Future Series

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jan 21, 2018

Filed under: Notices 168 comments

Last week we wrapped up my Borderlands series, and this coming week will be the start of my series on Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. These things generally take months to write, so it’s time for me to begin work on the next one. I’ve got a few candidates I’ve been batting around, and I thought I’d discuss the pros and cons of writing about each one.

Fallout 4 is obviously a game people never get tired of talking about. I’ve had a few essays on it lingering in Google docs for over a year now. The problem is that it feels a bit like beating a dead horse. There are things wrong with the game, and I think Bethesda knows they’re wrong and I think they don’t care. This series would be less about constructive criticism and more about cathartic bitching and moaning. Also, writing this series means playing through the game without mods, and that’s not a lot of fun for me. So the main thing holding this series back is basic laziness.

It might be interesting to do a deep dive on Grand Theft Auto V. (And do a bit of a retrospective on the series as a whole.) I’m conflicted about this game. It’s probably one of the greatest feats of open-world construction I’ve ever seen and some of it can be really fun, but I can’t stand the game’s snarky Holden Caulfield approach to comedy where the writers just piss all over a strawman caricature of American culture and accuse everyone of being phonies. I enjoy playing this game, but sometimes I want to punch it in the face. So that might make for a worthwhile discussion.

Be the Batmobile. Love the Batmobile. Buy Batmobile-related merchandise and DLC. Share Batmobile memes on social media. Worship the Batmobile. Obey the Batmobile.
Be the Batmobile. Love the Batmobile. Buy Batmobile-related merchandise and DLC. Share Batmobile memes on social media. Worship the Batmobile. Obey the Batmobile.

Arkham Knight. This is a game made with the best of intentions that – in my estimation – was a horrible misfire that harmed the core elements that made the series great in order to sell an obnoxious and shallow tank fighting game that nobody asked for. The story is wrong, the characters are wrong, the gameplay is wrong, and even the art is wrong. I hesitate to do this one since I’d have almost nothing positive to say. I mean, I enjoyed playing Fallout 4 despite its willful stupidity, but I really hated most of Arkham Knight.

If I’m in the mood to write something positive, I could always do a retrospective on Half-Life 2 and the episodes. The thing is, I sorta did that way back in 2007. It only covers Episode 2 and it’s not up to my standards of today, but I’m not sure it’s worth a re-write.

I might eventually cover Prey 2017. It’s another game I really like and I’ll have positive and negative things to say about it. I played through the game four times in 2017, so I don’t want to cover it soon. I want to spend some time away from the game before I do another batch of runs.

Another idea I’ve been kicking around is a possible Deus Ex series, starting with the original, skimming Invisible War because I never want to play through that again, and then ending with the modern games. This would probably be a really long series and there’s no way I could play all three games and finish the writing before New Colossus ended. So this idea will probably stay on the back burner until I get some ridiculous lead time going.

So that’s what I’m considering: GTA V, Fallout 4, Arkham Knight, Prey, and someday maybe Deus Ex. I’m not looking for votes or anything. Consider this an open thread to discuss the games in question.


From The Archives:

168 thoughts on “Future Series

  1. Corsair says:

    Of those Prey is probably the one I’d be most interested in. Another one I’d like to see a long-form analysis of is Witcher 3, it’s like the Anti-Mass Effect.

    1. Aegis of Faith says:

      I second the Witcher 3 vote – I’d be really interested to hear some long-form on it, too.

      1. Christopher says:

        Last thing he said is he’s not looking for votes, dudes.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ah but this was not a vote, but a suggestion

    2. Witcher 3: it’s an action game based on a plagiarized book series. There you go.

      1. Redrock says:

        What exactly did the book series plagiarize, please?

      2. Redrock says:

        And for gods’ sake, don’t say Moorcock. Because that’s just silly.

        1. Corsair says:

          That’s what he’ll say. It’s a stupid, ridiculous allegation, but that’s the only plagiariam allegation of any significance anyone has levied towards Sapkowski.

    3. Droid says:

      Why not have a Witcher series and an Arkham Knight series?

      Wait, hear me out! The Witcher 3 is one of the few games that Shamus (afair) never so much as said something negative about, and the opposite is true for Arkham Knight (again, afair). So, mixing the two might not drown you in either negativity or positivity, while maybe also showing some more subtle ways in which either game fails or excels that becomes apparent only by direct comparison.

      And yes, I would like to see both of those series a lot.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        He had that whole rant about how he hated the dandelion quest chain in witcher 3.

        1. Nimas says:

          Though to be completely fair, based off the arguments made by Extra Credits, I actually think that the quest chain is not that much of a mistake. It may not be quite as perfect as it could have been, and may be ended slightly sooner to be replaced with another similar quest line, but it did exactly what it intended to do. Draw your character from one ‘scene’ to the next with something that seems vaguely pressing enough to be a character motivation, but not pressing enough that you would want to skip the actual point (each individual locations with their self contained stories).

    4. Redrock says:

      I don’t think you can actually do the Witcher 3 without the prior Witcher games, if only because part of what makes it so interesting it the growth of the series. I also think that you can’t really deconstruct the Withcer 3 in particular without analyzing the books. Because while Witcher 1 and 2 were closer to fan-fiction, Witcher 3 is a straight-up unofficial sequel to the books. It’s one of the very few games that can be said to be so heavily based on a piece of literature (except for some Holmes or Poiriot adventure games and even then the TV of film adaptations serve as a more direct source of inspiration). Looking at Witcher 3 in a vacuum would mean missing out on a lot of stuff.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Looking at Witcher 3 in a vacuum would mean missing out on a lot of stuff.

        Which would still be a valid analysis.Unlike some other works,witcher 3 works rather well as a stand alone game.Its surge of popularity shows that plenty of people who played it never even tried its predecessors,let alone read the books.Every bit of extra lore that you need to grasp the scope of the characters and events is in the game,either directly referenced and described by the npcs,or by the journal.Sure,you can go and search for the details about those,but its not a requirement.

        1. Redrock says:

          Sure, I’m not saying you can’t make a valid analysis. But it gets much more interesting when you view the game as a continuation of the books and consider what they kept and what they changed. Becuase CDPR were incredibly faithful to the source material in many respects, while changing some odd things. It’s very interesting. A lot of people love the Witcher 3 having played just that single game, but believe me when I say that it’s so much more impressive when contextualized by the books.

          Also, the evolution from fanficiton to quasi-sequel is interesting. For example, I’m more than a little sure that in the Witcher 1 the character of Triss was actually conceived to be an amalgamation of Triss and Yennefer from the books for whatever reason. And how they moved from there to bring their version of the world closer to Sapkowski’s version over three games is extremely engaging.

    5. Brandon says:

      I would be so excited for Witcher 3. :D

  2. Christopher says:

    Adam Jensen is a really popular protag among the women I know. I don’t think it’s his devilish handsomeness, catchphrase and embedded sunglasses that do the job, but whatever the reason he’s just so charming(Or so appealingly sour and moody?) one of my friends now owns a miniature of him. It’s nice to see a grizzled brownhaired main character that’s actually got some appeal to him. I’ve yet to know someone that’s got a miniature JC Denton, either.

    1. Thomas says:

      Maybe it’s the voice acting? There is something charismatic about Jensen even though on paper he’s about as tired a cliche badass as they come.

      He’s a bit Snake like. And his tired world-weariness is quite special within videogames – or at least its special for it to be done properly.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        It can also be his
        *folds arms on chest*

        1. BigTiki says:

          I was thinking of this, the horrible “holding up invisible curtains” gestures from Mass Effect, and the physical acting I saw in the supermarket scene near the end of Mindhunter. I wonder why triple a games seem to have such a hard time storytelling with posture and gesture. Body language is such a strong way to drive “show, don’t tell” stories – are there any games that do it well?

