Predicting a Future Classic
A long-running conversation in my family revolves around the word “classic.” I have been talking about this my father since I was in primary school. Our conversations were usually about music (not always) and which songs from that point in time would be remembered by future generations as classics. Basically, our definition of the word classic when used in this instance was a track that will be remembered in the future as a something that was so exceptional or ground-breaking that people will still be talking about it for years to come. It was an interesting way to pass the time on long car trips or sitting around the dinner table. The thing was we could never be sure what songs would stand the test time. We could guess but never be really be confident that our choices would reach classic status.
The same can be said for games. It is hard to guess out of the many great games released each year which ones will have a lasting impact on gamers everywhere. Which games will be remembered for years as crowning achievements in gaming history. It is easy to look back at the games we all consider classics now, titles like Half-Life 2, Deus Ex, Mario 64 and Doom, but it isn’t so easy to look forward and guess which recently releases will join this prestigious group. That difficulty isn’t going to stop me from trying though so here are just four recently released (in the last two console generations anyway) that I think will be seen by future gamers as high water marks from gaming history.
The Last of Us
The reason that The Last of Us is always swirling around my thoughts is not because of its excellent gameplay, stunning graphics or moody soundtrack. No, the reason I will never forget this game is because of the sheer amount of emotion it elicited from me during my play time. The tale of Joel and Ellie is a deeply personal one that resonated with my paternal. I went on a journey through fear, elation and sadness that I had never experienced in a video game before and it was, quite frankly, a revelation. I honestly thought I would never find a game that would move me in this way but boy-o-boy did Naughty Dog prove me wrong. If, in the future, video games ever overtake movies as the medium of choice for dramatic story telling people will look back at The Last of Us as the catalyst. The Last of Us is proof positive that Video games can combine storytelling without sacrificing gameplay and for that reason, I am positive it will be remembered for generations to come
The Witcher 3
Occasionally a game comes out that makes all other entries in the genre, no matter how good, feel slightly worse. The Witcher 3 is one such game. Side quests are a common RPG troupe and usually one only done to level up the character and perhaps provide a little background information on the game world but The Witcher 3 changed all that. Suddenly side quests felt like important parts of the game’s wonderfully complex story. These quests mattered and felt just as essential to the game as the main story line. This makes games like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Final Fantasy XV just feel like they are chock full of unimportant time fillers by comparison. The Witcher 3 did so many things well but for me, the connectivity and import of the secondary missions were its crowning achievement. Mention the Bloody Baron to anyone that has played the game and watch their reaction to see what I mean. The Witcher 3 has set the bar for what players want from an RPG and has hopefully relegated meaningless side quests into the realm or poor game design. For this reason, among many others, I feel The Witcher 3 will earn the title of “classic” in years to come
In all honesty, I could probably make a good case for any GTA game to be considered a classic but in my mind, GTA V is the pinnacle of the lauded franchise for a few reasons. Most notable of those is the three playable characters and their entwined stories. Franklin, Michael and Trevor all made compelling protagonists and their very different personalities allowed gamers to role play in a variety of different ways. The way they interacted with the world and each other was a thing of beauty and they felt very much alive, even when I wasn’t controlling them. Each time I switched to one of them the game gave me the impression that they were living their lives while I was busy with one of their counterparts. Franklin would be enjoying a drink at the local bar, Michael would be arguing with his wife or Trevor would be waking from a drunken coma in his underwear surrounded by dead bodies. Their conversations with each other were also a highlight, with one particular chat between Michael and Trevor about how Trevor is perhaps the Uber Hipster making me smile every time I think about it. The GTA franchise has been a groundbreaking one, of that there is no doubt, by in my mind GTA V will have the biggest impact in years to come.
I know, I know I have been very vocal about how I don’t like Dark Souls in the past and my dislike still runs true. That being said I can easily see how this is one of the most influential and well put together titles of the last ten years. Dark Souls is an amazing achievement in technical combat and rewarding challenge. It is a game that doesn’t pull punches and forces players to get better or get out. This uncompromising attitude has won Darks Souls a legion of fans and has created its own sub-genre of challenging third person action titles. From Software tested the formula with Demons Souls but perfected it with Dark Souls. The sheer impact this title has had on the industry as a whole almost guarantees that people will be talking about it for years to come.
So there you have it, just four titles that I feel will earn the “classic” title in the years to come. Of course, these are just an educated guess and only time will tell if we are still enamoured with these titles in 20 years.
Did I get it right or wrong? Did I miss an obvious one? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.