Sunday, May 31, 2020
What have been the most important changes in video games, video game technology, and in the wider video game industry over the last ten years?
DemocratisationTanya X. Short, Co-Founder, Kitfox Games (Moon Hunters): Creating video games has become much, much more accessible. It used to be that games were all made by people who as children happened to take an interest in programming. A few newbie-friendly engines were around ten years ago, but now they've been normalized and rightly celebrated. With all the resources available both online and the variety of tools, you can literally have no experience with programming, and wake up one morning wanting to make a game, and have something playable by dinner. Heck, lunch, depending on when you tend to wake up in the morning. This accessibility has made game development and games themselves much more diverse, but it's also ratcheted up the competition, in the indie and mid-tier space. Andy Sum, Director, Hipster Whale (Crossy Road): Every step in the chain from creating to publishing a game has become more accessible. Unity and Unreal are now both free to use and the rapid increase in user generated content means that there's more tutorials and information on how to start creating games. Because of this, over the past ten years, there have been more games created and many new people involved in the video game industry. Distribution has changed to keep up with this too. Steam opened up Greenlight, Early Access, and then Steam Direct. Crowdfunding like Kickstarter has also helped fund many developer's projects. Multiple digital stores have appeared worldwide. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2018/06/22/hollow-knight-review"]
Hollow Knight started out as a Kickstarter project.
Mobile Gaming and DiversificationVille Heijari, CMO, Rovio (Angry Birds): So many things have evolved radically around gaming, and listing the significant ones is quite a challenge. There's the growing popularity of esports, the massive phenomenon of streaming, and so forth. Looking from a Rovio perspective, it's obviously the ridiculously rapid adoption of smartphones as the everyday entertainment platform, but specifically the sensational growth of mobile gaming, which now represents (based on combined smartphone and tablet game revenues) 45% of the global games market. Sure, the iPhone and Android launched in the previous decade already, but the past ten years have represented the lightspeed growth and coming of age for the mobile games industry. Jodie Azhar, Game Director, Teazelcat Games: The surge in mobile gaming has definitely changed the industry. We’re seen new game genres emerge and new monetisation models become prevalent. But most importantly it’s hugely increased the access to games for the wider population. Rather than having to buy specialist hardware to play games, they’re easily accessible from a device that most of us now already own. So many people now play some kind of video game, whether for five minutes or five hours a day, and we’re accepting them more as a part of life. Ryozo Tsujimoto, Producer, Monster Hunter series: I think it has to be smartphones and the resulting diversification of the gaming audience and gaming life. There were social games before, but I think it’s only in the last decade that they have really taken off. We can now play everything from meaty console and PC gaming experiences to more casual games that we can pick up and play in a spare moment on the go. Gaming genres have diversified, and we’ve had an increase in the number of players on the casual end of the spectrum.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22Gaming%20genres%20have%20diversified%2C%20and%20we%E2%80%99ve%20had%20an%20increase%20in%20the%20number%20of%20players%20on%20the%20casual%20end%20of%20the%20spectrum.%22%20-%20Ryozo%20Tsujimoto%2C%20Capcom"]
Mobile Gaming and the Death of DiversityYoko Taro, Director, NieR: Automata: I think it's “the death of diversity, brought on by the rise of the flat-screen smartphone”. The iPhone's design of “touching the screen with your finger” is a simple and well-made UI, and all smartphones in the world (the most common gadget in the world) have been unified to “a flat screen that you touch with your finger”. On the other hand, all other inputs using pens or buttons have become extinct, and smartphone games are (almost) limited to “games that you touch”, despite being the biggest gaming market. I feel that it was an example of an advanced design that revolutionised the world yet took away diversity from the world.
Digital DistributionPhil Harrison, Vice President and GM, Google (Stadia): I think without a doubt, one of the most important changes in our industry has been the rise of networks as a distribution methodology for the games people want. In particular, the app stores on iOS and Android allowed the games industry to go from being tens of millions of gamers to hundreds of millions... and now billions of gamers. The biggest fuel of economic growth has been mobile. But as it relates to PC and console, the rise of digital distribution led to improved access to games, without requiring a trip to your local retailer. On the whole, it has been a very healthy positive trend for creativity in the industry. Games that would not otherwise have been made or had the right distribution. Of course this was an incredible opportunity for independent developers, using that new distribution to reach audiences they wouldn’t have before. Jeremiah Slaczka, Co-Founder and Creative Director, 5th Cell (Scribblenauts): Easily the most important is the proliferation of digital platforms. It completely reinvented the landscape of games. From mobile games, to the indie scene to even the rise and fall of Facebook games. The old gatekeeper that held control over what games got distributed no longer exist and have allowed a golden age of development. Of course, some of those things were abused like free to play and loot boxes, but overall it’s been a wonderful time to both make and play games. Rebecca Ford, Live Operations and Community Director, Digital Extremes (Warframe): The means of distribution has been one of the most important changes – the mobile app stores setting the pace for ‘instant digital access’, and major platforms following suit. The physical market is one for collectors, the digital market is one for convenience. Distribution changes have had a bigger impact than anything else. We at Warframe are working on a seven-year-old game and not once has anyone physically touched our game – our success is all ones and zeroes.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22We%20at%20Warframe%20are%20working%20on%20a%20seven-year-old%20game%20and%20not%20once%20has%20anyone%20physically%20touched%20our%20game%E2%80%94our%20success%20is%20all%20ones%20and%20zeroes.%22%20-%20Rebecca%20Ford%2C%20Digital%20Extremes"] Ross Gowing, Game Director, Dirt Rally 2.0, Codemasters: I think digital marketplaces stand out as being very different to ten years ago – in 2010 I was only purchasing small-ish games on Xbox Live Arcade, and all of the blockbuster games I’d play would be on disc from a bricks-and-mortar shop. These days I think nothing of buying and downloading a 70GB game and never having to leave the house before enjoying it! Sam Barlow, Founder, Drowning a Mermaid Productions (Telling Lies): Digital distribution was the biggie. It allowed smaller creators to connect directly to an audience of millions and overnight that enabled a whole strata of games to become financially viable. There was no world where I could have released Her Story through a boxed game publisher or even a more niche publisher – but with Steam and the App Store I had access to millions upon millions of eyeballs and the game found its audience. It’s also made the games industry more international – I have discovered and played games from Africa, China, Iran that would never have showed up in Gamestop. And players from every country in the world (at least those plugged into Steam) have played my games. There’s a lot more to be done in both these cases – as the market has exploded, the freedom of the digital stores has been eroded. The onset of Platform thinking and subscription services potentially adds back in a layer of gatekeepers that turns back the clock somewhat. The market still isn’t truly international – there are all sorts of barriers to entry and on the surface the mainstream videogame industry chatter is still mostly focused on the English speaking perspective. But there’s reasons to be positive. In film they’re still wrestling with the foreign film category and in gaming it feels like we’re already over that – Ingmar Bergman never had a hit like Minecraft. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2015/06/03/her-story-trailer"]
Her Story was one of the best games of 2015.
