So there's been a lot of talk lately about a certain you-might-say-moderately hyped game releasing next week, and at times, in a parallell discussion about how it might appeal to the wider gaming audience (i.e. people who generally don't really care about video game culture beyond picking up the latest AAA release and simply enjoying it) GTA V is brought up as a potential point of reference. Point being, a large portion of consumers might end up dissapointed by what the game actually sets out to achieve as a result of some (to them) distorted message regarding the game's ambitions.
Ever since I finished Red Dead Redemption 2 the first time I've been having some thoughts about the conflict between consumer expectation and the creative ambition of, primarily, big budget game titles. Do they really have to line up perfectly in order for the game to be considered successful in meeting those expectations?
I would think that game design wise, RDR2 is a title that presupposes a player coming in and expecting "late 19th century, western GTA V", like, the game understood it was going to have to deal with that issue in addition to its other objectives. And so it utilizes this initial knowledge about the player (which, I'm sure, Rockstar has known intimately for quite some time now) in order to attempt to mold the player into someone more co-operative, patient and attentive as these are critical requirements in order for the game to properly progress and explore its own intended narrative. And it has this intended effect on me, as it did, evidently, on many others. "It started out being infuriatingly limiting, but as time went on I warmed up to the slow pace, and by the end I was content just riding around hunting as Arthur and enjoying that experience" is a pretty common statement if you would read through any of the discussion threads here on Reddit. And it's a statement that pretty accurately mirrors Arthur's own subjective experience of the new sudden restrictions placed on him, and his journey towards acceptance of this new way of "playing" his own game. He as a character becomes a proxy for you to make this shift in your own perspective, it's the same inner journey.
I'd at least like to think one of the points of the game is to serve as a commentary on the "this is why we can't have nice things" aspect of AAA game production. It's a hard thing to deny that a lot of players must have come out of that experience more flexible and open to other forms of gratification in video games than just running around and causing destruction and chaos á la GTA. Of course, this commentary is only effective if these "nice things" collectively make for a satisfying enough experience (and which, to me at least, they absolutely did).
Which leads me to the Cyberpunk release. In my view, the game systems that come to mind when we talk about, among other things related to this game's design, "Deus Ex"-type gameplay, are very "nice things" that we unfortunately don't get to see to often in AAA releases. If a large portion of the consumer base come in to this game expecting GTA V style gameplay and yet again are presented with the challenge of adjusting their own perspective to be in line with the game wants to achieve instead of vice versa, I would say let's hope for the sake of this medium, these things are "nice enough".
This issue is presented as a negative, something that will count against the potential success, and utlimately the cultural weight of a game like this. Couldn't the opposite be true as well?
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