I’ve been a gamer since the PS1 era, and I can tell you for a fact that for every generation since then, the only significant, wide-reaching gameplay evolution involving multiple publishers and platforms has been online play. I find that very surprising considering everyone says gameplay is what truly matters in a game. The focal point in every debate it seems, has been graphics and processing power. This generation though, has the potential to stand out from the rest.
Open world gaming has been here for a longer time than many can imagine, but now there are more games than ever with that mentality, and much much more when you consider those that use it in smaller doses. Rise of the Tomb Raider has playground-like sections where players can tackle objectives if and when they want. Not only that, but the level showcased at Gamescom 2015 indicated that you can also choose which path to take or how to eliminate threats. The concept goes as far as offering a non-lethal option for the hardcore type.
This year had Avalanche Studios’ vision of the Mad Max universe and Hideo Kojima’s last Metal Gear releasing the same day. The surprise hit Dying Light arrived at the beginning of 2015 and the critically-acclaimed finale to The Witcher trilogy hit store shelves last May. The fact is, I could mention twenty more I’ve read about coming this year and the next that have this sandbox mentality, and there could be hundreds more.
I’ve never seen a gameplay trend of this magnitude take over a console generation before, and gamers are right to be excited. First of all, more paths to take and more ways to play equals higher replay value, requiring multiple playthroughs to get the most out of every game. Second, players feel more empowered and immersed when they ARE the protagonist, crafting their own stories in these fantastical universes, unlike in other games where players go along a linear path, experiencing the same situations in every playthrough.
This coupled with the indie games explosion of recent years represents a massive shift in mentality for creators, publishers and gamers alike. And now, with Virtual Reality headsets right around the corner, players are increasingly more empowered and immersed in their games. Games now, more than ever, have the power to inspire and stir emotions and finally win everyone’s approval on whether it’s an art form.