Ubiquitous OnlineKellee Santiago, Head of Developer Relations, Niantic, Inc. (Pokemon GO): Certainly, faster and more accessible internet connections. It powered the breadth and depth of online multiplayer gaming which has exploded in the last decade. It enables real-world games like Pokemon GO! It also led to new ways of gamers and game makers interacting with each other through streaming, play through commentary, and the live-streaming of actual development. And it supports the continued growth of online distribution of video games, which means instead of competing for a miniscule number of slots of a shelf in a retail store, anyone can distribute their game to anywhere. On the flip side, we saw the Indie-pocalypse happen, when there became so many games released every day it was hard for an independent developer to stand out. We saw and continue to see online distribution channels struggle with the balance between enabling game makers at all levels to be able to share their creations, while also providing some level of quality control to make sure gamers are seeing the games they want to play. I imagine we will continue to see innovations in this space in the coming decade.
Free to Play and Games as a ServiceGareth Wilson, Creative Director, Traveller's Tales (The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame): In 2010... I said many things will be the same, and on the surface they are. The big three are still battling it out in the console wars. But scratch the surface and things have changed massively. Very few people predicted the rise of free to play in 2010, first on mobile and then on PC and console. If you’d told me ten years ago the biggest game in 2019 was a free to play multiplatform shooter I would have been very surprised! Speaking of multiplatform, I’m delighted we’ve finally broken the walled garden of the consoles and have crossplay, it’s a massive step forwards which I wouldn’t have predicted. The rise of the YouTube star was a surprise, we predicted people watching live “e-sports” type championships of the best players, but not the massive growth of the “let’s play” video. Finally, the beginnings of game streaming and subscription services are game changers. I think they’re incredibly healthy for the industry and allow quality indie titles to reach audiences they could only previously dream of. Tim Heaton, Studio Director, Creative Assembly and EVP Studios (Total War: Three Kingdoms): I think ‘free to play’ becoming a prevalent part of the gaming market is the trend that has had most impact. Sure, it began earlier than 2010, but it’s matured all the way through the last decade, with the latest thinking trying to restructure the negative aspects it can create – with initiatives like banning loot boxes and services like Apple Arcade. The long life of individual games has also become more and more important. By that I mean both the long sales curves, driven by the digital storefronts, and the long engagement times that players have with a single game. These games-as-a-service are designed from the ground up to engage players for months and years, driven by new content and multiplayer opportunities. It’s changed every element of the business, from design, through the way the games are marketed, to the demands for ongoing support services.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22Games-as-a-service...%20%5Bhas%5D%20changed%20every%20element%20of%20the%20business%2C%20from%20design%2C%20through%20the%20way%20the%20games%20are%20marketed%2C%20to%20the%20demands%20for%20ongoing%20support%20services.%22%20-%20Tim%20Heaton%2C%20Creative%20Assembly"] Luc Duchaine, Executive Marketing Director, Ubisoft’s Canadian Studios: While games like DOTA and League of Legends were pioneers in the games-as-a-service genre, the past five years really confirmed the importance of those games. At Ubisoft, we have Rainbow Six Siege that is entering its fifth year, For Honor it’s the fourth year and we have brands like The Crew and The Division that are still updating their offers for the players. Ed Beach, Civilization Franchise Lead Designer, Firaxis: I see two major developments that have changed the nature of gaming in the past decade. First, games have gotten much, much bigger. We now have so many open world games and those all have numerous areas to explore; it can easily take hundreds of hours to experience it all. That’s an amazing change and great for players, but has also made development very expensive and challenging. In a similar vein, the shelf-life for games has gotten a lot longer. Most developers are adopting a games-as-a-service model which means they will be supporting their titles with fresh content over many years. Once again, as a player I love this. However, as a developer I certainly am aware of this as a big new hurdle to overcome.
The Rise of Streaming and Let’s PlaysJoe Neate, Executive Producer, Sea of Thieves, Rare: The growth of games-as-a-service, and the growth of streaming games to audiences. It’s been fascinating to see player behavior evolve, and to figure out what kind of experiences would convince players to both give you a chance and then stick with you. We’ve had people playing Sea of Thieves since our first Technical Alpha three years ago who are still with us and as excited as ever! It has also been fascinating to start thinking about how you design a game to not only be great to play, but also to watch. I love when you see a random game blow up because everyone has suddenly started streaming it and you’re trying to figure out how it happened and what you can learn from it. Masachika Kawata, Producer, Resident Evil series: [O]ne of the biggest changes in video games as a whole has probably been that, on top of the basic enjoyment of playing a game oneself, watching others play games has become a form of entertainment in and of itself. Obviously, people have always watched their friends play alongside them or crowded around arcade machines, but the sheer number of people who found an additional way to enjoy watching games played by other people has really expanded the reach of gaming as a medium. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/04/10/heres-why-heave-ho-is-our-new-favourite-couch-co-op-game-ign-plays"]
Let's Plays have become a huge part of gaming.
The Power of CelebrityMarc Merrill, Co-Founder, Riot Games (League of Legends): There’s been so many: the steady growth of esports, the rise of streaming technology, games gaining more mainstream acceptance, the influence of China, and the rapid growth of mobile both from a market perspective but also as a platform that can credibly deliver high quality experiences. I would argue it’s the power of celebrity that has been the most transformative and impactful. I’m not referring to famous players (although special shoutout to Rick Fox), despite the obvious star power they bring, but more the way that players have embraced streaming/video platforms to share their passion and engage directly with other players. Videogames are best when played with friends; streaming platforms in particular have made it possible for committed, passionate content creators to grow an incredibly large audience where it’s clear that the future of celebrity is along digital pathways.
Cross-Platform PlayJamie Jackson, Chief Creative Officer, Mythical Games: For me, the most important change happened in the latter part of the decade: cross-platform play! This was a huge game-changer. Seeing all the major platform players fully embracing gamers and allowing and encouraging them to play together for the first time was incredible. It does give us developers new challenges in terms of matchmaking and balance, but being able to holistically think about audience really helps with launching new IP and continuing to establish existing brands.
ConnectionLars Janssen, Director of Studio Relations, Koch Media: Video games have become a core part of our culture and have an impact beyond the traditional video game community. Games are focusing on providing social experiences more than ever before, communities are stronger and create movements that span way beyond the actual game world. Connectivity in-home and on the go allows players to stay connected to their games and their friends regardless of time and location. Most games are not a one-time experience any longer but rather a service that connects people and keeps them entertained for many years. Creating these experiences, on the other hand, has become much more complex and surprise hits are a lot less likely. It was leading to consolidation in the market and fewer companies succeeded in building up new global IPs from scratch.
The Connection Between Players and DevelopersSaxs Persson, Minecraft Chief Creative Officer: The role that strong communities now play influencing and driving game development has been the biggest change I have felt the last ten years, as well as having direct communication with our players as a game is being developed. Early access, Kickstarter, etcetera, are all different ways that we try and get players involved as early as possible to get feedback and mold games to what people really want to play.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22The%20role%20that%20strong%20communities%20now%20play%20influencing%20and%20driving%20game%20development%20has%20been%20the%20biggest%20change...%22%20-%20Saxs%20Persson%2C%20Minecraft%20CCO"] Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director, Final Fantasy XIV: Personally, I think it's the relationship between the player community and developers (or video game company) rather than the technology. Back in the day, there was quite a distance between gamers and game developers, and in the case of MMORPGs, I think that there was a strong sense that "the developers are the enemy". Thanks to the growth of social media in recent years, messages from developers and dev companies have become close to gamers, and I feel that communications have become more direct. Feedback from gamers are taken more seriously and gamers are able to receive messages from developers, and various games have progressed as a result. J. Allen Brack, President, Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft): [I]n ye olden times, MMO communities and developers enjoyed a special relationship with their players, where developers and the community encouraged feedback and dialog throughout the dev and live play cycle. Today, many games have dedicated communities of players, irrespective of game category. So, the most visible and important changes are the ways online communities have evolved and the more direct relationships developers have with their players. This has greatly accelerated over the last ten years. Now most games from giant AAA titles to smaller indie games have online communities of all kinds – from dedicated Discords to sub-Reddits, not to mention Twitter and Instagram communities. It’s never been easier to engage with like-minded people. Whether you’re a hardcore player, or a casual player that enjoys watching streams of people playing the game you love, or a fan artist, or a cosplayer, no matter how much time you have to give, there are places for you to engage with your favorite hobby. The rise of player streaming has been instrumental, giving players a tool to create or participate in tight-knit communities around the games or game genres they love. Good streamers and content creators are super important to us – they are faces of the game experience and incredible sources of feedback that keep us honest. Along with streaming comes the accelerated rise of esports, and what an incredible expression of love that is. To see professional players dedicate their time to pushing the limits of what we create, to their mastery, is humbling for us as creators. For fans of those professional players, it gives them another outlet to express their passion for a game.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22To%20see%20professional%20players%20dedicate%20their%20time%20to%20pushing%20the%20limits%20of%20what%20we%20create%2C%20to%20their%20mastery%2C%20is%20humbling%20for%20us%20as%20creators.%22%20-%20J.%20Allen%20Brack%2C%20Blizzard"]
Audience ExpectationsDavid Gaider, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Summerfall Studios (Chorus): You know, I’m going to say that there haven’t been any astounding advances in game technology. You can look back at games which came out in 2010 and be justified in saying they’re just as pretty as anything put out today. Most of the changes, I think, have been in the evolution of the genres as well as the audience. Social media, in particular, has led to fans becoming armed camps with vested interests in their games giving them exactly what they expect – the relationship between fans and creators has never been more tense.
The Discourse Around GamesPaul Sage, Creative Director, Borderlands 3: Players streaming games, alternate revenue streams [and] digital sales, procedural systems [and] machine learning tools, better physics and graphics. Out of all of these, however, I think one that should be expounded upon is the shift in the culture and discourse surrounding games. The fact is that we work in a subjective business, and while there are objective quality elements in games, the invective present sometimes in the press and community harms our industry. Having a huge variety of games and entertainment, even in areas you find uncomfortable, is a blessing, not a curse. I hope we start seeing a move away from this mentality and instead we just keep seeing growth of many points of view. Which means we as developers have to keep encouraging a diversified industry.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22Having%20a%20huge%20variety%20of%20games%20and%20entertainment%2C%20even%20in%20areas%20you%20find%20uncomfortable%2C%20is%20a%20blessing%2C%20not%20a%20curse.%22%20-%20Paul%20Sage%2C%20Gearbox"]
Subscription ServicesAtsushi Inaba, Chief Creative Officer, PlatinumGames (Bayonetta): The rise of subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime in the film industry. The fact that all content is accessible after a fixed payment changes the way we look at entertainment, not just as consumers but also as creators. It will take more time for this business model to be fully incorporated into video games, but I strongly feel that it could change our industry in many ways.
Accessibility and Acceptance of Gaming as MainstreamDenby Grace, Executive Producer, 2K (Mafia): Great gaming experiences are more accessible than ever before. Variation in hardware, delivery methods, price points, and ways to engage with content has allowed a wider audience to consume games in an assortment of ways. The industry has never been in better health. Takashi Iizuka, Head of Sonic Team, SEGA (Sonic Forces): Over the past ten years, games have become a much more accessible and popular form of entertainment to people around the world. Thinking back to a decade ago, the Wii had just come out and I believe that was around the time that games started appearing on smartphones. Prior to 2010, most gaming experiences consisted of sitting in front of a television set and using only your fingertips to control the game. Since then, controllers have adapted to allow players more ease of use and mobility. Players can now make commands by shaking or moving the controller or inputting actions by gestures and posing with their bodies. Advancements in controllers have also increased the accessibility of games for novice players that may not have owned a console before and has allowed players to engage in a variety of different gaming experiences. [youtube clip_id="9fcK19CAjWM"]
Xbox's Adaptive Controller welcomed even more players to the fold.Lee Mather, Game Director, F1 2019, Codemasters: The most striking changes to me have been in the acceptance of video gaming, not only as a creative medium which is seen on the same level as film and TV, but also as an industry where you can cultivate a career. When I joined the industry back in 1992 I could never have foreseen we’d be experiencing game launches with the same level of exposure and excitement as a Hollywood movie or films and TV series being made off the back of video games. From a technology perspective, I think we’re in an iterative phase right now. As the big ‘wow’ moments in mobile phone tech have slowed, it’s a similar case with gaming hardware. It’s all going to be about giving users access to the highest quality experiences possible in as many different ways as possible.
Expanding What Constitutes a GameKeith Schuler, Lead Mission Designer, Gearbox Software (Borderlands 3): The ever-expanding definition of what a video game is, and what they can offer. I’m not just talking about pushing more polygons and shaders to the screen, though that’s part of it. Mental health, politics, cancer, civil liberties, and more, are all legitimate topics for games to explore. They always have been, but as our audience grows and our reach expands, these sorts of conversations are more and more accepted as legitimate discourse, and that influence expands outward beyond just video games. It’s not just the independent studios, either, although they are certainly leading the charge. These past ten years, it has become easier than ever to point to video games and say, ‘This is art. This is an important facet of human society.’[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22These%20past%2010%20years%2C%20it%20has%20become%20easier%20than%20ever%20to%20point%20to%20video%20games%20and%20say%2C%20%E2%80%98This%20is%20art.%20This%20is%20an%20important%20facet%20of%20human%20society.%E2%80%99%22%20-%20Keith%20Schuler%2C%20Gearbox"]
Games CoverageViktor Bocan, Design Director, Warhorse Studios (Kingdom Come: Deliverance): As a developer, what I feel most is the shift in reporting about games. What was the domain of professional videogame journalists before, is now an open battlefield for streamers, YouTubers, and the Reddit community. I don’t see it necessarily as bad, but it is very different. And sometimes quite unpredictable and unfathomable. [poilib element="accentDivider"] And now for the second part, in which our roundtable members answer the question:
What technology or concept seemed within reach in the last ten years but never quite delivered? And why do you think that is?
