Today is Madden Day, which also generally marks my obligatory annual looking-over of the fall release schedule. I’m not feeling as gung-ho about it as I usually am, however, and I suppose there are several reasons why.
1. I’m looking over the upcoming releases and there’s not a whole hell of a lot that I’m terribly excited about. We’ll get to that in a bit, of course, when I run over the list in detail, but here’s the larger point: of the 14 games that are in my upcoming rental queue, 3 of them are remasters of last-gen games, and 9 of them are sequels. One of the remaining two is a movie spin-off, and the other is a port of a PC RPG (which I also apparently already own on PC, though I don’t remember buying it – my PC appears to be dying, however, and so if I’m ever going to play it, the console seems like the only place to do it). There are surely some indie/downloadable games that I’m forgetting about – No Man’s Sky comes to mind, though I can’t recall off the top of my head if that was ever guaranteed a 2015 release date – but that’s neither here nor there.
2. Being a homeowner means paying a mortgage, and even though the house is wonderful and the new town is lovely and we’re all very happy, I’m now – more than ever – very aware of my financial flexibility (or lack thereof), and so when I look at this list, there’s not really all that much that I feel that I can commit to, financially. (Nor am I certain that I will have 400 spare hours to play Fallout 4 – I would like to spend some time with my wife and child, after all, and I also need to get back to work on the album.)
3. None of these upcoming games are doing anything to cure my general malaise towards gaming in general. Even my current NG+ playthrough of Witcher 3 is being done in a very half-hearted manner; that game is still my current pick for Game of the Year, but I’m not sure I have the energy to do everything again for another 80 hours, especially since it’s hard for me to make different choices. There are certain large-scale events that I know I’m going to handle differently, but the smaller conversational stuff… I always feel like I need to answer truthfully, especially when the writing is so good, and so I find myself saying the same things a second time.
It’s strange; I’ve got my gaming situation all hooked up, with a new TV and a new entertainment center and a couch and a table and I’m free to play whatever I want without worrying about making too much noise, and this is a welcome return to all that I’ve ever wanted since I was playing my Atari 2600 (and my brother’s Genesis) in my mom’s basement as a kid, and yet… I kinda don’t really give a shit anymore. I’d like to think that some of these games are going to be fun to play, but I’m not really feeling pulled towards any one of them in particular, and that’s an awfully strange feeling to have after all this time.
Before I get into this thing, here’s a general question – should I even bother holding on to my 3DS anymore? I recently plugged it in for the first time in maybe a year, and I was unable to get it to properly update on my home wi-fi (which doesn’t make any sense, but then again, I’ve never had much luck getting a reliable internet connection on that thing ever since I bought it). In any event, the only thing that interests me on the 3DS’s horizon is Picross 3D 2, but according to this article there’s no North American release date scheduled, and I’ve been so out of the loop as far as Nintendo is concerned that anything involving Amiibos makes me nervous; I don’t know what they are, but neither do I want my 2.5 year old kid to suddenly want them, because I literally can’t afford to get sucked into a toy ecosystem vortex right now.
Anyway, here we go – all titles and release dates via Game Informer.
- Calvino Noir (PS4) – I’ll need to read some reviews before I download this one, but it definitely seems up my alley.
- Dishonored: Definitive Edition – I’ve rented this for the Xbox One, mostly because I guess I’m more of an Achievement Whore than I care to admit. I’ve already played it on PC, but I never did finish the DLC. This is more of a curiosity about the graphical upgrade than a sincere attempt at a playthrough, even if I like the game a lot.
- Gears of War Ultimate Edition – I did pre-order this, for some reason, and it’s sitting on my XB1’s hard drive right now. I don’t know that I need to play this, but – again – I’m curious to see the graphical upgrades. And I wouldn’t mind having access to the backwards compatible Gears 2 and 3, either, especially as I’m not sure I still have those 360 discs anymore.
- Madden NFL 16 – the reviews seem pretty positive for this one, surprisingly enough. I haven’t really cared about Madden since my brother and I played together – and even then, our sports games of choice were NHL and/or NBA Jam. [This might be as good a time as any to admit that I joined EA Access on the XB1 a few weeks ago, if only to have a free copy of Dragon Age Inquisition to play (and get Achievements for). I’ve played maybe the first hour or so, and while it’s still a good game, it made me want to play Witcher 3 again instead.] Anyway, so – as an EA Access member I was able to download a trial version of Madden, and… I still kinda don’t give a shit. It’s not bad, per se, but rather – I don’t know enough about how football is played to be able to learn how to play Madden well anymore, and I’m never going to start caring enough to bother to try.
- Mad Max – I’d like this game to be good. I loved the movie, and the little I’ve seen of this one makes me think that there’s some genuine ambition behind it – that it’s not just a simple, easy cash-in. But I’m certainly not pre-ordering this one – or anything, actually – and I’m not necessarily keeping my fingers crossed.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – There is no other game on this year’s calendar that’s causing me so much agita. On the one hand, I think the Metal Gear franchise is the most comically overrated franchise in all of videogames; I think Kojima is the sort of dude who thinks there’s something profound about the smell of his own farts; and for every genuinely thrilling moment I had with MGS4, there was at least an hour’s worth of the most gawdawful cutscenes that would follow. I also played Ground Zeroes once or twice and found it technologically impressive but also impenetrably dense and ridiculous and not necessarily all that much fun. On the other hand, it’s being called a genuine masterpiece, far and away the best game in the series, and would appear to be the consensus frontrunner for Game of the Year by everybody who’s played it, even more so than the aforementioned Witcher 3. With hyperbole like that surrounding this game, it’s going to be impossible for me to not play it. I will do my best to keep an open mind. But I’m very skeptical.
