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#1 Posted by viking_funeral (2599 posts) -

I make lists. Probably way too many lists. It's one of many reasons that High Fidelity is my most reread novel, though A Wild Sheep Chase does come close. Anyway...

While idly working on a list of innovative video games per year while watching Blue Bombin' in the background, I noticed that I have a dearth of games from the last 7 or so years. What are the most innovative games to come out in the 2010s?

I want truly innovative. Not 'this game was really popular,' but games that spawned entirely new genres or reshaped them. Games like Telltale's the Walking Dead, one of the few recent games on the list, that changed adventure games to have more choice and consequence, as seen in later games like Life is Strange or Until Dawn. Games like Demon's Souls, that spawned an entire new genre of Souls-likes, in the way that Doom created Doom-clones before the term FPS finally emerged.

And, yeah, I guess you can argue that games like Telltale's The Walking Dead had a lot of influence from games like Mass Effect, which themselves had influences from previous games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Nothing is ever totally in isolation. Art rarely appears spontaneously.

Enough babbling! What are your innovative games of the 2010s?

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#2 Posted by hans_maulwurf (421 posts) -

I'm gonna throw in Quantum Break, and not just because I finished it yesterday. That game really made me aware of how little Remedy cares about 3rd person shooter conventions - not their own and not those of the wider industry. Whether you're gonna like it or not is obviously a matter of taste. But the way they actually make good on "dynamic" cover, with all the different "time" powers you got (and their fast cooldown), with how mobile and diverse the ai is and how much space you often have during a fight - it plays unlike every other 3rd person shooter I can recall.

Same goes for the tv show part. It might or might not work for people, but the sheer size and scope definitely makes it more than just long fmv cutscenes. I mean there's a reason why the tv show part has a separate entry on imdb.

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#3 Posted by AdequatelyPrepared (2479 posts) -

Amnesia sneaks in at just 2010. Without it modern horror for video games would be very different for better and for worse. The amount of really crappy imitators, especially in the few years after release, really was something else, but now more horror games are taking the correct lessons from Amnesia.

There is also Five Nights at Freddie's, because Christ that franchise is a phenomenon with the young kids and has also spawned a whole slew of copycats. Just go into any pop culture merch store and you almost certainly see FNAF products on sale. It still comes nowhere near to the culture shaping behemoth that is Minecraft, which apparently had it's full release in 2011 if Wikipedia is to be believed.

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#4 Edited by militantfreudian (526 posts) -

The only ones I can think of beside the Souls games are Gone Home and Dear Esther, which gave rise to the narrative-centered exploration games, otherwise known as [sic] "walking simulators."

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#5 Posted by turboman (9103 posts) -

I'd say The Last Guardian is pretty innovative. You could dumb it down I guess by saying it's just a giant AI in a lot of scripted environments, but it's a game that is like nothing before it (and you'll probably never play a game like it ever again).

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#6 Edited by Savage (617 posts) -

"Innovative" is not necessarily the same as "influential." But you say you're looking for "games that spawned entirely new genres or reshaped them," so here are some games that did that:

Dark Souls (2011) - Although Demon's Souls was more innovative, Dark Souls was the one that blew up into a phenomenon, creating the Soulslike subgenre.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010) - Revitalized the horror genre and inspired a new wave of first-person horror games, including P.T., Alien Isolation, and Resident Evil VII.

DayZ (2012) - Created the multiplayer survival game genre.

Minecraft (2011) - Redefined sandbox gameplay. (If you're not counting the pre-1.0 releases that started in 2009.)

Dear Esther (2012) - Created the "walking simulator" genre. (If you're not counting the free mod that was released in 2008.)

Other games that left strong impressions on their genres, but didn't quite redefine them like the above games did:

The Binding of Isaac (2011) - Established the dominant structural template for roguelites.

Super Meat Boy (2011) - Popularized "masocore" difficulty, especially in platformers.

Titanfall (2014) - Shifted AAA FPS from mostly cover-based to more mobility-based, as seen in subsequent CoD games and DOOM.

