Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: most popular video game genres
Readers discuss their favourite video game genres and how they think they’ll evolve on the new generation of consoles.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Gannet, who asked what do you traditionally consider to be your favourite genre and why? Which games do you think are the best examples and how do they compare to other famous entries in the genre?
Pretty much every type of game was suggested at some point but role-players, open world game, and 2D platformers were particularly popular.
It’s an interesting question but after some thought I’ve got to say I think it’s the 2D platformer. Which is pretty wild because it’s a genre that has barely changed at all across the generations and so is pretty much the same answer I would’ve given when I was a kid compared to now.
Things have obviously changed a lot since Super Mario Bros. but I think that the 2D platformer is such a pure concept for video games it will always be there. It’s something that would only exist in a game and while you can tell stories with it, in things like Celeste and Cave Story, the focus is always on action just because of how it’s presented and how you move around.
A lot of modern platformers tends to be Metroidvanias, which you could count as a separate genre, but I love these just as much, all the way from Ori And Will Of The Wisps to Super Metroid. I’m not sure how the next gen will affect the genre but as long as there are indie developers out there I don’t think the idea will ever die.
Who’s formula is it anyway?
I really am a sucker for the Ubisoft formula and I’m not afraid to admit it. To be honest I prefer it when Sony uses it, but I also don’t mind admitting it’s basically all the same thing. Like Days Gone is really not a great game, especially the story and characters, but I just love the open world freedom and how you can get into your own thing instead of just following the story.
I think Ubisoft’s best use of it so far was probably Far Cry 5, which again didn’t have a great story but the world was great and varied and all the different vehicles work really well. I guess it’s debatable whether Rockstar use the formula or if they in a way helped to create it but I love their open worlds too.
What’s great about the new generation is that you know for sure this is going to be something that’s concentrated on and will only get even better. I expect Fable will push the envelope with this but who knows what else we’ll see.
It’s the taking part
I’ve always been a big fighting game fan, which all my friends think is odd because I’m not particularly good at them (I’m better than most of them though, if you ask me). I enjoy playing online and solo though and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of learning a character’s moves and then ending up using them instinctively during a match.
I do think fighting games have focused a bit too much on competition and esports in recent years, which makes them seem very inaccessible and I’m not sure why they do it as they’re not even particularly popular esports, when you compare them to other kinds of games. So I’d like to see that stop if possible.
There doesn’t seem to be much scheduled for the new generation yet but I’m looking forward to Guilty Gear -Strive- and I’m assuming new Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games will be along sooner or later.
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Role-playing games will always be my favourite. Which is surprising as before Skyrim I would’ve said I didn’t like them at all. But that was mostly Japanese role-playing games and I much prefer the more modern kind. Now that Microsoft has bought Bethesda and Obsidian we’re obviously going to get a lot of more of them, with a much bigger budget and I’m totally fine with that.
I just hope they don’t become too much like straight action games. That may seem a bit of an odd thing to say for me as that’s the route I came into them from. But now I appreciate them as their own separate thing and I’d like them to stay that way.
It sounds like maybe Starfield will be the first big role-player of the next generation so I’m very excited to see how that looks, hopefully this year. I’m also looking forward to the Mass Effect remasters.
One genre that I used to love, that basically doesn’t exist anymore, is the real-time strategy game. I think the fact that they’re difficult to play on consoles sealed their fate but it’s still a big shame as I used to love games like Command & Conquer and the Lord of the Rings games.
I love any kind of strategy game really though and thankfully they’re actually more common on consoles, in general, than they used to be. Civilization on Switch works surprisingly great and I love stuff like XCOM and Into The Breach. WarGroove is great too and I hope that gets a sequel soon.
I don’t know if this counts as my favourite because there are so few of them, especially nowadays, but I always love space combat simulators. I was pumped when Star Wars: Squadrons came out and it turned out to be good and I hope this means that EA will make more games like that.
But I’d also love to see Freespace and even Wing Commander come back, as they were also really good and seem unlikely to get a new sequel nowadays. When it comes to video games it’s hard liking something that isn’t generally popular, as there’s very little chance you’ll get to see more of it.
East vs. west
I’d definitely say role-playing games are my all-time favourite genre, due to their huge worlds for exploring, amidst amazing scenery, sounds, and a soaring soundtrack wherever you go. With epic battles, emotional characters, and moments to realise your true self. All this started with the action adventure title Zelda: A Link To The Past (I know it’s not a role-playing game) but it did create my thirst for future endeavours. There are a lot of different types of role-players but turn-based was one type I followed for a good while and still do occasionally now.
With so many Japanese role-playing games being consumed, and after eventually getting used to the farming of experience points, I spent many, many hours playing some of my most memorable titles ever! Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Eternal Sonata, Skies Of Arcadia, and Star Ocean, etc.
From the latter parts onwards of the 2000s it has been a mixture of turn-based and action role-playing games. With Oblivion and Skyrim from The Elder Scrolls series and the modern day Fallout games from the third title onwards. They definitely took me away from the Japanese role-players for a great deal of my time.
The time spent with Western action role-players eventually eclipsed the Japanese role-players, until a certain company called FromSoftware delivered a certain Demon’s Souls game! This one game then just took me into a different type of action role-playing game, which just got better and better with the Dark Souls series and, of course, one my all-time favourites: Bloodborne.
So Japan were back on top again with the number of hours put into these highly influential games. Though the Mass Effect series, as a Western action role-playing game, also led to me spending a lot of time in its worlds.
With the Elder Scrolls 6 at some unknown future point I can imagine my time will solely be spent just on this title alone, on the PlayStation 5 no doubt, and coupled with a Cyberpunk 2077 with no bugs! Then the Western role-playing game will be back at the top again, at least until Bloodborne 2 maybe!
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