As dismal as 2020 was, there is no denying it has been a great year for video game fans. In spring of this year, there were many exciting releases, such as the Final Fantasy VII Remake, DOOM Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Half Life: Alyx (despite the game being only VR, the words Half Life carry a heavy and influential name in the gaming industry). The same thing can be said for titles such as DOOM, which was an FPS in the early ’90s that really kicked off and made the FPS genre even more popular, and spawned future FPS titles such as Duke Nukem, Quake, and Blood 3D in the late 90s. Final Fantasy VII was a behemoth among the RPG genre that revolutionized and brought it to whole new levels thanks to the 3D visuals, great story, gameplay, and a good cast of characters.
There are many reasons why these games are still talked about in the modern day. Today, I would like to discuss three particular titles I believe will transform the industry going forward. These games are going to be ranked from the least influential to most influential. Regardless, all three titles are crucial for the industry as a whole and many gamers around the world are eager to experience it. Please remember that all the opinions in this discussion are mine and not everyone who works at Gaming Instincts. This is my personal take on what I believe will be the most important and influential games of this decade.
The Elder Scrolls VI
Personally, I was never a big fan of The Elder Scrolls universe but I understand why it is so important. The Elder Scrolls is a series that has been around since the early ’90s and has always been about the concept of pen and paper RPG, albeit in a video game format, where the player can create whatever character they wish, interact with the world how they want, choose who they want want to kill, and which quests to complete or even purposely fail. While I may dislike The Elder Scrolls for personal reasons there is no denying the series does those things well and in a fun way.
For my tastes, the game’s combat is extremely slow. While I love the concept of upgrading my character by using certain types of weapons repeatedly or leveling up my acrobatics because I jump a lot, I dislike how the combat itself plays out. There is something off about it. That does not mean it’s a bad game, it just means it’s not for me. I also don’t like the lore and universe of The Elder Scrolls either. I love Medieval fantasy settings, but not the way Bethesda does it. Not a fan of the races, locations, and the art style. I much prefer darker fantasy, something like Dark Souls or Bloodborne; those universes feel better to me when it comes to the lore aspect. However, I am not comparing mechanics or gameplay to the Soulsborne games, just the universes.
Despite my personal dislike for The Elder Scrolls, for the whole of the industry it will be exciting too see where the franchise goes next and how it will evolve the RPG genre going forward. There is a reason why Skyrim was a game that got ported so many times: People loved it for its length.
At the end of the day, The Elder Scrolls VI is one of the most anticipated titles right now for the majority of RPG fans, and it will sell like hotcakes no matter what. When you say The Elder Scrolls in gaming communities, people know exactly what you mean. I am excited too see how The Elder Scrolls VI will shape the future of the RPG genre and strongly believe it will be one of the most important games ever released during the next decade.
It will be interesting too see how Bethesda will tackle the marketing of The Elder Scrolls VI and, with the studio being acquired by Microsoft, how much of that business decision will influence the development and outcome of the final shipped product.
Grand Theft Auto VI
Grand Theft Auto VI has a ton of weight on its shoulders to carry gamers and the industry forward when it comes to progressing and evolving open-world city titles. I will never forget seeing the commercial for Grand Theft Auto III on TV when I was a kid who was probably too young to play such a title, and we all had to convince our parents to let us play. It was the craziest thing at the time. A game where you could run around the city, kill people, complete missions, drive cars, and interact with the world in many different ways in a fully realized 3D world.
At the time, this kind of concept was unreal, but GTA did it so well and raised the bar every time a new entry was released. After Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City took it even further by introducing more mechanics and a different world to explore with a fantastic storyline. Then there was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which had the biggest world yet, and once again more mechanics and activities you could do that you were not able to do in previous entries.
Fast forward to Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar Games managed to once again raise the bar and and take us back to Liberty City like we had never before seen. Then in 2013, the last year of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Rockstar Games managed to absolutely floor everyone with Grand Theft Auto V, a game that was on the same systems as Grand Theft Auto IV and looked out of this world. The game also introduced a whole new concept of where the player was able to control three characters at a time by switching between them in the world and playing whoever they want. Each of these characters had their own stories and missions and the game ended up having multiple endings depending on your last mission’s choices. Not only that, but Grand Theft Auto 5’s multiplayer is really where the series opened up a whole new experience.
