I’m an African American woman and seeing a lead protagonist that fits in any of those categories is rare in the video game space. At this point in my life, I’m 30, it’s one of those things that I have come to accept. Note, not okay with, but accept as the norm for the genre.
The targeted demographic for video games is normally white, straight men between the ages of 15 to 30. So imagine my surprise and joy that as more games have come out recently that conversation has begun to change. That is where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in and I would like to take a second to appreciate the strides with diversity taken in the game.
The Lead Protagonist In Horizon Is A Woman
Aloy, our beautiful red haired wild girl, is the lead protagonist in Horizon. While a lot of games that feature a woman lead tend to focus on her “woman-ness” this game did the exact opposite. It needs to be said more often, but when it comes to diversity people that fit multiple minority groups don’t need it to be explicitly stated in the game or narrative.
Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all.
The fact that Aloy is a woman had literally nothing to do with the story. Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all. I appreciated that the game normalized Aloy being the lead and female without drawing attention to it in the narrative. Kudos Guerrilla for doing this despite Sony’s initial reservations about the choice.
The Population In Horizon Is Diverse
I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white. It is rare that I see games take the time to flesh out the world to include other ethnic groups. I’m not going to sit here and say that these companies are racist or other extreme things. But I will say that it is an over sight that has not gone unnoticed.
I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white.
It may appear like in the years of “PC” culture and people becoming too “sensitive” that we are being inundated with these complaints. I am here to tell you that in the black community we have had these conversations among ourselves and we have them a lot. I am sure that other groups who feel under represented have done the same. So while it may be new to main stream it isn’t new to the rest of us who have to live with this reality every day.
In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint.
To add further to this point, all of the character models look beautiful. In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint. It’s obvious, it’s lazy and it makes me wish they didn’t bother. That wasn’t the case in Horizon where all of the NPCS Asian, Black, White etc each had a very polished and true to life look. I almost shed a tear when I saw the first black person and their hair. MY GOD THEIR HAIR! Hair, which they almost never get correct, looked as glorious as their skin. Thank you Guerrilla.
The Narrative Doesn’t Fall Into Familiar Stereotypes
I mentioned it a bit earlier but it needs to be said again. I appreciate that the story did not focus on Aloy being a woman and the issues that women face. There was no talk of her being weaker than a man or even romance options. As a matter of fact I was a bit sad that Aloy didn’t get to choose someone to romance male or female. But that wasn’t the focus of the story to be told here so those aspects did not get any shine. Her sexuality was not on the table at all to the point where any advances made by other characters felt a bit out of place.
I also appreciate that there were no separations of the tribes by race. There were things that separated each group to be sure but colorism was not one of them. If you follow the narrative [Spoiler] closely you will find that one of the researchers did a thing to make sure that mistake would not be able to be repeated again. Or at least not repeated in the same way come hell or high water.
It’s all the little thing’s that count with this game so while you might be off having Zelda adventures don’t forget to include Horizon too. Have you explored the world of Horizon? Do you have any thoughts about the diversity in the game? Let us know in the comments below.
New IPs are on the horizon, (see what I did there), so it is an exciting time to be a gamer. One of the most anticipated games, Horizon Zero Dawn (HZD), will soon be here and media outlets are starting to get hands on. The team over at Kinda Funny had 30 minutes with the game and from the game looks beautiful. Sometimes new games have a harder time grabbing new buyers since we never know what to expect. Here are 5 things players should know before buying Horizon Zero Dawn.
Its A PlayStation Exclusive
That’s right. If you aren’t a PS4 owner then this game will be out of reach to you for the time being. The game can be purchased digitally and physically. I’m sure there is a PS4 Pro patch on the way as well as dlc so be ready to empty your pockets.
It’s A Beautiful And Open World
I have open world fatigue mainly because most of the games feel lifeless and empty. This game gives the promise that there may be reasons to explore the environment which will cause me to give it another shot. The game is set in a dystopian world where the fall of man is evident. What is left in its wake is a land full of free roaming machines and buildings hinting to relics past. As Aloy it is the player’s job to discover what is going on in this new world.
