Over the last week, during E3 2017, we’ve been treated to literally hundreds of trailers, amounting to dozens of hours of footage. This time last week we barely knew what Assassin’s Creed Origins is. Now we know the ins and outs of its menu system, what we’ll be able to do its open-world, and all the many and varied additions which Ubisoft hope will improve it over its predecessors. It’s never been easier to receive a wealth of information on the games you are interested in. But, are we now being shown too much? Are there any surprises left for when a game launches?
This E3, more than any before it, was about picking apart the games that literally just been announced. Assassin’s Creed Origins was revealed with a pair of trailers, a chit chat with the creative director, a gameplay demo, and then a massive live stream afterwards. Super Mario Odyssey, a game which thrives on surprises, was shown off for hours by Nintendo. I had to stop myself watching because at some point it felt as if there were going to be no surprises left.
Case in point - Prey. Arkane’s reboot is a decent game with some inventive ideas, but the constant deluge of pre-release trailers and info dumps (which admittedly I have to consume all of in order to write the news) meant the final product had literally nothing that surprised me. This softened my feelings on a game which I would’ve perhaps enjoyed more if going in blind.
It’s actually become a bit of a problem for me, and I’d guess anyone who spends a significant portion of their reading about or watching games. The mystique has disappeared. There used to be a sense of wonder when I picked up a copy of PC Gamer and there was a review a game called Final Fantasy VII. All I had was eight screenshots to pore over, some excellent wordcraft, and my imagination to stitch the pieces together. Compare that to Final Fantasy XV, which I’d been acutely aware of for a decade, had seen a dozen trailers for, and the previews were telling me exactly how big its open-world is, and how long the game was. The wonder of the unknown was gone.
The counterpoint to this is that we’ve never been informed as to whether a game is worth a purchase. Where once we’d have to base it on one or two reviews and word of mouth, I can now peruse 200,000 Steam users impressions of Grand Theft Auto V, and watch 20-hour streaming marathons. The age of picking up a genuinely dud game by accident is no more.
So what do you think of this situation? Have we never been so well informed? Or are a game’s quality and unique additions already a foregone conclusion?