Game Trailers – Expectations VS Reality
So far the video game gods have seen fit to bless us this year with a fantastic line up of video games such as Far Cry Primal, Republique, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. You’re probably still hyped for a game yet to be released, with adrenaline still pumping through your veins because of that jaw-dropping trailer you keep going back to on Youtube. With any luck, that game you’re looking forward to will meet all your expectations. Unfortunately, an epic trailer does not equal an epic end product, in fact in the worst cases, the trailers are better than the video game…like Destiny.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Almost everyone who has played The Witcher trilogy, will agree that the last entry, Witcher III: Wild Hunt, went above and beyond expectations. The hype began with the surprisingly simple and yet incredibly epic trailer titled ‘Killing Monsters’, in which we see Geralt and Vesemir come across a group of guards in the middle of violently tormenting an unarmed women, all the while we listen to a voiceover of Geralt giving us a speech about the futility of trying to differentiate between lesser and greater evil.
The most chilling and poignant line comes at the very end and really makes the trailer memorable. Just like the video game that followed— a well developed, brilliantly written tale of gargantuan proportions, filled to the brim with hideous creatures and tragic beasts. With all the hype surrounding this last The Witcher game, it’s natural that some would feel the need to keep their expectations low, but these people no doubt had their minds blown when they finally got their hands on it, and admit it, even now, chances are you still get chills from that ‘killing monsters’ trailer you keep going back to on Youtube.
Grand Theft Auto V
The largest and most vibrant of the series, GTA V seems to feature everything a gamer could want in a video game— a large open world and the freedom to do almost anything in it. That’s essentially what the trailer implied with its movie-like introduction to Los Santos and Blaine County, and that’s why there was such hype surrounding the game because, let’s be honest, no one really cared about the new character(s) enough to feel genuinely excited about them. Good thing too because in the end, the world around them had more actual character and life in them than the criminals you had to play. Aside from that however, the game was critically acclaimed, and with good reason. It was very much successful in delivering on everything it promised, especially on the multiplayer front which even now continuously receives updates and new content.
Batman: Arkham Knight
As far as trailers go, the Batman: Arkham Knight announcement trailer wasn’t the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen. It was clear that the point of it was to get people excited about a new Batman Arkham game, and more importantly, the Batmobile. A lot of people were excited about the Batmobile being available to play around with. After all, the game featured the entirety of Gotham City and it seemed like a good idea at the time to be able to rush through the streets in a monster of a car/tank. Unfortunately, it was much better in theory than it was in practice.
The Batmobile was the most heavily criticised features of the game, with most people agreeing that it was clumsy, largely unnecessary, and generally didn’t fit in with the rest of the game. Batman Arkham Knight itself was arguably satisfactory, though not as much as Arkham City (thankfully better than Origins however). Where the trailer showed off a couple of villains, the game shoved them to the side, quite literally in fact, as you only need to deal with them in the occasional side-mission. Still, there was considerable hype following the announcement and in the end, Batman Arkham Knight did manage to scratch that dark knight itch.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
The 2015 entry was a special one, not because it began a new plotline (it’s actually the middle of one) but because it was the first in the series to be exclusively ‘next-gen’, and the world premiere trailer gave us a taste of just how beautiful the game could have been, showing us Arno and a small group of assassins paving the way for the French Revolution. We got teamwork, a great new arsenal, and a rendition of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Lorde, the trailer was a grand glimpse into the 1780s and, like most other Assassin’s Creed trailers, did well in generating hype for the game. Everyone still remembered Black Flag and hoped that Ubisoft had escaped the funk they seemed to be in. Alas, the end result was…sub-par. Riddled with glitches and bugs, as well as a disappointing online co-op aspect in which you can only play certain side-missions, the game failed to live up to the hype and once again, people lost faith in the AC franchise.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
2011 saw the announcement of the MMO successor to the beloved Knights of the Old Republic RPG games from way back when in 2003/04. As with most things related to Star wars, the trailer attracted a lot of attention, partly because of its epic lightsaber battle between the Jedi and the Sith, with a thrilling soundtrack comprised of music from all the greatest moments of the films, like only John Williams can compose. In all fairness however, all lightsaber battles are epic so you can’t give too much credit to the marketing guys at Bioware. What Bioware should be given credit for is the end product. While it did have its problems upon release, Star Wars: The Old Republic is actually quite satisfying. Freedom choose between the dark side and the light, choices that actually affect the world you play in, and well acted and written characters, all make the game a fantastic experience, worthy of the trailer(s) that got you all excited in the first place.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
You hear the soft drums in the background as you see torchlight shimmering upon the surface of an intricate stone wall, depicting a great battle between man and beast. The drums grow louder and your heart begins to race, just as we see a lone warrior fleeing beneath the shadow of a winged terror. That was the tease we got back in 2011 when the genre-defining fifth of the Elder Scrolls series was announced, and there was huge hype surrounding it. Did it live up to expectations? Well, even now, Skyrim continues to be played, thanks to a wondrous and vibrant landscape, a never-ending line-up of quests, and a dedicated modding community. Skyrim was and is an epic video game, and while it may have been topped in size by more recent games, we’ll never forget the icy, lush, world of Skyrim.
Mass Effect 3
For fans of the trilogy, the last trailer might have been far more enjoyable. Those who followed Commander Shepherd from the beginning were excited to see the culmination of all their choices and all their philandering…or character development. The trailer began slowly, showing Earth in all its futuristic beauty, before tearing that beauty away to show us the destruction brought down upon it all by the Reapers who had finally arrived. It was a long awaited confrontation and once again, it generated a lot of hype. The game itself delivered on everything it promised— storylines closed, war was waged, characters perished, and enemies were brought down. The only problem with it was that the ending was not quite how anyone had imagined it. Bioware had promised that all your choices would matter in the end and yet when that end came there was only one that really made a real difference. That was, until the patch where they quickly did their best to remedy the situation and the one lawsuit one guy was upset enough to file. All in all though, it was a fantastic game and definitely more epic than the trailer that announced it.
Whether or not a game did meet your expectations after watching a trailer, there’s always a new game to look forward to, even if it’s just the latest of the annual Call of Duty or FIFA game. Whether or not you like having your hopes raised, knowing what to expect through the medium of CGI action-sequences, or just enjoy trailers in general, you should know that despite the few games mentioned that managed to greatly surpass expectations, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of video games (triple A or otherwise) don’t generally succeed in the same way. It’s easier to thrill people in a three to four-minute clip than it is in a 30-hour long video game (oddly enough). The point of it all is that there’s an important lesson here, so listen up: don’t judge a game by its trailer.