Gaming’s Hidden DepthsSam Barlow, Founder, Drowning a Mermaid Productions (Telling Lies): Well, I think the dream is of gaming as accessible and mainstream and deep. And we missed that one. Phones opened things up, but the market quickly raced to the bottom of the barrel and – generalizing hugely here – never really offered up experiences as deep as you’d find in other media. Netflix and iTunes and Kindle and Criterion Channel might frequently raise my understanding of humanity, move me deeply, whilst the value proposition of mobile gaming is still largely to help me waste time on the subway. And consoles resolutely stuck to the same old model, again and again – a $600 box for space marine shooter games. It’s the economics and the short term interests of investors – looking to cash in on the reliable audience, looking to sell phones, subscriptions, consoles, and hit their growth numbers rather than lay the foundations for a medium. Hopefully the convergence of TV and gaming will help us get to a place that feels more wholesome.[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22Consoles%20resolutely%20stuck%20to%20the%20same%20old%20model%2C%20again%20and%20again%20%E2%80%94%20a%20%24600%20box%20for%20space%20marine%20shooter%20games.%22%20-%20Sam%20Barlow%2C%20Drowning%20a%20Mermaid%20Productions"]
Truly Living, Breathing WorldsJoe Neate, Executive Producer, Sea of Thieves, Rare: I chatted about this with Mike Chapman, the Sea of Thieves Creative Director, and I agree with him that what we’ve not really hit yet is truly immersive, living breathing worlds. Despite the advances in sandbox games, despite the incredible worlds that have been built, if you peek behind the curtain they still feel like scripted worlds with scripted quests or events. There is still so much more promise in this area. Creating truly immersive worlds for players to escape in together, to feel like they are genuinely adventuring in another place, to have that true form of escapism – there is so much potential here.
Innovative MMOsTanya X. Short, Co-Founder, Kitfox Games (Moon Hunters): I'm disappointed that the indie/innovative MMO as a genre hasn't really taken off, with only a few exceptions. Yes, yes, there have been a few popular lower-budget MMOs, but almost all of them are very post-World of Warcraft, to their detriment. With the tools available for the past five or six years especially, people should have been innovating new bizarre multiplayer worlds, but they haven't, really. It's just been... more quests. Things like One Hour One Life give me hope that maybe we could enter a new realm of digital worlds, but... it's not being talked about enough, not by a longshot. There are many reasons why this is – multiplayer is harder to develop, it's riskier business-wise if it doesn't also accommodate single-player play, etcetera – but the most persistent reason seems to be that there's a cultural side-eye against MMOs among game devs, possibly because we all played them too much as teens? Or because the play experience can be so truly, remarkably varied that it's difficult to even compare for purposes of reviews [and] analysis.
VR and ARPim Holfve, CEO, Avalanche Studios (Rage 2): Despite showing great promise in the early 2010s, we never really saw the virtual reality and augmented reality revolution. I think that there are several reasons for this, such as the maturity of the technology, cost of the headsets, setup time, hardware requirements, and no standardized control schemes. While there certainly are some great VR and AR games and experiences out there, the technology still feels more aspirational than fully realized. Kellee Santiago, Head of Developer Relations, Niantic, Inc. (Pokemon GO): Accessible and meaningful VR. It seemed like we were getting so close in 2016! Google Cardboard was fantastic, but somehow never picked up enough of an audience to make it self-sustainable to creators. StreetView VR was my favorite thing to do. Even though it was the lowest-fidelity VR experience, it allowed me to still feel like I was standing somewhere else on Earth for a moment. Of course, the price on materials to create more immersive experiences then stayed too high to gain wide adoption. The Oculus Quest is a great piece of hardware, and a step towards this balance between high-fidelity and lower price-point. Unfortunately, the industry as a whole didn’t make it there before 2020. Saxs Persson, Minecraft Chief Creative Officer: I’ve been excited for VR since I was a kid! A few years ago, it felt inevitable that VR would be a mass-market experience. Oculus, Vive, and Sony all did a great job getting unique games for their respective platforms, but so far VR as a whole has not quite delivered on the utopian future where we are having deep experiences in amazing, immersive worlds. That said, the recent release of Oculus Quest has me more optimistic. It being untethered and easy to setup has made it a regular platform of choice in my household. Hopefully, we will see more unique games in the next couple of years that make VR a platform more gamers will want to own. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/24/has-vr-finally-reached-a-tipping-point"]
When will VR be mass market?Andy Sum, Director, Hipster Whale (Crossy Road): VR and AR still haven't kicked off as much as many would hope. I lump them together because they suffer from a similar issue which is adopting them into your everyday life. Even though VR experiences are very fun and unique, it's still a large effort to use them. They take a lot of configuration, they're uncomfortable, the battery doesn't last long (or they have long cables), and they're quirky in public. It's not so much the underlying tech as the usability issues preventing adoption. Atsushi Inaba, Chief Creative Officer, PlatinumGames (Bayonetta): VR, MR, and AR technology. I’m still confident of the potential of these technologies, but we are far away from a point in time where these can be enjoyed by everyone. When you can dive into a VR or MR world that is so immersive that you totally forget about the device you’re using, that’s when I believe the technology is ready to cause a true revolution. At the same time, I think that it should be questioned if this technology should really become easy to access in the first place. Just like the debate on whether AI technology should be restricted or not, new technology that can fundamentally change the everyday life of human beings is always a double-edged sword. However, as a creator I think it’s very interesting.
Cross-Platform PlayGreg Street, VP of IP and Entertainment, Riot Games (League of Legends): Cross-platform play. It seems (from the outside) like something that should be incredibly valuable for a player, but (from the inside) there are a ton of technical, design and even business reasons why it may not even make sense as a goal.
Cloud Gaming and StreamingLee Mather, Game Director, F1 2019, Codemasters: I feel like streaming gaming services have had a number of false starts in recent years. We’ve seen it tried numerous times over the last ten years, but the network infrastructure in most countries wasn’t up to scratch, the titles themselves weren’t there or quality was compromised, or users weren’t comfortable with not having ‘physical media’. Now the internet connections have improved, and will continue to do so, both in the home and over the cellular networks, that’s one barrier to entry which is slowly being removed. People are now familiar and comfortable with streaming services for TV and film, and are used to a subscription based model, which again lends itself well to a streaming gaming service. With the likes of Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud we’re seeing some of the world’s most powerful software companies backing streaming, already with massively versatile and powerful back-end services in place.
3D DisplaysTakashi Iizuka, Head of Sonic Team, SEGA (Sonic Forces): Personally, I was hoping that the technology behind 3D displays would have been more widely adopted. When Nintendo launched the 3DS, I fully expected there to be more content available that utilized the realism of 3D visuals. We even worked hard to put 3D support on console for the release of Sonic Generations in 2011! Ultimately, the day that 3D overtook 2D displays never came, which is too bad.
