My name is Bill, and I'm a Hype-oholic. New game trailers, DLC announcements, hour long showcases, cryptic tweets by developers, I just can’t get enough of any of it. Over the last few years I’ve spent more time watching new trailer breakdowns on YouTube or State of Play reactions on Twitch than I’d probably like to admit. I love the excitement generated around the industry, almost to the point where the line between enjoying games and enjoying the idea of games is now severely blurred.
It’s hard to pinpoint when this started. I spent my childhood dreaming of attending E3 or visiting Tokyo, and I even had a subscription to Official Playstation Magazine when I was in primary school. In fact, some of my favourite gaming memories actually come from spending hours on the demo disks that used to come with it, often playing games I never had the full version of in the future. I even remember a recurring dream I had growing up, where whatever I was getting for my birthday/Christmas would be being played in my front room by someone, but I had no way of seeing the game itself. It still haunts me to this day.
Sometimes though, part of the fun on the hype-train is the potential for disappointment. We’ve all watched a trailer that looked amazing, and then ended up being gutted about the lack of quality when it’s released. So, in true clickbait article fashion, I am going to be running through a few times that pre-release hype has made an impact on me personally. Some of these games turned out well and others were complete disasters. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on when you’ve been burned by a game that has gotten you excited, or when a game has well and truly delivered.
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Smash Bros. Ultimate
Has a game, at least purely in terms of content, ever delivered so successfully on it’s hype as much as Smash Bros. Ultimate? The original teaser trailer revealing the appearance of Inklings from Splatoon and the Breath of the Wild themed Link had most of us thinking the new Smash would be another Wii U port with some added content, just like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Whilst that was a fair assumption at the time, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Watching the “Everyone is here!” trailer in real time was a thing of glory, and each subsequent new character reveal was as dramatic as the last. Even in normal circumstances a new Smash game would have been an exciting prospect, but the sheer size and scope of the game that seemed to be on offer was enough to throw the hype-o-meter into orbit. I’ve talked previously in my MultiVersus article about my love for Smash, and for me this is the absolute pinnacle of the genre.
If players were to be categorised on their level of devotion between ultra-casual and ultra-hardcore, I would probably be a hard-casual Smash player. I like to play the competitive rulesets (1v1, stocks instead of time, no items), I generally pick a main and a pocket character and I try to use as much tech as I’m capable of. What sets me apart from hardcore players is that I’m pretty garbage at the game and I prefer having content over a viable meta. In that sense, Ultimate completely hit the spot for me. With 89 characters, 114 stages (each with 3 different versions) and a whole host of cameos in the form of spirits and Mii costumes, you really can’t argue that Smash Ultimate is the most comprehensive celebration of gaming in the history of the art form.
Sure, the gameplay might not impress Melee 20XX die-hards who live for online Falco vs Fox battles. You could also say some of the DLC later on kind of missed the mark, with maybe a few too many “anime sword characters”. Overall though, the game delivered in a way that we likely won’t ever see from a fighting game again, maybe from the entire industry in general, completely living up to the hype generated.
Verdict after release: 9/10
No Man’s Sky
Where do I start with No Man’s Sky? Anyone who was paying attention to this around the release will know exactly what I’m about to talk about, but for those who don’t, I’m going to give you a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t fall into the pre-order trap.
In the build up to coming out, No Man’s Sky was promising the world, well all of the worlds. You were to be a space-faring pilot, trying to uncover a mysterious plot that made you journey to the centre of the universe to find answers. On your journey you would encounter billions of unique, procedurally generated planets, including the flora and fauna housed on them. Travelling between these distant planets on your spaceship, which you could upgrade by crafting materials found wherever you land, you were given the freedom to explore how and where you wanted.
I absolutely fell in love with this concept, it almost felt like the dawn of a new type of game, the cusp of new technologies that were about to be unleashed. I very rarely pre-order games, and if I do then I generally only pre-order sequels (or spiritual successors) to titles I already know and love. Turns out my risk averse approach was the way to go, as the game was absolutely not worth the hype. The touted concepts generally held true, but the whole experience seemed almost pointless, and at best it was super boring. It felt like you were aimlessly travelling between planets, with little to do other than mine resources, name the planet and it’s habitants and then move onto the next. No Man’s Admin Tasks, am I right?
To top it all off, this vast procedurally generated universe also unravelled pretty quickly. While the amount of worlds were never claimed to be infinite, it was promised that it would be close to impossible to find another player without a level of coordination behind it. An admirable idea in theory, except two players accidentally found the same planet at the same time but couldn’t see each other, all on launch day.
An unfortunate launch for the developers, who in fairness have completely revamped the game and turned it into a success. However, I’d been completely destroyed by the money to gameplay ratio I’d just wasted, and with almost every shop in town offering peanuts for a trade in, I vowed to never play it again.