          1. Christopher says:

            Sure, tons of games. Thomas mentioned Snake above and I think all the MGS games, accounting for the time they were made naturally, have good body language. It’s just that RPGs like Mass Effect, Witcher, Horizon Zero Dawn and presumably Deus Ex that try to go for this “cinematic” modern look don’t have the time to animate or mocap scenes the way people can for shorter action titles or whatever. Instead they rely on massive libraries of animations shared between models and procedural generation. I never really considered why the animation in Bioware’s games was so lackluster until Andromeda came out and suddenly people were making videos about their animation process and how something must’ve gone wrong along the way.

            That’s why God Hand(2006) has more natural mody language than Dragon Age Inquisition(2014), they did it by hand or with mocapping.

            1. Christopher says:

              *body language

              Also, the animations in the new Zelda really stuck out with me. Nintendo have always animated their characters strongly, but I’m amazed they are still able to do that with a world as massive as BOTW. The artstyle must help.

              1. JBC31187 says:

                I think the cartoony-ness of the art style helps. I find that the more realistic stuff, whether animated or static, tends to sit in the uncanny valley.

              2. Khizan says:

                Yeah, it’s the cartoony-ness that helps with that. They can get away with exaggerated stuff that would look silly in a realistic style, and they completely avoid problems with the uncanny valley.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I've yet to know someone that's got a miniature JC Denton, either.

      Yeah, that’s probably because they never produced any. Figures based on videogames are a relatively new thing. It certainly wasn’t a thing when the original Deus Ex was released. But nowadays they’re very common. Furthermore, unlike Jensen, Denton was a slightly customizable character. And while they do sell figures of default characters (like Mass Effect’s male Shepard), they’re not very popular.

    3. Redrock says:

      It’s the voice. Plain and simple.

    4. *waves hand* Female gamer here, and I think I’d rather have a min JC Denton than a mini Jenson, if such were available.

      Jenson is….. cute, in a fairly generic way, and the voice helps a LOT – but he also spends a LOT of time being an irredeemable idiot (mostly in cutscenes, alas) – speaking personally, that’s a BIG turn-off.

  3. sheer_falacy says:

    Of those I’d probably be most interested in Prey because I really liked it, but since it doesn’t sound like you want to do that right now (for valid reasons) probably GTA 5. As you said Fallout 4 has been pretty thoroughly covered and I’d rather something you have mixed feelings about than something you just hated so Arkham Knight doesn’t sound like it’d be great.

    1. Mattias42 says:


      It’s gotten some serious patching since launch as well, so hopefully the bugs that stopped Shamus the last time around will be dealt with.

  4. Andrew says:

    > characterchure

    That is a really odd spelling of “caricature”. I wondered for a moment if it was just an American spelling (I’m British), but apparently not.

    Or if it’s some sort of intentional joke, I don’t get it.

    1. Shamus says:

      I am NEVER able to spell this word right. I’ve looked it up dozens of times, and the correct spelling just won’t stick. (I have the same problem with “bureaucracy”.) So I just deliberately spell it as wrong as possible. (A WAY OFF spelling is much better than a just-one-letter-off misspelling because it’s more likely I’ll catch in proofing.) But autocorrect couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I made a note to Google it, forgot, and so posted a hilariously butchered word.

      Now I’m wishing I’d just gone for the close-but-still-wrong approach.

      1. Ebass says:

        I have never been able to spell unecessary, except I think I just did it right. I’m taking a training course for which I need to pass some relatively difficult literacy and numeracy tests, so I’ve recently been brushing up…….. I’m just gonna go to a spellcheck.


        1. Rich says:

          Think of it as:


          1. Rich says:

            Damn! No edit. I forgot. That is un/necky/s’sary

            1. Droid says:

              Some Latin often helped me with strange English spellings:

              un- … -ary: English pre-/suffixes, obviously
              ne-cessum: Latin prefix “ne-“, similar to English “un-“, and “cessum”, meaning “to have ceded/yielded”. So something that “is not to be ceded”, i.e. something you absolutely have to get or keep, it’s not up for debate!

              This tells you a few things about the spelling:

              two n’s, because prefix spellings have to be preserved: un-ne-…
              one c, since “cessum” starts with it, and words don’t start with double consonants (except names, those are not words :-P). Also, since the last prefix in front of it, ne-, does end in an “e”, the “c” is not doubled due to the prefix.
              double-s, because that’s how Latin works: cedere, cedo, cessi, cessum.

              Compare and contrast: ac-cess, re-cess, suc-cess. All from cessum/cedere.
              And abScess, for some reason. I guess there is no rule without its exception.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                I guess there is no rule without its exception.

                And that is the primary rule of english language.

              2. Philadelphus says:

                “Llama” says hello.

                But seriously, I love etymology, and that’s a pretty cool explanation (as someone who frequently has trouble spelling unnecessary myself).

              3. Retsam says:

                That’s a really good unnecessary explanation.

                1. Mistwraithe says:

                  I would say that explanation was unnecessarily good, particularly if it was indeed unecessary.

                  1. Mistwraithe says:

                    Bah, I forgot there was no edit button too! This add-on-less site is like the wild wild west of the internet…

                    I’m going to deliberately not click the absent “prove you aren’t a spammer” checkbox.

      2. Riley Miller says:

        I read this as charcuterie :)

  5. jumbalia says:

    The Deus Ex series would be interesting. It has highs and lows aplenty and a big contrasts between all the games. Also the latest one committed probably every sin possible in gaming corporate douchbaggerry.

    1. Duoae says:

      If it really helps Shamus, speed-wise, I’d actually be most interested in just Mankind Divided. Maybe he could come back to the original and Human Revolution but, IMO, the original has been through so many retrospectives and HR was covered on Spoiler Warning.

      I never managed to connect with MD but would love a series covering it in full.

      1. RichardW says:

        I’m a massive fan of Human Revolution but yeah, DX: MD just didn’t do it for me. The theming just felt off somehow, a lot of people compared the setting to Half Life 2 when Mankind Divided released.

        I think that might actually be quite an interesting (if wholly unfair) comparison piece.. looking at the differences between HL2 and Mankind Divided’s world building and gameplay. Something similar to that fairly savage tear-down of Crysis 2 from back in the day.

    2. Nick-B says:

      Hoo boy, well, if we had to choose from that list, it’d be either Deus Ex series or Prey. I’m currently running Prey for the first time ever this week, so it’s certainly relevant (yeah yeah, likely won’t see a post on it for a half a year).

      For games NOT on the list, I’d like to see your thoughts on the Dishonored series, Thief series, Metal Gear Solid 5, or Factorio.

  6. Bunkerfox says:

    I know what you mean about GTAV. I feel as if Rockstars writing has got a lot less humorous and just become a lot more, well, mean.

    I’d probably really enjoy the gameplay of V but I just can’t bring myself to play it because all the main characters just seem like horrible people who I have no desire to be made to play in a game

    1. Cubic says:

      Franklin was your average street hoodlum, Michael the mobster-style guy and Trevor a plain disgusting murderous psycho (and Canadian … OK, I see what you mean).

      I’d like to see a series on GTA V. Awesome production and story and you got to blow up Mark Zuckerberg on stage and so on. Loved the San Andreas setting, and incredibly well done. Also I really liked the heist mechanics, definite step up compared to before …

      However, I haven’t replayed it once yet. Why is that?

    2. GoStu says:

      This was a lot of my problem with GTA V. After a couple hours with those characters I thoroughly hated Trevor and wanted him to fail. Michael was a useless waste of skin who I felt just kind of floated through the plots, and Franklin… was okay. Ish.

      A few more hours and I totally stopped giving a shit.

  7. NoneCallMeTim says:

    Can I put in an anti-proposal?

    Not Prey 2017: it is out relatively recently, and I want to play it. While I want to play most of the other games on the list, this one seems to be more prone to spoilers as from what I understand it is about decisions you make etc, whereas the others are more about gameplay and plot (or lack of), and I have a higher tolerance for spoilers for that.

