Occasionally we have the opportunity to play through a truly well-developed video game experience, one that pushes the boundaries consistently across every aspect of its gameplay. With the recent release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, such an experience presented itself to me. Uncharted 4 helped me believe in the power of sequels once again while also forcing me to contemplate my viewers on game development within the console sphere of PS4 and Xbox One.
For the past few years we’ve been playing games on the new consoles which hasn’t had much promise upon release. Massive titles like Titanfall, Destiny , The Division and Assassin’s Creed Unity marketed themselves as truly next-generation titles capable of delivering 1080p experiences at 60 frames per second on top of genre-redefining mechanics. But once picked up on release day by consumers, these marketing bullet points were quickly disproven in different ways.
In the grand scheme of things though, these releases have consistently felt like experiments rather than complete products that push the video game industry forward another leap.
Naughty Dog has always been a development studio focused on detail, making sure that every element of their game products matter and has a reason to exist within the grand scheme of things. Every audio cue, line of dialogue and character introduction matters – sometimes in a way that few comprehend until much later into the game. This attention to detail appeases the desire for a truly well-developed video game experience of course, but it also has the ability to draw in those who haven’t or rarely have played video games before. That my friends, is something that Uncharted 4 managed to do during my time with the game – it managed to pull a few people into the world of video games.
While I was playing through Uncharted 4 I had a few friends and family members walk by only to stop, sit down and join me for a few minutes due to the way Naughty Dog’s latest was presented. Without even touching the controller the game was able to engage them thanks to its carefully orchestrated performances and beautiful set pieces presented on-screen.
This sort of engagement has only been produced by a handful of studios in the last few years on consoles though, namely from larger more detailed worlds like those created by Naughty Dog and CD Projekt Red. Video games like Uncharted 4 and The Witcher 3 are prime examples of what a video game ‘can be’ rather than what the video game industry actually looks like and that’s just a damn shame.
While playing through Uncharted 4 I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell other development studios couldn’t grab my attention and the attention of those around me in the same way. I mean, with some many different and prestigious studios currently making and marketing games for the Xbox One and PS4, how had nobody else managed to achieve this level of detail?
It’s no secret that video game development of this caliber is a concept that matters within the gaming industry, especially today considering all of the sub-par experiences that are delivered daily. Too often we have video game publishers marketing and releasing video games that don’t feel as creative or complete compared to those of the previous console generations. These titles may not have a complete campaign experience, they could be lacking the finishing touches we’ve come to expect from video game development teams, or hell, they may even be cut short on purpose to support their original release date instead of being pushed back for an extra month. Essentially the majority of video game releases are becoming a cheaper product while their price point remains the same, which is not something gamers should be okay with.
Fortunately, this trend does seem to be changing lately. Both Uncharted 4 and DOOM have been delivering on their promise of creating a truly next-generation console experience that pushes the new hardware as far as it will go, which is a welcome change of pace that many will hopefully follow. Like those before them who inspired this trend however, they could also remain the only true masterpieces among a lineup of mediocre releases. Either way though, it’s safe to say that as gamers we deserve better – and not just in the pretty graphics department. We deserve video game releases that push the boundaries of the medium continuously while making the Xbox One and PS4 perform at their absolute best.