This past console generation brought new faces and franchises along with it. Marcus Fenix, Nathan Drake, Commander Shepard, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze all became household names this past decade. But, like the technology they appear on, these characters have grown old. With the dawn of a new console generation upon us, it’s time to bring in the new IPs. We need to let the old franchises go.
The most exciting part of a new console is the new technology that comes along with it. We couldn’t play a Mass Effect on the original Xbox or PS2. I remember Jade Raymond talking about how excited she was about the technology available to make Assassin’s Creed a reality. Yet, I can’t help but feel like I’m the only person missing this excitement in the build-up to E3. Maybe I’ll see it in 2014 when developers have another year under their belts with development kits. Or maybe it’s just that the market is too busy dictating that familiarity sells better than a new idea.
It’s a pretty big coincidence that one of the premiere games Sony displayed during the PlayStation 4 event was Killzone: Shadow Fall. We undoubtedly remember the unbelievable E3 trailer of Killzone 2 that helped debut what the PlayStation 3 is capable of. It just seems odd that Sony is selling new hardware with an old franchise. Killzone isn’t the only sequel to launch with the PS4; Infamous: Second Son also debuted during the PS4 event. These aren’t the only familiar franchises we’ll see on the next batch of consoles. We’re expecting a new Mass Effect, at least two more Halo titles, and I’m sure plenty more Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty. Naughty Dog isn’t afraid of trying something new, as we see with The Last of Us. I’m hoping their PS4 debut continues along this path, lest we get roped into the adventures of Nathan Drake and the Crystal Skull
Now, that’s not to say that the next generation will be completely filled with holdovers from generations past. Bungie’s Destiny is an ambitious project that looks stunning. We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs later this year. Both games are examples of what could be possible if more developers let go of the old and embrace the new. Remember the build-up to the Destiny reveal? How about the shock and surprise when Watch Dogs was initially announced? Going further, how about when Dishonored stole E3 last year; why can’t we have more of that?
There are over 1,000 people working on Assassin’s Creed IV. That number is spread across eight different studios. Yes, that’s a pretty big number to me, too. While I understand that the game is a pretty big step forward for the franchise, why do we even have to continue with it? Just because it’s a guaranteed moneymaker? People seem pretty willing to throw money towards both Watch Dogs and Rayman Legends. We also can’t forget the rumblings of burnout of these proven franchises seem to grow bigger and bigger by the year. Did we really need Gears of War: Judgment? Probably not; all that time and effort could have been spent making the showcase game for Unreal Engine 4.
We know that there are a lot of original ideas out there in the video game development world. Look at Dishonored, Far Cry 3, and The Last Of Us; plus, we can’t forget about the entire indie scene. So let’s leave the characters and franchise we’ve played for the last five or six years behind us when the new consoles launch this fall. Let’s move forward and start new adventures with new characters. Who knows, we may even make new best friends and forget all about Shepard, Ezio, and Nathan. Well, not fully forget; I still have fond memories of Alex Roivas, Lloyd Irving, Conker, and Wander.