    So, as a pro-proposal, GTA V or Arkham knight. Or as someone mentioned: the Witcher.

    1. TheJungerLudendorff says:

      By the time Shamus is done with the Wolfenstein analysis, it’ll be another several months. And most of it is done chronologically, so I don’t think it would be that big of a problem.

      Also, you have the option of holding off on reading the analysis (or just playing the game in the meantime).

      1. NoneCallMeTim says:

        “you have the option of holding off on reading the analysis” – Haha, I visit this site multiple times a day, hoping to find new stuff, not being able to read it would hurt.

        “or just playing the game in the meantime” I’m doing an MSc course, so I really don’t have time, maybe after September when I am done.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Use the rss feed. Not only will it tell you when a new post is up, but you can even use it to read some of the silly spam that gets posted every once in a while.

  8. Lupis42 says:

    I’d love to see a Deus Ex series, because I think Human Revolution was (boss fights aside) a really fun game, and definitely worth a look. While aspects of it feel very superficial, it’s definitely the closest I’ve seen a modern AAA game get to laying out a map and set of objectives and giving the player a few options. If there had been any incentives for approaches other than non-lethal stealth, I might have replayed it more.

    1. Lupis42 says:

      Damn – submitted before finishing.

      With that said, it’s still much shallower than Deus Ex, and I wonder why that has to be – it seems like it should have been possible to fine tune a few things at relatively modest cost and make something that held up better, so why didn’t they? Why doesn’t anyone now?

      1. ElementalAlchemist says:

        it's still much shallower than Deus Ex, and I wonder why that has to be

        For the same reason that Bioware transitioned from making RPGs like Baldur’s Gate to action games with psuedo-RPG elements like Mass Effect. Money. You want big sales, you make your game appealing to the broadest set of demographics possible.

  9. Duoae says:

    I’d actually love a comparison series covering System Shock 2/Bioshock/Prey (2017) – and even just between SS2/Prey.

    1. Duoae says:

      OR a comparison between Prey/Dishonored 2. Arkane seem to be on a roll but it’s weird that there’s a general disagreement between people on the two games; usually people who like one, don’t really rate the other.

      Where might Arkane take this genre next given that they seem to be the only development house hosting the torch in the AAA space?

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        I’d love that.

        And yeah, I loved Dishonored 2 but I can’t bring myself to play Prey again, even though I should theoretically like it. That’s weird. Guess I’ll have to force myself before Shamus’s review starts.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ill second this.A comparison between the three SHOCK series would be interesting.

  10. Lazlo says:

    You know, I’ve played a non-negligible amount of Fallout 4, and rank it pretty high among my most enjoyable games to play. There are certainly some problems with the story, some pieces of “logic” that make me shake my head in confusion… but really, the lone thing that stands out above all others that I just can’t get over is that, when you look at a pool of contaminated open water, the available action for you is “drink”, not “take”.

  11. Olivier FAURE says:

    Maybe do a few “short” series about some of these choices before doing a Prey series?

    I’d be interested in a series about Arkham Knight, but only if it’s short and it doesn’t go through the whole main campaign. Like, ideally it would have at most 2 or 3 chapters dedicated to the main story, with heavy summarizing and some global analysis. (like “The has several subplots about X, which can be found in this chapter, and this chapter, and this chapter”). Otherwise it’s just going to be a long list of everything that didn’t make sense and was annoying and counter-productive with the plot, and that gets old fast.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I’m sad that you’ll be covering just the last Wolfenstein and not the whole series. Lots of people have talked about new colossus, but I’ve not yet heard someone compare it to the rest. And it’s a really interesting series that went through at least three very different phases.

    1. Meriador says:

      I second this. A series on the Wolfenstein series as a whole would be very interesting. It is a fairly long series, though, so I understand why you’re sticking to the new one.

      Of the things actually on the list, I’d be most interested in a GTA retrospective, and Prey.

    2. MarcellusMagnus says:

      Noah Gervais made a retrospective video essay on the entire series in 2016. Of course, The New Colossus hadn’t come out at that point, so the video ends with The Old Blood. Maybe he’ll make a follow-up video someday though – he often does that with new installations of series he’d covered earlier.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:


      2. Meriador says:

        Well that was interesting. I think I know what I’m archive binging next. Thanks for the suggestion.

    3. Nimrandir says:

      I must confess that I, too, was hoping for a full-series analysis. I’m sure there will be some discussion of what came before up front, but there are a lot of Wolfenstein games I never played. I trust Shamus to give folks like me sufficient context, though.

  13. BlueHorus says:

    I'm conflicted about [GTA V]. It's probably one of the greatest feats of open-world construction I've ever seen and some of it can be really fun, but I can't stand the game's snarky Holden Caulfield approach to comedy where the writers just piss all over a strawman caricature of American culture…sometimes I want to punch it in the face.

    Anyone got any ideas why this is? I remember the first game was really silly, including the ability to earn extra points by running over a whole line of Hare Krishnas in one go.
    But somehow Grand Theft Auto started to take itself too seriously and the story really began to seem at odds with the gameplay. (also, DIAS gameplay).

    Which in turn led to Saints Row 2 using this ad, which was really on-the-nose (and surely someone got sued over?).

    So yeah, looking forward to the GTA V section.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Sometime after vice city someone got the idea that they need to tell a serious story about a war vet who imigrated to america and how horrible his life is.My guess is that this was a reaction to the success of the first(and maybe second) mafia.And because everyone liked that game,hey we need more of that,right?

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        That’s a good guess, but not close to reality.

        The Housers have been on record saying that, once they were able to attain the level of visual and atmoshperic realism GTAIV offered them, they were no longer comfortable chasing the cartoony aesthetic of the games up to San Andreas, and wanted to make something they thought was realistic and deep, something more personal and meaningful that wasn’t just a joke. They had actually had that in mind for a while, but never felt their tools were up to the task until that point.

        I think they think they’re writing Candide. The problem is that the Housers have no idea how to actually make a game like that, or at least not one that fits within the confines of everything else they want GTA to be, so they’ve started making these embarrassing love letters to cognitive dissonance.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I am sooooo glad that Saints Row went into the opposite direction. I was kinda meh on the series until I saw Rutskarn and… I think it was Jarenth? play SR2 co-op (though saying they cooperated is something of a stretch) which convinced me to push for it as a game to play together with afriend. We had a lot of fun with gameplay but I’m not sure we’d play 3 if I wasn’t convinced it was treating itself less seriously because the whole thug drama in 2 was… let’s just say that after some of the cutscenes all I could say was “our characters are horrible people”.

      2. Cubic says:

        I generally liked Niko and his cousin and all that, though the cognitive dissonance of him being depressed about killing some guys in the Balkans after the typical mission when he once again machine guns dozens of mooks, was rarefied. But it’s sort of built into the genre.

        What I didn’t like about GTA IV was first of all the too claustrophobic urban setting, and second and more importantly, that the missions felt pretty repetitive once you got into the game. Together they made the game a slog.

        The GTA IV DLC was pretty good, often more enjoyable than the main game and in case you were interested, you got to know what happened to the diamonds.

        1. Droid says:

          Yeah, I mostly skipped the mission cutscenes later on, because every time I tried not to, it felt like the game had declared a Holy War against all things logical and/or accepted as good narrative style/tropes. Therefore, I was honestly surprised when not only both DLCs had their own version of the museum mission, but also a lot of involvement in trying to grab the diamonds, when I thought I just screwed up the garbage cans mission (not as in “failed it”, god forbid nonlinearity, that would imply consequences exist in this universe, but as in “my plot demands you get screwed over in that cutscene because I hate you!”), killed the robbers and got them back?

          How do those people honestly expect me to care at all about their plot? Doing so… actively hurts.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          the cognitive dissonance of [Niko] being depressed about killing some guys in the Balkans after the typical mission when he once again machine guns dozens of mooks…[it’s] sort of built into the genre.

