Dim Horizons or Bright Futures: Upcoming Releases That Have Me Concerned

With what’s been announced and slated for release later this year and into the next, it’s more than enough reason to get excited for the future of gaming. However, history does tend to repeat itself, and the old and worn tale of being let down by massive AAA releases after months, even years of hype, still persists to this day. Sure, many of the games featured in this list may turn out to be masterpieces and future classics that not only live up to expectations, but revitalize aspects of the gaming market, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have trepidations for what they might ultimately become the dreaded day of release…

Death Stranding

This entry might be a bit controversial, as I have yet to really see anyone cast doubt on Kojima’s effort to create a game that we all hope is as impressive as it is mind bending. But the Kojima of late, mainly after his work on Metal Gear Solid 3, hasn’t lived up to the standards that the original 3 Metal Gear Solid games set. MGS3 was a true masterpiece and the absolute pinnace of the series, however, MGS4 and MGS5, in my opinion, were woefully underwhelming—One essentially an overlong cutscene, with small spurts of gameplay every now and then and the other a disjointed experience that grew repetitive after sneaking around only a few of its same-y looking desert environments.

I’m not saying that Kojima isn’t a talented developer, he has more than proved himself with the early MGS games and even the frightening P.T., but his games tend to get lost in his complex, and arguably convoluted storylines. And it looks as if Death Stranding has the potential to fall victim to the same type of headache inducing plots that Kojima is known for—which is fine on its own, but not if it’s at the cost of the gameplay.

Up until now, all we have seen for Death Stranding are some admittedly impressive trailers, and only a brief look at actual gameplay, and what we saw didn’t tell us much about what we can expect the final product to be. That said, my hopes for Death Stranding still outweigh my doubts, but I need to get my worries about this title off my chest, because I can’t help but feel what we will end up getting won’t live up to Kojima’s insurmountable reputation.

Halo Infinite

Halo stands as one of my all-time favorite video game franchises and I want nothing more than to believe that the recently announced Halo Infinite will make up for the shortcomings of Halo 5: Guardians. However, in today’s world filled with micro transactions and AAA titles like Destiny and Anthem being designed as games as services, I can’t help but dread a future where Halo follows in these footsteps, being bastardized into just another loot grind.

With its initial reveal, everything looked amazing for Halo Infinite. The return to the Halo Ring, Master Chief seemingly the main character once more, the classic Mjolnir armor from Halo 2 and 3, but upon further reflection things started to get worrisome. The trailer did give off an open world vibe, which is fine, but open world in today’s video game climate tends to translate into micro transactions and always online. That’s not what Halo is about. If Halo is to truly revitalize itself, it needs to go back to basics and take inspiration from the likes of the original trilogy and even Halo 4. Those games had focused single player campaigns with the addition of stellar multiplayer features as separate modes.

I really hope Halo Infinite truly is a return to form and not just another company’s attempt to milk its player base for everything they have through loot and god knows what else.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Out of my most anticipated games, Final Fantasy VII Remake is near the top of the list. Like so many others, the moment that the seemingly impossible happened and the announcement trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake dropped, I was in awe, ecstatic, in disbelief, excited beyond words. I hadn’t been this giddy over a game’s announcement trailer since Halo 3… and well, Halo 4. No more were we to just settle with a remade cutscene that existed for no other reason than to show off the Playstation 3’s potential, but we were finally being given what Final Fantasy fans had been asking for for years—Then, after a few months of promising news and a gameplay trailer, all of the work that had apparently been put into the game was suddenly scrapped and sent back to square one—then nothing. Just radio silence.

It’s been a few years now since the initial reveal, and we don’t know much more about the game than we did back in 2015. It’s not that I think Final Fantasy VII Remake is going to be canceled, I do believe it will be released within the next year or so, however, I’m worried the game might be rushed. Now with Kingdom Hearts 3 out of the way, Final Fantasy VII can take Square-Enix’s priority. But with bumps in the road, such as having to rebuild the game from scratch with an entirely new development team may force Square-Enix’s hand to rush Final Fantasy VII Remake—at least part 1—out the door in the absence of any other high-profile titles in the coming months from the publisher. They’re going to want to get their audience excited for an upcoming release, and Final Fantasy VII Remake is just the game to do that, however, I hope that’s not at the cost of a polished final product.