Verdict after release: No Man’s Score/10
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Red Dead Redemption 2
I’m getting ready to jump on my horse for this one, as I know some of you reading this are not going to be happy. I didn’t like Red Dead Redemption 2. I loved Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Revolver and generally I enjoy playing GTA games, so I was really hyped for the release of RDR2. For some reason though, it just didn’t gel with me and I was bitterly disappointed after a few hours of game play.
Maybe it was the clunky controls; I found movement to be blocky, the shooting to be unnecessarily awkward and the cover system to be broken. Shooting mechanics and cover systems in third person shooters are rarely perfect, but RDR2 relies on them heavily. Also, perhaps I lack the attention span these days, but the amount of details and systems that were thrown at you from quite early on was daunting.
While it’s a totally different type of game I’d recently been playing Marvel’s Spider-Man, which has incredibly fluid movement and combat, so struggling to maneuver in RDR2 was frustrating. I’d also recently finished Breath of the Wild, so there’s a good chance I was suffering from open world burnout and diving into another big title was too much of a commitment. Sometimes I just want to spend 20 hours on a linear game that doesn’t make me think too hard, and maybe I was just in need of one of them.
Let me be clear though, RDR2 is possibly a masterpiece. Ten minutes roaming around it’s open world, paying attention to the insane level of detail that has gone into making it, and you’ll soon see how incredibly well crafted this game is. By all accounts the story is also fantastic, so I think this might be a game I need to eventually come back to.
Verdict after release: 6/10
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
Final Fantasy VII is my favourite game of all time. Nothing comes close to the amount of hours I’ve spent playing, reading, watching and listening to content about FFVII and it’s wider universe over the years. So naturally I was beyond excited when the remake was officially announced all the way back in 2015. After years of developer teases, it was finally going to happen. I was ecstatic, but then weeks, months and even years went by with a disturbing lack of content or news. Then in 2018, reports had emerged that the external studio working on the remake had been ditched by Square Enix and all of their binned.
It seemed like FFVII:R had entered development hell and naturally the hype died. Will this game come out? Will it even be good if it did? Square had a bit of a tainted history at this point and it was a huge worry that they’d messed this one up too. Eventually though, the game got back on track and with some pretty cool trailers serving to rebuild the hype, Remake was finally slated for release in 2020. If you want to learn more about the history of the sketchy build up to release, I highly recommend you watch this video breakdown from Matt McMuscles and Maximilian Dood:
Minor spoiler warning, there are some really short clips of late game story stuff.
With 5+ years of crazy hype behind it, FFVII:R went on to face more problems. As I’m sure you don’t need reminding, the start of 2020 saw the initial wave of the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupt businesses and supply chains the world over. FFVII:R received a delay of a month, but some lucky people saw their pre-ordered copies arrive before release (in some cases 2 weeks early), and the risk of spoilers was real. At this point the hype was too much to handle, and I instantly regretted my big brain move of switching my physical pre-order to a digital one, thinking I could play it at midnight on release rather than risk not getting my copy in the post.
The game didn’t disappoint when I finally managed to play it, creating a brilliant blend of nostalgia, updated graphics and combat mechanics that stayed true to the original, but provided that modern twist a good remake needs. I will avoid a complete break down of what I liked and didn’t like for fear of spoiling the next part of the series (the recently announced Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth), however, I highly recommend any FFVII fan playing this part as soon as possible before the second part is due out.
Verdict after release: 10/10
I could go on for hours about games I have been over hyped for, but this article needs to finish at some point. So here are a few special mentions:
Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes were two games that, as a kid, started ramping up my anticipation levels to those weird fever dreams. I think Sonic Heroes was the first game I ever pre-ordered. I loved both at the time, even if the latter has aged terribly.
Similarly, Metal Gear Solid 2 was another one that kid-me couldn’t wait for. I even remember dragging my Nan to the GAME shop in town to buy it for me because it was rated 15. Class game, I remember not really loving the idea of playing as Raiden, but quickly changed my mind once it got going.
Street Fighter 5, Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite were three fighting games I couldn’t wait for, but were all disappointing for a variety of reasons. I love fighting games, but sometimes Capcom can really drop the ball.
I might love Final Fantasy VII, but the spin-off Dirge of Cerberus was truly awful. I hope I never have to play that game ever again.
Going back to the Sonic franchise, Sonic Mania hyped me up by promising a return to the winning formula that the classic Mega Drive games had created. SEGA being SEGA, they didn’t follow up on this instant classic by continuing to make retro-styled Sonic games.
Have any hyped games of your own? Something you’ve loved or hated after you’ve played it? Let us know on Twitter, Discord or in the comments. We welcome any thoughts, feedback or ideas for future features.
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Love the article, I was that kid but borrowed the demo disks. One that hurt my gamer feelings was Duke Nukem Forever. Billed as the next big thing, the 14 year old me was buzzing. I was massively let down, I cried inside.