There are a lot of emotions around today’s inauguration of Donald Trump. Some folks are optimistic about the new President and others seem to be a bit more pessimistic. If there’s one group whose needs Donald Trump has yet to address, it’s gamers! And gaming, particularly cooperative gaming, is under attack today like never before. Fortunately, Donald Trump seems to be pretty unpredictable, which makes us think that he may be open to passing some laws that we’d like to see, particularly those related to some trends in gaming we don’t like. So, in honor of our relatively mercurial new president, here are the laws we’d like to see Donald Trump pass.
“To Be Continued” is Now a Binding Contract
We have had enough of games that end with a cliffhanger that never gets addressed. The worst offenders are the games that promise “to be continued” and then never deliver. It’s always a risk to guarantee a sequel to complete the story; if the first title is not well received, then a second may never have a chance. So we want to talk that risk off the table. From now on, all games must have a definitive ending that concludes the story in a satisfying way. No more “to be continued” at the end of the story. We’ll still allow for some degree of ambiguity around smaller elements (such as whether the villain really died), but otherwise we want complete, satisfying stories. Relatedly, Valve can’t work on anything else until they release Halflife 3.
There Will Be No More Batman Games Until We Get a Decent Superman Game
We’ve talked about Batman being the ultimate video game hero before, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Batman appeared in two titles last year (VR and Telltale) and will appear in at least two movies this year (and he’s probably in Wonder Woman also). Batman games keep coming at a fantastic speed but Superman, meanwhile, keeps getting ignored. Superman is arguably the greatest superhero ever and he hasn’t had a decent video game since the Atari 2600. The best Superman games have been ones that focused on Batman (e.g., Lego Batman 2) or all of the superheroes (Injustice) and, frankly, it’s getting ridiculous. So, we’re saying Batman is off limits until someone creates a good Superman game, focused on the Man of Steel. We don’t care what it is: it can be a VR experience, a single-player brawler, a Telltale drama, or a LucasArts point-and-click adventure. But no more Batman games until we get at least one Superman title.
Once You Go Coop, You Cannot Go Back
If there was one particularly infuriating trend in gaming these last fewer years, it has been the trend away from cooperative gaming. Games are getting rid of couch coop generally and, more and more, replacing cooperative play with smaller “horde modes” that can just pit you and a friend against loads of enemies. Halo got rid of couch coop in Halo 5, though it did retain online cooperative play. Dead Rising, on the other hand, got rid of the online cooperative game and included just a smaller multiplayer mode. Unacceptable! It’s one thing if new titles don’t have cooperative modes, but games that previously had cooperative gameplay cannot lose that feature in sequels! There have been some bright points: Gears of War 4 provided the familiar, fun gameplay we love, Watch Dogs 2 included online play that we didn’t see in the original (and the game was MUCH improved for it) and Far Cry 4 allowed cooperative play also. We need to make sure we don’t lose those advances; cooperative gaming is fading and while we can’t require designers to make cooperative games (or can we?), we can require them to maintain cooperative play in the continuing series. So Dead Rising, Halo, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs, you guys are on notice. We expect at least the same amount of cooperative play going forward. Believe me, you’ll thank us for it.
Nonlethal Measures Must Always Be Available
The best way to ruin your experience in Watch Dogs 2 is to play violently. Your relaxed, hipster hero is fun to lead through San Francisco but he makes no sense as a murderer. Dishonored 2 is also a lot more fun to play non-lethally, even though – much like Watch Dogs 2 – the game really doesn’t punish you for killing folks. More and more we’re finding that non-lethal play is more fun; it forces us to be smart and patient in our approach. We aren’t arguing for non-lethal play because we’re concerned about the effect of violence on children, we are just kind of sick of killing loads and loads of guards. Uncharted 4’s weakest moments are the scenes in which you are pitted against waves of non-descript guards in forgettable bloodbaths. We’ve been playing games the same way for 20 years, it’s time for something new. Relatedly: no more killing dogs in video games at all. We don’t care what the situation is, whether or not it’s historically accurate, or if it makes no sense at all, but we are not killing dogs in video games anymore. Let’s make it happen!