The Sky is the… Rimit? (Skyrim)

This blog post contains some spoilers for the main story and civil war questline in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

So after defeating Alduin and saving the world-

Haaaang on just a moment. Let’s dial this back a bit.

So after playing around 12 hours of Oblivion I realised that I wanted more; namely, that I wanted to graduate to the frozen lands of Skyrim before saving the world in Cyrodiil. I mean, sure, the story in Oblivion was interesting, but I was able to catch up on the events by reading a handy little in game book named The Oblivion Crisis. (Though I’d recommend actually playing the game, in all seriousness.) I decided to play Skyrim as it was meant to be played: with no carry limit removal mod, and on the standard difficulty.

I started out as a lowly prisoner, as this is an Elder Scrolls game and that’s essentially the tradition. After morphing into a few races before the eyes of the nonplussed Imperial before me, I settled on the decision of being a High Elf, as I’ve shown on this blog before:

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You may see Lydia there in the background. We’ll get to her in a moment.

Now, I’ve played Skyrim a few times before; firstly on PS3, secondly on PC, and both times my attention wavered. Before this playthrough I’d piddled through 11 hours of the game, messing about with commands and mods. I was very wary of starting yet another new character due to this. However, 35 hours later, I’m not regretting this decision. I’d previously never made it past High Hrothgar in the story, but once I decided to focus purely on one thing at a time (namely, one questline at a time) then things became much more fun.

I’m a destruction / conjuration user; I summon my Flame Atronach, back away a few paces, summon my Bound Sword, and start blasting people with fireballs. I also learned to use shouts to my advantage, as the game wants you to do but many people seem to forget exist. In passive roleplay fashion, my character has no solid backstory but happens to be a law abiding citizen with high moral values, who sees both sides of the civil war as flawed and remains the neutral party… whilst the dragons remain an immediate threat.

So, after defeating Alduin and saving the world (there we go), I decided to browse Skyrim a little more and learn a little of its history. I bought a house in Whiterun; I adopted a child; I saved a town from its collective nightmares; I adopted another child; I married Carlotta Camilla, who continues to stress to me every day how much it means to her and her brother that I brought back the golden claw. I proposed to her after I completed the silly love triangle quest and also, directly in front of her brother. Awkward.

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A little direct, perhaps, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work!

I am yet to do many things, but there are some side quests I’ve completed, such as slaughtering the inhabitants of Northwatch Keep to save so-and-so Grey-Mane, joining the Companions and becoming a bit of a werewolf, and obtaining a daedric artifact in the form of a soul gem which will never break upon use. And on my way to the Shrine of Azura, this occured:

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Tesco appear to have adopted a less… conventional means of freezing their meat.

But I’m afraid Lydia’s days of photobombing my screenshots were numbered. I have a rule in my playthroughs: when a companion dies, you may not revert time to save them. It sounds silly, but feeling the genuine guilt and regret when you accidentally kill your follower (for they can only die by your hand) legitimately enhances my gameplay experience. It makes the world feel more real, and it creates a sense of the world having consequences.

Lydia met her end in a cramped hallway in some shoddy cave when I was clearing the place out of bandits for the Companions.

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I don’t think it’s possible to die in a dignified manner in Skyrim. R.I.P Lydia… you were one heck of a pak-yak.

Perhaps I should have given her some better armour. Perhaps I should have advised her to stay behind me when I was casting spells. Or perhaps I should have let her stay in Whiterun, tending to my garden, free of the burdens of my many dragon scales and dragon bones, happy to live a peaceful life with my wife and kids and a never-ending awkward tension of feeling out of place.

Well, anyway! Times change, people die, things move on. Desperate to bury my guilt in the youth of a new follower to aid my cause, I returned to Riverwood and sought out a new apprentice. I came across Sven, the Bard, whom I helped with his affections for Cam-

Wait-

Camilla’s my wife now. Well, that would be an awkward conversation.

Anyway, I approached Sven with the offer of a lifetime – to carry the Dragonborn’s shit – and reluctantly, he accepted, saying that some guy I’m presuming was his bard master had always told him to get out and see more of the world. (Not very good advice for a bard, if you ask me. Counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t he be getting acquainted in taverns? Leave adventuring to the adventurers.) Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I spent 2,000 gold to kit him out with a set of armour to keep him breathing.

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Aw c’mon Sven don’t be so self-conscious, you look tough! No no I’m laughing because of how strong you look! It’s intimidating!