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#7 Edited by odinsmana (485 posts) -

I don`t have any games that haven`t already been mentioned, but I wanted to point out that since we are talking about innovation and not influence I think Heavy Rain did the things Walking Dead did a few years before with a focus on choice and consquence and using a lot of QTEs (though I guess Heavy Rain just built on what they had previously done with Indigo Prophecy). I think the big thing Walking Dead did was probably popularizing the episodic structure of those games.

Edit: When I thought about it I would actually say that For Honor is pretty innovative in that the way the combat system is kind of a mix between a fighting game and Dark souls (with some completely new stuff thrown in) is something I haven`t seen before, though I don`t think it will spark a new sub genre.

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#8 Edited by IVDAMKE (1416 posts) -

Other than Demons Souls with it's online interaction which misses your criteria by 2 years I can't think of many over the last generation at all. Most games spent more time streamlining known quantities rather than coming up with new inventive systems that defined genres or ways to do things.

There's probably been a bunch of indie games that I can't think of off the top of my head.

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#9 Posted by Shindig (3962 posts) -

Dota 2? Given that the game that preceded it was a mod and therefore not a commercially available product.

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#10 Edited by viking_funeral (2599 posts) -

@odinsmana: Having not played Heavy Rain nor Indigo Prophecy, that's an interesting point.

I did play Beyond Two Souls, for what it's worth, but I guess that's not really relevant to the conversation.

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#11 Posted by OurSin_360 (4450 posts) -

FTL

Jazzpunk

Minecraft

Crypt of the Necrodancer

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#12 Posted by csl316 (13915 posts) -

@hans_maulwurf: I love Quantum Break.

It won't get much support here, but to me it felt like a truly unique experience. Not just the tv stuff, but the combat design, as well. Played Uncharted 4 afterwards and it felt like I jumped backwards a generation.

Online
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#13 Posted by Fredchuckdave (10205 posts) -

Dark Souls, Shadow of Mordor, Nioh

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#14 Edited by Kidavenger (4168 posts) -

League of Legends was the first to do it right and probably still the most successful free to play game, it may not have been the first moba, but it definitely brought the genre out of the shadows and kicked off the current esports movement.

I haven't seen it mentioned yet, but I think Frog Fractions was the first game with the main driving force being subverting expectation.

Candy box; first incremental game?

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#15 Edited by Dray2k (351 posts) -

Dark Souls (2011) - I love the how the game is structures which may be the reason it became popular also. You can't discuss this game narratively without discussing its level/world design also, thats how good it is designed. The best Fromage (thanks @rorie)

Binding of Isaac (2011) - In terms of depth, this game is probably one of the deepest experiences out there. Its one of those game you should play through dozends of times to fully appreciate it. The brilliant Music by Danny Baranowsky is also doing the game justice.

Minecraft (2011) - The game changed a ton during its development. I believe that Minecraft pathed the way on community created videogames. With user created content as one of its main themes I think this sort of approach in development is more than fitting and partially one of the reasons why the game got so popular during its alpha development phase. Though I don't think this game being a social phenomenon is justified as the game without hacks/mods was extremly restrictive by the time, but the way development was handled and the way the indie scene organizes itself deserves special mention regardless.

Skyrim (2011) - I know, Skyrim gets a lot of blame for "dumbing" down on the things where Morrowind truely broke ground, but in my opinion this ain't the case. I do believe that the way they handled this game reminded me a lot of early 2009-2010 Minecraft in the way that the game simply provides a canvas for the player to have fun in. Its also the only game you can threat like a In real life car, changing each and every aspect of it via extensive modding. So like Minecraft, its saving grace was the community.

Spelunky (2012 remake) - I suck BIG TIME at Spelunky, but I love the way it challenges me and the way it plays. You can play it careful and thoughtfully or you can try to rush through it. It's the perfect game for skillful speedrunning. I think that this game does a great job providing the player with the tools necessary to finish it without following a "easy route to win" so to speak. This game and Undertale hold Cave Story, which is one of my most favorite games, in high regards.

DOTA 2 (2013) - :goty #biased

The Stanley Parable (2013) - Simply proof that "Walking Simulator" is a terrible descriptor of what these games really try to be, Narrative Exploration games. Similar to Undertale it tries to create the illusion of being self aware regarding the players actions. The great writing also helps to convey this sort of narrative a lot.