          Is it?

          Saint’s Row handled it much better (IMO) -the Boss is a not-very-bright, short-sighted, amoral psychopath who also just happens to be a really tough bullet sponge in plot armor.
          The missions reflected that really well, and it was lampshaded too – A couple of times the series’ smarter characters pointed out how many dead friends/injuries the Boss has accrued and he/she just has no answer beyond ‘fuck you for saying the truth’.

          I really hate the 3rd Street Saint’s Boss, but as a protagonist they fit the gameplay in the way the characters of GTA don’t.
          Not that that stopped their being bullshit cutscenes and a bit of DIAS gameplay in Saints Row…

          1. Cubic says:

            Yeah, I was thinking of the ‘repentant/reluctant warrior’ trope. Maybe it’s better called a subgenre? The main characters of the other GTA games don’t seem to mind much either.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I don’t see why anyone would get sued over that ad. There’s absolutely no reason for it.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        True, nothing it says is illegal, or untrue, or anything like that. And I don’t know what laws it might possibly violate anyway…

        Still, it’s the first time I’ve seen a game so explicitly marketed as ‘Not like this other game’ in such a combatative way.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Maybe games don’t do it so obvious, but consoles do this all the time. I mean, we certainly can’t forget “SEGA does what Nintendon’t”, can we? Or the PS4 campaign of XBox One mockery.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            My favorite was the three way car ad. BMW congratulated. … Peugeot was it? Some car manufacturer. Anyway the ad was from BMW “congratulating the best designed car of the month from the holder of best designed car of the year in the past several years”. Then Mercedes chimed in “congratulating two cimpanies on their looks prizes from the winner of best performing car of the year”.

  14. Drathnoxis says:

    I never get sick of reading about people bashing on Bethesda games. I wish you’d do more on Skyrim too.

    I haven’t played any of the other games yet, so not too interested in those.

  15. Sicod says:

    I personally would like to see you talk about Arkham Knight. It was really cheap with all DLC recently so I picked it up for the PC. Ran pretty well.

    I think it is a great game to look at because it has a lot of writing forces at play (lead writer gone, company wants to finish with the franchise, writing around new game play mechanics [team ups and Batmobile]) that I think would be in interesting critique.

    Overall I enjoyed the game for the money, but it was really flawed.

    The Catwoman DLC final fight was just…ouch.

  16. Agammamon says:

    Fallout 4 is obviously a game people never get tired of talking about. I've had a few essays on it lingering in Google docs for over a year now. The problem is that it feels a bit like beating a dead horse.

    Absolutely. While I’d still enjoy reading your breakdown – I don’t think *anyone* has anything to add that hasn’t already been written.

    I might eventually cover Prey 2017. It's another game I really like and I'll have positive and negative things to say about it.

    This could be good. I bought Prey because you liked it so much. Aaaaaan never finished it. Didn’t click for me. So it’d be interesting to see your view on each part of the game and where (and why) it does and does not work for you.

  17. Ebass says:

    I don’t really play games anymore, to say I’ve “grown out” of them sounds way condescending, and I don’t mean it like that. I think they are just as worthy a pursuit as I ever have. I just like really digging deep into games, and I just don’t have the time to do that anymore, my studies have gotten too intense for it. So I haven’t really played any games of the past 3 years, this means that I’m starting to get to the point where you’re writing about stuff I haven’t played and have little idea about, which wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago.

    Infact the only games I’ve played in the last 3 years has been Witcher 3 and GTA 5. I haven’t played the new Wolfensteins. I’d love a long term on Witcher, Deus Ex, or GTA series.

  18. Drowicorn says:

    For listed ones, Fallout 4 would be my pick, though I do agree that it’s been beaten to death already. There’s not much to talk about beyond “They simplified everything to an extreme” and “Recycled the plot of Finding Nemo” either.
    On the unlisted side, I would like to see something about Metal Gear Solid, particularly Sons of Liberty or The Phantom Pain since those both have very screwy endings and themes that I’m sure you could do something with.
    One question, have you thought about doing any retrospectives on film or TV series? I’d especially love to see your take on animes like Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan.

  19. Husr says:

    Personally I have by far the most interest in Deus Ex out of those, and would second the earlier notion that you could start with one o the newer ones for time purposes before circling back. I wouldn’t be too worried about Arkham night being all negative, at least on the reader end. If it’s a slog to write, that’s different, but there will be other content on the site as it posts, so it’s not like this becomes http://www.shamusyoung.com/whineysidetale or anything like that. Fallout 4 would kind of be beating a dead horse, though.

  20. PhoenixUltima says:

    Am I the only person on earth who actually likes Invisible War? Yes, it’s the weakest DX game by a wide margin, and it has a lot of issues, but hell, it still lets you silently kill dudes and steal people’s candy bars. And the game is pretty funny, even if a lot of it is accidental.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its the mass effect thing all over again.Yes mass effects 2 and 3 are good games on their own,but as parts of the series they start showing numerous faults.So if you can separate invisible war from its predecessor,chances are youll enjoy it.

      1. Bret says:

        As a fan of Mass Effect 2, I find this offensive on a deep. almost transcendent level.

        Mass Effect 2 is a fun science fiction anthology with a great cast… that has a really bad linking narrative. And that’s just the story. The gameplay is an improvement on ME1 in every way.

        Invisible War, meanwhile, is just… bad. Characters are boring, terrible, or both. Even the incidental writing is worse, replacing interesting and unusual picks like The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare with Frankenstein, the most cliche choice for a story about Science Gone Bad.

        And that isn’t even going into the absolutely terrible gameplay, with tiny maps, an ammo system worse than Mass Effect 1, and damage balancing that only a lunatic could have approved. Oh, and the loading. Can’t forget that!

        It’s just a terrible, terrible game. On every level.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Characters are boring, terrible, or both.

          So just like mass effect 2.Or have you forgotten the forgettable black dude.Or miranda.

          Even the incidental writing is worse, replacing interesting and unusual picks like The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare with Frankenstein, the most cliche choice for a story about Science Gone Bad.

          Just like mass effect 2.

          And that isn't even going into the absolutely terrible gameplay, with tiny maps,

          Just like mass effect 2.

          an ammo system worse than Mass Effect 1,

          Just like mass effect 2.

          and damage balancing that only a lunatic could have approved.

          Just like mass effect 2.

          Oh, and the loading. Can't forget that!

          Just like mass effect 2.

          1. Duoae says:

            This post made me laugh. I think I’m just going to answer any game criticism with “just like mass effect 2” from now on.

            Plus, people are likely to believe it. :)

            Could be a new meme!

            To be fair to Bret, your points are correct in the narrow view but a bit selective. ME2 has lots of memorable characters and writing, just because two aren’t so great doesn’t make your point.

            I could go through the rest of the points but I think it’d be a bit redundant. ;)

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              To be fair to Bret, your points are correct in the narrow view but a bit selective.

              I also dont believe all but maybe one of those points.But I couldnt resist.

          2. BlueHorus says:

            have you forgotten the forgettable black dude.

            Man, I wish I could forget Jacob. His creepy raper impression will stick with me forever.

          3. default_ex says:

            ME2 loading wasn’t bad at all, in fact is was damn near instant on the messily 80MB/s my HDD back then pulled. It was the videos between maps that were terribly long. They were kind of meant as an overview of what you were walking into but not presented as such so not really useful for that purpose. Replace them all with a 1 frame animation and voila, no more loading screens. I used a bink32 video file with just a single 2×2 frame and renamed it to all but the one loading screen before the mission where the shuttle mission comes in (for some reason replacing that one locks up the game).

  21. default_ex says:

    Covering the Deus Ex series, especially integrating Invisible War would be very interesting. The first game was a weird mess that somehow worked well. The rest kind of hinge on things that happened in Invisible War to explain it all in any coherent form. It really wasn’t until I began to tie the events of Invisible War to the events of Human Revolution that some of it’s shallow points found any real depth. Still wading pool level of depth but better than the cringy mash all the conspiracies together feel they had prior to looking at it as a direct sequel (even if there is a time gap).

