Competing with the best – Beating GTA V

Beating GTA V

The world of athletics has Usain Bolt, the world of gaming has Grand Theft Auto V.

So, when someone or something seems to stand so tall above the rest of the competition, how can you hope to mount a serious challenge against true greatness? Well, firstly you can play the long game. There was a time when people thought Asafa Powell was unbeatable on the track and that GTA: San Andreas was at a level unattainable by other developers, times have moved on and now, though both are remembered fondly, neither is expected to take gold.

But what of right now? There are developers making games, putting in the time and hoping to capture the hearts and imaginations of players around the world. Toppling Grand Theft Auto V looks like an impossible task and in terms of overall success (read: sales), that’s probably true for the time being. The chances of ANY of the upcoming games hitting one billion sales in 3 days or less is unlikely, to put it mildly (though some will try their best).

However, every champion can get surprised. As our American readers will no doubt be aware, in June this year, Usain Bolt suffered a shock defeat at the hands (or rather, legs) of American sprinter, Justin Gatlin. The previous year, Yohan Blake stunned the towering Jamaican in a similar fashion over the 100m distance.

Like Bolt, GTA V will dominate when looking at the big picture, over the course of a set period of time (Q4 for instance), but we at Twinstick are looking ahead to the games that may be able to play the part of Blake or Gatlin. The games that, just when everyone thinks they know who has won, leap forward and shock the world. There are 5 that stand out as having the best chance:

1) Watch_Dogs, Ubisoft, November 22nd

Everything’s connected.

Why it could take gold:

Watch_Dogs, first and foremostis a totally new franchise. In a world of sequels, originality is a refreshing change of pace. It’s an open world game with a near futuristic setting. The popular nature of open worlds could help this game succeed. On top of that, it is offering something totally new. In the very modern world in which we live, Watch Dogs is keeping the open world tropes of jacking cars and shooting it out with cops (popularised by the GTA series), but is also adding information warfare. Hacking is as much of a weapon, if not more, than the guns protagonist, Aiden Pierce, will carry. His hacking device can be used to access information, bypass security and take people out from an unseen location. Furthermore, it supports you when you are involved in a car chase (hacking lights to block traffic, opening gates to secure and hidden areas, throwing up barriers to stop your pursuers dead) or even in fire fights (you can use it to dynamically change the area you are fighting in, throwing enemies into darkness or providing yourself with cover).

All of these additions combined with a strong narrative and more mature theme could propel this game to greatness and surprise gamers and developers to boot!

Why it could stumble out of the blocks:

The fact that it IS totally new could end up counting against it. It’s an unknown quantity and people outside of the industry may be less aware of it. Though Ubisoft have been doing a great job of promoting it so far, the fact that it isn’t a sequel to an already popular franchise could make life difficult in an already crowded market on the run up to Christmas.

Similarly, the very ‘techie’ slant this game has, could put some gamers off. If you already struggle keeping track of your fingers and thumbs when dealing with driving and shooting mechanics, having to also think about stealth and hacking mechanics may feel like too much for some, before they even load the game up.

Prediction: Watch_Dogs is stunning, fresh, original and inspirational. A thousand games attempt to duplicate the ‘hacking’ device mechanics and the market becomes saturated before Watch_Dogs 2 gets announced prompting Ubisoft to leave this as a solitary hit rather than a new franchise.


2) Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Ubisoft, November 1st

Open worlds don’t all look this good!

Why it could take gold:

Like Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is also an open world game (and also from Ubisoft). However, there the similarities end. Creed IV is a late 1700’s swashbuckling adventure that is part of a well known and already successful franchise. What’s more is the fact that this latest entry seems to be taking the most popular and successful parts of the previous games and weaving them together to make one giant masterpiece. Better yet, they’ve given you a pirate as your protagonist! There are few better things than a pirate.

The stunning, Caribbean vistas look as though they’ll make for an unforgettable experience and the scope for exploration (including plundering the ocean floor) and sheer variety of battles to undertake (from stealthy, silent assassinations in murky caves to full blown sea-faring naval warfare with cannons), it is shaping up to be the best of the best. All of this combined with confirmed release on both next generation platforms, PC AND Wii U put Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in a very strong position for Christmas and beyond.

Why it could stumble out of the blocks:

In a bizarre reverse parallel with Watch_Dogs, Creed IV could suffer from being part of a tired franchise. The first 2 Assassin’s Creed games were amazing. Brotherhood and Revelations were fantastic – but were both expansions of, Assassin’s Creed 2 protagonist, Ezio’s existing story. Though both were much bigger than the word ‘expansion’ would suggest, they never quite felt like new ideas, just improving old ones. Worse still, when the true sequel, Assassin’s Creed 3, finally came it was met with disappointment. It wasn’t a bad game as such, just less than had been hoped for with gameplay tweaks that were not well received.

Also, the sub-story that is set in the modern(-ish) world has become so trying and confusing that people, including the developers, seem to be wondering if that whole aspect was even necessary? Indeed, when they announced that Creed IV would be the end of (modern world protagonist) Desmond’s story, it seemed to be in order to alleviate fans worries rather than prepare them for the departure of a beloved hero.

In a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ world, consumers could be a little slower on the uptake of their latest offering.

Prediction: Who can deny a pirate? Assassin’s Creed IV does exactly what 3 SHOULD have done, restores faith in the franchise and – despite the fact Ubi have already said they’ll be moving on, people demand more pirate adventures in the Carribean.


3) Call of Duty: Ghosts, Infinity Ward, November 11th

Graphically superb, will gameplay match up?

