Lore, worlds, and characters that deserve the limelight
Newton “Newt” Scamander’s big screen adventure began as an adaptation of a fictional textbook from Harry Potter, and while the Magizoologist may be lucky to star in his own movies, many other fictional characters haven’t shared his fate. That’s why, for this month’s Multiplayer, the Doublejump crew has gathered to discuss the various in-game stories that need to be expanded on.
Cai: Don’t Starve’s mysteries
Don’t Starve’s success can be attributed to a perfect mix of gameplay and atmosphere. The game’s quasi-Victorian style and sense of humour is partly what sets it apart from every other ‘crafting survival roguelike’ out there, but the key element to the formula is the world they put you in. It’s not enough to drop you in a standard, post-apocalyptic city or a snow-covered mountain, so Klei Entertainment drops you in a weird, backwards, nightmare world where evil flowers send you insane, shadows come to life and steal your fire, and living chess pieces hunt you down and kill you… and then leaves you to your own devices, letting you figure out how it works and more importantly, how to use it to your advantage.
The problem with creating such an interesting world is that you always want to know more about it, and the questions are impossible to answer. The chess pieces are cool, but who created them? Was it the shadows? Will I ever make it past Winter without being killed by a surprise frog? Klei spends the whole time showing you the end of interesting narratives but never actually starting them, showing you set pieces and puzzles that you can’t ever explain or solve, and when you finally think you’ve come up with an explanation that solves everything, they come out with a multiplayer expansion and change the whole story up on you! Are the Christmas events canonical? Is it all building up to an explosive finale that will answer everything? Does Klei even know the answers, or is it just flying by the seat of its pants?
Maybe it’s best to just focus on the gameplay, because every second that you’re busy thinking about all that, those hounds are getting closer and closer…
Cav: Brütal Legend’s lore
If there were ever an example of how one unpopular creative decision can pull focus from a game’s better qualities, it’s Double Fine’s Brütal Legend. While for the most part an excellent open-world action adventure game, its mid-game semi-RTS battle sections drew mixed reactions, leading to disappointing sales and, ultimately, the cancellation of its already announced sequel.
It’s a real shame that we’ll probably never see where the story of dimension-travelling roadie turned Metal Lord Eddie Riggs would’ve gone next, but it was equally tragic to lose the world he inhabited. A spectacular landscape inspired equally by classic Heavy Metal album covers and Hieronymous Bosch, and a surprisingly in-depth lore pulled from Norse mythology and fantasy comic books, made for a truly unique universe that had so many more stories to tell.
Of course, Double Fine head Tim Schafer is not one to give up on his babies, a quality to which Psychonauts: Rhombus of Ruin and the in-development Psychonauts 2 attest. That at least provides a sliver of hope that Eddie Riggs may someday return, and make games Metal once again.
Damon: Ted Faro and Sylens’ backstories in Horizon Zero Dawn
Having always been an Xbox player, one might say that I was pretty late to discover many of the fantastic experiences the PlayStation has to offer, and Horizon Zero Dawn was on the top of that list. Its beautiful graphics, rich and expansive lore and deep, character-driven story had me glued to the game until I finished it. Horizon played out like a perfectly-written TV show, or the first film in a series with so much more to offer; it provided satisfying answers to the questions I asked along the way, but it also gave rise to a plethora of other questions that I’m still waiting for the answer to. This is most apparent when you consider Ted Faro – who created the robots that have now taken over the Earth – and your unnerving ally, Sylens.
Of course, we do get tidbits of information about these characters throughout the game. We learn of Sylens’ mysterious past as a member – perhaps even leader – of the Eclipse, the evil faction that Aloy tangles with throughout the game, and there’s just enough information about him to leave you absolutely hanging… complete with an excruciating cliffhanger that’s just begging to be addressed in a sequel. We learn a little less about Faro over the course of Aloy’s journey, but what we do learn indicates that it would be a thrill to delve into his backstory and find out exactly why he made the decisions that essentially caused humanity’s downfall.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that I still enjoy picking up from time to time, and it bothers me that I don’t have all the answers yet. I’m sure I’ll get them and more in a sequel, if and when that comes to be.