Horizon Zero Dawn is An Action/ RPG
The battle system is over the shoulder 3rd person combat. Aloy is able to use things in the environment in her battles with the monsters which can cause them to be very unique experiences. Players will be able to analyze the machines in order to determine weaknesses and attacks of the mechs which add a layer of complexity to the combat. Aloy’s main weapon is a bow but the enemies will hit hard enough that sometimes fighting isn’t always the best option. Players will also be able to use the hacking tool in order to tame mechanical beasts to traverse the lands or assist with fights.
The Story Is Going To Be Insane
According to developers the main theme around the game is a mystery. The main ones revolving around the mysteries surrounding Aloy, why she was exiled and why would anyone become an outcast. The developers want the game to feel personal while not limited the players to a linear experience. There was also mention that all of the tribes of the world have their own side story arcs in addition to the MSQ. It looks like players will have a time sink on their hands. Players will also be able to make dialogue decisions but it was noted that it may not have an impact on the overall story ending.
There Are Going To Be Some Subsystems To Master
What I mean is the crafting system. Aloy is able to make weapons and things on the fly so acquiring loot in order to craft may be an important element of game play. This is another way to encourage exploration in the open world but it may become a bother to people who just want to get through the MSQ. Not having the proper materials could mean players success and failure in encounters.
Buckle Up It’s Going To Be Awesome
All in all it sounds like Horizon Zero Dawn is shaping up to be another impressive addition to the PlayStation family but what do you think? Do you plan on picking up the game? Are there some things you like or don’t like about the game? Let us know in the comments.
In just six weeks, Horizon Zero Dawn finally releases exclusively for the PS4. While it has a fairly awkward name, the game itself brings you on an incredible journey that you won’t soon forget. This third person shooter takes you into a post-apocalyptic land that’s now home to many unique, robotic creatures. Instead of expecting the usual bipedal robots we’re used to, now it’s a four-legged (and well, other amounts of legs) creatures that you’ll be hunting for. Watch out for robotic dinosaurs, birds and much more. You’ll be hunting these creatures for survival, and even using their own mechanical body parts against them.
The gameplay is open-world, and you’ll be spending all your time exploring that world as well. You play as Aloy, a young girl in charge of searching out the lands and uncovering its secrets. You must hunt these strange creatures, and you’ll have a range of weapons at your disposal including traps, bombs and much more. Since it’s open-world, you’ll have plenty of time to amass your weapon stash as you’re completing missions and side quests.
Fight Robotic Creatures
There will be many strange creatures you encounter, and they’re all mechanical at this point in world. They were not always hostile though, as a strange virus has been spreading over the robotic creatures and turning them to the dark side. Not only can you fight them, you can hack them as well if you manage to. You can turn some of them into mounts, or perhaps even hack them into friendship. Who wouldn’t love a mountain-sized robotic dinosaur best friend?
As you progress in the storyline, you’ll be searching for the answer as to why these robotic creatures now dominate the land, and how they got that way in the first place. The world used to be as we know it now, but something terrible happened along the way. Shunned by her tribe of indigenous humans that stayed on earth while the rest left, Aloy on her way to find her destiny and using her amazing huntress skills to help her out. Let’s hope you’re a good shot with a bow, you’ll have to channel your inner Legolas to take down these titan-sized beasts. You’ll have to come up with different strategies for all the cunning AI you’ll be fighting against. Use all of Aloy’s wit and skills to defeat the creatures in her way and hunt out her destiny.
Releasing February 28th in the US and March 3rd in Europe, Horizon Zero Dawn is not far off from being available, so you won’t have to wait much longer now. There are many great story and gameplay videos available to watch in the meantime. Check out Playstation’s Horizon Zero Dawn Story Trailer and an eight minute gameplay video created from footage available from E3 2016. The graphics are stunning and the details are incredible, right down to the realistic movements of the creatures and the day and night cycles and weather system. You might begin to feel like you’re really a part of this incredible world. Don’t be too worried though, robotic pets aren’t a thing yet. Oh, wait…
With 2016 coming to a close sooner than later, I cannot help but think of the future and what it holds in such a wild industry full of disappointments, surprises, and drama.