AI Controlled Digital ActorsYoshinori Kitase, Producer, Final Fantasy VII Remake: [I]n my experience of working on story-based games, things like Final Fantasy X for example, you've got a performance that you can get from a computer-generated [character] – having programmers do everything to create it, or you've got the other option of using real-life actors and motion capturing it. The big difference there is, with the completely computer-generated side, it won't do anything spontaneously off its own back. The programmers have to write every little detail in, they have to decide it down to the letter. Whereas with real-life actors, you can, for example, give them a very small bit of direction… you [may] want a scene where the characters cry, and they come up with a really different approach to crying and express it in a way that we've never seen before. [W]hat I really hope we can get to [in the future], is a stage where you've got full AI-controlled digital actors, and the director of the game can give them very simple instructions, like we need this kind of performance, and it'll come out with a beautiful nuanced performance from AI processing. Obviously, we're not there yet, but that's where I really think we're going. That's what I really hope we can see.
Virtual ArcadesHideki Kamiya, Chief Game Designer, PlatinumGames (Bayonetta): I was hoping that somebody would evolve the Game Room you had on Xbox 360, and that you could have arcade cabinets lined up in a virtual space, which would essentially be a VR Game Room, but nobody created it. I think that’s because the higher-ups in video game companies don’t care about the history of video games. That’s too bad. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2016/10/19/taito-hey-one-of-the-best-arcades-in-tokyo"]
Japan is still home to many incredible arcades.
Real Arcades!Yoko Taro, Director, NieR: Automata: Dedicated hardware for vertical shooters and pinball. I think they didn't become a reality because the hardware manufacturers weren't motivated enough. Show us what you're capable of! You can do it! [poilib element="accentDivider"] Cam Shea heads up IGN's Australian content team and loves CCGs. Check out his feature analysing what the games industry thought 2020 would be like in 2010. He's on Twitter.
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Friday, May 29, 2020
IGN previously reached out to the Phantasy Star Online 2 team to ask whether the developers were aware of the complaints and what plans there might be to address them. The developers eventually sent us a link to the publicly available statements released over Twitter.
Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN.
- Direct Download
YouTube (Link to come!)
Warframe’s next major update, Deadlock Protocol, is fast approaching, and with it comes a new Warframe, a boatload of backstory, plenty more. But probably the flashiest addition is developer Digital Extremes’ continued efforts toward refreshing the look of some of its rough edges – and this time they are modernizing the oldest area in the game.
Part of Deadlock Protocol will include a remaster of the Corpus tileset, an environment made of procedurally pieced together sections that are among the very first ever added to Warframe. That means adjusting the layouts, incorporating new backstory beats, and, of course, making all of it look shiny and new.
Watch the exclusive trailer above to see how much the Corpus tileset has changed.
“When you look at everything we’ve remastered so far,” Digital Extremes’ Rebecca Ford explains to me, “it’s actually a shock we haven’t done [the Corpus tileset] yet.” Previous remasters include tilesets for the Earth and Gas City environments, as well as Warframe’s first open world called the Plains of Eidolon, which was remastered less than two years after its introduction in late 2017.
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In contrast, the Corpus tileset was first added back in 2012. “It was literally our first environment in Warframe,” Ford says, explaining you can even go back and see it shown in all of the original marketing for Warframe, like this 2012 teaser trailer. “The main goal is to bring the quality and design up to 2020 Warframe standards.”
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Flip through the slideshow above to see more exclusive screenshots and comparisons.
“We also have a very significant goal of tying more lore and story into environments,” Ford continues. “We’re introducing a pretty big Corpus backstory and a new Protea Warframe quest in this update.” She describes the Corpus faction as “a cult worshipping money,” and making both that obsession and their mastery of robotics come through in the environment was key.
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One part of making that come through in a way it didn’t previously is with the addition of the Corpus’ founder, seen in statues with a golden gauntlet around their ships – which you can see in both the video and slideshow above. Ford says this new character is “weaved into the infrastructure,” letting the environments tell a story themselves that didn’t exist beforehand.
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Move the slider above for a before-and-after look.
Ford describes these remasters as “well-rounded projects” about more than just a slapping on new coat of paint. Adding new lore and quests is part of that, but she also says “it’s a matter of identifying what people like about the corridor shooter in our traditional levels, while adding a bit more room for true parkour masters.” For a game that’s nearly eight years old and still going stong, these remasters are essentially the closest thing to a sequel Warframe is likely to see.
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As I mentioned before, this tileset remaster is only one part of the Deadlock Protocol update. It’s a part of a larger whole that includes a complete rework of the Corpus Jackal boss fight, a brand new warframe called Protea (complete with their own story quest), and more.
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The Deadlock Protocol is coming in a free update soon, and Digital Extremes’ annual TennoCon event is scheduled for July 11. Additionally, it was recently confirmed that Warframe would come to Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
[poilib element="accentDivider"]Tom Marks is IGN's Deputy Reviews Editor and resident pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid to Become the First Fighting Game With Cross-Play Across 5 Platforms
With fighting games necessitating extremely strong netcode for workable online play, cross-play is something of a rarity in the genre, so Battle for the Grid's move is an admirable one – especially for a game with a smaller playerbase than the traditional big hitters in the fighting game sphere, hopefully allowing fans to find a game more easily. As well as Battle for the Grid, Stadia Pro subscribers can also pick up Little Nightmares, Get Packed, Panzer Dragoon and Superhot as part of the package of free games for the month of June. We reviewed Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid back in March of 2019, calling the game a "mechanically sound 2D fighter." [poilib element="accentDivider"] Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.
We are the Power Rangers!Expect the Ranger Nation to grow as PRBFTG will be available for Stadia Pro subscribers starting June That'll make us the first fighting game with full crossplay for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Stadia. Tag your Stadia friends below! https://t.co/jT5YldUa5i — Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid (@Battle4TheGrid) May 28, 2020
Thursday, May 28, 2020
- 00:00:00 Welcome!
- 00:01:15 Splatoon's 5th anniversary discussion
- 00:16:47 News: BlizzCon cancelled, Dead Cells update, and more
- 00:25:45 Games out this week
- 00:41:53 What we're playing
- 00:47:00 Question Block!
- Minecraft Dungeons - 5/26, $20
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition - 5/29, $60
- XCOM 2 Collection - 5/29, $50
- BioShock: The Collection - 5/29, $50
- Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition - 5/29, $30
- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection - 5/29, $40
- Borderlands Legendary Collection - 5/29. $50
- Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling - 5/28, $25
- Shantae and the Seven Sirens - 5/28, $30
- Atomicrops - 5/28, $15
- Turmoil - 5/28, $15
- Casey: DDR
- Brian: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Seth: Minecraft Dungeons
- Brendan: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Maneater
NVC is available on your preferred platform!You can also Download NVC 510 Directly Here
You can listen to NVC on your preferred platform every Thursday at 3pm PT/6pm ET. Have a question for Question Block? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may pick your question! Also, make sure to join the Nintendo Voice Chat Podcast Forums on Facebook. We're all pretty active there and often pull Question Block questions and comments straight from the community.
Logan Plant is the Production Assistant for NVC. You can find him on Twitter at @LoganJPlant.
