One of the most galvanizing things about being part of the video game community is when a game comes out that everybody is playing. Whether you are following along on Twitch, reading updates on Twitter, or playing on multiplayer servers, there is a palatable sense of togetherness that happens as a large cross-section dives into a new title at once. It happens regularly, but with a wide range of games; some that come to mind are Dark Souls, BioShock Infinite, The Walking Dead, Skyrim, and even The Stanley Parable. With some of those games, I was late to the party as a result of not being able to buy it at the time, or having to wait for it on PC.
Even though I missed out on the zeitgeist surrounding those games, I didn’t really feel like I missed out when I got around to them. As I await the imminent release of Dark Souls II on PC, as well as the (likely?) release of Grand Theft Auto V there as well, I’m not terribly concerned by the delay because I’m confident the experiences will be every bit as memorable as they would have been at release. For some others however, I can’t help but feel that the ship has sailed on having that special gaming experience.
Portal 2 (Multiplayer)
Portal 2 is and was an absolute delight. Even after having played it a number of times, and even though I could now do the puzzles with my eyes closed, it’s still a blast to play. As much as I enjoyed it however, one thing I really missed out on was the co-op multiplayer. I got the game on PC right when it came out, but at the time I didn’t really have anyone to play with. By the time I got around to it, everyone had already been through it. I suppose I could have convinced someone to go through it with me, but, with this series, there’s something about the sense of discovery that only happens the first time through.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
At E3 last June, one of the things I observed was the wide variety of people playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Gamers, developers, press — everybody seemed to be enthralled by last year’s 3DS summer hit. I certainly didn’t have the time, the game, nor the 3DS to join in, but I’ve been feeling the itch to give it a try one of these days. While Animal Crossing: New Leaf is full of content independent of its multiplayer component, one of the reasons I’d want to get into it is to see (read: mess up) my friends’ towns. I recognize that this is totally not the case in-game, but I have this image in my head of picking up New Leaf, loading up a new game, and finding a derelict world full of despair and the post-apocalyptic remains of dreams long since abandoned. Then again, that actually sounds pretty fucking awesome.
Counter-Strike/Dota 2/League of Legends/StarCraft II
I’m just going to go ahead and lump these games into the same group because, let’s face it, we’re talking about the same thing here. Competitive shooters, MOBAs, and online RTS games are ones that, if you weren’t in on them early on or aren’t super dedicated to excelling at them, largely feature communities that have no interest in you. I’ve dabbled in each of these games because I find them absolutely fascinating, however the ticket to entry is so high and the community so unforgiving towards newcomers that frankly I’m too intimidated to jump in.
The silver lining in all of this, however, is that while I likely will never truly be able to get into these communities as a player, they are at least fun to experience as a spectator. Games such as these are the closest equivalent we have to professional sports in this regard. Still, like the baseball player who missed out on that shot at the big leagues, one always wonders what could have been…
A game like Journey is one of the reasons why Twitter and Tumblr exist. Players engaged in an ambiguous quest towards an ambiguous goal with the help of an ambiguous helper, which resulted in what is referred to as ‘the feels’. For people who played Journey back when it first came out, they “couldn’t even” and couldn’t wait to let everybody know about it. Me? Well, I don’t have a PS3 so obviously it was not really an option.
I’ve actually been thinking about getting a PS3 because cheap ones can be found. If I do, I know in my heart of hearts that it’s pointless to get Journey because even if somebody else out there is playing it (SPOILERS: Nobody is), the jig is up about how it’s a stealth co-op game and the only people there are likely fine folks such as XxX420Hal0killaXxX who only exist to ruin your experience.
I’m going to say it right here and now: There was a time when Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64 was the best FPS game ever. E-V-E-R! It had a brilliant campaign with different objectives based on the difficulty level you chose, plus a multiplayer that not only featured a ton of maps but had different modes and bots that ranged in skill from hilarious (MeatSim) to terrifying (DarkSim). It was a phenomenal game, but good luck convincing anyone of that today.
Perfect Dark was an essential title on the N64, but for better or worse, it just doesn’t hang with modern shooters. Even the up-rezzed version on XBLA is treated as a curiosity more than anything else, and that’s okay. I certainly don’t take that kind of stuff personally, although as someone who, with many friends, lost the Summer of 2000 to this game…je me souviens.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Have you been a latecomer to any of these games and managed to have an experience on par with when they were the new hotness? What are some games that you feel like you missed the boat on?