Not only is 2017 a colossal year because of the myriad of new IPs and returning beloved franchises, but also because two potentially game-changing Consoles are rearing their heads for consumers to devour.
The following four releases I’ve selected cannot with any certainty, be considered failures. On the contrary, they’re probably all going to be fantastic products. I just feel that they’ve all to some degree warranted not only skepticism but serious doubt due to the following circumstances.
Without further ado, I present the top four potential failures of 2017.
Red Dead Redemption 2
This might be a questionable first pick, but we must focus on the fact that Rockstar, while fantastic at what they do, are a business, and all businesses must make money. With the release of Grand Theft Auto Online, Rockstar has found themselves in the glorious position of raking in so much money that they probably don’t even know what to do with it at this point.
I don’t think that even the most important suits had any idea that GTAO would be as important to them as it is, and that is the main reason I am concerned about RDR2.
If we visit the official page for the game, we see the following.
Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.
The part that mentions the heartland is intriguing, to say the least, but the part that worries me is the fact that they mention providing a ‘brand new’ online multiplayer experience. So far, we know very little about the game so this is all speculation on my part, but if I wanted to make a boatload of cash as Rockstar, I’d make RDR2 a multiplayer game in the vein of Destiny.
We have what appears to be seven main characters and the foundation for a big multiplayer experience, so why not make the game a hybrid game where you have multiplayer in a persistent online world? I’m sure some of you reading this are gushing at the thought of it, but for me, it is awful.
The moment you introduce co-operative play and online functionality, a lot of the immersion and the narrative gets thrown out the window for trash talk and killing sprees. Something about the idea of Rockstar making RDR2 an online-focused game is the exact opposite direction I wanted them to go. I want to spend at least a hundred more hours in the desert being wholeheartedly absorbed in the incredibly detailed world and story. I do not want to spend my time having people call me horrible names and murdering me for fun.
However, I’m more likely to believe that we’ll have two separate modes. I just hope I’m right.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn blew my mind when it was shown off for the first time. Seeing an incredibly lush and beautifully unique environment filled with bizarre robotic dinosaurs and tribal warriors made my mind wander endlessly about what would be possible in such a creative world.
it seems so obvious to pair technology with the past as they’re doing, yet this is the first time we’ve seen it done in such a way and it’s inspiring at the very least.
The thing about Horizon, though, is that the more we see, the more the doubt drips in. Those amazing looking flat-headed dinosaurs filled me with curiosity. Yet, when they were revealed to be awful Ubisoft towers that unveil the map piece by piece, it just opened the floodgates for what kind of game this is.
Why do I want to unlock sections of a map in such an archaic, counterintuitive sort of way when I could instead explore for myself and allow my own curiosity to fuel the things I discover? I hate the fact that at the end of the day, this game looks like yet another open-world action game with slight RPG elements that takes way to many ideas from the exceptionally tired Assassin’s Creed franchise. Couple all of that with the fact that what we’ve seen in the actual RPG and crafting systems looks to be very similar to every other open-world crafting RPG. How many hours will I spend gathering flowers and other weird herbs?
Horizon was supposed to be different, yet everything we’re seeing says it isn’t, at least, not mechanically. It also doesn’t help that it will be written by Guerrilla Games, who have yet to actually make a great story in any of their past projects.
Resident Evil 7
I must say that I’m not personally worried about Resident Evil 7 as far as it being a good video game. I think that the direction it is taking is not only bold but necessary for the future of the franchise. I was so tired of the bland action trash that Capcom has been releasing lately and I wanted the game to back to being focused on surviving and horror.
That said, the reaction to everything surrounding RE7 has been less than positive, and it makes me worried that the game will not only sell poorly compared to the sales Capcom expects, but be received poorly simply because people cannot accept change in long-running franchises.
