Well, adventurers, here we are again. Things have slowed down since E3 last week not only in the gaming world but also in my personal world. I’m still stumbling around like a zombie out of sheer exhaustion and I can barely keep my eyes open, but hopefully within the next few days I will catch up on sleep and get back into the swing of things here on the blog. At least this post actually has a featured image! I’m improving already!
Something about E3 that I found particularly interesting – and I have read some other bloggers pointing this out as well – was that the philosophy of the Big Three really sat at the heart of each conference. Power, Story, Fun – each company presented their content with a very specific message in mind. I’m not here today to wax poetic on which one I think is right or wrong – it takes all sorts to make the gaming community flourish – but rather to talk about how the conference made me question my own gaming philosophy.
Ever since I could think abstractly enough to have a philosophy on gaming, I always thought of quality storytelling as paramount. While I made exceptions for multiplayer-focused games, I didn’t care much for a single-player experience if it didn’t have a compelling story to convey to me. Love of story drew me to games like Final Fantasy, Paper Mario, and Fire Emblem. I loved seeing characters grow and change, I loved learning the backstory of tortured protagonists, and I loved seeing a world rich in culture and lore. Games where the story didn’t deliver were games that didn’t keep my attention for long.
Following that logic, then the company that gels the most with my philosophy is Sony. At least at this E3, right? Their whole message was about having the console with the best exclusive titles for quality storytelling. With games like Uncharted, God of War, Days Gone, and Detroit, it looked like Sony really would be delivering on their promise to share amazing stories with gamers in the coming year.
So why was I so bored with them?
If you managed to endure my article about the Sony conference, then you know that I was thoroughly unimpressed. Not even a little excited about the majority of the announcements made. Yet this is the company whose presentation was specifically geared towards the gaming philosophy that I consider myself to subscribe to. Either these games don’t deliver on the promise of great storytelling, or storytelling isn’t really the first thing that I look for when I think about picking up a video game.
Conversely, the conference that I did enjoy watching was the one held by Nintendo. I was thoroughly excited by many of their announcements, and I’ve been spending this weekend watching more in-depth coverage of their games, including finally delving into the Nintendo Treehouse streams. This probably isn’t surprising to anybody who has been following me for longer than ten minutes – the majority of my articles are opinion pieces about Nintendo, I only write guides for Nintendo games, and my three favorite video game series are all Nintendo series. I’m obviously a big Nintendo fan, but shouldn’t I be an even bigger Sony fan if my philosophy really is “story first?”
What really made me question myself a bit here was when I watched the Treehouse presentation for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. If you read my article about the Nintendo conference, you might recall me having said:
“…while I now refuse to actively make fun of Mario + Rabbids because I have seen in the Ubisoft conference just how hard that team is working and how much they care about their product, no amount of earnestness can convince me that I will like the game. I heard GameXPlain compare the rabbids to the Minions and for me it’s the perfect comparison – as soon as I look at the things I groan and roll my eyes.”
Something like that, anyway. At the time, I hadn’t watched the Treehouse coverage and had seen no actual gameplay. I just knew that it was a Mario game with Rabbids in it. However, once I saw the game in action – specifically the combat mechanics – my entire viewpoint changed. Holy wow does that game look interesting. The battles look so strategic with the characters carefully positioning themselves around cover, using the environment and each other to move around in unique ways to get the right angle on the enemy and blast them. Team jumps look cool, I love the cover mechanic and that it isn’t a permanent solution to avoiding attacks – I still think the sense of humor may make me roll my eyes but I care so much less about that because the gameplay looks fun.
So let’s take a second to digest that – my whole opinion of Mario + Rabbids changed not because they demonstrated to me that it would have a compelling story with in-depth lore and backstories and yada yada. My opinion changed because when I saw the game mechanics at play, the game looked fun.
“Oh great, here comes the speech about how Nintendo is perfect and we should all buy a Switch because Fun (TM) is the real secret to quality games.”
Don’t worry, that’s not where I’m going with this. Just because I am discovering for myself that fun might be the most important game feature for me doesn’t mean it works the same way for you. And who defines fun, anyway? We do, each of us for our own sake. Maybe “fun” is the most important thing to you but everything Sony showed off looked more fun to you than what Nintendo demonstrated. Maybe “story” really is your focus but you felt like Microsoft’s exclusives have the best story potential. I’m not here to convince you that a certain console is better than another – like I said towards the beginning of the post, we need all schools of thought to really have a flourishing and compelling game market. For me personally, though, I am discovering that maybe my approach to video games has changed from what I once considered the most important.
What about you, adventurers? What quality is most important to you when looking at games or consoles? Have your tastes changed over time? Let us all know in the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read today!