One way that I experience games today is from a scholarly perspective. What games have I missed out on in the past? What feats of engineering, design and writing have I missed, or that the community has forgotten or simply stopped talking about?
Franchises and sequels are often maligned. I’m not one to talk. I am devoted to certain franchises and certain game companies and will consume their content eagerly.
One benefit of sequels that is recognised is how they allow the developers to expand their ideas from the first games, to pursue those initial gameplay ideas and further and evolve it.
Catalog of Gameplay Mechanics
A hidden benefit is that sequels, like genres, serve as gameplay carriers. If I want to experience how Bethesda does lockpicking, I could play Fallout 3, New Vegas, 4, 76, Skyrim. That’s 5 games, and they all behave in the exact same way. For better or for worse, that lockpicking gameplay mechanic is mostly the same in those games, easily accessible to play around with.
Stealth has been implemented in many different ways, in different genres, in games that make it their core mechanic, in others that make it one of two or three possible styles of gameplay, and others that shouldn’t even have any stealth.
If I want to experience stealth today, I could relatively easily play Metal Gear Solid V, playable in PS4 or Xbox One, and their next gen counterparts. Or I could play one of the latest Assassin’s Creed games, which have stealth as a semi-viable route. You’ll still have bosses you need to defeat. I could play Deus Ex Mankind Divided or Cyberpunk 2077 which feature first person shooter stealth, which is itself implemented differently from third person stealth.
What I cannot do as easily is play Splinter Cell. Or Tenchu. Both of these series shared the stealth spotlight back in the PS2 and Xbox era with Metal Gear Solid, and they feature very different approaches to the same problem. As primarily a PlayStation consumer, moving from PS3 to PS4 to PS5, I had to abandon certain games with each jump.
From the PS4, I only miss P.T., the acclaimed Kojima produced Silent Hills demo, locked to consoles that have already downloaded it. From the PS3 era, there are a ton of exclusives that I have no other way of playing without compromises. MGS4 chief among them. Maligned for its story, personally I see it as Kojima throwing everything in, a maximalist exercise that for me, worked beautifully as a goodbye to the saga. That we got 5 at all is a miracle-curse.
I’ve been playing Splinter Cell Blacklist on XSX, the last released game in the series, all the way back in 2013, because I missed out on it. And I am loving it. It is fulfilling a gameplay desire no current or newly released game is filling, as far as can I tell. Third person stealth gameplay.
Metal Gear Solid has stopped, and Kojima doesn’t seem keen to follow the stealth trend again (I wouldn’t cal the BP sections in Death stranding as stealth, and more as horror game evasion, asymetrical stealth perhaps, where you have to avoid being seen or its semi insta failure, you can’t fire an arrow or shoot at the enemy to win that encounter).
Meanwhile, I’m really impressed with Blacklist. And how am I playing it? Well if I was still purely a PS player, I wouldnt be, unless I kept a PS3 connected, which isn’t pratical and also sounds like a jet engine (the miracle of modern consoles is their whisper noise level and sppedy loading times, not their graphics). As for PC, I’ve owned the game for Steam for years and not once was I able to play it. Always some Ubisoft Connect issue hard crashing it at launch.
I started on the PC, but I am really a console player nowadays, and the reason is sofa, two TVs, comfort, standardization, plug and play.
The Xbox Series X has to be one of the best consoles I’ve ever owned. It allows me to play a 2013 game in shockingly gorgeous 4k and improved shadows and lighting. Without fiddling with outdated DRM solutions. I just play it, quick resume, boom.