It’s a great time for RPGs at the moment, with huge AAA successes on one side and just about every classic name getting a shot at new life. Hopefully this E3 will see many cool announcements. There may have been some already. Don’t ask me, I’m writing this on Sunday, and my time-machine only lets me go back and kill Hitler. (58 times so far – he’s like badly moustached bubblewrap!) But what games would it be great to see get a new, dynamic reveal? Here’s a few that come to mind…
Roguelikes? Pffft. That’s adventuring for babies. In 2016, prepare to enter a dungeon that’s been under construction since 1987, only now with Blizzard level polish and a revolutionary new approach to modding. While you can play a base game, tested and polished by experts, or download specific mods as you’d expect, the true experience simply pulls in level tilesets, new monsters and exciting mechanics at random, ensuring every run through the game is full of unpredictable surprises. (This technology also coming soon to XCOM 3: Enemy Actually Unknown Again).
Purists may complain about the slightly simplified controls, the better to explore fluidly, and the concessions made on easy difficulties like auto-identifying items. Luckily, they’ll always have the original. For newer players however, not entirely unreasonably declaring that they’d rather poke their eyes out with sticks than play a graphical variant like Falcon’s Eye, this is the Nethack you never even knew you were waiting for. You know, like you like Roguelikes but have never, like, actually played Rogue. You know who you are. You sickening newbies. You sicken me.
It’s been a long time since the amazing first game ended on a cliffhanger. Sorry about that. And to be honest, we’re not going to pick up on that as much as you’d think, because it probably wasn’t going to lead anywhere that cool. It’ll be a subquest though, totes. Instead, Anachronox II is Tom Hall and friends focusing on what they do best – a world-spanning RPG where every planet is a crazy new surprise and concept, where every NPC is the stuff of going on Twitter to go “Dude, my new team-mate is the Andromeda galaxy. Its HP is through the roof, though its attacks do take seven million years to hit. When they get here through… whoooo! Shit is going down!“
As before, our heroes act as the stabilising force in the crazy, free-wheeling story. Grumpy detective Sly Boots returns, as does his partner Stiletto, no longer mistaking going undercover as a stripper for a reason to remain dressed as a stripper for the entire adventure. This time though, we’ve made Tom play enough Final Fantasy games to realise why they can be fun while the combat system last time was godawful. Still not sure how it’s going to work, but… yeah. Not like that. Again, sorry.
System Shock 3
That cake-promising pretender has had things her own way for too long. It’s time for the PC’s original killer AI to fight through the legal problems and return to full glory. A DOTA 2 voice pack does not count! (Though I know I’ll end up buying it, and I don’t even bloody play Dota 2…)
This sequel eschews the standard design of scripted horror games for a mix of emergent systems and Alien Isolation type tension as you play cat and mouse against the ultimate cat. The whole world is her weapon. Luckily, you know how to hack it and turn it against her as you explore her latest futuristic domain before it’s too late. Also features audiologs that aren’t boring.
All New Worlds of Ultima
Way back in the day, Origin released two Worlds of Ultima games – the Doc Savage style Savage Empire and the Victorian sci-fi Martian Dreams. Both of them suffered from one big problem: the Ultima VI engine. Now though, EA returns to the concept by giving a brand new top-down 3D engine to five different teams and having each of them create a whole new setting with a whole new vibe. Get ready for dark horror in a world that combines the vibe of underused campaign settings like Ravenloft. Return to the world of Martian Dreams as you and the Victorian era’s greatest minds team up against the unknown. Travel back through time. Experience epic pirate adventure on the high seas. Quest alongside King Arthur and his knights for the holy grail. Future settings planned for the series include the Wild West, a Xanthian style world of comedy minus some of the more embarrassing bits, superheroics, and of course, the World of Chocolate.
This series stands for what Ultima always did, without having to touch the actual world and its continuity. Also, nobody involved with the making of Ultima Forever is allowed to take part without first scourging themselves of that sin by climbing to the summit of a mighty mountain and yelling “SORRY!” until someone shouts back “IT’S OKAY, JUST DON’T DO IT AGAIN.”
Vampire: The Masquerade: Alpha Protocol
Two great tastes that go great together! Return to the dark streets of your nightmares, now in a world where every dialogue option, every decision, every accidental glance down when chatting to a sexy vampire can count. The single city scope allows for both sides to come into their own and create a glorious melting pot of choice and consequence, while still offering the scope to be a badass creature of the night. This time though, the game is actually finished… pinky swear… and designed with one principle in mind – whoever designs the next Ocean House gets cake, whoever designs the next sewer level gets flayed alive with a whip soaked in salt. You’ll also be able to get through the whole thing without firing a single shot and dealing with your enemies through stealth and careful machinations to have others do your dirty work without you so much as breaking a single perfectly manicured nail. Every copy comes with a personalised apology from CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson for raising everyone’s hopes with World of Darkness, only to smash them into rocks.
Dink Smallwood Lives
On second thoughts, who cares?
Honourable Mentions: The Magic Candle, because it’s feeling left out of all the remakes, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, redesigned to accept the world that a game with the subtitle ‘Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura’ may as well announce ‘Free smallpox inside!’, Darklands, because even semi-realistic RPGs are a rarity, Escape From Hell because it could have been great but wasn’t, and Planescape Torment because of course, even though there is a new game trying to fly its flag on the way. Any others you’d add to the list that aren’t already being revived?