Sven was… an interesting companion. Sometimes, upon fast travelling, he’d get out his lute and start playing a tune to the open forest around us. Whilst in full battle-mode gear. He once did it even as a dragon was swooping down on us. Poetry in the face of adversity; it would be commendable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

Well, anyway, I was messing around with my werewolf abilities and, uh, those swinging arms are hard to control, and…

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I ate his corpse. Out of a sign of respect, you understand.

Nobody tell Camilla.

Torn apart by grief, guilt and feral instincts, my Dragonborn High-Elf Werewolf of a Destruction-Conjurer took a look at the world around him, and decided that civil war was tearing Skyrim apart. By this point my hybrid hide had read many books dotted throughout Skyrim, and spoken to many people; I’d discovered the recent war and the threat of the Aldmeri Dominion (more specifically the Thalmor) in basically taking over Tamriel. And the Stormcloaks are a bunch of racists who’d throw me out anyway, so…

I joined the Imperial Legion to bring unity to Skyrim.

So, alright, my moral values loosened up a bit. I completed the civil war questline on day two of my Skyrim playthrough (those 35 hours were not played far from each other). It was morbidly satisfying to blast through forts, killing at will with an army at my back, winning back Skyrim piece by piece. Tullius wasn’t exactly fond of me, given that I signed half his holds away in the peace treaty, and I never did mention the slaughter of Northwatch Keep to him… but hey, I helped him take down Ulfric. And he only gave me the swiftest of glances whilst I undressed the Stormcloak leader and took his clothes.

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He was a prick anyway.

His bloodlust satiated, my character finally settled down and considered his actions, and settled upon the idea of living the quiet life for a while. He ventured to Falkreath where, after being tasked to kill some lowly bandits, he was given permission to buy a plot of land.

He built a lovely little house.

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I’ve yet to build the extensions due to lack of resources, but they’ll be coming soon.

There’s still much to do. Every time I pass a guard nowadays they shout “HEARD THEY’RE REFORMING THE DAWNGUARD!” in my ear like it’s going out of fashion. Alright, I get it, I’m the almighty and famous Dragonborn, you want me to kill vampires, just freakin’ ask instead of screaming hints. There’s also apparently some work to be done in Solstheim. But man, this High Elf needs some rest. For now, his adventures are on hiatus; he’s going to settle down in his quiant little log cabin and read the adventure of another type of elf, one who lived around 1,000 years ago…

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[Festivities Go Here]

Um… right, yeah, this Thursday fell on a Christmas Eve (or is it the other way round?) so there won’t really be a blog post as per usual. To give you a quick rundown of my gaming life right now, though:

Since writing Oblivin’ the Life, I’ve finally caved and graduated to Skyrim early, still dubious as to my ability to keep my attention span directed into the game. This did not turn out to be a problem, however, with over 20 hours played in 3 days, the main story and civil war questline completed and no signs of my High Elfing days ending any time soon. Fully fledged blog post to follow.

The STEEAAAMMMM SSAAAAALLLEEEE has occured, and so far I’ve bought Drive Any Track and let my eyes speak more than my wallet on other games of interest. This restraint has been helped by the fact that I am not only poor, but that Steam sales are now a shadow of their former selves, offering only good-to-brilliant deals in place of the usual mind-numbingly spectacular ones. Also, my library is getting to be pretty sizeable, and is growing into an unhealthy mass of unplayed shame rather than the relic of a collector.

But enough relaxed discussion about gaming; I’ve got some hardcore relaxing to get down to. I leave you with one of my earliest gaming memories: myself, as a child, playing Crash Team Racing in the living room whilst watching the tree being decorated by family, and hearing Christmas songs in the background. I’m not certain if it was the same year, but I desperately hoped there’d be a PS2 under the tree, and it turns out there was. It came with Dave Mirra’s Freestyle BMX 2, XG3 Racing and Herdy Gerdy.

Passive Roleplaying

When you hear about “roleplaying” in an MMO, the first thing that will probably rush to your mind is level 1 human females running around Goldshire Inn sending winky faces and selling their virtual bodies for in-game gold via a series of private messages composed of erotic text, thrown together almost more carelessly than the works of Fifty Shades of Grey. But when you take away some of the more modern experiments with the MMO experience, what was the full name of the genre? MMORPG.

