Picture the scene. It’s E3 2018. The lights dim. Nintendo’s E3 Direct begins. Fans are hyped to see all of the potential announcements as the air fizzes with possibility.
What did we get? A frankly ridiculous 45 minutes on Super Smash Bros Ultimate, a game that was already announced. Nintendo then proceeding to detail practically every change in minute, yawn-inducing detail.
Just to top it all off, we got a run-down of around 65 playable characters coming to Smash Bros Ultimate. One by one. A handful were kept behind to tease for future directs, but by and large we got a blowout of every excruciating detail of the new Smash Bros. Any sense of mystery evaporated in an instant, and so too did my purchasing decision.
I found it bizarre, I really did. If they’d told me there were 72 fighters and then only revealed eight of them, the launch would’ve been incredibly exciting. Filled with the unknown as players worked away at unlocking the rest of the line-up. But there were no surprises because, in this age of social media and the clamour for news, we knew every teeny tiny detail before we could even play the damned thing.
And this isn’t exclusive to Smash either. It’s rare that a game can come along and genuinely surprise us because publishers are too keen to line-up marketing blitzkriegs. I’m getting Division 2 trailers sent to my inbox on a daily basis right now. It’s just not fun to know everything about something. Publishers usually have the sense to keep quiet about story spoilers but the narrative is usually the least interesting thing about a game anyhow. Anything mechanical or systems-based is broken down in excruciating detail long before launch, such that from a gameplay perspective it’s now extremely difficult to be surprised.
And yes, I know I’m coming at this from a specific angle where I’m writing about or reading about games on a pretty consistent basis, but I can’t be the only one longing for that sense of mystery to return. It’s what it used to always be about. When I picked up Zelda: Ocarina of Time on launch day, all I had were a couple of grainy screenshots in a magazine. Everything felt possible. These days there are about 500 GIFs of all the biggest and best things from any game on launch day.
What do you reckon then, is it about time publishers wind it in a bit and learn how to keep a surprise? Or do you love to find out everything to build your hype for a new release? Get voting and let us know why below!