Elite Dangerous (2014) - The game turned out to be barebones but safed by continous updates and vast polish. The game became a amazing Space Simulator. Besides its great graphics and truely groundbreaking Sound Design. Simply the most immersive game ever made right now.

Undertale (2015 - yes really I'm sorry) - Undertale is definite proof that fanbases are indeed the worst I think that the creative juxtaposition is what shines through here. In my eyes this game is the definite proof of concept that you can create games solely on the basis of subverting initial expectations but with a Kojima-esque level of detail that is impossible to ignore once you've started playing it. The game has a few more layers of depth that I don't believe exist in most video games (that aren't text based) at all. Beside this, it also had the soundtrack of the year.

Stellaris (2016) - This one is difficult to explain but I think the gameplay loop that 4X games are known for is perfected here. I cannot imagine another 4x game trying to be better than Stellaris. For me this game is proof that you can reach a point in which certain gameplay aspects cannot become better, its sorta like the Super Mario Galaxy of 4X games.

Honorable Mention: Stardew Valley (2016) - The most chill game ever made!

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#16 Edited by ArtisanBreads (8074 posts) -

Kentucky Route Zero should be on this list. DOTA should be on this list for sure. Team Fortress 2. Demon's Souls (why wouldn't you say that before Dark Souls?). Minecraft. DayZ. FTL. Not sure if all those are exactly in this frame but just about and all belong.

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#17 Posted by BigSocrates (1411 posts) -

How has nobody mentioned Skylanders? It created a massive genre that didn't last very long but was a big craze.

You could include ZombiU and Mario Maker (especially the latter) because of the unique combined touchscreen and TV interface.

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#18 Posted by viking_funeral (2599 posts) -

@werupenstein said:

League of Legends, it may not have been the first moba, but it definitely brought the genre out of the shadows and kicked off the current esports movement and the free to play market.

League came out in 2009. I remember because I started playing it and watching streamers when it came out, and eventually got a side gig helping out some professional teams.

Minecraft also came out in 2009. I see a lot of people mentioning it, and while it officially came out in 2011, it was already a huge phenomenon when it first came out in the alpha classic stage.

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#19 Posted by Fezrock (204 posts) -

I'm not sure it had any influence at all, but I found The Talos Principle to be extremely innovative. There are plenty of 3D puzzle games out there, but its hard to think of another game that had such a serious discussion of philosophy as its core story.

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#20 Posted by Rebel_Scum (1234 posts) -

GTAV and the switch character mechanic. Pretty revolutionary in my books.

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#21 Posted by hans_maulwurf (421 posts) -

@csl316: It's an exceptional game, and I hope Dave Lang putting it on his GOTY list is the first sign that it will see some vindication in the years to come.

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#22 Edited by ArtisanBreads (8074 posts) -

I forgot to mention last year's Hitman. I think this game will prove to be really influential with its content over time approach, live events, and bringing episodic to different genres.

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#23 Posted by ArtisanBreads (8074 posts) -

GTAV and the switch character mechanic. Pretty revolutionary in my books.

This is a good one too. I just hope more games actually copy it. Tons of room to do more with that in an open world game.

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#24 Edited by paulmako (1685 posts) -

No Splatoon mentions yet! The painting and then swimming in that paint feature is great.

Also the wall-merge feature from Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was new to me, but maybe it's been done elsewhere.

Also I guess Jackbox Party Pack? Getting people to play with mobile devices was a great idea (although again maybe that predates it)

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#25 Posted by jszyarto (32 posts) -

Jazzpunk, stardew valley, rigs, life is strange would be my suggestions.

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#26 Posted by JEC03 (1420 posts) -

SuperHOT

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#27 Posted by Ares42 (3555 posts) -

No one has mentioned Hearthstone ? While the gameplay might not be very innovative compared to traditional CCGs it basically wrote the formula for how to do them digitally.

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#28 Posted by rethla (3438 posts) -

@shindig said:

Dota 2? Given that the game that preceded it was a mod and therefore not a commercially available product.

Are you talking about Lol, the game that not only preceded Dota 2 but was the game that made the genre commercial and big?

