From identikit space pirates to a Call of Duty remake, news from the three big gaming expos reveals that nostalgia trumps new ideas in game design
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The absence of the E3 expo in Los Angeles for the past two years has left a gigantic vacuum in the video game calendar. Last week, the industry did its best to fill that gaping content maw with three online events – the Summer Game fest, the Xbox and Bethesda showcase and the PC gaming show. They were underwhelming for many seasoned players. Major reveals included a remake of The Last of Us, a remake of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Street Fighter 6, Final Fantasy XVI and news about the reimagining of the classic role-player System Shock.
Even fresh titles seemed familiar. Sci-fi horror game The Callisto Protocol, from one of the makers of Dead Space, looked like … Dead Space. And it was frustrating that our first extended look at the long-awaited sci-fi adventure Starfield focused not on the wonders of interplanetary exploration but on a long shootout with identikit space pirates. It may seem churlish expecting radical ideas from the mainstream industry, and there was a lot of interesting fare from independent developers on show, but now that we’re entering the mid-phase of the console generation, I was expecting at least a couple of innovations. We did get Japanese gaming auteur Hideo Kojima promising, at the Xbox event, that his next project would make revolutionary use of Microsoft’s cloud gaming infrastructure, but who knows when we’ll see that.