Hype is a powerful thing. It can make a game successful before it even releases. Similarly, it can kill a game before it even sees the light of day. Hype is our excitement, our raw unbridled desire, nor for a game, but for an idea of a game. Whenever we see a new game get teased through screenshots, video, trailers, E3 presentations, and the like, we can only assume what it’s going to be like. Even us game journalists that get to play early builds of the game only have a semi-educated guess about what the final product will be. And so, hype is, in essence, a fantasy.
They tell you not to believe the hype, though, and I’m doing my best to follow that advice. These are ten 2015 that I am remaining skeptical about despite pre-release excitement. Note, this doesn’t mean I think the titles will be bad. I’m just advocating for the “wait and see” approach before going out to preorder them all.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Everyone went crazy about Lara Croft’s first reboot, and it was a very well put together game. But we saw gameplay of the first Tomb Raider three years before it actually came out! Now, Rise of the Tomb Raider is set to come out later this year, and we haven’t seen a single gameplay video. Likely we will see more details about this title at this year’s E3, but I’m not ready to be sold on this game by brand alone just yet.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Everyone wants to see Solid Snake (or whatever Snake this one is) in action again. But I think people are overlooking one very important fact. The Phantom Pain is going to be based on the same gameplay as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes , and Ground Zeroes was a big disappointment. It’s not just that the game was short – its open-ended structure led to players having little direction. The enemies were either oblivious or crack shots. Your actual options toward tackling certain missions were limited. I’m not entirely sure why everyone is convinced that Metal Gear Solid V will fix every one of these flaws and also be several times longer than its predecessor/demo.
Zelda Wii U
This entry might be cheating because we aren’t quite sure if it’s going to come out in 2015, but either way, I’m not certain that Zelda on the Wii U is going to be good. There has been a lot of talk about making the game open world again, like the first one. Have any of you gone back and played the first Zelda recently? I have no idea how I finished that game without a walkthrough. Zelda hasn’t been open world in ages. Even Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time , two of our most favorite Zelda s, were essentially linear with a couple side quests strewn about. I think Zelda fans are going to have a rude awakening when they realize open world gameplay doesn’t necessarily make everything better.
Halo 5 will feature a new Spartan, new maps, new weapons, a new environment, a new gameplay system, and will run on an entirely new engine. So… how is this Halo again? I’ve long thought that Halo has been selling itself on brand and brand alone. It’s original arcade-style shooter gameplay has given way to Call of Duty in space, and gameplay videos for Halo 5 confirm that style of gameplay once again. I’m sure the game will be fun, but I don’t think for a second it will stand up to Halo ’s much revered legacy.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This is another one of those titles that keeps shoving the words “open-ended” in my face. Honestly, I don’t get what’s so appealing about open-ended gameplay. When I went to an E3 presentation for the game, I was told that the whole world will be bigger than The Witcher 1 and 2 combined. Is that a good thing? Am I just going to spend hours getting from point A to point B in order to complete my next quest? Size doesn’t MEAN anything if it doesn’t have content, and I feel like this idea of “go anywhere you want” simply for the sake of it is watering down otherwise compelling RPGs.
No Man’s Sky
This is a game that I am skeptical about that I want to be good so bad. The idea behind No Man’s Sky is that there is a pseudo infinite universe for you to explore and discover. Each player starts on a different planet and explores all the other planets in a universe. The universe of No Man’s Sky is supposedly too big for any one player to explore fully in their lifetime. That’s great, but how do you bug test it, then? Also, how do you keep all these planets from feeling samey? If my planet has orange sand and my friend’s planet has blue sand, there’s not a lot of reason to visit one if you already visited the other. This game just feels like one of those titles that is promising the sky (no pun intended) and is going to under-deliver, but man I hope I’m going to be proven wrong.
Silent Hills is another title that I want to be good, but I have my reservations about. First of all, Silent Hill hasn’t been good in ages. The original team has long since moved on, and the horror mystique that made Silent Hill 2 so amazing may have been lost with the technical limitations of the PlayStation 2. Second of all, the game is in first person, which is creepy but lends itself to jump scares, the Dane Cook of horror devices. Finally, it was nearly impossible to “solve” P.T. , the playable teaser for Silent Hills . It was months before we had an inkling about what final steps were needed to actually escape the house. In one teaser, that’s fine, but if the puzzles in Silent Hills are this frustrating throughout the whole game, I see a lot of thrown controllers, and not out of fear.
Star Fox Wii U
Let’s be clear here, the only gameplay we have seen of the new Star Fox is of Shigeru Miyamoto flying an Arwing around a completely featureless field. That is not substantial gameplay in any way, shape, or form. Teasers for Star Fox Adventures included flying in an Arwing, and we ended up fighting dinosaurs instead. There’s no real proof that Nintendo has gotten back in touch with what made Star Fox great back on the N64. I’m going to reserve judgment for this title until after Nintendo shows me that this is another flight sim/rail shooter, not a first person escort mission for Slippy Toad or something weird like that.
Kingdom Hearts III
It’s been a while since we saw a numbered Kingdom Hearts title. A long while. Like, two console generations long. Back when the series was just Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 , we had this interesting Disney style story about multiple worlds, magic, and what happens when your heart breaks. However, with all these spin-offs, I’m not even sure where the story has gone. I don’t know who Xehanort is… there’s like five of them. I don’t know who Roxas is, or if Roxas is Ventus, or if Ventus is even still alive. I don’t know what the Keyblade Wars were. Tetsuya Nomura keeps making this story more and more convoluted, and at this point I’m not sure I really want to see a resolution. I mean, have you SEEN the Kingdom Hearts flowcharts out there on the internet? Frankly, I think the franchise has lost its shine, and simply putting a number back in the title isn’t going to change that. The fact that Square-Enix hasn’t made a good RPG in years isn’t exactly inspiring either.
Final Fantasy XV
Speaking of Square-Enix not having made a good RPG in years, Final Fantasy XV has been in production since 2006. It’s had a nine year long development period! If anything sets off my skeptic sensors, it’s that. It’s gone through several different directors, and reboots back to square 1 (get it? SQUARE 1?). It’s been pushed back to a new console generation that wasn’t originally supposed to host the game. It changed from being a side game ( Final Fantasy Versus XIII ) and made its own numbered title. We have seen very little gameplay, and what we have seen seems to be a strange mash-up of Final Fantasy and Dragon Age . They too are shoving terms like “open world” in my face, without giving me a lot of substance as to how the game will really play, and no one has gotten a hands-on opportunity with it yet. Finally, the game isn’t even out yet, but Square-Enix is already talking sequels. What the heck? Frankly, Square-Enix has to do a lot to get back into my good graces after Lightning Returns , and since this game looks nothing like the games that made Final Fantasy great, like Final Fantasy 4 , 6 , and 7 , I’m going to get off this hype train… or car, or whatever.