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#29 Posted by BigSocrates (1411 posts) -

It's pretty telling that nobody has mentioned Destiny yet. The instanced quasi-MMO design in that game are actually quite innovative, as are the Raids (since nobody ever did a multiplayer first person shooter dungeon like that before.) It also obviously heavily influenced the Division. It's strange how that game, which sold gajillions, has sort of fallen out of discussion. I think it's because most people who had a good time with it upon purchase soured with it due to the crappy endgame and insane stubborn refusal to include in game LFG features.

I think Sunset Overdrive also deserves credit for innovation. It is the only game I can think of that married Tony-Hawk style traversal mechanics to combat, and it did so extremely well. Constantly moving and doing tricks to build meter that improved your character's combat performance is a really cool idea. It also has tower-defense elements in some missions, adding even more strategy. I think Sunset Overdrive is one of the most underrated games of recent years.

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#30 Edited by Octopusrocketmark (77 posts) -

It's pretty telling that nobody has mentioned Destiny yet. The instanced quasi-MMO design in that game are actually quite innovative, as are the Raids (since nobody ever did a multiplayer first person shooter dungeon like that before.)

This. I think we're gonna see some more "Destiny-likes" pretty soon. You could however argue that Borderlands is the progenitor of modern instance-based loot shooters. Destiny just had more polished gameplay and huger popularity.

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#31 Posted by Onemanarmyy (2566 posts) -
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#32 Posted by FrodoBaggins (867 posts) -

Innovation?

Super Mario Galaxy 2. More innovation in a single level than most games manage in their entirety.

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#33 Posted by Slag (7349 posts) -

I think games from the last 7-8 years have been more iterative than innovative to be honest. However those small changes add up and when you look back at where we were 7 years ago versus now, you can see just how far we've come.

Ones that standout to me as possible candidates

  • DotA -LeagueofLegends/DOTA2 -created MOBAs
  • Minecraft- whatever Minecraft go anywhere do anything games are.
  • Ingress/Pokemon Go - Geocaching
  • Clash of Clans -Aysnchronous Mobile mulitplayer
  • Borderlands- Loot driven FPS games
  • Chivalry/Mount and Blade- FPM- (First Person Melee)
  • Heavy Rain/TWD Season 1 - New Style fo Adventure games utilizing QTEs and Episodic content
  • Demon Souls/Dark Souls - Basically reinventing 3D Zelda for an older audience
  • Binding of Isaac (or whatever kicked off the roguelike renaissance)
  • Monster Hunter/Dragon's Dogma - The Hunting genre
  • Destiny/The Division - Online persistent MMOs involving shooting
  • For Honor - Multi player dynasty warriors crossed with a sword duel game
  • Rust (or whatever started the survival craze)
  • Splatoon - Non violent FPS
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum- Counter Based 3d brawling
  • Shadow of Mordor- Nemesis System
  • Grow Home - Plant growing combined with a 3d platformer
  • Dear Esther- "walking Simulators"
  • Pandora's Tower- I'm not even sure how to describe this one.

Of that list DotA is the only one that really felt earthshattering to me and that was like 2003-4. It just took until around 2011 for the mainstream to get it. Most of these other ones were either slow burners or built upon existing ideas. I don't think you get those "everything is different now" games like you used to. It's more of an evolution than a revolution.

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#34 Edited by rethla (3438 posts) -

@onemanarmyy said:

@rethla: LOL was released in 2009.

Yeh but i dont exactly see how Dota2 innovates anything after Lol has already been released. Its a carboncopy that despite having bought the Dota name and having massive backing by valve it still suffers from being to late to the game.

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#36 Posted by BigSocrates (1411 posts) -

@bigsocrates said:

It's pretty telling that nobody has mentioned Destiny yet. The instanced quasi-MMO design in that game are actually quite innovative, as are the Raids (since nobody ever did a multiplayer first person shooter dungeon like that before.)

This. I think we're gonna see some more "Destiny-likes" pretty soon. You could however argue that Borderlands is the progenitor of modern instance-based loot shooters. Destiny just had more polished gameplay and huger popularity.

Disagree. Borderlands was drop-in drop-out optional multiplayer like many games before it. It has an open-world design and the loot elements, which do make it different in some ways, but it's not like Destiny, which is always online and where you randomly run into people in the world and are expected to repeat content much more than in Borderlands (which doesn't have Destiny's strikes or raids.)