Payton noted that, given the timeline of the game's development, as the team acclimated to working from home, it actually lined up with the team's core focus — rather than needing to ideate on VR gameplay ideas, the Camouflaj team could be heads down, hard at work on fine tuning, bug fixing, and polishing the final game. "Strangely enough, in the final months of development, especially now that we've gone gold, it's mainly been focused on bug fixes and final polish and is interestingly compatible with remote work," he explained, while also noting the team has been able to use this time to actually respond and improve the game based on player feedback from the demo. "The one thing that we were looking forward to seeing is how really enthusiastic and hardcore PlayStation VR community was going to respond to the game," he explained. "So seeing the reaction to the game was really encouraging. They also had a lot of specific feedback to the degree that they wanted to tweak the comfort settings. We do have a pretty robust array of settings already in our game, but we're actually adding a number of additional options based on what that really passionate PlayStation VR community is asking for." [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/05/22/iron-man-vr-demo-the-first-19-minutes"]
After years of hard work, we are proud to announce that MARVEL’S IRON MAN VR has officially gone gold! We can’t wait for everyone to #SuitUp when the game releases exclusively for PlayStation VR on July 3. pic.twitter.com/NZnsG12Pgy— Camouflaj (@Camouflaj) May 28, 2020
Exploring Iron Man's World in VRPayton also explained how the team has been able to refine, polish, and integrate a series of "superhero actions" throughout the game that help exemplify the dream of being Iron Man...in VR, at least. "When you're interacting with the jet [in the demo], you can do these things we call superhero actions, where you can extinguish the fire, you can repair the wing, you can release the landing gear. And that was a feature that came in relatively late into the development of the game," Payton explained. "We just started sprinkling the whole game with a lot of those unique, one-off experiences that really leverage the strengths of VR." The demo, which you can check out gameplay of above, allows players to jump into two early missions in Iron Man VR, which we demoed and enjoyed last year, as well as additional combat challenge missions. Combat challenges will appear in the main game, and as Payton explained, they've allowed the team to take advantage of the large — including larger than you've yet seen — environments in the campaign. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="legacyId=20095320&captions=true"]
Iron Man VR New Gameplay Details"These are optional missions that we do sprinkle throughout the game. that give the game more breadth. They take advantage of these large environments that we've been building beyond what you've seen. Malibu and the private jet missions are probably the two smallest environments that we have in the game," Payton explained. These missions aren't just there to challenge players either — you'll be able to earn research points from them, which can then in turn be used to upgrade the Impulse Armor Tony Stark has in the game. Players can unlock and advance new abilities, hone in on specific parts of the suit, and more. This upgrading is all done in Tony's garage, an environment that Payton explained helps players live out both the Tony Stark and Iron Man experiences. "One of the first things on our list [for playing as Tony] was allowing players to spend a lot of time in Tony's garage and in between missions, not only see your suit first person, but also to get to inspect the Impulse Armor to see all the incredible work that the team has put into it," he said. "Through those research points, players are able to hone in on certain aspects of the suit, upgrade certain elements to go faster, to upgrade the HUD, and unlock all these auxiliary weapons, which is one of the features that I snuck into the demo." [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/07/19/marvels-iron-man-vr-behind-the-scenes-learning-to-fly-video"] Payton described how one of the upgrades players can acquire, missiles launched from the suit's arms, in another attempt to make the best use out of this being a VR game. "Initially we had a button change for when you're shooting with your pulsars, and then you would change to missiles, and a number of people on the team said, 'That's stupid Ryan, why would you do that? Why use a button when you're in VR and you're Iron Man,'" he joked. "Iron Man would just move his arms down. So that's how the players access these auxiliary weapons...by just moving the Move controllers down horizontally," he explained. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/04/02/iron-man-vr-hands-on-impressions"] As for that balance between a Tony and Iron Man story, having a villain that can speak to both aspects of the character was key for this original tale, and Payton explained why Ghost was such a good fit for his and the team's story goals. "When we sat down with Marvel and started thinking about the game's story, they really encouraged us to create an original story that really paired nicely with the game that we wanted to create and for VR in particular. One of the story challenges we knew we needed to overcome is that we knew we wanted to tell a where a classic Iron Man story... That's why we got to this idea of finding these deadly machines that Tony had created back when he was an arms dealer," he said. "So you then start asking yourselves these questions, 'Who would get access to these old machines that he used to create before he was a superhero, who would hack those devices? And who would then want to attack Tony using them?' And the moment I posed that question to Marvel, it almost sounds like I'm making this up, [Marvel Games'] Bill Rosemann and a bunch of other people at Marvel looked at each other and at the same time they said, 'Ghost.'" While we'll have to wait longer to see more of how Ghost and Tony face off in Marvel's Iron Man VR you can check out the PSVR bundle announced for the game ahead of its July 3 launch. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Jonathon Dornbush is IGN's Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond! and PlayStation lead. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.
It’s been 25 years since the launch of the original PlayStation, and while games have evolved by leaps and bounds in the two and a half decades since, it’s impossible to deny the lasting impact Sony’s flat grey box had on the industry and pop culture at large.
From bandicoots to battle-hardened super-soldiers, the PlayStation is single-handedly responsible for some of the most iconic characters and franchises of all time, and while there are so so many to love, we wanted to look back at the very best the console had to offer. These are the greatest PS1 games of all time.
Check out the video above for the top 10, and click through the gallery below or scroll down for the full list!
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25. PaRappa the Rappa
Before Rock Band, before Guitar Hero, even before Dance Dance Revolution, there was Parappa the Rapper. An unlikely rapping game starring a cartoonishly flat dog and his animal pals, Parappa won us all over with catchy songs and a quirky charm that stood out among other games seeking to posture themselves as “extreme” or “hardcore” on the new generation. Nothing else on the console looked like Parappa (until Um Jammer Lammy arrived, of course). This rhyme-spitting canine is so beloved, in fact, that we named him one of the top 10 dogs in video games. I gotta believe!
24. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2012/10/01/abes-oddysee-new-n-tasty-debut-trailer"]
Abe’s Odyssey was such a weird game; an action/puzzle/platformer with a story that’s sort of like a crazy outer-space Soylent Green. Abe’s Oddysee is fondly remembered for it’s bonkers character design and deep lore, which led to several fun, weird sequels and spinoffs like ‘Munch’s Oddysee’ and ‘Stranger’s Wrath, and featured unique systems for communicating and working together with your fellow Mudokons, plus various alien species you can ride, telepathically possess, or manipulate into taking out your enemies for you.
23. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
While we've ranked Crash Bandicoot 2 higher, it's undeniable just how important the entire Crash trilogy was to the PlayStation legacy – and that largely comes down to just how damn fun and challenging Naughty Dog made those first three games. While Warped's base levels may not be as rewardingly challenging as Cortex Strikes Back's, it still offers plenty of extremely fun platforming levels, mixed in with a host of vehicle/riding challenges. Perhaps the most robust Crash of the original three games, Warped uses its time-hopping set dressing to offer a wide variety of levels, enemies, and tricky create locations, but makes them all feel part of a fun, cohesive whole.