I can kind of sympathize, though. I think that it would be nearly impossible for Capcom to actually craft a game that pleases most people, as the audience is both very picky about how the games are, and divided on how they ought to be.
The Nintendo Switch is a surprisingly great looking console. I was hesitant about it when all we knew were rumors, mainly because this idea that we’d have detachable controllers to take our console on the go would not only spell potential failure as far as graphical potential but also battery life.
With the recent unveiling of the Switch, the rumors have been confirmed as far as what it is, and that is not necessarily a great thing.
Off the bat, I’d like to state that I think it is a very inventive and handy idea. I love that it’s so adaptable. I cherish my Wii U simply because the GamePad allows me to move around and game. The Switch takes that idea and amps it up to 11 by completely removing all boundaries. You can play it like a home console, like your 3DS, or like a weird sort of tablet off-shoot.
The problems, though, fall into what I have mentioned above. When you have this much mobility with a console, you immediately sacrifice power. I fear that just like the Wii U, the console will lose traction after a short time because of third party support. Why would EA want to bother porting the next Battlefield to a console that is less powerful than the Xbox One, which currently can’t even run Battlefield 1 at 1080p60? We’ve seen this happen with the Wii U and it died so fast it’s shocking.
Beyond that, there is absolutely no way they can get the battery life up to a respectable amount of hours while keeping the rumored 720p graphics. I think these two factors could end up destroying the very innovation that Nintendo strives to bring to the console market.
But, regardless of those things, we can all take solace in the fact that Nintendo makes mostly phenomenal first-party games. Even if the third party doesn’t support it, we’re bound to get a few excellent games from Nintendo each year. Hopefully.
With Paris Games Week going on right now, many people were hoping to see more on Horizon Zero Dawn, the new IP by Guerrilla Games.
It is a highly anticipated title that seems to have an incredible amount of potential, and I practically begged for more after such teases at E3 and Gamescom this year.
To those who hoped or prayed, here are eight minutes of uncut gameplay with some great commentary.
The first thing I have to mention is how breathtaking the visuals are in Horizon. Sprawling landscapes, hulking beasts the size of houses, and an open world that looks, as of now, very realistically created. The technical side of the graphics is also something noteworthy, as this might be the best looking game I’ve seen in a long time.
It is also really impressive that they are doing a very creative and unique twist on the already tired trend of the post-apocalypse as a setting. Rather than boring, bland wastelands of nothingness, we have beautiful vistas filled to the brim with bizarre and fascinating fauna and flora. Rather than having typical bandits and raiders with guns, we have warring clans in a tribal setting where your primary weapon is a spear.
As bonus, here is the Story Board trailer Sony released shortly after. It is a great, albeit short, insight into how storyboards transition into final products.
I am finding it very hard not to board the hype train at a brisk pace. I am burnt out on open world games, but this just might be the one that gets me back into the fray.
From fifteen-year-old reboots to unexpected remakes to little red dolls made of yarn, E3 2015 has been nothing short of surprising. Everyone boards the annual hype train as dozens of new games rear their heads at one of the biggest conventions around.
Everyone is excited, that much is certain, but what excites each individual person most is another topic altogether.
These 11 games are games that intrigue me beyond all others, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a daunting task to actually place these in some sort of specific order.
11 – Shenmue 3
This might be the strangest way to start off a list about games I’m excited for, considering I’ve never played a Shenmue game in my life. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the franchise and how it helped define what we now call the open-world game, but as for experiencing it first hand, I have not.
You might wonder why I would be excited enough that it’d make the cut. While I can’t say I’m anticipating continuing a story I’ve never heard, just seeing the reaction of the fans got me vicariously hyped.
I want to play Shenmue. I don’t have a Dreamcast and I don’t have an original Xbox, and as a self-appointed hardcore gamer, it’d be silly not to play such a revolutionary and inspiring franchise.