  22. Nick says:

    Deux Ex and Prey sounds interesting. Arkham Knight could also be good, if only to understand why you hated it so much – I thought it was mediocre with parts that I really enjoyed (things mostly not involving the Batmobile)

  23. JBC31187 says:

    If we’re talking Bethesda, instead of Fallout 4, maybe DOOM?

    It feels weird, but it’s the story I keep thinking about. Or more specifically, the writing, and why DOOM’s (it feels appropriate to type it in all caps) writing entertained you and Fallout 3/4 annoyed you. I’ve been considering the difference between Mass Effect and Halo, as well. Mass Effect had greater highs, but Halo had consistency and unified vision.

    1. WWWebb says:

      Ooo…Halo. There’s a series where the writing has varied between competent, good, and waaay too ambitious over the course of many years and multiple teams. I don’t know that Shamus has ever played them, but if anyone else knows of a good, long analysis of the series, let me know.

  24. The thing about GTA V I find so interesting is how successful it is at being able to allow engagement completely outside of its intentions.

    This a broad a generalization obviously, but one of the most defining differences noted between western and eastern videogame design philosophies are the integration of systems in a design, with eastern games being very defined, specific and designer oriented, where as western games often leave their systems much more open and player oriented.

    Dan Olsen did a video not to long ago talking about how if deliberate (i.e. specifically designed by the developer) content is created as a result of player actionsthen that form of play is intended. Meaning if the game is designed to respond to you shooting people, that means it is a thing you are supposed to do. The thing about GTA V – or arguably IV…or arguably the chronological design history of the entire gta series – is they’ve finally reached a point where the player not engaging with these systems can still lead to engaging play because the systems are so complicated that observing the simple spectacle of their interactions with each other is sufficient enough on its own.

    GTA V is a big game that took a looong time to complete, but I rushed through it as quick as I was able for the specific purpose of not having to worry about beating it in order to do what I really wanted to do when I got the game in the first place. Which was to simply…be in San Andreas. I installed mods that adjusted the time to be slower so I could obey traffic laws while driving and not have two days pass getting to a location and just…wandered. Over three months of my time with this game were spent like this before I got bored. Chris lamented the tone in his video and I won’t disagree it’s not at least a little needlessly distracting, but I really hoped he’d go in to further detail about the experiencing the game just as a place to be in, cause there’s very few games I can think of that accomplish such a feat and I think that worth talking about.

    1. Cubic says:

      “what I really wanted to do when I got the game in the first place. Which was to simply…be in San Andreas.”

      You know, I felt the same way about Red Dead Redemption.

      1. The thing that’s unique about Rockstar’s open world design is that they segregate their design to such an extreme degree that it’s possible to do that…or at the very least they come the closest to offering such an experience.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          That wasn’t my experience. I tried Red Dead Redemption, had to sit through a bunch of tedious story missions before the game just let me ride around looking for stuff to do, and then… well, there wasn’t much to do. It was less an open world game and more of a story/mission driven game with an open, but shallow, world around it.

          1. Cubic says:

            Me, I could have had RDR as a literal screen saver and it would be great. Such a landscape.

            I thought it was fairly easy to come across odd little side quests when you went out into the brush, but I didn’t pursue them all out. And there seemed to be a lot of hunting and crafting stuff that I didn’t do either.

          2. had to sit through a bunch of tedious story missions before the game just let me ride around looking for stuff to do

            Except the whole point was about not looking for stuff to do.

  25. Nimrandir says:

    Oh yeah — I still have to finish Fallout 4. The completionist in me got bogged down in radiant faction stuff, and I hadn’t gone back to the Institute. Then Stardew Valley turned out to be more engaging, and I could play it with my son in the room.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I actually had to stop playing due to all this Creation Club BS. Since the game all of a sudden decided it had to download 2 GB worth of content I was never going to be interested in and my internet is very limited, I pushed it way down on the priority list.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        Hmm. I remember when Creation Club went live, but I don’t recall a big download. Maybe I have my PS4 set to do that automatically?

        1. evilmrhenry says:

          The download issue was a bug where it was downloading all mods, even ones you hadn’t paid for yet. It might have been a PC-only issue. (I think it was also fixed really fast.)

  26. Dreadjaws says:

    Well, in the last article’s comments section I already established I wanted you to do Arkham Knight next. I also correctly predicted the lack of fun the game provides to you would be the thing to make you hesitant to do the analysis.

    Of course, any of the other options is perfectly fine for me.

    I do suggest, though, as I once did, that if you want to take your mind off from these games that make you angry you should play some SteamWorld Heist. That’s one game that makes me happy.

  27. krellen says:

    My vote is that you pull a William Goldman; do Arkham Knight, but the “Good Parts” edition. Only write about the things in Arkham Knight you liked, and don’t write anything about the rest of it.

    Sure, this might be a one-column series, but it puts off the question for a week.

    1. Matt van Riel says:

      Given Shamus has a reputation for nitpicking and long-form complaining, I’m not sure he could get away with that ;)

      1. Duoae says:

        He could anti-nitpick! He takes the good parts and nitpicks why they don’t belong in the game! :D

        1. Matt van Riel says:

          lol, yeah, that could be a new direction, certainly :)

    2. Zekiel says:

      My favourite parts were always the bits where you blew up a tank and realised there weren’t any more to fight. Phew… now we go back to the bits of the game that were actually fun. :-)

  28. Matt van Riel says:

    You could always look at something else entirely, like Wasteland 2 or something. That game was great in a lot of ways, but it also made some really serious missteps. And with the third game having been announced, talking about 2 seems reasonable, especially as you can drop in some commentary on Fallout at the same time.

    “This series would be less about constructive criticism and more about cathartic bitching and moaning.”

    In a similar vein, I scrapped a huge series I was writing on Fallout 3 (plus plans for a follow-up series on 4) because while I was suggesting various things to improve it and how Bethesda could’ve handled the game better, in the end it makes no difference. Instead, I’m taking all my ideas for both games and crafting my own post-apoc setting/story that will integrate those ideas. Why fix someone else’s garbage when I could simply write my own story instead?

    1. Joshua says:

      Second this, but I’d also love a series on the recently released Divinity: Original Sin 2, which to me is like a combination of Wasteland 2 and Planescape: Torment. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a series on Planescape Torment either, but that may be a bit too old for some of the people here. :)

      1. WWWebb says:

        There are a lot of good isometric RPGs out recently (thanks, Kickstarter). My problem is that they all want to be “100 hour” games, and the people with fond memories of the golden age of isos don’t have that many hours to spare any more.

        I think my favorites of the new isos has been the Shadowrun games. Good writing, but not so long that they wear out their welcome.

  29. Lachlan the Sane says:

    Man oh man, I have OPINIONS on GTAV. Serious ones. Ones that are serious enough that I’d actually consider writing my own Shamus-esque text analysis of the whole damn series. Only problem would be that my own mental health & living situation are super freaking unstable and I’d probably never finish the damn thing (cough cough Fable LP on the forums cough cough). I suppose I could settle for just posting veritable essays in the comments of Shamus’s analyses :)

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      We have forums?

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Is that an actual question or one of those informative sentences that for whatever reason some people insist on ending on a question mark?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:


  30. Heather B says:

    One thing I would like to see is any of these games written up from character perspective, ala star-on-chest or lulzy. I love the detailed analyses, but I miss the ‘zany adventures of incredulous protagonist’ genre.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Now that would be a good way to do Fallout 4. Shamus’ usual long-form analysis would be redundant and not very new – so a Shamus Plays series with extra jokes would be a good thing.

      But then again, is that sufficiently different from the Fallout 4 Spoiler Warning series…?

    2. djw says:

      Actually, you know what, screw long form analysis. Lets just get more Star on Chest.

