God of War
Legend of Zelda
Gears of War
One of these franchises is not like the other.
This year at E3 we were treated to our best look yet at both confirmed and rumored titles for some of gaming’s strongest franchises.
Nintendo, the most traditional of the big companies brought out Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and showed off an immense open world, crafting, clothing and items with stats, breakable weapons and more in what could be their biggest gamble with the series in years.
Resident Evil VII was perhaps the biggest surprise of E3 returning with an entirely new vibe and perspective. Less zombies and monsters running through areas with explosions going off every 5 seconds. This is perhaps the scariest Resident Evil has ever been and all we’ve been treated to was a demo! First person your way through an abandoned house while some killer stalks the halls and you remain helpless throughout.
God of War returned with a new look, a new weapon and a much more calm Kratos. This Kratos is a father again and in the on stage demo we see him bottle up that rage instead of just “Hulk” through every situation he’s done in the past. His son levels up along with him, he has a new control scheme that uses with L&R buttons and an axe that he can call back to him at any point of the game. Along with a new camera angle and tone, Kratos looks like he’s finally grown up.
Gears of War 4 puts us in the shoes of JD Fenix (Marcus’ son) as he runs though environments armed with his lancer, hides behind cover, kills monsters that look a color shade different from the locusts of the previous 4 titles.
In a gaming landscape where series have either grown up, or given them a much needed shake up. Gears of War seems like it’s getting left behind.
When I watched/played the various press conferences and demos for these titles I walked away feeling rather numb after seeing JD and the other Gears tear it up through enemies in exciting and chaotic environments, and I couldn’t figure out why. It looked great, and the gameplay seemed as tight as ever but there was something missing. Something that I couldn’t but my finger on until a day or two after the Sony E3 Press Conference. It was just more of the same. While that alone isn’t a terrible thing, Gears of War has some of the strongest game mechanics in gaming, but it just didn’t feel fresh or anything but “more Gears”.
Last gen was a wakeup call for all of these franchises listed above. Resident Evil 5 was modestly received and RE6 was panned by everyone. Skyward Sword is seen as one of the weakest Zelda titles and both God of War and Gears of War had fourth entries in the form of Ascension and Judgment respectively which was the playable definition of “spinning wheels”. It was just more of the same while we all just waited for the new consoles to come out.
Fast forward to today, there is a ton of buzz for all these titles save one. In a gen where all of our favorite franchises are starting to grow up, Gears feels like it was the only one that didn’t get the memo. Gears of War 4 will do fine on its own but they are lacking that “must play” feel that will end up seriously damaging the series in the long run.