Also, the idea that Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released in three parts has me conflicted. For one, the concept does give each part of the game’s massive storyline room to breathe, but this could also be a ploy to get something thrown out into the market quickly, so they can keep fans busy while a greater effort is put into part 2. I don’t want part 1 to suffer due to time constraints because a first impression can make all the difference—and let’s face it, Square-Enix is no longer immune to producing terrible games. I’m looking at you Quiet Man and Left Alive.

Again, like all of the games on this list, but maybe more so for Final Fantasy VII Remake, I want nothing more than for Square-Enix to put my fears at rest and follow in the footsteps of Capcom’s stellar Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Gears 5

The first 2 Gears of War titles are a couple of my favorite action/shooter games. The 3rd one I think is fine, Judgment was okay, and Gears of War 4 wasn’t exactly the exciting return to a franchise that had been dormant after the last main entry in the series. Sure, Gears of War 4 is a solid entry in the Gears canon, but it didn’t blow me away. It was the textbook definition of more of the same and didn’t really do much to add to the overall franchise. I’m not saying that an entry in a franchise needs to completely reinvent the wheel, but it needs to do something that makes that particular entry stand out. And I struggle to remember much of what happened in Gears of War 4’s eight to twelve-hour runtime.

A little while back, Gears 5 was announced, showcasing new snow-covered levels and a perspective change from Gears 4’s protagonist JD to Kait’s. It’s nice to see a change in the typical destroyed city scenery from the other games to a snow blanketed environment—though now come to think of it, wasn’t there a snow level in Gears 2? I distinctly remember trying to drive a tank over ice—and our first female lead in the series. However, these changes won’t be enough to really make Gears 5 stand out. Gears 5 needs to do something to wow us and make us care about Gears of War again, because in the face of Sony’s brilliant library of exclusives, Microsoft is seriously lagging behind.

Here’s to hoping that Gears 5 and Halo Infinite can pull the Xbox out of its slump!

The Last of Us Part 2

Now, by no means do I think Last of Us Part 2 will come even remotely close to being a disappointing sequel. If any developer has proved themselves and earned the respect of the gaming community, it’s Naughty Dog, and I have no doubt that The Last of Us Part 2 will be amazing.  What worries me about this sequel is the direction they decide to take the story in. I know it’s up to the writers where they take the characters and I have complete faith in Neil Druckmann’s ability to come up with compelling stories and dialogue, but I would hate to see Joel and Ellie’s relationship sidelined. By all means, introduce new characters and relationships for Ellie to experience, but I want to see where Joel has been too and how his relationship with his surrogate daughter has evolved in the years after the original game. Ellie and Joel’s relationship in The Last of Us was one of the most well realized in any medium and I would be heartbroken to find out Joel died off screen between games.

Now, I doubt they will actually do that because that is pretty damn cheap, but Joel’s lack of presence in the trailers and much of the promotional material has me a little worried.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

I’ve never played the original Beyond Good and Evil, but I am well aware of the cult following it garnered after its release. It’s a passionate fanbase that was let down after the release of a Beyond Good and Evil 2 announcement trailer years ago, only for the project to fade into oblivion, leaving many to speculate if the fabled sequel would actually ever happen. Then, back during E3 2017, Beyond Good and Evil 2 was suddenly revived—now being a prequel and starring a cast of all sorts of foul-mouthed anthropomorphic animals. The release trailer was impressive to say the least. No gameplay was featured, but the world looked interesting and lively, ripe for a great game to take place in—However, the chimp character did start to grate on my nerves a little before the trailer’s runtime had ended. And then, a year later, a bit of gameplay and what we could expect was shown…

Since the release of the original Beyond Good and Evil, Ubisoft has understandably changed—however in recent years, I’m not sure if that change has been for the better. When I think of an Ubisoft release, I think of it as something coming off of a conveyer belt, something with little variation from the product that came before it, save for the franchise the game belongs to. Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, likely Skull and Bones to some extent, follow a typical Ubisoft style of open world gaming. This type of open world generally consists of find this watchtower, climb it, discover new part of map, attack this base, defeat all enemies, capture it and repeat. The gameplay that Ubisoft has been copy and pasting for years now has arguably gotten stale, and I’d hate to see Beyond Good and Evil 2 become yet another Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed-esque romp.

Also, with the current shadiness that goes on with open world/always live games, it has me concerned that Ubisoft will be tempted to bog down the title with microtransactions.