Jake: The aftermath of Joel’s decision in The Last of Us
One of the finest games to be released on PlayStation 3, The Last of Us takes players on a gripping emotional journey centred around love and personal growth as smuggler Joel grows from a depressed, detached husk of a man, to a protective father figure to his latest “cargo”, Ellie. The long-awaited sequel is set to take players five years into the future and although we still don’t know too much about the game, we do know that it centres on a more mature Ellie and it’s even more violent than the original – with Neil Druckmann revealing that Naughty Dog wanted players to be repulsed by some of their own actions.
It might be too early to make this call, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but the story takes place five years after Joel refused to essentially sacrifice Ellie to cure the Cordyceps virus; that’s a decision that would definitely have made for an action-packed couple of years of fugitivity and self-defence, and given the rampant speculation that Joel is actually dead in Part II – fuelled by Ellie’s angst in the trailers released so far – I would have loved to see a bridge between the two titles. Perhaps it’ll be part of the story, like Joel’s “origins” served as the beginning of the original game, or perhaps it’ll come in the form of an expansion, like Left Behind gave us a glimpse into Ellie’s life before The Last of Us.
Either way, I’m sure it would make for some interesting, intense gameplay, so I can only hope that we’ll see it at some point.
John: The world of Monster Hunter
As long as I’ve played the series, Monster Hunter has always been weird with the details. Each entry’s cast is filled with generic stereotypes, like the colour-coded secretaries who hand out quests, the stooped village elder, the loud and cheerful ship captain or the overzealous hunting trainer, and every single one of these characters somehow have more dialogue than the main character of any other game. I don’t think they even have names. Meanwhile, the background is painted in the broadest of broad strokes, with almost no detail at all.
Instead of that, Capcom should push that bizarre amount of writing and effort in another direction: world-building. Fill out this unique pseudo-prehistoric world and its gorgeous art direction with that sweet, sweet lore we all want.
What’s the history of that village? How long have they survived? How many villages are there? What actually is the Hunter’s Guild? How does it operate? When was it founded? Who’s in charge? What’s this planet called? How big is it? Have monsters always lived here? Are there many humans on this planet? Are there any tribes or clans? Religions? Myths?
It doesn’t even need a proper story to answer all this (I’d actually prefer it didn’t have one at all). Just give us something to latch onto and remember, to make each entry more distinct from the last. Give us some hard lore on this intriguing world, give us a mythos to theorize over, give us more to fixate on as we wait for the next game, desperate to see if those barely-existent hints bear fruit – and even if they don’t, who cares? It’s still fun to obsess over.
The gameplay is already rock-solid, but I want to think about Monster Hunter even more, Capcom.
Kristian: Character development in Dead or Alive unrelated to Kasumi’s story arc
The sixth iteration of Dead or Alive is releasing early next year, and the majority of the game’s story arc revolves around runaway kunoichi Kasumi, and characters that are principle to her storyline, such as her brother Hayate, her half-sister Ayane, and Victor Donovan. For those who aren’t familiar with DOA’s story, each game is the setting of an in-universe fighting tournament, and every character has their own reasons for entering. Some, like Jann Lee or Leon, use the tournament to prove themselves, while others like Zack and Gen Fu have entered previous tournaments for the prize money (albeit for widely different circumstances).
The only other character who earns as much central plot relevance in the story is Helena, who inherited DOATEC (the organisation that runs the tournaments) shortly after the events of Dead or Alive 3. Helena’s story arc is about her trying to wrestle control of DOATEC from Victor Donovan, who attempts to use DOATEC’s resources to clone Kasumi to create the ultimate fighter. It’s a little complicated, but it’s far more in-depth than other characters have seen.
For example, Leifang has been a character in every DOA game so far, but her character has hardly had the same development. Before the events of the first game, Jann Lee rescued her from a group of street thugs. From DOA1 to 4, Leifang’s story arc is simply using the tournament to fight Jann Lee, to prove that she is a capable fighter in her own right. We also learned hardly anything about Rig, who was introduced in DOA5, over the course of the game. Will we be left in the dark on Diego (above), who will be making his debut in DOA6?
