Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Final Fantasy XV. Battlefield 1. Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
These are some of the sequels/reboots/revamps that been released or scheduled to be released in 2016. Uncharted 4 has been a runaway success. The jury is still out on Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. There has been a wild gulf between the reception for Battlefield 1's first trailer (positive) and the one for COD: Infinite Warfare (negative). In 2017 and 2018 we can expect sequels to Mass Effect (Andromeda), God Of War, and Kingdom Hearts (KH3) among others.
Is it too much of the same thing?
Obviously there are business considerations when making games. Sequels and reboots are generally reliable money-makers due to brand familiarity. Many are asked for, and some are not. We often determine the fate of our favorite titles. The upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII was an unlikely consideration for Square Enix. They had released versions of the original game for PC on Steam and Sony’s PlayStation Store. Remaking a game takes a lot of time, money and resources. But fans of the game have been wistful and relentless in wanting FF VII to come back in a remade or remastered format.
Is that a good thing?
It is apparent in the things I like to write about here that nostalgia is integral when it comes to games. A classic game is fixed point in our memory. I remember the first time I finished Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I recall the challenges from one game to the next. The relief and accomplishment I felt when completing these games was like hitting a home run or scoring a goal. The nostalgia is thick when I think about those moments. In recent years I remember the hours I spent experiencing games like Dragon Age: Origins, the Mass Effect trilogy, The Walking Dead / 400 Days or The Last Of Us. Games become intertwined in the fabric of who we are. We think about these games. We bond over these games. Complete strangers can commiserate over 30 year-old games for hours or jump into a multi-player game and experience them together. Digital creations that can feel so real. I understand it so much.
But when should we let things be? Should we move on from our favorites and let them settle comfortably in our memories? Or should we embrace our love of franchises and let them go on as long as possible? The desire for further tales from a series’ universe is the the lair that sequels, prequels and spin-offs are spawned from, for better or for worse.
Mass Effect is one of my favorite series of all time. Disagreements about the ending aside, I was grateful for the ride. Multiple playthroughs and hundreds of hours were spent with my Normandy’s crew going on grand adventures. The characters rich and the story was compelling. I am cautiously optimistic for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Bioware has given themselves a high bar to reach, let alone clear. If they misfire, the disappointment will be massive.
The God Of War franchise has been on the sequel/prequel rollercoaster for years before stalling out with GOW:Ascension and the GOW:III PS4 remaster. The upcoming sequel (date unannounced) shows some intial promise. Many gamers felt that GOW:III should have been the of the saga, at least as far as Kratos is concerned. I have played every major entry in the series, yet I am unsure of how I feel about what lies ahead. Sony Santa Monica (along with Ready at Dawn and others) is well-versed in bringing us lavish GOW spectacle, but they’re going to have to bring something refreshing to the table or the Kratos fatigue will have completely set in.
Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997 for the original PlayStation system. The remake has not received a confirmed release date but could be as far out as 2018. While gamers new to the series might fall in love with this new version, it is those who experienced the original that are clamoring to feel what the did when they pressed ‘start’ nearly 20 years ago. That said, what will a remake bring? Will a new shiny coat of paint generate the same excitement and awe as the original’s polygonal characters and hand painted backgrounds once did? Will the game’s drama and heartache be as visceral when you already know what is coming? Should the 1997 version have been enough for Final Fantasy fans? Is it that the mixed feelings about the Lighting series brewed up such a longing for past excellence that it was inevitable for fans to want to be back in Cloud’s shoes, even with the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV waiting in the wings?
We know that as gamers we can be protective of our favorite titles and the cherish the role they have played in our lives. We don’t want our classics to be dismissed or possibly be ruined by a prequel/sequel. We want our experiences to remain pure and we are leery of a new generation’s take on what we love. In the case of Mass Effect, I fear that Andromeda will have me thinking about the past more than I will of the future, but the allure of more Mass Effect is going to be too much to resist.
In regards to our beloved games, those memories cannot be taken away from us. Nowadays it is much easier to pick up our classics via Steam or GOG and others and step into the Wayback Machine. This is part of what makes gaming beautiful. Some of us like to look forward to what a chapter of a series will bring. We can feel giddy when an old favorite is dusted off for the new age. If you cringe at the possibility that a new game might tarnish a series’ legacy, however, you can always choose not to play it and stick with the originals. I would understand that completely.
What are your thoughts?