Will 2024 be a bad year for video games?

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth trailer
Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth – is 2024 going to be a hard slog? (Picture: Square Enix)

The Monday letters page hears from one reader that gave up video games for board games, as one reader recommends old school shooter Prodeus.

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Currently unscheduled
I was looking at the release schedule for the rest of the year and while I realise a lot of games don’t have specific dates yet, it’s still not a very exciting line-up is it?

Apart from Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth there doesn’t seem to anything really big with a release date yet and there’s nothing from either Sony or Nintendo that comes anywhere close to last year’s biggest games – although I realise Nintendo (probably) has a good excuse for that.

Microsoft is doing the best so far, even if only Hellblade 2 has a date, but I’m not sure how well that Avowed, and Indiana Jones is going to really do.

Maybe I’m forgetting something but other than the obvious sequels like EA Sports FC and Call Of Duty the whole year is looking a bit barren at the moment. The wait until GTA 6 is going to be very long…
Napoleon IX

Short and sweet
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is only eight hours or so? I know they never said it would be anything different but that is very surprising to me. I assumed, and I think most people did, that the whole reason it was taking this long, and that Microsoft bought Ninja Theory, is to turn it into a game with more scope. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it’s still good but that is certainly an unexpected decision.

I’d applaud the idea of making shorter games, as something to be encouraged, but I imagined the point of that would be that they took less time to make. I suppose getting used to the Xbox Series X probably took some time but even so, I wonder what impact this game is going to have now. I hope it does well anyway as I am firmly against bloat in games and like to see shorter games do well.

No business doing it
Regarding GAME no longer accepting trade-ins. Whilst it is a shame, at the same time I haven’t bought a game in physical form in some years, because with PS Plus, it’s usually heavily discounted at some point in the year, or in best case scenario included as part of the package.

Whilst I do miss the days of trading in for another game, if no one is doing it, it doesn’t make business sense to keep it going.
Michael, Crawley

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Never go back
Ah, retro games, or games as they were called when I was a kid. Do I like them and play them? I do, but that’s with rose-tinted spectacles on and then they just turn out to be trash mostly. There are exceptions of course, Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island, Zelda: A Link To The Past, the good Sonics, GBA Metroids (is the Game Boy Advance retro)?! So mostly Nintendo stuff. But the rest, no, no, no, no, no. I would, myself, class retro as 16-bit and under and certainly not the 3DS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3!

I played what was my all-time number one game on the Switch online service recently, Super Mario 64… disaster! Right from the start, when all the camera controls are backwards, I knew ‘mya number one’ was going to slip. How I got all 120 stars on my first playthrough is beyond me, I suppose we didn’t know any better at the time.

I pressed on wanting to love it all over again, but alas once I reached that damn frustrating flying cap level where you have to, run, jump, fly, trying to swoop and glide into bloody timed coins, while the level timer ticks away and your wrestling with a camera that often blocked your view, goes left when you push right, up when ya shove down!!! Well, that was it, turned of in a triad of swears, never been back on since lol.

It’s not all bad though, currently playing Arcade Paradise. It’s a laundry simulator that you quickly turn into a retro arcade and that is bloody excellent.
big boy bent

2022 was doomed
Did GC play the fantastic Prodeus? It’s a retro Doom-esque shooter made by some industry vets and whilst that hardly sounds original it’s legitimately fantastic. Reminds me of how much I used to enjoy first person shooters with some excellent combat, crunchy sound effects, plenty of pixellated gore, and a menacing score.

It isn’t a brand new title, so I can’t vote for it this year but man it’s superb so far and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s got PS Plus or Game Pass.

Familiar faces
I think Indiana Jones And The Great Circle could be Xbox’s most important title in years. It may even sell a few consoles. I appreciate that’s crazy talk, but I’m so impressed with what MachineGames shown. Let’s be honest, many of us expected an Uncharted clone. So it’s great they have stuck to what they’re best at, owning that first person perspective.

