016 sequels taking their franchises in the right direction?