Trying to read between the lines when it comes to gaming news can be tricky at times. My current brainpower is currently attempting to decipher the news coming from Bethesda/ID over Doom 4.
When I first got in to writing about games, Duke Nukem Forever was coming out. In fact I reviewed it but the news and the hype that Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford managed to generate around it without shedding so much as a peek of gameplay was quite impressive and deflected from the truth that… There’s no polite way to say this. It was disappointingly shit.
At present though, with the beta release of Doom 4 around the corner and the reveal of the game at QuakeCon (a self imposed deadline admittedly), there seems to be a lot of stories that is designed to (industry speak) manage expectations.
Being a purchaser of Wolfenstein, which coincidently is slowly being recognised for being one of the year’s best and most fun releases, I have access to this beta along with a few other GameJar people. I can imagine we will be furiously fragging things with a BFG and waxing lyrical about it.
But all of these sound bites that are appearing like “Don’t assume it will be awesome” do make you worry.
If you haven’t heard, there is a lot from Bethesda warning against people assuming a game will be good due to the legacy of the franchise. Which if you are a relatively sane human being you would know not to believe. But Bethesda’s Marketing guy Pete Hines… Yes, marketing guy, is saying to remember how good Wolfenstein was before we got the current iteration in the franchise.
His logic is sound of course, it’s been an age since Doom 3 and things have changed massively. They will need to go into this game to create something amazing in its own right. But this anti-hype, this reverse psychology against it is a little bit disconcerting.
With Wolfenstein, the game returned a bit to its original simple FPS sentimentalities. Something that (apart from spending ages looking at the floor for armor like a pig sniffing for truffles) was very successful for that game. It had a good story, the gameplay allowed the story to breathe and it was simple enough but challenging to play that you didn’t get left out even as a casual gamer. It was a huge success.
So why, given that the Doom beta was a big ploy to sell the game, would Bethesda start letting people down already? Surely the game already isn’t that bad that they are working on damage limitation? Given that it is a Doom game, I’m guessing the industry hype that will inevitably come from journalists and bloggers alike will shift the units.
So I can’t decide whether they are trying to distance themselves from the success of the Wolfenstein game and let us down early and easy or if this is all a clever ploy to keep their cards as close to their chest as possible.
Given the dominance in the FPS market for consoles with Battlefield and Call of Duty, you could see why they might distance themselves a bit. Quake has always been know for its fast paced and adrenalin filled multiplayer but only on the PC. This has been well and truly usurped by the current trendsetters for console.
If Doom can channel that and create a great multiplayer game that has that speed, especially as these new consoles could easily handle the frame rate for it, then it has the possibility to present a big challenge to the established few. Especially as the taste for those games is slowly diminishing among some gamers, it could be a good time for some Quake-esque Doom multiplayer to strike.
I just can’t tell if this is honesty or a clever way to hype the game on the footage and beta rather than legacy. I can’t decide if this is admission of faults or underhanded hubris. I can tell that I’m probably trying too hard to read between the lines here but, for me at least, I see something either being brilliant or whatever your personal description of the opposite of brilliant is.