Shenmue 3

Oh, Shenmue 3. In a list that features games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Beyond Good and Evil 2, both of these elusive titles look like absolute certainties in comparison to Shenmue 3. Shenmue 3 is the continuation to a saga that no one ever dreamed would ever see the light of day, but one insanely successful Kickstarter later and here we are: Ryo is back and ready to finally get revenge for the death of his father. Many fans of the originals are understandably excited, but it’s hard to deny the fact that the gaming landscape has changed drastically since the days of the Dreamcast. The open world genre that Shenmue helped to pioneer is nothing like it was back in 1999, at least nothing like what Shenmue was. The type of game Shenmue was may be jarring and too slow paced for today’s market. And not only that, but the budget for the long awaited third entry in the franchise has been downsized considerably compared to what the original games were made with.

This slash in budget has been made glaringly apparent in the few trailers the upcoming game has had. The stylized look that the developers have gone for helps with the stilted visuals somewhat, but the character models and their facial expressions come off as lifeless. Sure, this may be improved before Shenmue 3’s eventual release, but it’s still made all too apparent that what the game is working with is far less than what other big titles get to utilize. Not to mention, we’ve seen little to nothing in regard to actual gameplay.

I ultimately feel with Shenmue 3 that I go in with somewhat tamed expectations. Of course, you do that with anything you’re excited for as to not face dire disappointment, but we have to expect that Shenmue 3 may not be the grand adventure that the first 2 games felt like back at the turn of the millennium. Whether it’s watered down, or the Shenmue formula just hasn’t aged well, it will be ideal that an open mind be kept and expectations be in check.

Days Gone

Overall, Days Gone is a game that seems to have the gaming community uninterested. When I saw the original announcement trailers, I was mildly intrigued I suppose. It looked like the poor man’s Last of Us with motorcycles, but there was nothing about it that really stood out, and I guess many others felt the same. Days Gone comes at a time when zombies/infected monster people have been run into the ground. From video games, television, to film, the undead shtick has grown tired, and as a result, predictable. Another apocalyptic setting with another band of gruff/hardened survivors. The only reason I give Last of Us a pass is because it’s an established franchise that originally started before all this zombie business over-saturated the market. I think as far as new IPs go, it’s best we look beyond zombies and start moving on to something else, because the public reaction to Days Gone seems to be that of fatigue, and unfortunately disinterest.

Maybe we’ll all be pleasantly surprised though. Maybe Days Gone will release and prove that there is still life in the undead (ba-dum-chi!). But I doubt it. My best guess is that Days Gone will come and go, only to fall into obscurity like so many other games like it.

Rage 2

Speaking of falling into obscurity… Rage 2 is a sequel that I never thought would ever happen simply because who really remembers or cared about the original Rage? Apart from some gimmick where no two rocks looked alike, Rage offered little to nothing in terms of open world post-apocalyptic games. It felt like a prettier version of Fallout 3, in my opinion. And with the announcement of Rage 2, that feels like a prettier version of Borderlands— so go figure.

Rage 2 looks to appease the 13-year-old boy inside all of us with its over-the-top Mad Max/Return of the Living Dead/Sex Pistols/Holi celebration powder covered attitude—and it kind of doesn’t work for me. It reminds me of that brand of ‘humor’ where if you’re loud and stupid enough, at least some person might give you a sympathy laugh. But most other people are just either rolling their eyes or yawning at your attempt to be cool and edgy. This is a trope that I thought died with the early 2000s, but no, Rage 2 has embraced the preteen demographic once more and aims to release their spin on an even more drugged-up version of Borderlands.

Maybe Rage 2 will be great, but no matter how much I try, I can’t find an ounce of me that even remotely cares about it.

The future of gaming is an exciting thing, whether it’s the games themselves or the hardware that plays them. But it’s wise to approach all titles with some bit of trepidation. I’ve been burned by hype way too many times before, (Oh man, I’m gonna be so heart broken if Godzilla: King of the Monsters isn’t anything short of f***ing amazing) so I’ve tried to think twice before letting my excitement lose control. So next time you consider boarding the hype train for yourself, stop and think… are the tracks stable? Is the conductor sober? Am I going to get mugged while on-board? Is the destination not what I thought it was going to be?

Dim horizons of bright futures– only time will tell.

Jarreth Golding

Jarreth loves many things: movies, writing, and sculpting characters from his favorite anime out of clay, but most importantly, he loves video games. And more importantly than that, he loves watching his wife play video games because she's better at them than he is.

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