Developed by Neversoft (the same developers behind the Tony Hawk franchise), PS1’s Spider-Man served as the template for pretty much all the good superhero games to follow. This was the first Spider-man game many of us played that really captured Spidey’s unique method of traversal, swinging between buildings, climbing up walls and acrobatically taking down enemies. It was also filled with easter eggs and secrets, including many, many Marvel cameos (like the Human Torch and Daredevil), unlockable costumes like Spider-man 2099, the Amazing Bag Man costume or even his classic Captain Universe getup. They even got Stan Lee himself to do all the descriptions of each character in the character viewer!
21. Mega Man Legends 2
Before Mega Man Legends, I don’t think people really thought of the Mega Man series as being all that great for story and character. Mega Man Legends changed all that, presenting one of the most unique and charming 3-D action/adventures ever, and the sequel only improved on the formula.
20. Ape Escape
Nowadays, holding a PlayStation controller without the familiar analog sticks feels almost unnatural – like wearing someone else’s shoes, or when your arm falls asleep after leaning on it wrong – but there was a time when the DualShock controller seemed like an unnecessary gimmick. How do you rally players to adopt this new technology? You present them with the threat of rampant, mischievous apes.
As the title would suggest, Ape Escape told the timeless tale of a group of mischievous primates on the loose. Players were given the urgent task of subduing them with variety of gadgets regularly implemented by real life animal control specialists, such as a hula hoop, remote control car, and a device like a kayak paddle that could be spun around really fast to achieve flight. Each of these gadgets was controlled by waggling the DualShock’s right stick, a concept akin to rubbing your stomach and patting your head back in 1999. Nowadays, such a mechanic would be deemed “gimmicky,” but the late ‘90s was a simpler time, and Ape Escape’s solid implementation stuck the landing. Oddly enough, Ape Escape proved to be oddly prescient; in 2016, a chimpanzee named Chacha escaped from a Japanese zoo, and local police were able to subdue him safely – presumably thanks to simulations they’d run in Ape Escape.
19. Crash Team Racing
While many have come for the Mario Kart throne, Crash Team Racing, surprisingly, is perhaps the kart racer to come closest. Long before its modern-day remake, the original CTR surprised and delighted fans with a mascot racer worthy of excitement alongside Nintendo's long-standing franchise.
Introducing a varied and fun set of original tracks, wacky weapons that smartly pulled from existing Crash lore, and offering a skill-based drifting/boost system - that was both innovative and fun - made Crash Team Racing one of the more beloved entries in the kart racing pantheon to this day.
18. Syphon Filter
Pulling inspiration from hit titles like Metal Gear Solid and Goldeneye, Eidetic Games - now known as Sony Bend - combined elements of both with their own unique blend of stealth and action to create a unique adventure that spawned several sequels. Syphon Filter offered a wide assortment of fun weaponry that allowed you a good amount of freedom to approach problems in different way throughout its 20-odd levels of espionage action. Perhaps most memorably, you could tase enemies to death, preempting the whole “don’t tase me bro” fiasco by nearly a decade.
17. Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain
Perhaps more accurately titled “Legacy of Kain 2”, Soul Reaver is an incredible second chapter in what might be one of the most underrated game franchises ever. Gothic and macabre, the Legacy of Kain sequel is more like a grimdark Ocarina of Time than it’s top-down, action RPG predecessor, Blood Omen. Shifting between the world of the living and spectral plain to solve puzzles and traverse the twisting corridors of Nosgoth would prove deeply influential beyond the PSOne era, as well. The characters and story, penned and directed by Uncharted’s Amy Hennig, are miles above most Playstation games of the era and, despite a rushed and anti-climactic ending, Soul Reaver stands on its own and deifies Kain in a fantastic re-introduction to the series.
16. Final Fantasy Tactics
When Final Fantasy Tactics arrived in 1998, it was arguably the best turn-based strategy game ever to grace consoles. Even today, there are few games in the genre since that have even come close. The juxtaposition of cute yet super-deformed characters works well, especially when they get caught up in one of the most complicated video game plots of all time. This is yet another game that proved the PlayStation didn’t have to rely on fancy 3D graphics - though it’s a shame we never got a true sequel. (The two Game Boy Advance spinoffs, although not bad, were a huge tonal departure.)
15. Medal of Honor: Underground
There wasn’t an enormous list of must-play first-person shooters on the original PlayStation – the genre simply wasn’t as ubiquitous on consoles at that time as it is today. There are a handful that carved out a legacy – like Quake II, or Disruptor – but probably none did so more successfully than the incredible Medal of Honor. Wolfenstein 3D may be the granddaddy of FPS WWII action, but Medal of Honor - and especially Underground - was the series to really drag it into the third-dimension, kicking and screaming, “Rennt um euer leben – er hat ‘ne Panzerfaust!”
Arriving just a year after the original and late in the console’s lifespan, the prequel/sequel Underground is one of the best shooters of its era thanks to its memorable main character Manon Batiste, a fantastic array of levels, and its terrific behind-enemy-lines tone. You could also trick Nazis into posing for embarrassing photographs before you shot them, which is simply brilliant.
14. Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX promised a return to the series’ fantasy roots, and it absolutely delivered. Knights, mages, princesses, crystals, all of the Final Fantasy mainstays from the early entries were present and accounted for – but what people still love most about it are its characters. Wily Zidane, sad and naive Vivi, doofy loyalist Steiner, and a dozen other memorable characters (except for Amarant, no one remembers him) helped make Final Fantasy IX and incredible way to close out the single digit entries in the series, paying reverence to the games that came before it, and setting the stage (quite literally) for the next era; it was a beautiful, moving swan song for Final Fantasy on the PlayStation.
13. Silent HillThe original Silent Hill slid off the beaten path of the zombie survival horror du jour into something much more daring and unknown. The town of Silent Hill was an obtuse place to visit, full of nonsensical, psychosexual creatures that prodded at protagonist Henry’s sanity; this was much more Jacob’s Ladder than it was Night of the Living Dead. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/05/21/top-10-konami-games-that-need-next-gen-remakes"] Its foreboding atmosphere was made more unbearable by the fact Henry was the definition of an ‘everyman,’ and it was much smarter to run than it was to fight, wildly shooting at whatever was emerging from the fog. A defining psychological horror game, Silent Hill (and its audio that still rattles around in the brain to this day), is impossible to forget.
12. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage
Like it’s fuzzier down-under brother, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage smartly builds off the groundwork of the original game and offers a wonderful balance of challenge and fun, all while expanding on what makes the series work so well. While Spyro: Year of the Dragon would lean more into playable secondary characters, Ripto's Rage keeps the emphasis largely on Spyro and a richly realized world.
Tied around the theme of seasonal hub areas, Spyro's second journey spins off into any number of unique and memorable mini-worlds, from beaches to thundery hills to mountaintop monasteries. A plethora of side characters, a host of smart collectibles, and an unexpected adventure in the land of Avalar made Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage a standout in the great Insomniac trilogy.