      1. djw says:

        And Lulzy. Lulzy is good too.

    3. Dreadjaws says:

      YES TO THIS!

      In fact, it’d be neat if Shamus tried Champions Online again. The game is quite a bit different from back then (well, sans the story missions, so I guess Star on Chest’s narrative would be very similar).

      But yeah, any game with dumb writing like Fallout 4 or Arkham Knight merits this sort of write-up.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Also, seeing how those were reserved only for mumorpugers, nothing is preventing Shamus to do such a let’s play of a single player mumorpugers.

    4. Nimrandir says:

      You know, that could work. We already know Shamus’ approach to Fallout 4 is to wander and collect magazines. A series following a pre-war comics nut through the Commonwealth would probably flow quite like Lulzy’s clothing obsession.

      On the downside, I’m pretty sure the reason Fallout 4 made the list is that Shamus already has a bunch of analysis written for the game. I’m not sure how readily that would translate to a Let’s Play series.

    5. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I said the same thing last time the specter of “what content to do next” came up. Those Let’s Plays really were gold. I’m just not sure if there are any good MMOs out there to do a new one on. The market has dried up a bit.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Modern open world games are basically MMOs with everyone else not present.

        1. Droid says:

          So the best of both worlds, then.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Youd think that,but no.Its the worst.

            1. djw says:

              +1 to this.

  31. Dev Null says:

    Not a suggestion or anything, but I thought I’d pipe in and say thanks for pointing me at Prey. Mad System Shock 2 fan from back in the day, but I’d missed most of your earlier short-form comments on Prey by virtue of spoiler avoidance. I picked the name out of your 2017 retrospective on the same day it went on sale on Humble Bundle, and cannot put it down. Not perfect, by any means, but the best thing of it’s type I’ve seen in many a year. So Ta for that.

  32. Humanoid says:

    I’m sure there are all sorts of complex considerations regarding the merits of each proposed title. But I’m a simple person – I don’t like shooters, and I don’t like superheroes. No, I’ll rephrase that – I have no interest in them. Reading about something I dislike can be entertaining. Reading about something I have no interest in is not.

    Yeah, in terms of my selfish desires, it meant I basically had a holiday from the blog for the entirety of the Borderlands/Batman run, and it’d be unfortunate if the same happened for Prey/Batman/HL2 again.

  33. Shamus,

    Ahi tungoal en wahu, my deepest respect to you. I strongly recommend that you do the Deus Ex series. It’s my favorite series of games, and you happen to be the primary dude behind my favorite blog. I can appreciate that you’d do this sometime in the far future, but I would encourage you to make it near future. Like, if it’s not your next big writing project, make it the one immediately after.

    Deus Ex, for context, is the only game series I’ve personally tried to break and speedrun–even long before I knew speedrunning was a “thing” that people do. Simultaneously my proudest, and most embarrassing, gaming accomplishment was to do a no-kills run of the original Deus Ex (save for killphrases). And, more recent and just as shameful, I beat Mankind Divided on ironman mode without using any weapons or killing anybody. (There were a lot of nonlethal takedowns, however.)

    Fun Mankind Divided Fact: if you do a takedown on the girl in Prague who asks for neuropozyne, you can get her biocells etc. for free. You can do this in Prague 1, Prague 2, and Prague 3.

    Assuming you’re really putting Deus Ex off for the future, Prey captured me–I suspect–in the same way it captured you. You wrote that they seemingly made the game just for you, which is a statement that resonated with me. So I’d be deeply interested in reading an analysis of Prey.

    That said, if you so chose to discuss GTA V and the whole series, I wouldn’t be opposed or anything. I’m personally wholly ambivalent to GTA. It does virtually nothing for me. I’ve only played two other games in its style, Saints Row 2 and Mafia 3, which I happened to really enjoy once and never returned to. But GTA? I mean, the series is very popular–you might get new readers? And you’ll make it entertaining regardless. I would be intellectually interested and continue to check your blog multiple times per week, but I wouldn’t have the passion of wondering what you’ll write next–which is literally what I felt when I discovered your blog partway through your Mass Effect series.

    I would encourage you to avoid discussing Fallout IV. I have multiple reasons for this, all of which are emotional and don’t respect the views of others. First, Rutskarn has just written about Fallout 3–which was pretty fun!–but I feel that’s enough Fallout for now. Secondly, I must confess that I didn’t personally find Fallout IV to be appealing to the types of mechanics and systems I enjoy.

    I’m not a patron yet, so I’m not responsible for your financial well-being, and I’ll read and enjoy whatever you produce, anyway.

    Thank you for considering my views as you make your decision.

    Ni wahu oh karakarak, my respect and humility,


    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but Rutskarn was FIXING fallout 3,while Shamus would be SMASHING fallout 4.

      Anyway,Id agree with you that Im not that particularly fond of reading about f4,primarily because of its blandness,but also because I dont think Ill read anything new about bethesda any time soon.

    2. Gruhunchously says:

      “Fun Mankind Divided Fact: if you do a takedown on the girl in Prague who asks for neuropozyne, you can get her biocells etc. for free. You can do this in Prague 1, Prague 2, and Prague 3.”

      Wow, that’s Shepard levels of horrible. You are a horrible person.

      It makes me kind of wish that the devs anticipated that sort of behavior and had her alert the police if you knocked her out the first two times. Or just have her grab a gun and try to shoot you on sight.

  34. Decius says:

    I for one would like to see you treat the System Shock remaster as critically as you have treated other things.

  35. Arkady says:

    I love Moviebob’s ‘Really That Good’ series (not linking because that triggers the spam bots, but it’s a playlist on his YouTube channel). Perhaps a version of that but for games would be interesting.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Seconded. I love reading Shamus’ rants on poorly-designed games. But some of my favourite content on this site are the Spoiler Warning mini-series gushing praise over Half-Life 2. It’s great reading about what a series does well. (And obviously that is far from the only example on this site)

  36. Kdansky says:

    Anything but more Fallout 3/4. It’s been done to death, the games are overrated to the point where it becomes comical, and anything that should be said has been said by Joseph Anderson already.

  37. Bubble181 says:

    I’ll throw in my hat for “anything but Fallout”. Between the Spoiler Warning seasons and Ruts’ Overfallout, plus some other posts that already talked about Fallout 3 and 4, I don’t really think there’ll be all that much new to say.

    I mean, I’ll definitely still be entertained, but I’m afraid it’ll just be “more of the same”.
    DX, Wolfenstein or Prey would seem to be the titles you’d have the most new things to talk about.

  38. Leviathan902 says:

    I think GTA would be a strong one.

    One of my favorite things you’ve ever written was blasting GTA for it’s DIAS gameplay and comparing it to Saints Row. It perfectly captured why I hated GTA IV despite it being supposedly the best game ever (the way it was viewed by the zeitgeist at the time). I thought I hated open world games, but what I learned is that I hated Rockstar open world games (Red Dead left me cold too) and as a result I tried Saints Row and fell in love with the series.

    I know you’ve posted before about GTA V and how great the world design is, but I would love to see your analysis on the gameplay design. Is it still gotcha-DIAS crap? Has mission design evolved at all since GTA III? You’re the only person who has pointed out how it has failed in previous games and I haven’t seen any mention on if GTA V was better.

    I prefer analysis of games I’ve played generally (so the other ones would be good too) but for GTA V I’d be willing to make an exception

    1. Christopher says:

      I’ve never even tried a game in the franchise, but the question I’d want answered about GTA is “Why are these games popular?” Among my circle of friends and fellow game-interested people online, GTA doesn’t really get any play time. Whenever I hear about it, it’s cause a family member of 13 or whatever just got it for Christmas. Is it just most popular among early teens? Is it the large, freeform, third-person multiplayer? Is the setting so grounded that it works for the same portion of the mainstream audience that will only play sports and modern day/historical shooters? Is it name recognition from back in the day?