Roleplaying is not about getting naked and kinky with your overenthusiastic level 1, but instead the idea of creating a fictional element to your in-game character. Even when you get past the stigmatic notion of nude dudes swapping pubes, the typical expectation of roleplaying a character is that you walk rather than run, speak as that character would, and imagine yourself to be living in the game world rather than playing it. And some people enjoy this, I’m not knocking it, I find it to be an interesting experiment into fiction. Nor am I denying that this is roleplaying, as that’d be absurd. What I am denying is that roleplaying has to be a different approach to playing the game, and that only a minority of players do this.

In my eyes, roleplaying is done by many of us and we don’t even realise it. Once you spend more than a few seconds in the character customisation screen, choosing your forehead colour and elongating your nose, you may have already started to question just what your High Elf is even doing in Helgen. You don’t even have to flesh out the backstory; just paying attention to the story in relation to your character and the significance of these events is enough to warrant the title of roleplayer. I find that giving your character a good name, personality, and contextual presence within the game world, as well as a set of dashing good looks is enough to enhance your gameplay experience. In all of my previous gameplays, I’d been dashing around the land as Kritigri the whatever-the-race-he-felt-like-choosing-at-the-time, ignoring backstory and killing at will. Now that I’ve actually stopped to give thought as to my character within the game, I’m much more receptive to the world and find that it just can’t be ignord.

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My High Elf, lookin’ sharp. The quest required that I wear the fancy clothes but they remain in my chest at Breezehome.

…yeah, that was terrible.

The most prominent example I have of the difference between passively roleplaying and not is a World of Warcraft character I once had. My friend and I decided to make Worgens, and given the restrictions of class combinations, I ended up making a Worgen Shadow Priest whom I named Kritigrawr. He made it all the way to level 50 before his name, race / class combo and the ridiculous appearance of a wolf in robes bothered me enough to delete him. He has since been replaced with a Human Discipline Priest, and her name is Divinitaine. I have thoroughly enjoyed this change, and have made similar deletions in the past, typically deleting a character whose name was a variant of “Kritigri” (see: Kritigrawr the Worgen Priest, Kritigro the Dwarf Warlock, Kritigru the Draenei Monk) to make more befitting names and races (i.e the aforementioned Divinitaine, Netherwarp the Human Warlock and, ah… Thunker, the Human Monk. The name amuses me.)

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Here is my WoW character Netherwarp, before I found him a decent staff to wield. The robes were intentionally gathered, though; transmogrification allows you to make your armour and weapons look like different armour and weapons, further enhancing your character’s fantasy.

 

Some RPGs such as Borderlands and the Witcher put you into the boots of a character with little to no customisability. From a narrative standpoint, this has its merits and advantages (I’ve only played a little of the first Witcher game but I already very much like Geralt), and your immersion lends itself more to the story of that particular character than your own passive roleplay. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, for I sure as hell know I wouldn’t be able to create as much of a glorious Italian badass as the Ezio Auditore that Assassin’s Creed 2 through Revelations presented me with.

Cleaning the King’s Basement (Hammerwatch)

For those of you not in the know, Hammerwatch is a top down, 2D Gauntlet-esque RPG. That is, to say, a highly minimalised version of Gauntlet. From what I’ve seen you get a basic attack and a mana-costing attack, you eat the food you find to survive, pick up coins and occasionally come across a vendor who can upgrade your attack, defense, or combo maneuvers.

When I first bought the game some time ago I gave it a whirl, died, and went, “Oh, game over is really game over; there’s no alternate progression and the levels aren’t randomised, so I’ll have to do it again. Well, whatever, that was fun.”

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Toasty! Leagues of skeletons are no match for Reece’s mastery of fire!

I wish to go back in time and slap myself in my big dumb face. Randomised dungeon crawlers have spoiled us; they appeal to our short attention spans and throw algorithms at us, which we gleefully lap up as we explore the never-ending shifting maze. Games like Hammerwatch reign us back in and invite us to consider the beauty of manual architecture; secrets are hidden ingeniously, food scattered provisionally, enemy spawns have rhyme and rhythm to them, and treasure is presented on a silver pedestal as opposed to half glitching into a wall somewhere.

The fun really begins when you pull a friend by their ear and get them to join in with you. The sense of adventure and exploration is more than doubled when shared, and the “OH GOD SAVE ME” moments are to be relished. Whilst I’ve never played Gauntlet beyond dabbling in Dark Legacy as a child on the PS2, I’ve read elsewhere that Hammerwatch really brings back the feeling of couch co-op that the old Gauntlet games excelled so well at.

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Wasn’t this the pivotal scene in Batman Begins?