Team Ninja has already confirmed that the events of Dead or Alive 6 will once again revolve around Kasumi and Helena, leaving the other characters to either weave themselves into the narrative or be relegated to background fodder. Considering most DOA players have a favourite character, it would be good to see some other characters get a share of the limelight. We’ll have to wait until the Dead or Alive Festival on November 18 to learn what Team Ninja has planned for the game, which releases on February 15, 2019.
Nick: The end of Persona 5
After the 100+ hour journey through the metaverse, battling the corrupted people and destroying their palaces, the game ends with the gang that you’ve spent so many hours with driving off into the blue sky, happily ever after.
Uh, excuse me, what?
I just sunk a stupid amount of time into this game which ended with no epilogue, no character continuation and no closure. I dated multiple women, helped my local community and became a part of the society, and all I get is a “So long, good luck”?
ATLUS: “I don’t recall saying good luck.”
Phil: Mass Effect 3’s Indoctrination Theory
As far as lackluster moments in gaming history go, Mass Effect 3 is undoubtedly among the top. Built as an original three part epic, the Mass Effect series built up the conflict between Alliance war veteran and Citadel Spectre Commander Shepard and the millennium-old genocidal race known as the Reapers. Alongside the trusty squad members of the Normandy I & II, you embark on a journey across the Milky Way, uncovering ancient histories, stopping secret political coups and hoping to end the Reapers’ plot to wipe out all life in the galaxy.
Across three games, multiple expansions, side comics and even animated stories, Mass Effect fans could only be described as being “in love” with such an epic franchise. That’s why the end of Mass Effect 3 left so much to be desired. Having built up years of personal choices and game-altering decisions, fans were disappointed to see that Mass Effect 3 led them into three predetermined endings that they had little to no influence over. It was even rumoured that the supposed end of the franchise was merely a red herring and that developer BioWare was deftly gearing up to release a post-game DLC.
In the world of Mass Effect, Indoctrination refers to the Reapers’ ability to subtly control their enemies’ minds for their purposes. Fans quickly put together the pieces all throughout the Mass Effect franchise and came up with strong evidence to suggest that Commander Shepard, the ultimate paragon of altruism and heroism, was slowly succumbing to Reaper Indoctrination and that Mass Effect 3’s ending was a symbol of Shepard either accepting or rejecting their influence. Thus the indoctrination theory was born: the theory that the “destroy” ending – known as the “true ending” – was a dream sequence and that Shepard would wake up completely free of the Reapers’ influence to continue his final fight in an upcoming expansion of epic proportions.
Unfortunately, the fan theories and petitions went ignored as BioWare kept to the vanilla endings it initially provided and offered nothing more. Given the current status of BioWare and the Mass Effect franchise right now, it is doubtful we will ever see our wettest dream realized, and that’s a damn shame as I – and pretty much every other Mass Effect fan – summarily agree that if the Indoctrination Theory was true, the original Mass Effect trilogy would have gone down as one of, if not the greatest story in video game history.
A man can only dream.
Ty: Mass Effect: Andromeda’s lack of depth
Mass Effect: Andromeda was a controversial game. Between rogue developers on Twitter, a plethora of bugs and poorly animated characters along with a noticeable step down in writing, EA made the call to shelve the series after the game’s dismal performance.
It’s sad, really: although the story wasn’t the best, the world itself was interesting and it showed that the Andromeda Galaxy could have become something great, a worthy successor to the original series. It had weird terraforming tech left by an ancient race of aliens, an artificial planet – not to be confused with the setting of Halo 4 – and a religiously fanatical race of genocidal aliens, all wrapped in a Wild West, American frontier vibe that reminded me of Firefly.
All this was something fresh for the series and a soft reboot like this was a great way to revive it after the debacle that was Mass Effect 3’s ending. Plus, who can forget that damn cliffhanger ending? It’s a classic tale, an overambitious developer tried to create something outside its reach, but now we’re all stuck here wondering, whatever happened to the Quarian Ark?
Of course, these are just a small fraction of the video game stories that have the potential to become great standalone titles.What are some of the stories that you’d like to see get their own games/expansions? Let us know below!
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