      GTA V was on the best-selling list of 2017. That’s _bananas_, so many years after release, and I’m really curious what they did to get to such a colossal mainstream success. If you do make a series about it, that would be really interesting to know more about.

      1. Droid says:

        It has a lot of jokes about penises, sex, and a lot of potential for careless violence and gory rampages. You can play an alpha male who solves his problems with guns and sometimes heavier equipment, suffers no long-term consequences for breaking any rule and gets rich off of it, even. Its reputation also obviously plays a big role, but I think it does fulfill a certain phantasy of power and of breaking free of the rules and the expectations, and a sense of general distrust that often accompanies those (“s/he is basically still a child, better let their parents decide”).

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Why are these games popular?”

        They used to be fun and funny up to vice city. It’s 4 that went for the stupid disonance of a serious story in a silly world. Also, the jabs they had about USA earlier were just fun, and sometimes even true, but now they are just mean spirited and stupid. Basically GTA used to be Saints Row, and thats how it built up the fan base.

      3. Cubic says:

        “GTA V was on the best-selling list of 2017. That's _bananas_, so many years after release”

        I don’t do multiplayer myself but someone whispered that GTA Online is a big thing. Maybe that’s it?

    2. Droid says:

      Exactly the same for me. Actually, more than that in my case.

      I thought I hated “modern” open-world, because there were a few good action RPGs that were (at their time) viewed as “open world” (you could in theory go anywhere on the surface map immediately, but doing so uncautiously would make you very dead very fast) that I played a TON in my childhood, and cherish to this day.
      Then I played Oblivion, and kind of didn’t like first its limited inventory, then its bland locations, then its wide-but-sparse approach to filling the world (which compounded the second issue), the either-motionless-or-full-crash-dummy combat etc. It just never “clicked” for me. So I just went back to my older games.
      Then Skyrim came out and everyone said it was great, and I just saw more of the things I didn’t like about Oblivion. I played through most of it, but mostly because I was having a bad case of sunk cost fallacy and made myself play it. At that point I had given up on Bethesda’s approach to open world, pretty much.
      A few months later I finally bought GTA IV, and would you know it, it has its own share of problems and just really doesn’t play like the previous games like Vice City or San Andreas (also favourites of mine). I hated the loss of control that the better ragdoll simulation brought, the fact that you’re much slower when sprinting, even slower on stairs, have to watch out not to die from falling damage, etc. But even if moving my character, shooting my guns and following the mission plot were really unfun, the thing that really killed it were all those side activities. Why did they ever think THE THING that people trying to play “Wreaking Havoc – The Game” needed most were OBLIGATIONS?! Of any sort!
      I seriously started considering that I was just becoming one of those grumpy old people (who can’t stand the children having fun anywhere in the general vicinity of their lawn) way too early. I mean, how could it be possible that everyone else should be fooled, and I in the right?

      Then the Witcher 3 came out and I played it to pieces, and I discovered Saints’ Row through a friend’s recommendation, and I had more fun in the worst 15 minutes of those games than during the entirety of GTA IV and Skyrim combined. Oblivion gets a pass because of its Shivering Isles expansion, I guess. That was fun and well-designed, at least.

    3. Cubic says:

      I’m long inured to DIAS and even enjoy it when well done. (“Help me”) With that said, I thought GTA V was the easiest of the GTA series, so they’ve probably dialed down the DIAS.

  39. Crimson Dragoon says:

    If we’re voting, I’d vote for GTA V. I haven’t seen a huge amount of discussion of it here, especially concerning story and theme. On the other hand, there’s been more than a few words written about the Fallout and Batman series.

  40. The Coach says:

    My short-term vote would be for GTA V. Your brief past discussions on the game have always been poignant and thought provoking. I’d love to read something more long form on the topic.

    But my long term wish is to read your deep dive into Deus Ex! An essay on the original game alone would be a treat, and to see it compared to the more recent installments in the series would also be a pleasure.

  41. ThaneofFife says:

    If you do GTA V, I’d really like to see an extended comparison of the GTA and Saints Row franchises. I’m a huge fan of Saints Row III and IV (and even of Gat Out of Hell, which has the best human flight mechanic I’ve ever seen in a video game, but basically nothing else), but never felt inclined to play GTA after reading your reviews of it.

    If you do the Deus Ex series, I’d really like to see an in-depth explanation of the appeal of the originals. I tried to play the original Deus Ex after I finished Human Revolution, but I just couldn’t deal with the late-90’s interface and graphics. I had no idea of whether I was doing stealth correctly, or even how the game’s stealth worked. A similar thing happened when I tried to play the original Fallout games last year. In the 90’s, I probably would have been willing to invest time in reading a detailed manual and learning the interface, but it just seems like a waste of time now.

    Finally, I just wanted to say how much I’m looking forward to your Wolfenstein: The New Colossus series. I started playing the game last week, and am about 30 hours in. I just finished the first section on Venus. So far, I can’t shake the feeling that this is all taking place in BJ’s head, and that he really did die earlier in the game. The fact that Anya wouldn’t explain how they escaped from the parking lot during the botched rescue definitely reinforced this feeling. Instead of giving an explanation she just said the exact same thing Super Spesh had said earlier (which BJ points out).

    The thing that stands out the most for me in the new Wolfenstein, though, is how surprisingly pointed its political commentary feels given contemporary American politics. (I know you want to keep your blog politics-free, though, so I’ll try to avoid pointing out the contemporary comparisons.) New Colossus also excels when it’s critiquing the same violence that its gameplay is built around. It seems to be saying both that violence is terrible, and that the only reasonable answer to the violence of the Nazis is to use that same violence against them. For example, there was a conversation you could overhear while sneaking onto the underground rocket train in Roswell where two guards talked about how terrible it was that people would judge them for what they believed (as Nazis). In an almost-hilarious demonstration of hypocrisy, however, after making this (seemingly-valid) point, the guards started talking about how they were looking forward to being assigned to death squads in New Orleans. This is a game with a lot of interesting ideas, and I’m going to be chewing on it for a while. I only wish there were more shooters like this out there.

    1. Cubic says:

      (and even of Gat Out of Hell, which has the best human flight mechanic I've ever seen in a video game, but basically nothing else)

      Ahem. Mimimimi-miiii. Here we go.


      1. ThaneofFife says:

        Okay, granted, the musical number was hilarious, even if the plot was otherwise minimal. I also liked how they rebooted the entire franchise at the end when God grants you (i.e., Johnny Gat) wishes.

  42. Redrock says:

    I think GTA V is one of the more boring open-world games out there. I mean, the movement and combat sucks and is somehow worse than in Red Dead Redemption. The world is this boring kinda satirical version of California, but the satire is a joke without a punchline. The characters are … I dunno, Michael as the middle aged constantly frustrated ex-robber with a mid-life crisis is kinda fresh, but the other two are just plain terrible. Franklin is an empty shell who just sort of decides to be a gangsta. Trevor is mostly awful. I tend to think that the idea that he represents the way people go on rampages in GTA games is being a bit too generous. Rockstar isn’t that subtle, at least not in this particular games.

    So you get to control clumsy oaths that engage in bare-bones shoot-outs and car chases. You also get to drive a lot around a simulation of California, buy clothes and get haircuts. Yay. Go videogames. Thanks, but I think I’ll just get on my camel and go air assasinate some idiots in ancient Giza.

  43. Grampy_bone says:

    I vote against Wolfenstein only because I haven’t played it yet and I would have to avoid this site for spoilers.

    I’ll vote for Arkham Knight because I thought the previous Arkham write-ups were really good.

    I think the problem with GTA V is the stereotypes it is trying to send up are painfully out of date, even when it came out. When was the last movie about “vapid west coast yuppies and their therapists,” LA Story?

    1. Syal says:

      Shutter Island, I think.

  44. Potsticker says:

    I’ll join the write-in votes for Witcher 3, but of the other options, GTA V.