The linearity of the game is to be praised. For the longest time, I thought the game would end after defeating the maggot boss after three floors. I know three floors doesn’t sound like much, but there truly was a rich quantity of content offered and the game came equipped with an expansion and user created campaigns, so I assumed this was the case. I once jokingly referred to Hammerwatch as a game in which you were hired to clean the King’s basement, as the three types of enemies you come across in the first segment of the game are ballistic bats, hardy beetles, and the never ending tide of maggots that spit so much acid at you, the game quickly descends into a bullet hell of avoidance and triumphant spamming of attack when you find that sweet spot devoid of pain.

Well anyway, my friend and I defeated the maggot queen and were surprised when we were met with not a credits screen but a new basement, full of skeleton warriors and archers. “Hurray!” we cried. “These 14 extra lives will make this a cakewalk!”

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This was not the case.

Oblivin’ the Life (Oblivion)

The first Elder Scrolls title I played was Skyrim, and after a few hours of running around, picking up flowers, talking to crisp packets and slaying my very first dragon, I promptly stopped playing altogether.

I’m not saying Skyrim was a bad game. In fact, from what I’ve seen and tried to play if it since my first toe-dipping, it’s freakin’ fantastic. It’s not difficult to see what all the fuss (ro dah) was about. It was just too big for me. My concentration never managed to latch appropriately onto the game. Maybe I just didn’t feel like an RPG at the time.

About a week ago, I decided to play some Oblivion, which I’d had similar experiences with since abandoning Skyrim. I’m not sure what was different, but something clicked. Suddenly, I was fireballing rats and failing to protect the Emperor like nobody’s business. Wolves live in fear of me. NPCs cower at the thought of coming off as rude and being callously cut down, before hastily returning to life in the quicksave prior.

Well, alright, I guess I'll be leaving, then!
Well, alright, I guess I’ll be leaving, then!

I’m a bit of a cheater. One thing I’ve never liked about the Elder Scrolls games – more so in Oblivion than Skyrim – is the limitations of carry weight. So I maaaaybe downloaded a mod which extended my carry weight from 210 to somewhere along the lines of 37,000. I’m a magical Pak Yak masquerading as an Argonian, and it’s goddamn spectacular. That being said, I don’t pick up everything I see. If I’m aware that I have a Dremora Mace in my inventory, I don’t typically pick up one of the other thirty thousand laying around the place. If it’s light, like the good old Deadric Heart, then I’ll probably shove more than a fair share in my endlessly expanding pockets. (I’m quite a sight when I rock up to the Imperial City with my pockets trailing behind me like Santa’s sack.)

I also turned the difficulty down, because I’m an awful gamer. It was default up until the siege of Kvatch, where I was met with a stretch of maybe 15 demons and nowhere to replenish resources. I turned the difficulty down just a smidgen, just a little tiny bit, and I was suddenly dispatching scamps in two swings instead of twelve. I’m not entirely sure what kind of scaling that is, but I’m not going to question it. I’ve been able to experience much more of the game in a shorter span of time due to it.

All jokes aside, I actually find myself interacting with the story and paying attention to characters and plot, far more so than I did in Skyrim. I don’t have the best attention span as a gamer, so this is a rare treat. Oblivion’s gameplay is tugging at me to try out Skyrim again, which I know harbors many improvements in niche, quality-of-life areas. But I’m forcing myself to stay with Oblivion for now, maybe to the extent of finding a quiet corner and reading through the fifty books I picked up to learn a little more about this world which I so ceaselessly charge through without much of a second thought.

M-M-M-MONSTER KILL! (Unreal Tournament)

My father bought the PS2 version of Unreal Tournament off eBay when I was around eleven years old. It seemed like a bit of a random purchase, considering we didn’t typically buy stuff online, but perhaps he was interested in it; perhaps he thought I’d be interested in it. If he thought the latter, then my goodness did he turn out to be right.

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Unreal Tourmanent on PS2, in an exclusive map.

Unreal Tournament was the first FPS I ever played. To start with, I was somewhat dumbfounded by the controls, but after many agonizing hours of running into walls and falling off elevators, I got the hang of it. I came to like this new breed of game (from my experience), and then I came to love it. After many hours of fragging (always Free For All), I came to believe that I must have been one of the greatest Unreal Tournament players in the world, having become able to dispatch bots on Inhuman difficulty in both normal and Instagib modes with ease. This was, of course, innocent childhood arrogance that was quickly dispelled upon my first treading into online multiplayer waters.