Why it could take gold:

It’s a Call of Duty game. Typically, that’s enough for strong sales right off the bat. Until recently, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was the fastest selling game of all time. An enormously popular franchise, CoD games have a yearly update that fans just can’t wait to get hold of. It’s also a First Person Shooter (FPS) which always grab the attention of the gaming masses. That said, this year’s developer, Infinity Ward, don’t appear to be resting on their laurels. They are boasting a complete re-design from the ground up including new weapons and new weapon classes, rejuvenated level designs, including dynamic map changes and destructible environments. There’s a lot on offer and surely enough to pique the interest of new players as well as keeping the old faithful happy. Better yet, its launching on PS3, PC and Xbox 360 early November – to be followed by being a launch game on the Xbox One and PS4 shortly after. With Activision already having confirmed the ability to upgrade your copy for only a tenner, this is a safe purchase regardless of your next-gen intentions!

Why it could stumble out of the blocks:

It’s a Call of Duty game. That doesn’t have quite the cache it once had. Despite stunning sales from Black Ops 2, the whole franchise is becoming tired and gamers are starting to notice. Hopefully, the re-invention of the Call of Duty wheel and the ditching of the ‘Modern Warfare’ moniker will convince gamers that this way something fresh lies. However, after a relatively poor show from Modern Warfare 3 (Infinity Ward’s last Call of Duty title from 2011), its clear that a hell of a lot of the talent that was behind the success of Modern Warfare 1 and 2 left Infinity Ward along with Jason West and Vince Zampella. Afterall, the part that makes the Call of Duty games so compelling is its amazing multiplayer warfare. Black Ops 2 mended a lot of the fences that the dull and listless Modern Warfare 3 ripped down, but it remains to be seen if, the once dominant, Infinity Ward can replicate this success.

Prediction: Despite promises of newness, Ghosts plays like all the other Call of Duty games. It sells well, plays well, but all people seem to do is moan about it.


4) Titanfall, Respawn, Q2 2014

Wall running and massive robots – Titanfall in action

Why it could take gold:

When Vince Zampella and Jason West were unceremoniously booted out of Infinity Ward, in the midst of lawsuits and shocking accusations, Respawn Entertainment was formed. The net result is yet to be seen. What we DO know is that Modern Warfare 3, the first without West and Zampella, was less than inspiring. Perhaps due to the departure of West and Zampella, but probably better attributed to the fact that most of Infinity Wards’s staff walked out to join Respawn.

Titanfall will be respawn’s first game. It looks to have taken all the best parts of Call of Duty (innovative gunplay and, once upon a time, awesome and original FPS action), been given a futuristic setting, added awe inspiring free movement around the maps and kept the experience multiplayer only (trimming the fat of a single player campaign). If that doesn’t already sound awesome, they THEN added frickin’ HUGE robots (or Titans, as they prefer to be known).

Why it could stumble out of the blocks:

It is unlikely to stumble, its probably the most eagerly anticipated game of the next-generation already. However, there are more than a few potential pot-holes along the way. Firstly, it’s a totally new IP and is, as yet, an unknown quantity. The die-hard loyalty of the average FPS fan COULD lead people to declare Call of Duty or Battlefield to be far superior to the new pretender and have people actually listen. However, I don’t think that is a serious worry for Respawn. What could be a challenge is the fact that they are ONLY launching on Xbox consoles. With PS4 pre-orders far outweighing Xbox One, it could be Respawn have backed the wrong horse. Though the attraction of Xbox Live’s consistency is understandable for a game that intends to be online only.

Rumours of it only being a timed exclusive for Xbox could change all of that down the line anyway. But if not, it remains to be seen if Titanfall will be the game that helps speed up sales the Xbox One or if the Xbox One will slow down the sales of Titanfall?

Prediction: Titanfall is ridiculously good and provides Xbox One fans with fuel to attack the PS4 faithful! Until the PS4 version gets announced for Q4, 2014. Things get harder for Call of Duty and Infinity Ward.


5) Destiny, Bungie, Q2 2014

DESTINY – Open World meets FPS from Halo developers Bungie

Why it could take gold:

Interest in Destiny has been building since the deal between publisher Activision and developer Bungie was struck! Since E3 2013, details have been pouring in. The game seems ‘destined’ for success for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, the giant behind the hugely successful Halo games, Bungie, are at the development helm, drawing on literally over a decade of experience. Secondly, the whole premise behind the game is an open world adventure / first person shooter – combining two of the most popular game types with a little role-playing-game thrown in for good measure! This ‘always online’ shooter promises dynamic events in a ‘living world’ to constantly evolve the surroundings and challenge the players. Furthermore, the game will be launching for PS3, Xbox 360 and BOTH next-gen machines. And let’s not forget Sir Paul McCartney will be involved in providing the soundtrack (afterall, who DOESN’T hum Eleanor Rigby when battling through any futuristic, post-apocalyptic, technologically advanced setting?)

Why it could stumble out of the blocks:

Unlikely as it may sound, Destiny may struggle due to the combination of being a new IP, being an online only adventure and the difficult to place genre. Will FPS fans want to play a slower paced, open world game with RPG elements? Will lovers of open world RPGs enjoy the FPS mechanics? With the successes of games with other first person shooter / RPGs like Fallout 3 or the more arcadey Borderlands, it’s unlikely to struggle to find a footing, but with Bungie’s primary fans being the Halo crowd, could it be too much of a departure?

Prediction: We’re going to love Destiny – Halo fans and all! This one seems pretty safe to me! But it won’t threaten the GTA V stranglehold!

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