While Grand Theft Auto IV had multiplayer, it was limited. In Grand Theft Auto V, however, Rockstar managed to create new gameplay experiences for you and your friends that previously were not possible, such as the popular role-playing servers. Grand Theft Auto V is still so popular that the game is being ported over to next-gen systems for better visuals and performance. With that being said, everyone is eager too see where Rockstar Games will take Grand Theft Auto next and what kind of new gameplay elements and mechanics players can expect in the next entry. There is a lot of pressure on Grand Theft Auto VI.
The most important game and what I strongly believe will the be the most influential is Diablo IV. It might seem a bit weird at first considering how much power The Elder Scrolls and Grand Theft Auto series hold, but the Diablo is not only beloved many gamers around the world, it is also one of the games that created a brand new genre in the gaming space: ARPGs.
Diablo was never a looker, but it had an interesting dark fantasy universe filled with demons, angels, cool characters, and an interesting story. Diablo was released during the golden era of gaming: the late 90s.
Diablo was unleashed on the world on December 31, 1996, and a sequel was released four years later in the summer of 2000. Diablo II was an extremely influential game; it raised the bar on every aspect of its predecessor, starting with its phenomenal musical score, addicting gameplay, longer storyline, exciting loot, and new classes. It is a game that is still being supported. While it’s dated in terms of visuals, it’s a classic people still love and remember.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for 2012’s Diablo III. The game sold well despite its issues with its itemization, loot systems, and the drama with the gold and real money auction house. It took Blizzard two years to fix the game and bring it up to snuff after the initial launch’s disappointment. With Reaper of Souls release in March 2014, Diablo III was finally fixed and was a lot more fun to play. However, at that point the game had left a bad taste in people’s mouths, and Blizzard could only do so much. Originally, a new expansion was planned; instead, Blizzard released a new class as paid content and implemented new areas and other playable content for free. The next move was to start from scratch and migrate to Diablo IV on a new slate.
Fans have the right to be skeptical of Diablo IV, because its predecessor was a disappointment to many people. Even though I enjoyed the game when it came out, it did not feel like a Diablo game due to its colorful art style and story that was poorly written, which was sad. However, it seems the new Diablo team has been reshuffled and knows what it is doing.
Diablo is a franchise due for redemption. If the salvation is pulled off, it can arguably become one of the best turnarounds to ever happen in gaming history. The Elder Scrolls VI and Grand Theft Auto VI never really had to make up for anything, every game in the franchise had pretty much a perfect track record in terms of consumption and popularity. Diablo IV has a lot to prove to the world that it still can be a franchise fans remember Diablo II for and, most importantly, what Blizzard Entertainment used to represent when it came to quality products.
Diablo IV has a ton of promising ideas and new mechanics that can evolve the franchise in many new ways, starting with mounts, return of the rune system from Diablo II, a seamless open world, and much more. One of the biggest criticisms has already been addressed in Diablo IV: the art style. It is now dark, gritty, bloody, and full of misery and horror, which is what Diablo was always supposed encompass. The story this time around seems to take a much more serious approach than Diablo III. While the story in Diablo III was somewhat serious, it did not feel engaging or as important due to poor writing and the colorful art style. It felt like a cartoon game with a Diablo name slapped to it for the sales.
Blizzard is working hard on improving and making sure the itemization and loot systems are as perfect as it can be at launch. This will be vital; if the same mistake is repeated with Diablo IV then all the credibility and any last glimmer of trust will be lost. This is the developer’s chance to get this game right. If everything can be pulled off correctly and fans are satisfied, then Diablo IV could arguably be the best redemption story in the history of gaming. Not only will the franchise and Blizzard redeem themselves, Diablo IV could once again raise the bar when it comes to ARPGs. Over the last few years, the ARPG genre has been picking up steam with games such as Torchlight, Path of Exile, Lost Ark, Wolcen, and Warhammer: Chaosbane.
Even to this day, a lot of these games don’t hold a candle to what Diablo II was during its prime time. If Diablo IV turns out to be successful, then that means everyone else will have to try their hardest to raise the bar for the ARPG genre. As the years go by, technology gets better and more advancements are possible in the gaming development space. Diablo IV won’t be out for a long time; 2022 at the earliest, if we are lucky, and 2023 is probably more expected. A lot can happen between now and then; it is concerning and exciting at the same time.