24th March 2016

Is hype everything?

Can hype make or break a game? Is it better to go in blind or set your expectations high for a game you know you will play? Is hype everything? Stephen Lewis ponders and answers this question below

Last November was a busy month for the gaming industry, with numerous big releases coming to all platforms. Fallout 4 was perhaps the most hyped of all of these releases and I, like many others, was caught up in it. I wasn’t a big fan of Oblivion and even though I liked Fallout 3, I just never got hooked—however Skyrim was a different story. The atmosphere was much more inviting with the mountainous visuals and masterful soundtrack keeping me occupied for many hours, and I even bought the expansions. It was perhaps a bit of an issue for Bethesda that this was their first big release since Skyrim—not including Elder Scrolls online. Skyrim had made quite an impact on the games that have come out since. Metal Gear Solid V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt were two of the best games to come out last year and they were the first in their respective franchises to go fully open world.

I bought Fallout 4 within a week of its release hoping that the change from Oblivion to Skyrim would be recreated in the jump from Fallout 3 to to Fallout 4, going so far as to even buy the season pass as—from what I had seen of the game—it would take up a lot of time and be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. But this hasn’t turned out as I expected, not through lack of enjoyment, but perhaps it was due to an exhaustion of open world games for the time being.

A week or two later, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was on sale on Xbox Live for £4 and I knew the sequel had come out, but it had gotten lost in the pile of November games. As a much more linear, story-driven game with one primary goal, I spent more time on this and once I got to the end of the story I stopped playing, but I did not go back to Fallout… I decided to finally finish off Witcher and Metal Gear first, and once that was done, and I wanted another break from open world games. Rise of the Tomb Raider was offered at half price over Christmas, so I picked that up and got back into a more plot-driven game, already equaling my playtime with Fallout.

Fallout 4, Photo: Bethesda Softworks

I still haven’t gone back to Bethesda’s newest creation but I’m sure that I will at some point, hopefully before the DLC comes out. But this raises the question, can hype sometimes be bad, even if the game itself is good? Hype is obviously bad if a game doesn’t reach the expectations that have been built around it, but perhaps it shifts the spotlight away from more deserving games, and not just indie games compared to AAA releases. I have seen Rise of the Tomb Raider on more ‘Best Games of 2015’ lists than Fallout 4, and when they are both in the running, Tomb Raider usually seems to be higher.

I’m not saying Fallout 4 is a bad game when compared to Tomb Raider as they are very different games, but surely they are both deserving of high praise. This has not been reflected in the sales numbers, but Rise of the Tomb Raider was initially available on Xbox One and 360 only—with a PC release that happened in the January just gone, and the PS4 version is due to a release for next Christmas. If you haven’t tried it already, I recommend this series, and if you can’t currently play it as you only have a PS4, then it should be worth the wait.

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