By MAguilera 25 Comments
I (like many of us, I assume) listen to a lot of podcasts. In those podcasts there has been lots of discussion about whether or not Left for Dead 2 is coming out too early and how awesome Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is going to be. In a confluence of playing Okami and listening to the Mobcast discuss excessive multiplayer in games. Then it all came together. We need a new Cal of Duty, we don't need a new Left 4 Dead.
Despite CoD's epic multiplayer, at its root there is a single player campaign with a story. Prior to hearing about leveling up techniques for CoD4 I heard about a scene where you dropped a bomb from a plane through one of those "scopes." The scene was described as disturbing because of how impersonal it felt. Point being, there was a story that was on some level compelling people to play it and experience emotions. This is why the "cycle" of games exists in the first place. You play a game until you have exhausted the story, and then it is time to come out with a new one. Who cares if game #2 is on basically the same engine as game #1 (see GTA: 3, Vice City, San Andreas) because you were doing things with a new character, or in a new story, or in a new setting. It wasn't about the mechanics because the story defined the experience.
Let's look at Left 4 Dead, or perhaps Team Fortress 2. There is no story, despite the fan-fic people want to write about how a BLU Pyro can befriend a RED Scout. The "story" exists in the wonderful happenings during a game with multiple people. That story is new each time you start the game up, and as a result the amount of time the game can last before the story gets "stale" is extended. This is the case with Left 4 Dead. They punch in a "story" with the cool movie idea, but it isn't a narrative, but rather a situation definition that gives structure to the story you create. The need for a new Left 4 Dead would be based on mechanics. "Look at what we can do now!" Better match-making, new net-code, upgrade systems, Forge, all of these are reasons to have a new multiplayer game. But many of them can be handled with patches to existing games. Aside from a total overhaul, there is little reason to have a new disc in your hands. If that was the case, you still might as well wait for a while since your old product is still kicking and creating great new stories.
So we need a new CoD. The time is up on the old one and there is a story in there that will be compelling. We don't need a new Left 4 Dead. Their "stories" are still being created a new, and while new features/modes sound like a good idea, they can be handled with incremental improvements rather than a total overhaul. Will I end up buying L4D2 anyway? Probably not. I'm poor, and I'm still having a blast with TF2. But as soon as Episode 3 hits I'll buy it for the story.