You'll never catch me saying that 2013 was anything but a grand year for video games. Not only did we see two new consoles get released, but we got some of the best titles for the seventh generation systems on top of that. Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us alone easily make this year an A+.
However, just because something is great doesn't mean it can't be better. So if the digital gods are listening, here are a few requests for the coming year.
A Little Less Violence in Big Releases: If there is a problem with the uncontested rule of the first-person shooter over the past several years, it's that shooting has become literally the only solution offered in games of all genres anymore. When all you have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail.
Now, no ones expects The Last of Us to be anything but murder after murder of zombies and roving gangs, but the lack of other options in stuff like Tomb Raider was slightly annoying, and when dropped into the world of Columbia in Biohock Infinite (which was set in a fully whole city instead of a ruined dystopia), it became just downright odd. As long as games are going to continue to trend towards ultra-realistic, the fact that we're forced to react to every situation by opening fire is going to feel increasingly weird.
And a Little Less Moral Ambiguity: Of course, one of the big events this year was Grand Theft Auto V, which brought with it all the hooker-killing, pedestrian-running-over action that is to be expected of the series. And yet, in many ways it felt like a franchise that badly needs to grow up.
I have no problem with conflicted antiheroes and criminal protagonists. Legacy of Kain is one of my favorite games of all time, especially for the murkiness of right and wrong, and Hitman: Absolution was an exceptionally good, if brutal, play this year. The question is, can't we do something like GTAV where we get our primitive kicks by breaking up a human trafficking ring or something instead of just giggling mindlessly at the carnage? Well, yes, we can. It was called Sleeping Dogs. Can we have more of that, please?
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An Eye Toward Preservation of Old Games: If there was one aspect of the Xbox One and the PS4 that united gamers, it was that this whole no-backwards-compatibility thing is starting to get really freakin' annoying. Okay, okay, I understand that adding that feature would cost some serious dough in the hardware, but considering how much gaming is moving to the online marketplace these days, it just seems downright baffling that I can't take the copy of Borderlands 2 I have downloaded on my PS3 and just download it again on PS4.
There is an ever-expanding library of games left behind with every new console, and only a minuscule popular minority seems to make it onto the various online stores. I find it a little odd that modern consoles seem so interested in being your main entertainment hub for television, movies and games, and yet refuse to take the same approach to maintaining collections that iTunes does despite using a very similar model.
The Time for More (and Better) Women Characters Has Come: It's hard to argue that any one commentator had more of an effect on the conversation surrounding gaming this year than Anita Sarkeesian. Her series of videos on the role of women in gaming not only exposed some of the failings in gaming when it comes to offering more meaty role models to girls in the games themselves, the response from the more misogynistic corners of the Internet revealed just how necessary a change in tone is.
There were high points, surely. Tomb Raider, while sparking controversy over a near-rape scene early in the game, ultimately developed Lara Croft into a figure of tremendous empowerment and depth. Indie titles like Contrast worked well outside the basic damsel tropes, and it's one of the reasons it was the number one PS4 launch title.
Hopefully, 2013 will be the last year when women could be safely ignored without loss of significant revenue.
And Now, the Wish List: Finally, there are specific games and genres to cross your fingers for.
5. Half-Life 3; any list of hopeful games must include a reference to Half-Life 3. As long as we're asking, Portal 3 would be nice, too.
4. More games along the lines of The Stanley Parable. See the first point about less violence for more information on why this is necessary.
3. Of the LEGO franchise I would ask two things. The first is to please go back to the formula you were using before LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. The second is to please, please, please try and convince BBC to let you guys make a LEGO Doctor Who. It's the only way we're ever going to get a good game with The Doctor.
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2. If your game is going to be 20 percent single mission and the 80 percent online interaction, that's fine, but please make sure you tell us that.
1. Bravely Default looks amazing. What exactly do we have to do to convince Square Enix that the world is desperate for old-school portable turn-based RPGs? Maybe if we each buy two copies, we'll finally get them to remake Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI.