Oct 19, 2017 Last Updated 2:01 AM, Oct 19, 2017

Blizzard Doesn't Follow

Published in Editorial
Read 3259 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Tagged under

When Blizzard Entertainment announced that Project TITAN had been shut down, my disappointment went deep.

Not because I might be stuck with World of Warcraft another decade, but more so because that studio known to define gaming trends had tossed the towel at their attempt to revolutionize an aging genre, instead seemingly reverting to a solution others have been excessively complimented on, the one that embraces walking the beaten path, the one that all too easily follows, in defining game dynamics and features, the dull philosophy of "let's add a fresh coat of paint to this relic called RPG."

Troll me for considering, in light of this argument, MMOs and traditional RPGs as equals, but as of late, every role-playing game I salivated over, Elder Scrolls Online, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and last but not least, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, followed a far too conventional pathway in game design, character progression, story lines, crafting systems, and combat mechanics.

By most measures, that doesn't mean I didn’t find these titles exciting, much even less undeserving of my time, and in fact, I'd be remiss to negate the creative process which made each of these experiences a reality. Were it otherwise, were these agglomerations of people called "dev teams" deprived of imagination, I wouldn't even bother. 

Bethesda, EA, and CD Projekt Red: your artists and developers are a gifted lot. They imagine universes that can charm, seduce, carry the most cynical and hardened of us all. Take The Witcher series for example. It's, beyond debate, an illusion of epic proportions, one that pulls you into its lore, through countless adventures, to paint a fantastic society worthy of those found in the most revered fantasies built for the contemplative screens. Now our screens do more, thanks to a developer’s ability to slap on top of story-telling a little something that belongs to us gamers, and us only: gameplay. Couch potatoes follow Jon Snow; we mouse handlers and key pushers are Jon Snow. We bleed and slay our own way to glory and fame, as bravely and valiantly as he does, and when it comes to the farmer's girl, we get to choose whether or not the oath matters.

So what am I whining about?

Well, I've already played Mr. Snow...  Countless are the times I acquired resources and learned to master the crafts of blacksmithing and herbalism. I’ve perfected rotations and survived by a hair on the count of a well-timed potion intake. I've specialized in skill-sets plenty, and every time have they enabled me to overcome greater challenges. I’ve conversed with villagers; sure. I’ve explored the maps to the last corner; I’ve completed the side quests. I’ve watched the sunset, I’ve picked up plants, I rode the horse.

I could go on, but you catch my drift. You dazzle me visually again and again, but the bottom-line is: been there; done that.

Hard to contest that the RPG experience, albeit its broadness and attention to detail, is a lazy one from an innovative standpoint. I worry that our beloved industry, which carried us through the years with imagination, is behaving a bit more everyday like the exhausted resource that is cinema. We are beginning to see, and worse yet, expect recipes.

I used to feel secure in my optimistic views on the future of gaming, because Blizzard was there. I knew they’d lead the way. I knew they wouldn’t care for a rinse and repeat. If they did something, it had to take us forward. It had to broaden our horizons. It had to set standards. A title released meant gaming was forever changed. Then came the dark year of 2014. That’s when discreetly, the core of its genius slipped and its culture embraced conformism. I did not know it at the time. After all, Hearthstone was one most impressive release. Yet looking back, I can safely say that it also was the first release in a series that meant we gamers lost our champion, the safekeeper of creation before gameplay, despite the fact that they’re still producing great, quality games.

Overwatch is a reskinned and improved version of Team Fortress. Heroes of the Storm is that for League, and Hearthstone for Magic. Did Blizzard take these games and make them their own? Absolutely. And yes, each title more than deserve its success. Still, when is the philosophy that made you epic coming back? Great games isn't your purpose. It isn't your mission. Blizzard, you probably won’t read this, but please come back. Please dare to innovate. You’re here to show the way forward. We expect that out of you. For the love of gaming, we need that of you.

Fred Brizzi

Fred is OpNoobs' loyal and undeserving Presidente. He started gaming with Alex Kidd on the Sega Master System back in 1986 and was brought by ID Software to the PC when DOOM hit the shelves in 1993. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and child, plays international politics by day, and games by night. His dream? To leave the elephants and the donkeys at the zoo, and eat, pray, love PC gaming 101% of the time. In fact, when he's not working for OpNoobs, he's apologizing to his wife for OpNoobs.

Related items

  • Is Early Access Worth It?

    Early access games give developers and players a unique relationship as a game goes through early-to-final development stages. As a player, you don’t have to be among the select few for the game’s alpha and beta phases; you can play immediately and experience a new perspective as the developers continue to build and improve the game based on your feedback.

  • Banner Saga 3 Art Reveal

    Stoic, an independent game development company, and Versus Evil a leading independent video game publisher, today unveiled the first key artwork for Banner Saga 3, the third and final chapter in the epic Viking RPG trilogy.

  • Aftercharge Interview with Chainsawesome Games

    The studio itself was established in 2012 by three people — two programmers and one artist — who had gained experience working in different studios before, but mostly with one studio (that is) in Quebec City, which is called Frima Studio. They decided to try it on their own and began working on a project which was later canceled because it had been too ambitious. Their first successful project was BeatBlasters III which is a game they released on PC. It’s a rhythm game with platformer and puzzle elements — a unique take on those genres. It didn’t perform very well, like most first games of a studio. They didn't invest much in marketing.

  • Devil Dagger’s Die-Hard Devotees

    Devil Daggers is created by Matt “m4ttbush” Bush, under the company Sorath. I’m greeted with screenshots that depict a hand engulfed in embers, firing countless daggers from its fingertips at hordes of lovecraftian enemies. The room is dark: there are no walls or ceilings, only a dark void. The faint illumination from the main character reveals ancient stone floors beneath. The entire color scheme seems to stick with three, maybe four colors at once — all dusty reds or luminescent yellows. They are hugging vertices that I have not seen since Quake, and they look brilliant combined.

  • Chronicles of Nyanya Interview

    Who doesn’t love cats? (Rhetorical question, folks — I’m awfully allergic to the diminutive felines, myself.) But still, even in ancient Egyptian and Asian cultures, cats have always seemed to be… around. Enter one of the last survivors of the Greenlight program: Chronicles of NyaNya, a cRPG ]by  Ilona Myszkowska, Polish comic artist and creator of the very popular chatolandia.pl. [EN: I looked it up, and no, the “c” does not stand for “cat”]

  • tinyBuild sponsors cash prizes for indie devs

    tinyBuild today announced their sponsoring in hard cash prizes of indie games at a game development event in Minsk, Belarus. The event is called DevGAMM and has the region's biggest game awards show.

  • What is my story, I wonder?

    Every gamer has her story of creation, his moment of revelation, the guidance of a universe-ordained path that lead to their own grand, epiphanous moment in which they became a gamer. Each one has their own unique testimony that lead to them pressing start for the first time. What is my story, I wonder?

  • Lifestyle Driven Play

    My drug dealer, “Dub,” runs an independent cafe in the Dallas metroplex. Keep in mind, my drug is black pu-erh tea, so he's not actually as sketchy as I've made him sound. His shop's a quiet place, and even when it's busy, he gets a lot of down time. He walks around, chats a bit with everyone, and then settles down behind the counter, where he keeps his unoptimized, but still respectable, PC. He plays turn-based strategy — usually single player, usually cheap or free.