- Tearaway Unfolded – I played about the first third/half on Vita and found it rather delightful, but after putting it down for a while I think I ended up deleting it in order to make room for other stuff. I wouldn’t mind seeing if it translates to a big TV, but I’m not sure it’ll work in the same way – that game was very specifically designed to show off what the Vita could do, and the PS4 is a completely different animal altogether.
- Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime – I’m curious about this if only because I love that title. I don’t know anything about it. (quickly finds a YouTube trailer) Well, it certainly looks charming, but it also looks like it needs a good couch co-op partner, and I don’t think my wife’s gonna care about it.
- Destiny: The Taken King – I deleted Destiny off my PS4’s hard drive at least 6 months ago; I’m so far behind in terms of levelling that I can’t possibly see myself going back.
- Forza Motorsport 6 – I think I prefer the Horizon side of the Forza franchise, but I’ve always enjoyed the Forza games in general (even though I skipped F5). I can see myself playing this for a few days, but I’m not sure it’s going to capture my heart enough to warrant a purchase.
- Lego Dimensions – Ordinarily this is a no-brainer- I like the Lego games a lot, and I’m sure my kid would love this, and the mish-mash of licenses is super-appealing. But if I’m not mistaken, isn’t this game going to be coming with physical toys and such? I’m looking at GI’s “4 Reasons to Get Excited” and they have this pricing breakdown that makes my stomach hurt just from looking at it:
- Starter Packs: $99.99, contains Batman, Wyldstyle, Gandalf, Batmobile, and Lego Gateway
- Level Packs: $29.99, contains an additional new mission-based game level along with a minifigure, a vehicle, and a weapon.
- Team Packs: $24.99, provide two minifigures and two vehicles or weapons, all with their own unique abilities.
- Fun Packs: $14.99, provide a new minifigure and a vehicle or weapon.
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 – obviously I’d be lying if I said I felt confident that this wasn’t going to be a huge steaming piece of shit. But a boy can dream.
- Rock Band 4 – I’m a little annoyed that the Xbox One version will cost a bit extra if I want to be able to use my Xbox 360 instruments (which I still have), but can you really put a price on family fun? Especially if I can still have access to my gigantic 360 DLC library of songs?
- Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection – my PS3 is currently set up in the living room – not the man-cave – and I recently tossed in Uncharted 3 just to see if it still looked good, especially on my new TV. And yeah, it still does! It’s still also jam-packed with bullet-sponge enemies, and I still hate the PS3 controller with a fiery passion. I was excited to see that Digital Foundry’s recent analysis seems to indicate that this collection is the real deal, though, and Uncharted is one of the few franchises that I’d gladly buy again on better hardware. I thought The Last of Us was a vastly better experience on the PS4 if only because the PS4’s controller is so much better to use, and I’d like to think that the same will apply to making Uncharted’s endless combat sections much less annoying to deal with.
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – As much as I enjoyed Black Flag, I actively loathed Unity, and I don’t know why I should keep any hopes up for this one. This franchise, which I used to adore, positively exhausts me now.
- Halo 5 – It’s on the list almost purely out of obligation; I own an Xbox One, I should play this. I haven’t cared about Halo at all since maybe 2 or 3, and unless this wows me from the get-go (and most Halo games take a while to really get going), I can’t see myself finishing it.
- Divinity Original Sin: Enhanced Edition – this is the aforementioned port of a PC game that I don’t remember buying. I’ve heard too much good stuff about this to ignore a console version, even though I don’t know if it’ll translate all that well – but, again, my PC is dying and if I’m ever going to play it, this is the only real way I can do it.
- Fallout 4 – I was going to violate my “no more pre-ordering” rule for this one, specifically for that Pip-Boy thing, but because Bethesda wasn’t entirely forthcoming about whether mod support was going to be available for both PS4 and XB1, I didn’t know which system to get it for – in my experience, most multi-platform games run a lot better on the PS4, but the XB1 having PC mod support felt like a strong reason to lean in that direction. I’m still not sure where I’m going to play this; I will probably wait for Digital Foundry’s analysis. I’m more concerned about how to play this while still having a job and a family. I’m also concerned about whether or not I’m going to enjoy this game the way i did with Fallout 3 and Oblivion and Skyrim; Bethesda’s made some great open-world games, to be sure, but those games are hard for me to go back to after spending hundreds of hours with more recent games like Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption – which is to say, Bethesda games can get janky sometimes, and their specific jankiness has become somewhat irritating to me. I’d love to be proven wrong on this one.
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – honestly, this is the game I’m really looking forward to more than anything else this year. I adored the last one, so much so that I ended up playing it on 360, PC, PS4 and XB1. And I had a great time with it each and every time. And while I was among the many super-pissed-off fans that reacted poorly when the game was announced as a timed Xbox One exclusive, I’ve come around to appreciate the idea that it’s almost certainly in the game’s best interest to have only one console system to design for. I’m sure the PS4 port will be worth playing – and I suspect I’ll play it again there, too, because I am a whore – but in the meantime, this is how I plan on spending my November.
- Star Wars Battlefront – Let’s hope this isn’t terrible!
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III – I’m including this only so that nobody thinks I forgot about it. I don’t see myself playing it unless it reviews extraordinarily well, and even then, I’m not gonna do much of the multiplayer, which probably begs the question: why even bother?
- Just Cause 3 – Because why not.