Borderlands heavily influenced Destiny, there's no doubt about that, but Destiny innovated in several key ways. I should note that I don't think these were all POSITIVE innovations, but they were innovations.

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#37 Posted by Octopusrocketmark (77 posts) -

@bigsocrates: That's true enough. I don't want to downplay the importance of the MMO qualities of Destiny, or how unique and fun the strikes and raids were. I still fire up the Strikes playlist every once in a while, even though I haven't purchased Destiny content since Taken King and thus my gear is outdated.

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#38 Edited by Onemanarmyy (2566 posts) -

@rethla: You could make an argument that Dota2 has shown a lot of innovation and ideas in the f2p market.

It started with getting chests after games or by buying them. Buying a key would unlock those chest for cosmetics. Announcerpacks, HUDS, taunts, couriers and spell / animation altering cosmetics were sold to customize everyone's game. There was a period where they tried to have a diablo-esque system where you socket certain gems into certain items to give heroes special colours or animations. This never really got off the ground though. Slowly but surely, the chest & key system got replaced by chests without locks. Chests would contain 2 rare items, and a few common items. No dupes until you have all commons.

Nowadays, you see a lot of battlepasses being sold for events that give the player access to daily quests, new mapskins, weekly tournaments, fantasy dota, tournament predictions and cosmetics.

A lot of those ideas have been in games before Dota for sure, but it's interesting to see a game transition through all those systems to see what people actually want from a f2p experience. When i look at games like Overwatch, Battlefield 1 and For Honor, i do see some of those systems being adopted by other games.For myself, i can certainly say that i never engaged with f2p mechanics until they came up with the idea of battlepasses and offering players a more involved way to engage with tournaments, raise the stakes of games through quests, and offer an abundance of neat cosmetics.

Finally, i really don't get how any LOL or Dota player can claim that LOL & dota2 are carbon copies of eachother. There's a huge difference between the games that anyone who downloads both and gives it a shot would immediatly notice. And if that difference is not large enough, than surely LOL would simply be a carbon copy of Dota: Allstars instead, since that spawned the genre and it's creators (Icefrog for Valve, Guinsoo for Riot)

LOL & Starcraft 2 did bring the viewers to justin.tv to the point where Twitch.tv became feasible and the real esports boom of 2011 started.

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#39 Posted by BigSocrates (1411 posts) -

@bigsocrates: That's true enough. I don't want to downplay the importance of the MMO qualities of Destiny, or how unique and fun the strikes and raids were. I still fire up the Strikes playlist every once in a while, even though I haven't purchased Destiny content since Taken King and thus my gear is outdated.

Plus Destiny innovated with the Grimoire. Remember when in-game lore was inconveniently located WITHIN the game instead of being on a separate website? INNOVATION!

I put a lot of time into Destiny and enjoyed elements of it (it really does have good combat) but MAN is that game chock full of anti-player bullshit. I get mad just thinking about it. No matchmaking for certain modes, an idea stubbornly stuck to even after it became CLEAR that the community wanted it? The entire story of the base game being locked up on a website? I can honestly say that I have never hated and resented a game I played that much before or since.

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#40 Edited by rethla (3438 posts) -

@onemanarmyy: LOL tried a slightly different approach and some new things while Dota2 was a carbon copy of Dota made in the safest possible way to get the lucrative hardcore Dota players. Heroes of newerth also tried that but failed, probably because they lacked the backing of Valve.

I wouldnt say its a HUGE difference though. You have to be quite invested to notice any meaningfull differences.

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#41 Edited by MezZa (2675 posts) -

I wouldn't necessarily say that this is because of one game, but the rise of popular esports titles in the first few years post 2010 brought about the opportunity for twitch to develop and become the phenomenon it is today. This likewise created a platform for esports and spectator friendly games to thrive. It used to be a whole different process to find things like professional starcraft replays and coverage, but with Starcraft 2 and the streaming platforms that were growing at the time it was as simple as clicking one link to watch someone better than you play the game.

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#42 Posted by Ares42 (3555 posts) -

@bigsocrates said:

It's pretty telling that nobody has mentioned Destiny yet. The instanced quasi-MMO design in that game are actually quite innovative, as are the Raids (since nobody ever did a multiplayer first person shooter dungeon like that before.)