One of the first games you spent in a car that didn’t really qualify as a “racing game,” 1999’s Driver was a unique blend of open-world mission design and exceptionally fun (i.e. destructive) arcade driving action. While its ambitious sequel introduced novel new concepts like being able to get out of your car - a full year before GTA 3 released, mind you - and the astounding ability (for its time) to render curved roads, it wasn’t as impactful as the pure unadulterated rush of classic car chase goodness that the original provided. From the deeply satisfying squelch of crumpling steel under its detailed collision modeling to the surprisingly deep Director Mode that let you turn your wildest mission and free-roam moments into your own Hollywood action sequences, Driver handily e-brake slides into the PS1 hall of fame.
10. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Naughty Dog's mascot platformer trilogy became synonymous with the original PlayStation immediately after its first release, but it’s the second of the three games that has remained in our hearts and minds all these years later. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is a great middle-ground between the original's platforming and Warped's expansive arsenal, techniques, and secrets. As Crash climbs his way up a series of chambers full of challenging platforming levels, Naughty Dog's gauntlet of jumping, spinning, and "woah"-ing offers some of the franchise's best levels, offering players a true challenge but in a way that always felt achievable.
9. Vagrant Story
Vagrant Story is perhaps one of the original PlayStation's most underrated games - a massive action RPG developed by a powerhouse RPG hit machine, helmed by one of the most underrated auteurs of the last 25 years. It’s a game that in many ways, almost shouldn’t work - it stacks an almost ludicrous amount of systems on top of a plot dense with political intrigue, dark magic, and at least two textbooks worth of ancient history - but it all comes together in a truly exceptional experience.
You’ll manage special attacks, customize weapons tailored for specific enemy types, build your own armor, solve puzzles, and fight some of the hardest bosses this side of Dark Souls using a quasi-rhythm based battle system. While it remains the most underrated and oft-forgotten entry in Square’s PlayStation catalogue, that doesn't prevent this hidden gem from being one of the best the console had to offer.
8. Tekken 3
The universally-acclaimed Tekken 3 remains one of the most -respected fighting games ever made, but it was its astonishing ability to lure in even non-fighting -game fans that helped make Tekken 3 one of the most iconic games on the console. Adding a third axis to the action and allowing players to dodge left and right, circling their opponents, was a seismic shift for Namco’s seminal slugfest. A cocktail of wacky cinematics, eclectic characters, and bruising beatings, the King of Iron Fist tournament is the undisputed champ when it comes to PSone fighting games, and will always remain up there with the very best fighters in the business. At the very least, it’s definitely the reason an entire generation of gamers knows what capoeira is: cheers, Eddy Gordo.
7. Resident Evil 2
Though it enjoyed a cracker of a remake in 2018, the power of the original Resident Evil 2 is still untouched. Set in a bizzaro police station - an elaborate evolution of the first game’s haunted house theme - Resident Evil 2 combined ornate, weird puzzles with a plethora of nasties that ranged from the garden-variety zombie to more out-there monstrosities like a giant moth and sentient, mutated poison ivy.
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Throw in a hulking, seemingly invulnerable tyrant that relentlessly pursues you and the ability to play through from two different perspectives, and you’ve got an all-time horror classic.
6. Tomb Raider
The original Tomb Raider is, at heart, a haunting solo adventure, a quiet jaunt through an aggressive world that mixes up real-life beasts like wolves and bears with dinosaurs and cat... mummies? While it cemented Lara Croft as a video game icon that would span several more generations, the original Tomb Raider should also be celebrated for its genius, with intricate level design and properly awe-inspiring environments. Plus, a shotgun that you can still *feel* through the ages.
5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 isn’t just regarded by many as the most monumental game in the series, and it isn’t just considered as one of the greatest sports games ever made; it’s one of the highest-rated video games OF ALL TIME.
No matter what some desperate ding-dongs trying to review bomb it 18 years too late may think, Tony Hawk 2 was an absolute cultural haymaker; marrying exquisite arcade extreme sports action with a soundtrack that launched a million mixtapes, the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was one of the most influential and iconic games of its era, and adding more moves, a simple but wildly addictive skate park editor, and a sackful of searing good songs made this stunning sequel a spectacular refinement of the formula.
4. Gran Turismo 2
Taking nothing away from the original, pioneering Gran Turismo – the best-selling PlayStation game of all time and the godfather of all console racing sims – Gran Turismo 2 was everything the first installment was and much, much more: an absolute gorilla of a racing game, so stuffed with content it had to ship on two CDs. With almost 650 cars from over 30 manufacturers, the scope of GT2 was unprecedented, dwarfing its otherwise excellent 1999 crosstown rival, Need for Speed: High Stakes. The PSone played host to a small but fondly-remembered selection of serious racing games back in the late ’90s – like the TOCA and Colin McRae series – but Gran Turismo 2 was the biggest and broadest of the lot – and it was the only one that came with a scratch ’n’ sniff disc.
3. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Releasing an "old-looking" 2D Castlevania on the PlayStation seemed like a strange move to some in 1997 - even IGN's original review reads: " It looks like the same old 2D platform action as before." Other classic franchises had already made the jump into the third dimension, and new games like Tomb Raider were showing what the PS1 could do that previous consoles could not, but keeping Symphony of the Night 2D allowed Konami to refine Castlevania’s gameplay to absolute perfection, and its beautiful pixel art has aged much better than most of its 3D contemporaries.
Then there’s the incredible soundtrack, which fans are still humming to this day. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is about as close to a perfect video game as you can get, one that is still being copied and iterated on by modern developers.
2. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is (almost) solely responsible for putting JRPGs on the map. No one had ever seen anything quite like it when it launched on the original PlayStation in 1997. It’s the second only to Gran Turismo in units sold, and for good reason. The dark, sci-fi storyline and incredibly of-the-times character design took a whimsical fantasy franchise, and brought it to an international audience in a way that neither Sony or Square could have possibly predicted. It’s a timeless classic that spawned an entire universe of spin-offs (and one stellar remake) that absolutely deserves all of its praise, despite some of its more glaring shortcomings.
1. Metal Gear Solid
Long before we had the intricate sandbox of The Phantom Pain, and before the twisting plots of The Patriots or diatribes on the complex political realities of war, the third entry in Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear series cardboard-box-crawled its way onto the PSone and things were never the same again.
Metal Gear Solid offered a singularly unique blend of stealth/action gameplay, and coupled it with a wholly bizarre yet utterly delightful cast of characters and a story that challenged our ideas of traditional video game "heroes," and pushed at the boundaries of cinematic storytelling in video games at the time. All of these exceptional elements, plus some truly unforgettable breaks in the fourth wall, combined to create a gaming experience that still holds up as one of the best to this day.[poilib element="accentDivider"]
Choosing the absolute best PlayStation games was wildly difficult, and as we’re a diverse group of fans with wildly varied tastes, not everyone’s favorites could make the list. In consideration of that, we wanted to give some shoutouts to the following games which are also quite excellent:
- Dino Crisis
- Brian Lara Cricket ‘99
- Need For Speed: High Stakes
- The Legend of Dragoon
And those are our picks for the best games on the original PlayStation - did any make your list that weren’t on ours? You can check out our full list of the top 25 PS1 games on IGN, or if you want to look ahead, be sure to follow all our coverage of the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X.