JRPG fans around the world heaved a sigh of relief earlier this month when Japanese game developer and publisher Atlus unleashed another full trailer for Persona 5 – complete with a September 2015 release date and a heart-thumping showcase of the game’s colorful new team members. The trailer comes in the nick of time, too, after months and months of silence from the company and a “will-they-or-won’t-they” approach to a firm release date.
The silence had fans speculating that the long wait was due to Square Enix’s announcement of Final Fantasy XV’s arrival on September 30th of this year. With the success of JRPGs overshadowed by the West in recent years, it wouldn’t be a wonder that some serious calculations went into the planning of the release date. Still, Atlus has not released a core Persona game since 2008 with Persona 4, and the new trailer definitely harps on the fact that they aren’t willing to let the genre fall into obsolescence just yet.
Though it looks like the game will still feature a modified turn-based battle system, the feel of combat exploration looks much more vibrant, refined and, dare I say, fun. For those who have spent countless hours climbing Tartarus in Persona 3 or plodding through the Midnight Channel in Persona 4, a change of pace is a breath of fresh air to an already stale (and outdated) dungeon crawl. Certainly, developers in the JRPG industry saw the need for some sort of a change with the way games handle combat, and with Persona 5’s all-new game engine, Atlus may bring something new to the industry yet.
Despite the new reveal bringing some long-awaited answers to fans’ questions, the trailer left behind enough sensory overloaded vagueness to ride the hype train into September. However, with the cult success of Persona 4 and its abundant spin-offs, Persona 5 is shaping up to be well worth the seven year wait.”
How Skyrim Fell Flat: An Opinion
You can become anything you want to be. As a player, you can be anything from an adventurer to a merciless assassin to a Vampire Lord. You can even take an arrow to the knee and live to tell about it. By getting away from the tedium of real life, you can forget all of your problems and delve into the rich, expansive world of Tamriel. That is the beauty of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and it isn’t any wonder that Bethesda’s magnum opus opened the door for even the most casual of players to enjoy gaming on a whole new level. With its striking aesthetics in an open world, endless questlines, abundant modding community, and easy-to-learn mechanics, Skyrim set the stage five years ago with changes to the development and gaming communities that emerge even today. It’s easy to see the influence that Skyrim had, as many games nowadays try (and sometimes fail) to emulate the lovely appeal of an open-world game.
But as a long-time fan of The Elder Scrolls series, I can’t help but be bothered by one thing: how shallow and empty this vast world is. Skyrim’s problem tends not to be with ideas – the game is rife with them – but rather the poor execution of said ideas, most specifically when it comes to factions and the questlines within. Not only is the game plagued by the same-old “fetch-and-kill” vibe that plagues MMOs, but very few questlines or characters stood out to me as memorable.
Take, for example, the Dark Brotherhood, a faction that has long been a fan favorite. Your ultimate quest is to kill the Emperor. Of Tamriel. Awesome! It also certainly helps that Astrid is a total babe.
However, the player finds out at the end that not only were you duped in your ultimate quest, but you were also betrayed. Talk about a huge bummer. It sounds like it could be great, but not only did the game hint at the resolution a number of times (i.e. the PCs encounters with the Night Mother, Cicero’s hatred of the betrayer, and just an overall sinking feeling to anyone with a lick of sense) but you also were not able to correct anything in the end. This robs the player of any agency and is a fairly faulty wrap-up. It’s almost like the writers didn’t know how to get to the end and instead hurried to piece some semblance of a climax and resolution together.
The Dark Brotherhood questline isn’t the only questline that suffers from this. Other questlines, like the Companions and the main questline, are predictable, boring, and trite with overused, thinly veiled writing tropes. Very few characters stand out as having much of a personality, and while this works for a plot-driven game like Skyrim, the plotlines also fall flat in terms of originality and investment. In fact, I can say for certain that I did not become heavily invested in a storyline or character until the Dawnguard expansion with the lovely Serana. Of course, that may or may not be because of Laura Bailey’s superb voice acting or the pseudo-Stockholm Syndrome the game forces upon you with Serana as a companion. For me, what makes games last through more than aesthetics and novelty are the choices a player makes and the ability for immersion that doesn’t rely on escapism. A driven storyline and memorable characters with personalities help facilitate this immersion.
Overall, though, Skyrim is a wonderfully addicting addition to The Elder Scrolls series that created a cultural impact for years to come. No game is flawless, and for improvements, we’ll just have to see what’s in store for us with The Elder Scrolls VI. For now, us fans can only speculate and obsess over our future character builds right up until the release date.