I anxiously await my first trip into the world of Shenmue and hope that it lives up to the other games in the series, not for myself, but for the fans that never gave up hope that they’d see the end of their story.
10 – Star Wars Battlefront
I am a ridiculously huge Star Wars fan, and with the murder of LucasArts, I was devastated at the thought of not getting another excellent game set in the Star Wars universe. I wanted a developer that understands the franchise to make an experience that I won’t soon forget, with meticulous detail to capture the feeling of Star Wars.
When it was announced that DICE would be creating the next game in the Battlefront series, I couldn’t be more excited. Say what you will about the launch of Battlefield 4, but DICE absolutely understands how to make an incredibly rewarding first-person shooter with deep multiplayer. Pair this with the fact that DICE adores Star Wars, and we should be in for a treat of a game, right? Right!
There are a few concerns I have such as the AT-AT being on rails and the smaller player count, but if anyone can pull it off now, it’s DICE.
9 – Fallout 4
While Fallout 3 or New Vegas didn’t really jive with me, the seemingly overhauled gameplay, a renewed sense of humour, and a new focus on a ridiculous amount of customization has me really curious if Bethesda can finally immerse me in their game.
Fallout 4 says goodbye to brown and embraces colour. It says goodbye to the typical melodrama associated with post-apocalyptic settings in favour of some dark humour, and it says goodbye to the past and moves forward with a new look at how the apocalypse happened and a fresh coat of paint on Boston as a setting.
Overall the game looks fantastic, but I’m still nervous that it will be fetch-quest heaven with stiff and lifeless characters. We’ll see when it drops though.
8 – Starfox Zero
When I first got my SNES, I was absolutely blown away by Starfox. It had impressive polygonal graphics, unique and memorable characters, and insane combat that relied on your ability to react in a swift manner. It was such a unique concept to me at the time – especially with space bunnies- and I played it ritualistically for months without ever getting bored of it.
After the original Starfox though, the next game I got to play was Starfox Adventures. It is a great game in its own right, but it was a complete spin-off that didn’t satisfy my urge to soar an Arwing through rings while dodging blaster fire.
It has been over a decade of waiting for a new console Starfox game that adopts the philosophy of the original, and it seems that despite some huge changes like the motion controls, we’re finally getting a proper sequel.
I can’t wait to see what Nintendo does to improve on such a meticulous formula, and I’m anxiously awaiting my binge sessions where I scour each level searching for hidden secrets.
7 – Nier 2
Nier was a game that I always wanted to try but never could. I spent three or more years trying to find a copy in my area to no avail, and it seemed that no matter what stones I upturned, I’d never be able to play the game.
I got lucky recently and bought an extremely cheap copy on the PS3 and after spending two weeks playing through the adventure, I wanted nothing but more Nier.
The timing couldn’t be better, as mere weeks later Nier 2 is announced. Furthermore, having a developer like Platinum Games handling Nier’s weakest point, the combat, could not be a smarter idea. We already have all the assets to make a wonderful experience, we just needed someone with the right skill to flesh out the gameplay mechanics.
We got it.
6 – Horizon Zero Dawn
A lot of developers, Bethesda included, seem to want to flock to post-apocalyptic earth as a setting. It’s becoming so frequent now that I’m feeling burnt out on the idea. Game after game has you surviving a harsh wasteland torn apart by war and conflict, fighting off mutants or zombies with a variety of guns and melee weapons.
It’s formulaic to say the least, and most games that adopt such a setting don’t stray far from what I’ve described.
Horizon Zero Dawn may be a post-apocalyptic wasteland that has you battling enemies with a variety of guns, but replace the typical zombies with robot dinosaurs. Replace the typical Mad Max styled brutes and The Warriors styled gangs with tribes of primitive hunters using advanced crossbows and spears to do their hunting. Replace a dull brown wasteland with a vibrant and gorgeous landscape filled with colour and unique sights to behold.
All of this makes me excited to play Horizon. I just hope it can add an interesting narrative to the mix and keep things interesting without relying too heavily on dragging out the game’s length for ‘content’.
