2019 is drawing to a close, at least for the gaming industry it is. There are only a few games that are coming out in November and of those, there is only one that really stands out, namely, Death Stranding. Since game news is slow these days we thought this might a perfect time to reflect on the state of the industry and make some a tentative guess as to what we can expect in 2020 when it comes to gaming. I hope you enjoy our article on 2020’s Video Game Industry.
The Revival of Western RPGs:
Most of you might have missed it because it came out only on Epic as of yet, but The Outer Worlds brought back one of the best types of games, whose like hadn’t been seen since the release of Fallout: New Vegas. The game was very well received not because it is particularly groundbreaking or innovative but because it brought back a genre that was thought to be lost to the ages. Games like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect were a huge deal when they came out. They brought with them a sense of responsibility that has been missing from their descendants. It would be unfair to peg that as the sole reason why Fallout 76 and Mass Effect: Andromeda was a complete joke but it made up for a huge part of the reason.
The essence of Fallout 3 and the Mass Effect trilogy was that they treated the player as a smart individual. They understood that the players would be able to make their own choices and that they would have to live with them. That is missing from the newer games. There is no consequence, no sense of responsibility that motivates players to actually care about the game. The recent games have been dumbed down in order to appeal to a wider platform of gamers but what has ended up happening is that the old supporters of the franchise have felt betrayed. These games were never supposed to be shoot-em-ups. They had shooter elements, that is true, but that was never the point of the game.
The point was the freedom of choice, the fact that your actions actually left an impression on the world that you inhabit. By completely neutering that point companies such as Bethesda and Bioware have lost not only the business of the people that supported them through the initial years, but have also lost their respect which is a far dangerous outcome. With 76 and Andromeda they tried to appeal to a larger fanbase when in fact these games were never supposed to. They had a rich world, inhabited by gamers that were enchanted by the lore, the companions, the NPCs, and these games sought to make all of that moot.
I could go on and on about why 76 and Andromeda were such a failure but I’d rather talk about why The Outer Worlds was successful. It isn’t a great game. It’s just a good game and to put a rating to it I would give it a solid 8/10 but the point is what this game represents. This game brings Western RPGs to its roots, with some minor quality of life changes. You can tell that this was made by people that actually play games. This game is a joy to play, and not only because of the fact that your choices matter.
It’s the little things that actually make this game endearing. The quicksave hotkey is auto-bound to F5, there are clear settings for changing FOV and the HUD, the game asks you whether you want subtitles to be on from the start, you can dismantle loot directly in your enemies’ inventory, there are 4 different carry weight perks, you can arrange weapons in order of pure damage or DPS, and a million other things. This game was made to be played by people that regularly play games that know how games work and know what to look out for. That is not to say that this game promotes gatekeeping, it is still appealing to new gamers but it doesn’t insult them by giving them a lengthy tutorial where you have to press space to jump in a designed training course. I would say that the tutorial lasts about 10 minutes give or take and explains all the mechanics that you will need to know for the whole game. There is even a dialogue choice in the tutorial which is just awesome.
The reason why I mention all of this is because this game gives most gamers hope that gaming isn’t just about online play anymore. The recent trend in gaming has been that looter shooters and competitive games are getting all the success whereas single player games are being left at the wayside. The Outer Worlds will be looked like the savior of Western RPGs in the future because it shows that there is still demand for these types of games. People still want to play deep, rich, singleplayer RPGs, no matter how good the latest Destiny expansion maybe (it’s extremely good).
So now for the prediction, there are two predictions that I believe I can safely make. The first is that we will be seeing a successor of The Outer Worlds, either as a direct sequel or as a spiritual successor. The fact that this was made by Obsidian games and published by Microsoft makes me a hundred percent sure that there will be a sequel of some sort for this game. I can also predict that it will be GOTY material.
The second prediction that I can make is that Bethesda may learn from this but Bioware will not. Fallout 5 may be a good RPG, nothing spectacular mind you, but still acceptable as a real game. I do predict that Elder Scroll VI will be a good game that will actually learn from the mistakes that 76 made and will turn out to be a really good game. It will have to live up to The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk so it will have to be great otherwise Bethesda may go the way of THQ. As for Mass Effect and Bioware, I have completely given up hope. Mass Effect 3 was a passable game but Andromeda was completely unplayable. If they hope to once again become the leader in RPGs they will have to come up with something spectacular, not rely on a dead series that should have ended at Mass Effect 2.
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