This. I think we're gonna see some more "Destiny-likes" pretty soon. You could however argue that Borderlands is the progenitor of modern instance-based loot shooters. Destiny just had more polished gameplay and huger popularity.

If you think Destiny was innovative that's a you thing. Sure, it might've been new to console-only players, but if you knew anything about the MMO market beyond WoW then Destiny came off as super-derivative.

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#43 Posted by OurSin_360 (4450 posts) -

I find it weird people say dark souls when it was a spiritual sequel to demon's souls, a truly innovative game but came out before the time period this thread is talking about.

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#44 Edited by MezZa (2675 posts) -

@oursin_360 said:

I find it weird people say dark souls when it was a spiritual sequel to demon's souls, a truly innovative game but came out before the time period this thread is talking about.

The argument for Dark Souls over Demon's Souls is usually that while Demon's Souls was the first of the many Souls iterations, the game didn't reach popularity with the audience it has now until Dark Souls. Not saying that has to be agreed with if you think Demon's got it right the first time, but the Souls movement didn't begin until Dark Souls. It arguably wouldn't have happened at all without Dark Souls catching everyone's attention.

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#45 Edited by Onemanarmyy (2566 posts) -

@rethla i would say that conceptually Moba's are all very similar. The maps are fairly similar, the gameplay revolves around putting heroes in lanes, leveling up to become stronger and kill towers / creeps / heroes on your way to kill the main structure.

Execution wise , there are a ton of differences though. And not just nitty gritty things that only a select few would notice.

Here are a few posts from both subreddits.

And while Dota certainly copied Dota: Allstars, now that all previous heroes are in the game, Dota is not afraid to make changes. Suddenly there are 4 jungles, multiple shrines that give AOE hp/mana on a cooldown, 1 power up rune and 4 bounty runes on the map. Creeps spawn every 2 minutes now, which means you can't stack pull at 0.53 in each minute to win your lane anymore. Spell amplification is a thing, attack range can be increased, completely new items get added with most big new patches. Each hero received a talent tree similar to Heroes of the storm / Battleborn.

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#46 Posted by shivermetimbers (1334 posts) -

Yes, it's out of the timeline, but I'm still gonna say World of Warcraft.

Why? It still manages to innovate itself (whether for good or bad is very debatable, I understand) and maintain energy even after over a decade. I can still log on and be in awe even after all these years. That's not something most games can attest to. Again, I can understand that some of the changes can be considered for the worst. But they managed to make a fun loop last from 2004 to 2017 with great success. That's really something.

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#47 Posted by Shindig (3962 posts) -

@rethla said:
@shindig said:

Dota 2? Given that the game that preceded it was a mod and therefore not a commercially available product.

Are you talking about Lol, the game that not only preceded Dota 2 but was the game that made the genre commercial and big?

Oh, yeah. I dunno why I keep forgetting that exists.

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#48 Posted by GhostHouse (146 posts) -

It has to be Minecraft doesn't it?

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#49 Edited by rethla (3438 posts) -

@onemanarmyy: I mean theres less differences between the two games than there is difference in what the games was at release and what they are now and that kinda says it all. The difference is basicly one major balancepatch of which both games has seen many times. Having played both games and original dota alot im having no problem with people that put the games in the same basket.

I see your point however in Dota2 being very influential in the f2p and moba developement over the years. I was kinda locked into what the games ment when they where released and not as an ongoing thing.

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#50 Posted by Ezekiel (1692 posts) -

@mezza said:
@oursin_360 said:

I find it weird people say dark souls when it was a spiritual sequel to demon's souls, a truly innovative game but came out before the time period this thread is talking about.

The argument for Dark Souls over Demon's Souls is usually that while Demon's Souls was the first of the many Souls iterations, the game didn't reach popularity with the audience it has now until Dark Souls. Not saying that has to be agreed with if you think Demon's got it right the first time, but the Souls movement didn't begin until Dark Souls. It arguably wouldn't have happened at all without Dark Souls catching everyone's attention.

But popularity isn't synonymous with innovation. I agree with him. Demon's Souls did pretty much everything Dark Souls did. And I think it did it better.