Xbox has lagged behind PlayStation in terms of cinematic storytelling for many years. You don’t get any bigger responsibility than tacking on Indiana Jones, which is the reason Uncharted and Tomb Raider even exist. The refreshing part is Xbox isn’t just copying Sony. Utilising not-so-obvious choices like MachineGames, and Arkane Lyon to tackle Blade, should hopefully lead to something a bit different.

I’ve watched the Indiana Jones trailer several times now and have really warmed to Troy Baker’s impersonation of Harrison Ford. In many instances, it’s uncanny. Denholm Elliot (Marcus Brody) is pretty spot on, also. I suspect there will be more legacy characters in the game, which for the love of god, I hope they don’t reveal in the next trailer. If GC get to sit down with MachineGames, please suggest their marketing team don’t spoil anything. I can’t even watch movie trailers these days.

I don’t need to know if Sallah or Short Round are definitely in the game. I’ve just had a thought, what if River Pheonix is in a flashback level? I’ve got goosebumps at the prospect! Has GC got a contact number for MachineGames?
PS. What if Indy’s dad (Sean Connery) is in it? Take my money!

Never stop acting
Judging by the Underbox, I wasn’t expecting much from Indiana Jones’ voice actor, but it’s much better than I would have hoped, even before reading the comments. It certainly didn’t ruin my immersion.

The Great Circle looks like it could be fun, but I’ll see what the reviews are like first. I am curious about Denholm Elliot’s likeness being used. I assume his next of kin must have given permission, though nothing would surprise me and it still feels strange – have there been many instances of this in games?

GC: We can’t think of any posthumous actors in games, but Peter Cushing was in Rogue One with the blessing of his estate.

It happened to me
I can completely empathise with Reader’s Feature writer Sharpie. I too am suffering from a lethargy around gaming. Just like him, I have found many of the latest games to be somewhat unappealing or underwhelming. The last game that really got me excited was Vampire Survivors.

I had a lot of mental health issues last year, which haven’t helped the situation. My gaming buddy has got himself in a serious relationship, which has seen him disappear from our weekly multiplayer sessions. This has left quite a void, which in normal times wouldn’t be an issue with plenty of single-player experiences out there, but it’s just not doing it.

What I have found to fill the void is board gaming. I have got involved with local board game community who meet regularly and funnily enough play board games. There is a wide variety of people from all walks of life and ages. You don’t need to own any games as someone will always welcome you to a table with a game.

Don’t know the rules? Don’t worry people are more than happy to teach you. It’s a very satisfying alternative to video games. There is a website called Board Game Arena where you can play board games on your device if you really want to stay connected or try out some of the games. But don’t panic, you won’t find Monopoly at the table.

GC’s very own Lucy Orr writes some good articles on this subject, although they do seem a little more concentrated on tabletop miniature gaming or Living card games. You’ll also find many of your favourite video game franchises have been given the board game treatment.

It’s just a thought.

GC: She previewed the Monster Hunter: Iceborne board game last year and covered the Metal Gear Solid one in last week’s 2024 preview feature.

Inbox also-rans
Although I agree the evidence does suggest Elden Ring DLC is coming soon I wonder why they’re being so strange about it? It doesn’t seem like something that would benefit from a shadow drop to me.

Charging money for New Game+? I can guarantee that any game that tries to do that, I will completely ignore the whole franchise for ever more. So no more Yakuza/Like A Dragon for me.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Franky, who asks what is your favourite modern video game music soundtrack?

Assuming that means any game released in the last two generations, which has been your favourite and why? How do you think the use of original and licensed music has changed in the last decade and how would you like to see it further evolve, in regard to the type of music and how it’s used?

Do you own any game soundtracks from the last two generations and how do you think they compare to older titles?

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The small print
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MORE : Weekend Hot Topic: Do you enjoy retro gaming?

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