I played the console version of Unreal Tournament for many years before I finally acquired the PC version, and a PC to play it on. I believe I’d already played some FPS games on PC, and had gotten used to the controls there, but that didn’t stop me from having to re-learn how to play Unreal Tournament after losing to average bots. I was also overwhelmed with the new amount of maps and characters and options there were. This, I realised, was the full version of Unreal Tournament, and not that junior version over on the console (although the PS2 did have some unique maps which I still miss to this day). Once I’d re-acquainted myself with the gameplay on PC and made myself at home, I figured I’d venture into the online servers and kick some butt over there.

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Somebody head rolled allll the way down.

Unreal Tournament, at this point, was already almost a decade old. I failed to account for the fact that the only remaining playerbase would therefore be one of hardcore fans who’d played for hundreds, possibly thousands of hours more than I. They were also multiplayer veterans in the sense that they didn’t train themselves on bots; they were used to the unpredictability of players, which rivals that of even the highest level bot. Needless to say, the walls of Deck 16 were painted red with my repeated loss of blood and limb.

And dignity.

I decided to stick to bots, mostly because I didn’t feel like sinking hundreds of hours into getting as good as the hardcore players around me. I’m not a particularly competitive gamer, certainly not enough to warrant such a commitment of time and frustration. If I’m competitive at all, it’s in the sense of single player progression; I’d happily do some sort of achievement race, and often try my hardest to get the rarest achievements in a game. But dying over and over in the hopes of getting better and defeating strangers I’ll never meet again? Not my cup of tea. Not to say that that’s a bad way to play, of course. If you find something fun, do it!

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The one thing I dislike about UT2004 is the design of the pulse rifle.

A few years ago I got my gaming-capable laptop, and bought all the Unreal Tournaments on Steam after having been deprived from the sequels for so long. I remembered looking up videos of Unreal Tournament 2004 and longing to play it, but having an awful PC and no money. UT2004 may be my favourite of the Unreal Tournament games, partially for how it looks; it has an aesthetic which ages incredibly well. There’s also a fair amount of tweaks to the movement, and of course, a different selection of maps. It’s my go-to fragfest, if I want to kill a few hours with a podcast.

I vividly remember reading about “Unreal Tournament 2007” in a gaming magazine on a long road trip and becoming highly excited. This would go on to become Unreal Tournament 3, the estranged cousin of the franchise that nobody’s really certain about. Epic decided that combining the grittiness of Gears of War with the happy-go-fraggy gameplay of the previous games was a good idea. It was not. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, though, as I’ve spent a few hours playing it and whilst it’s not currently installed, I can see myself going back to play it in future. Maybe for the achievements- yes I’m aware that I have a problem.

I’ll quickly mention that they’re making a new Unreal Tournament that’s completely free, and it’s playable now. However, last time I tried to play it, it was very unoptimised and my PC didn’t like it, so I’ll wait for the full release and hope that it gets better. I’m very pleased that the folks at Epic decided to make another Unreal Tournament. It’s awoken a dead community from the slumber of eternal replayability.

The entire reason I’m writing this blog post is because of a series of events which happened yesterday. The website Bundle Stars was selling a Quake bundle which I was tempted by, but ultimately did not end up buying because I’m currently as rich as the quality control in a Ubisoft game. I then remembered Quake Live, the formerly free to play Quake game which I’d dabbled with for about half an hour in the past. I say “formerly free to play” because an interesting turn of events has taken place; the game, which had been free to play with a premium service for the last five years, is now listed as costing £6.99. I’m not sure when this happened, but it was sometime this year. People are furious, because it’s no longer free and it reset everyone’s progress, but I’m in the rare position of being better off for it as the premium service no longer exists and the game is already registered to my account! Having access to all 100+ maps, I decided to give it a proper spin, and learning this alternative (let’s be honest, probably original) arena shooter for the first time caused me to reminisce about my first time playing Unreal Tournament. I do miss the announcer from UT, though.

The Diversity We’ve Lost (Darksiders and the Gaming Industry)

Yesterday, my friend brought Darksiders 2 over for me to try out, thinking I’d like it. And he has good taste! It’s now on my to-buy list, after I play the first game. For me, the game hearkens back to the PS2 era, where games held more of a unique flare to them.

