Today’s episode is extra meaty, in more ways than one, with Rob and Patrick discussing how good it feels to turn a space zombie into chunks in the Dead Space remake. Then, Ren has stories from the end of the world in Season, an emotional game about memories. Later, we reflect on the Xbox Developer Direct, which gave us new looks at Redfall, and dropped Patrick’s early GOTY contender, Hi-Fi Rush. Then, we dip in the bucket and consider what a Patrick/Rivers Cuomo interview would be like.
I have a lot of disparate thoughts about Dead Space but I absolutely agree with the comments on the characterisation changes. The original game uses the abrasiveness of Hammond and Daniel’s panic very effectively in a classical horror way. It feels like it’s nodding to its influences. Everyone is a little nicer, a bit more empathetic, and a lot less specific.
I feel like I’m losing my mind here. I appreciate that Ren pushed back on this a bit, but can we please move past the idea that any game that any shooter game that has optional multiplayer is just a “L4D-like”?
Redfall does not have anything to do with L4D. As Ren said, it’s a Borderlands game (though I think Borderlands mixed with Far Cry might be more accurate). You’ll do missions, you’ll go around an open world doing stuff, clearing off a map. You’ll pick a character class that vibes with your playstyle. And it will be 100% playable and enjoyable playing solo. But you can also bring in some friends if you’d rather play it more casually while shooting the shit. Ya know - like Borderlands, or even the more recent Far Cry games!
Whether or not it ends up being good, I honestly don’t know. I certainly hope so! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Arkane game to various degrees. But…yo, just because they showed some multiplayer footage in addition to single player footage in their stream, doesn’t just mean “yeah, looks like a L4D.” Please, Patrick, I’m begging you. There are more ways to do “shooty game” and “optional co-op” than L4D.
I don’t think it’s that it’s “any shooter with multiplayer is a Left 4 Dead”, I think it was specifically shown in a light that made it seem L4D-like. I’ve been thinking of it as a L4D-adjacent for ages, ever since the original cinematic trailer and relative lack of further context. Four playable characters versus vampire hordes? Sure sounded like a L4D game, and I think it’s struggled to shake that initial impression for a lot of people. I think Ren is correct that it more accurately looks like a Borderlands, now we have some further context, but I think Patrick is still right that it begs a lot of questions about how playable it is solo.
All the emphasis is on teamwork and co-operation and how abilities benefit each other in co-op - which is absolutely something true of Borderlands, which is still fun to play solo. But for the most part Borderlands’ classes are all basically capable damage dealers even if some are more tanky, some more crowd control, some more DPS. At the moment I’m left wondering how the game feels if you don’t have a team with you. Do the classes that can’t turn invisible have other stealth options? If you can’t teleport are you much more limited in your approaches to missions? You could argue the same is true depending on how you specced in a Dishonored or Prey, different paths through the game would be closed off to you, but so far the classes seem narrower in scope than the options their earlier immersive sims offered.
It’s just really not what I’m looking for from Arkane. I couldn’t help but groan at the bit of the latest demo of it where the devs were explaining how they make games they want to play and how Redfall combines all the stuff they love… and multiplayer/co-op was notably absent from that spiel. For as much as it emphasises multiplayer, it ends up feeling like multiplayer was something they were told to make, not something they necessarily wanted.
The reveal cinematic seemed to evoke a very Left 4 Dead vibe with what looked like a handful of enemy boss types, fighting through hordes of vampires with chatty characters, but now that we’ve seen the game the comparison sort of falls flat.
Looking at it now a more accurate comparison would be something like, as Ren said, Borderlands, or Destiny, as filtered through an Arkane lens.
It’s certainly not like Back 4 Blood which specifically aims to evoke L4D from the original devs, even going so far as to evoke the title.
This is true of what they’ve shown us, along with the always-online requirement implying going hard in the live service direction, but I really hope this isn’t actually the aim. I see why this’d be a successful pitch to higher-ups/investors (esp. for a studio that hasn’t made the most profitable or trendy of games so far), but everyone’s seen how saturated and locked-down of a space the live service lootshooter genre is.
Arkane’s unique sensibilities had trouble getting through to lots of players in their closed highly controlled singleplayer games, trying to have that spirit be the standout feature in your open world Destiny/BL competitor sounds uh… well, I guess we’ll see, but it’s hard not to have an iffy feeling about how this’ll go for them. Especially off the back of five bajillion <1 year old live service games shutting down right now.
I enjoyed listening to the discussion about Season. Especially what Ren described with regards to the opening - I love when a game makes you pause and think through what you’re about to do. I’m consistently short on disposable funds for games but I might put this one on the wish list.
And as far as Diego’s question is concerned - I’m a person with a lot of emotional triggers, there are certain songs, movies and games that will reliably and invariable set off an emotional reaction in me - most Tori Amos songs will leave me a bubbling mess. I welled up during the opening sequence of Firewatch, and cried a few times in Dreamfall and Dreamfall Chapters, and those are just the ones I remember.
One game that is said to be very emotional is To The Moon. It always pops up in relevant discussions, and I played it, looking for that emotional trigger. It did a big fat nothing for me, which I think may have been a mix of the gameplay which was rather average, and some of the dialogue which I found off-putting. I thought it was a bit weird that this highly praised game had no emotional effect, but yeah, not everything works the same for everyone.