Sunday, November 28

2021 has been slow for video games. Will fall fix that? | Games

II’m sure we can all agree that it hasn’t been a remarkable year for video games. While the ongoing pandemic certainly encouraged more people to gamble, especially online, the release schedule has been … spotty. The fact that two standout titles from 2021 so far are sequels to cartoon platforming games from the 2000s, Psychonauts 2 and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, tells us a lot about how weird this year has been. Hitman 3, Resident Evil Village, and It Takes Two were solid (and my editor would tell you that Returnal is a must-see), but the schedule has largely been based on updated edits and remakes – take a bow Super Mario 3D World, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut.

We know why this has happened. Covid increased the level of difficulty of building games to Impossible Mode, with teams working at home, having to download millions of GB of data, deal with remote access to unreliable builds, and hold intricate design meetings on Zoom from the desk. cooking while educating their children at home. . The result has been endless delays, including Horizon Forbidden West, Ghostwire: Tokyo, and Gran Turismo 7 (though the latter isn’t really a shock, to be honest).

West horizon forbidden
West Forbidden Horizon. Photography: Sony

However, with the fall release schedule approaching, surely we’re all saved? Surely the embattled game publishers will bring out the big guns? Well … it’s complicated. Certainly there are some traditional blockbusters on the way. Shooters Far Cry 6 and Battlefield 2042 are imminent, Forza Horizon 5 is the great driving game of the year, and then there’s Metroid Dread, a sci-fi throwback that will delight longtime Nintendo fans. Hopefully Square Enix’s The Guardians of the Galaxy game is at least better than The Avengers. Personally, I can’t wait for the J-horror sequel, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, but I can’t see people queuing on the street at midnight to buy. that the first day.

However, compared to a normal year, this is scarce. In a release period generally dominated by annual sequels, there will be room for newcomers like Deathloop, Arkane’s time-twisting assassin adventure, the Sable rite of passage adventure, the Yakuza spinoff Lost Judgment, and the Cooperative horror shooter Back 4 Blood. On the indie side, we will get the cute feline adventure Mineko’s Night Market and the beautiful cleaning game Unpacking. People who may have never played these games in a busy year may have time to try something unusual in 2021.

Deathloop video games
Deathloop. Photography: Bethesda Softworks

But there remains a sense of anti-climax, symbolized by the ghostly specters that were the digital events of E3 and Gamescom. In their physical formats, both shows are gross, offensively expensive, and horribly crowded, but they also generate excitement, discussion, and, let’s face it, highly entertaining memes of terrible stage performances, Keanu Reeves adoration, and people inexplicably queuing for three hours. to play Call of Duty. Neither E3 nor Gamescom really functioned as online events. It’s hard to get excited about a series of breakthroughs.

Games attracted many of us until 2020. They offered a safe way to socialize and an escape from a novel and terrifying situation. But given how 2021 has gone, with its disappointments and continuous periods of isolation and a constant sense of deadly dread, perhaps video games can never save us this time. The fact is, being in video games isn’t just about playing; it’s about culture. It’s meeting friends at Rezzed or EGX or Insomnia, or dressing up at MCM, or throwing a party at a press conference at E3 and having a drink every time someone on stage says “amazing.” Without these many moments of interpersonal hype, without the global roll of drums of fervent anticipation, perhaps even Half-Life 3 would have had trouble getting people excited this winter.

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