The last couple of months have been great ones for gamers, with the long-awaited releases of Doom Eternal and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake finding themselves as our personal favorite releases. Not everybody shared our enthusiasm for these games, however, and debates are raging as to certain elements of their direction. Taking a step back, we want to take a spoiler-free look at the changes these games made, why these were contentious, and why this is an inevitable risk of modern video game development.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
We’ve made no secret of just how much we loved the FF7 Remake, and that’s not an opinion we’re likely to ever revisit. Fantastic characters, an engaging active combat system, and great use of material, mark just a few reasons why we, and many others, think very highly of the game. The issue, as some saw it, was that the game does occasionally diverge too heavily from the source material.
Usually, this is done in a welcome way. Characters and areas are fleshed out, and it gives us another angle on what made us love the first game back when it released in 1997. What was more shocking was the direction the game took in its closing chapter. While we can’t go into any details without spoiling the story, suffice to say it was not exactly what close fans of the original expected.
Doom Eternal took a different tack, and not just because it’s an action-driven FPS. To understand the changes to Doom Eternal, we first need to take a look back to Doom’s recent ‘reboot’, Doom 2016. Doom 2016 was a revelation in FPS design, with the creation of what was termed push-forward combat striking out against the modern standard of regenerating health.
Rather than taking cover to heal, players in Doom 2016 gained health by using a glory kill, a specialized melee execution which made enemies drop health as if they were a demon pinata. Just as the original Doom set the standard in 1993, this change in Doom 2016 had opened the door to new possibilities. When Doom Eternal followed in March of this year, players quickly learned that it not only embraced push-forward combat, it added to it vastly and uncompromisingly.
In Doom Eternal, players have to balance glory kills for health, flame-throwing for armor, and chainsawing (now with regenerating fuel) to manage a much lower overall ammo pool. From straightforward action, Eternal moved into active battlefield resource management, which some saw as perverting the purity of the prior entry.
Evolution, Stagnation, and Alienation
Whether looking at the story in the FF7 Remake, or the gameplay in Doom Eternal, the online discourse is wild and often firmly divided. Taking one side are those pushing for more consistency, for a world where things stay as they once were. After all, they loved the originals so much that changing the formula was deemed as unnecessary, as a sort of reinventing the wheel.
A comparison of this thinking could be found for websites that revolve around the best new online casinos. The games on these websites are, on a fundamental level, classics that require little evolution. Instead, the major changes can be found in the surrounding infrastructure, such as through the addition of free spins and bonus cash. This keeps classic enthusiasts happy, while still providing something new and fresh.
On the other side of this argument are players who enjoyed the originals for what they were, but want an expansion in something new. In the case of Final Fantasy 7, this came in the form of offering something unexpected. We’ve known the big twists in FF7 for decades now, but with these new changes, we’ve entered a world of uncertainty, and that can be exciting. Of course, the inclusion of Tetsuya Nomura does raise the possibility of Kingdom Hearts levels of absurdity, but many are still content to see where the ride takes us.
In Doom Eternal, those who liked the new systems saw them building on what was, in 2016, a solid foundation. Eternal uses this earlier framework to crank things up to eleven, making the game a much more intimidating challenge. Players now have to juggle standard weapons, mods, grenades, fire, health, ammo, fuel, enemies, and traversal all at the same time, and at a far greater speed than the original. The game pulls no punches, and that’s what supporters love.
For developers, the question becomes one of what they want to achieve. While some game series are happy to remain unchanged through the decades, this simply isn’t viable for the vast majority. Most of those who stagnate, who fail to evolve, are destined to be left behind, which developers need to constantly keep in the back of their heads.
However, there is also a concern in that changes which are too great or too sudden can risk alienating core portions of their audience. Because of these factors, each developer has to walk a tightrope, balancing their visions for gaming against loyal fandoms, and greater industry trends. The simple truth is that there is no way to satisfy everyone, so sacrifices, somewhere, need to be made. In our case, we were quite satisfied in the direction of the FF7 Remake and Doom Eternal, but who knows, next time we might not be so lucky.