I only played the first few hours of Darksiders 2, but it was brilliant. That game is an intertextual haven for other genres, and it pulls it off flawlessly, without falling into the trap of trying to be too many things at once. It has the combat of Devil May Cry, the dungeons and lock-on combat of Legend of Zelda, the loot system of games like Dark Souls and Diablo; galloping through open fields and finding gigantic bosses is reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus. It even has a portal gun, if my friend is to be believed. And it does this all without feeling like it’s stealing from other games, or being unoriginal; it’s taking the best of other genres and blending them into the most delicious smoothie you’ve ever tasted. Unless you don’t like smoothies, in which case you’re like me, and we should head for the milkshakes immediately. And if you don’t like milkshake? Well, you’re beyond saving.

This game is more than just a love letter to the gaming universe, however. It has its own unique plot involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, multiple realms of existence connected through one world tree, that kind of thing. Similarly to its gameplay, its story takes influences from all kinds of places, whilst still making it unique. They have dwarves who are huge and built like tanks! Like I said, I only played around in the game for a few hours so I can’t exactly do a review on it as such, but even within the first few hours I was able to identify the game’s shining features.

And the art design! That is how you do art design. Not just the weapons you wield, but the very world around you is just delicious. From the vibrant green fields to the luminescent lava pools, this game will make your eyes pop out with happiness. And I was playing this on a PS3!

When I mentioned the PS2 era of gaming earlier, I was talking about how diverse the game library was for that system. Sure, you had your Need for Speeds and FIFAs, and Call of Duty was still making its baby steps towards competitive multiplayer… on console, anyway. But then you had Motor Mayhem. And Ratchet and Clank. You had Jak and Daxter transition into Jak 2 of all things, you had RC Revenge and Fur Fighters and Shadow of the Colossus, you had Wipeout and Smash Cars and you had god damn Road Trip Adventure, a game which I will surely cover in the future; it didn’t know whether to be Penny Racer or an RPG. And, hell, does anyone remember Herdy Gerdy?!

I’m not discounting the games we have today. Borderlands was a brilliant mesh of gaming genres. But it was an FPS. And in my eyes at least, Destiny is a different flavour of Borderlands, with a little bit of Halo mixed in there, asking me to buy ridiculous emotes as opposed to unnecessary character skins. And these games are all first person shooters. When I was a child, I used to read gaming magazines – my favourite was Games Master – and I used to enjoy reading through the many varieties of upcoming games that looked interesting and fun, and new. And I remember buying one of those gaming magazines for the first time since the 360 and PS3 came out, a few years after, and being disappointed that everything had descended into gritty shooters. Although the grittiness, to be fair, is something we seem to finally be leaving behind, as can be seen from the transition between Fallout 3 to Fallout 4, between CoD: World at War to CoD: Advanced Warfare.

Indie titles have been a step back towards this era of gameplay, and it’s something that’s really taken off in the last four or five years. We’ve had Bastion, for example. We’ve had Super Meat Boy, we’ve had The Binding of Isaac, we’ve had Trine. But these games are noticeably smaller in size, which is understandable given the limitations of independent resources and the lack of funding. When are we going to see an influx of unique games on the scale of Okamiden?

Probably not any time soon. Much as I’m sure we all hate to admit it, the gaming industry is an absolute mess right now. We’ve got DLC and microtransactions being enforced by corporate greed, ruining the integrity of the gameplay; we’ve got an oversaturation of half-baked indie titles burying truly talented games, and early access allowing developers to lose motivation after recieving a released game’s worth of money for an unfinished product; we have publishers rushing out titles before they’re finished, leading to broken and buggy gameplay.  The free-to-play model has leaked off of phones and into our consoles and computers, providing the most expensive, paywall-ridden games to date. We’re in a new age of online discussion and vocal minorities, harassing developers to make changes to their upcoming games which show of overly ambitious, unique changes that we don’t like because we’re already invested in the series. Seriously, never has game development been so public to its consumers, and people now more than ever are falling prey to the trap of judging a game many many months before it has been polished and balanced into its final release. And the developers understand this, but the pure visceral nature of community backlash is what forces them to change things.

But as long as games like Darksiders 2 can exist, there’s hope. And it’s not all bad; there are new indie titles which are brilliant, and early access games which have been a huge success. Hell, once in a blue moon we may even see a triple-A title like Darksiders emerge. It’s just a vastly different gaming world to the one we’ve known before, and whilst modern games shouldn’t be discounted for their progress in furthering entertaining gameplay, I, personally, would certainly welcome some miraculous transformation back into the diversity of the PS2 and previous consoles.