    You’ve done really good treatments of a Fallout game and an Arkham game before. I think a new series in those worlds would inevitably end up referring back to stuff you’ve already written. I think GTA is a place where you’d be able to get some good content that is distinctive from your other stuff.

    I mean, I’ll read it regardless.

  45. Jamey Johnston says:

    I would very much like to more of your thoughts on the various Deus Ex games, and also Grand Theft Auto V.

  46. Personal familiarity with it makes me hope that you cover the Deus Ex series (heck, I may even play DX:IW in entirely worthless long-distance moral support – I’ve got it, I just never played it). And I’m curious about Prey ‘cos I loved SS2 and could quite go for a solid successor. Honestly, though, if you write about it then I’m likely to read it anyway, soooo……. carry on. :p

  47. GoStu says:

    My #1 choice would be Fallout 4, followed closely by Arkham Knight.

    GTA V is a game in which I think the developers only half gave a shit about developing plot/story and intended way more of a sandbox. Sure, Fallout and Knight have a bit of sand in their boxes too, but F4 is also selling itself as an RPG and Arkham Knight is pretty story-heavy as well. I think a lot of critique of GTA might boil off as “devs didn’t care, why do you?”

    Deus Ex I’ve honestly never played. The originals I’ve filed in my “Let’s be honest, never going to jump through the hoops to go back that far in game-time”; the newer stuff builds on a legacy that I’ve ignored.

    Arkham Knight I’d be interested in hearing you talk about the continuation of a series where you quite liked the one prior (ignoring Origins). Could be some useful stuff in “and here’s how the series went downhill”.

    Fallout IV is my preference. Big open-world sandboxy play but combined with a story that’s supposed to be deep and a bunch of factions that are supposed to involve you… but I felt uninterested in. I’d love to read your take on it.

    I have no feelings or interest in Prey 2017.

  48. Henson says:

    And here I’m still holding out hope you’ll do something on Outcast

    1. Syal says:

      Ooh, a full-length Outcast critique would be fun.

  49. Riley Miller says:

    I’d rather see a GTAV series. That being said I have thoughts on Arkham Knight.
    I liked it. A lot. It might actually be my favorite of the Arkham games but I get why a lot of people think it’s the worst. Whether you like AK is largely dependent on how much you like the car (I loved it) and how much you like beating up dudes (I feel pretty meh about it). Although your story analysis would be interesting we will never agree on the gameplay and that’s okay!

    While you’re here though, I’ll drop another bombshell: I think Arkham City might be my least favorite. Yes, even worse Arkham Origins. Maybe. Asylum had the perfect blend of activities. I enjoyed the combat, and I enjoyed the stealth, and the investigation was an ok change of pace. City is about 90% combat. Maybe 95% combat. If you love the combat that’s great! I think the combat was pretty okay. By the end of the game I was sick of it. I powered my way through the campaign in 9 hours (how long to beat says it takes the average player, who is presumably enjoying themself, 13 hours) because I was invested in the plot but good lord was I sick of the combat. The world is big but empty and activities that mix up the gameplay are vanishingly rare.

    Origins is ugly and unpolished but at least it required stealth. I for one feel a lot more like batman when I am implausibly hiding on indoor gargoyles than beating the crap out of people. Origins also made me hate the combat even more, because it is bad. Very bad. You made a post where you described how the new team screwed it up and I agree 100%. Vitally though, Arkham Origins gave me other things to do. Even the crappy qte boss fights. It also had the benefit of the overpowered electric gloves which meant I didn't have to sit through much in the way of fisticuffs. Where the story was mostly macho guff the part where you played as the Joker felt like they came from another, much better written game. It's also the only game in the series I haven't finished. Have I damned this game with enough faint praise yet?

    Let's set aside Arkham Knight's crappy pc port. By the time I bought it on deep discount it was patched and ran at a buttery 90fps on my machine. Arkham Knight is one of those games that oozes polish and production values. It made me enjoy the combat again! I thought the multiple takedown mechanic was a gimmick at first but added a lot of flexibility to how you exited stealth and entered combat. I liked boosting around in the car and actually wished there were more races around the city instead of just underground. The tank combat was a little shallow but enjoyable enough. The tank stealth sequences were simultaneously ridiculous and quite tense. I could have done with fewer car puzzles but what can you do?
    The story was a little weak but the (spoilers incoming for a 4 year old game) battle in the center of the mind sequence with the Joker was a great way of wrapping up the plot. It let Rocksteady have their cake and eat it too vis-à -vis killing the Joker, and who doesn't want more Mark Hamill? A side point: has another open world game shook up their map like this one does? When the fear gas chokes the whole city it feels positively post apocalyptic. It feels like the Scarecrow has already won. And when (should I put this in spoiler text? Probably) Ivy dies the whole city is covered in flowers, honoring her sacrifice. Loved that part. The game wrapped up most of the villains in the series in a very satisfying way. The end of Dr. Freeze's quest roused my coal black heart to action. It felt like a love letter and a swansong to a series we all loved.

    Wrapping up this text wall, Arkham Asylum found a way of gamifying Batman's combat prowess, the feeling of having the drop on his enemies, and, much less successfully, feeling like a detective. Arkham City let these latter two pillars decay and atrophy. Origins made some headway on balancing them again but screwed the pooch something fierce on the implementation. And Arkham Knight pulled off each pillar better than any of the other games and added a fourth which proved divisive. I tried playing the Mad Max game after playing Knight and the experience was… MEDIOCRE!!!. The on foot combat felt awful by comparison and even the car combat, arguably the whole point of a mad max game, felt unsatisfying. The batmobile is the most fun I've had in a car in a game since Burnout Paradise. Now you'll excuse me if I go “nonlethally” bowl over criminals and shoot conveniently unmanned tanks. VROOM VROOM

    1. Redrock says:

      I had the reverse experience with Arkham Knight and Mad Max. Hated Arkham Knight but loved Mad Max. I’d argue that Arkham Knight isn’t really car combat – it’s tank combat, and not even that, really, but a very boring third-person shooter where you control a strafing turret or something. Car combat is, you know, about cars, and cars can’t strafe. Also, what Mad Max nailed was the visceral feel of driving in the Mad Max universe. Its effects are so good, I could almost feel the heat, taste the rust and smell the gasoline. In comparison, the tank segments in Arkham Knight are so fake, with the drones exploding in those little puffs of colored smoke and AR holographic prompts everywhere.

      The on-foot sections in Arkham are better, obviously, but I don’t think Mad Max was intended to emulate Batman. Instead, it’s slow and visceral and bloody and, unlike Arkham, tonally consistent. I know that I’m in the minority here, but I think that Mad Max is a truly underappreciated game. It gets a lot of points for atmosphere and the car combat which in this day and age is pretty hard to find.

      1. Riley Miller says:

        Again I think it’s mostly a matter of taste. To be clear I didn’t love the tank battles in AK. The game feel of Mad Max felt all wrong to me. I’m glad you enjoyed it though! I’ve also been looking for a good car game. Maybe I’ll give it another shot.

  50. Zekiel says:

    All sound like fun options to me! Although I am a bit Fallout’d out. (And I wouldn’t read the Prey one for ages since I’m not likely to play it til 2019 at this rate!) I love the long-form analyses on this site.

  51. Seed of Bismuth says:

    Welp be back in a year to binge read.

  52. Lars says:

    How about a story/gameplay analysis of the Legacy of Kain series?
    I really liked the series back in the day, especially because of the story an the characters. Even though I always had a feeling that something between Blood Omen 1/2 and Soul Reaver 1/2 didn’t add up well. Never could exactly point out what.
    Also the gameplay changes a lot throughout the series. Blood Omen 1 was kind of a Hack & Slash, Soul Reaver 1 a Zelda-clone, Blood Omen 2 a Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver 2 a Mix of Zelda and Tom Raider and Defiance a Devil May Cry.

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