5 – Unravel
Whenever EA gets on stage I expect a ton of typical buzzwords like “innovation” while they just show off tons of bland sports games and unending sequels of broken buggy messes that everybody is sick of. What I absolutely didn’t expect was to see some shaking young man with a little red doll made of yarn.
What sold me before the game was even shown was the man himself. From speaking about taking photos of his Yarnie doll in the woods for level ideas to his trembling hands, nervous laughter, and utter gratefulness to be on a huge stage at a massive event, I was completely taken aback by how genuine and sweet he seemed.
When we finally cut to Unravel though, what we see is an endearing, gorgeous, and interesting platformer with what seems to be some interesting mechanics at the core.
There is no doubt in my mind that this game will be solid and the ideas fully fleshed out, I just don’t know if I’m ready to cry at another video game so soon.
4 – Uncharted 4
Everyone who follows Naughty Dog knew that Uncharted 4 would rear it’s head at E3, but the manner in which it would do it was very much up to debate. After seeing an exhilarating car chase and some incredible technology on display, it is no surprise then that I seriously cannot wait to get back into the shoes of Drake as he finishes up his final adventure.
With a graphics engine to blind the viewer, a new sense of speed and chaos, a focus on verticality and non-linear level design, Uncharted 4 should be on everyone’s radar, as it is going to be the summer blockbuster game we need in our lives.
I never get sick of hearing Sully and Drake’s banter.
3 – Cuphead
When you look at the world of video games, it’s hard to come up with a completely unique idea and turn it into a game that nobody has ever done before. Unless you’re Studio MDHR that is.
With all the distinct art-styles we see in games, not once have we been able to actually play through a classic 30s cartoon from start to finish. Cuphead says that we need to, and it offers us a Mega Man-esque platforming action game with an art style that is almost shockingly similar to such wonders as Mickey Mouse or Popeye.
The game looks incredible and the design so well articulated that you’d be fooled not to think it’s based on some ancient source material.
That it is not, and wait I cannot.
2 – The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian is a game that I consistently feared had been scrapped. Year after year I’d prepare for E3 with my annual anticipation of seeing more on the game, just to have my dreams crushed as the game went unmentioned and neglected year after year.
I grew cynical and negative as the years went on, and I didn’t think I’d ever have my dream of being able to play The Last Guardian come true. E3 2015 proved me wrong by showing me that the game is not only still alive, but is coming along beautifully.
What a wonderful concept; a boy and his creature. Both escaping a perilous locale, using teamwork and intelligence to stay alive and flee what we can only assume is a vile enemy. The demo starts with the boy ripping spears out of the beasts dying body, and from there a bond is built that I cannot fathom never being able to take part in.
Please give me The Last Guardian. My heart has had a hole in it since I completed Shadow of the Colossus.
1 – Final Fantasy VII as Top E3 2015
Though my top choice might not be surprising, I’d say it’s justified. I got into gaming because of a little game known as Final Fantasy VII. I had dabbled and enjoyed my fair share of shoot-em-ups and platformers on the retro consoles, but nothing had ever fully immersed or grasped me until I went into a pawn shop one day and purchased Final Fantasy VII on a whim.
The game blew me away. The pre-rendered backgrounds were astoundingly beautiful to me, the music was entrancing and ethereal, the writing and narrative deep and complex, and the characters lovable and varied. I had never seen a game with such depth, and I’d spend my nights either playing it or leaving my game on to fall asleep to the incredible soundtrack that Nobuo Uematsu crafted.
These types of memories will never leave me, and the impact of the game cannot be nullified. With that said, I’ve been wanting to re-enter the world of Final Fantasy VII in 3D for years, and the prospect of a full remake coming blows my mind.
Picture Midgar fully traversable in 3D, picture Uematsu’s incredible score re-imagined with an orchestra and picture the gameplay tweaked and enhanced to feel right at home in 2017. That is what we’re getting if I have it my way, and I couldn’t be more excited.