We’ve all been there. You’re a big fan of a series or you get sucked into the marketing of a new game and before you even know what happened, you’re sitting first class on the hype train. It’s so easy to get swept up in the hype of a game and get jacked out of your mind for it; it happens to everyone. But it’s also ok to resist that hype and be skeptical.
Admittedly, this thought is prompted by the hype for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which releases tomorrow. Early this morning, the review embargo was lifted and the internet was flooded with absurdly high scores and praise for the game. This may have been the single most predictable thing ever.
There’s no doubt that Breath of the Wild has looked amazing since it was announced in 2013. Just like everyone else, I’ve been excited to get my hands on it and I think it’s going to be a pretty good game. Of course people are going to get excited for a brand new installment in the Legend of Zelda series. But when I see phrases like “greatest ever” thrown around, I roll my eyes. How many times do we have to go through this cycle?
Let’s take a look at the last console entry to the Legend of Zelda series, Skyward Sword. When Skyward Sword released, it received similar praise from critics. We got perfect scores, heard that it was the greatest game in the series and all of the other stuff we’re hearing today about Breath of the Wild. Then take a look at the fan reaction and it’s the polar opposite. Does that mean Skyward Sword is a bad game? Not at all. But it’s not the perfect game that it was deemed to be either. We see this cycle repeat itself over and over again with everything from video games to movies to tv shows.
When I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time, I left the theater thinking it was right there with Empire Strikes Back as the best movie in the series. Fast forward a couple months and I recognized its flaws while still enjoying the movie. Hell, go back and look at how fans reacted to The Phantom Menace in 1999. It’s the same thing with games. I’m sure Breath of the Wild is going to be a game of the year candidate and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it, but I’m also not going into the game expecting it to be the greatest game I’ve ever played either.
A major theme you’ll notice with review scores is that a game is pretty much guaranteed a nine if the IP is big enough. Games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4 automatically receive top scores just because of the franchise name, even if they’re mediocre games. I’m willing to bet money that Red Dead Redemption 2 receives perfect scores across the board later this year, even if it’s not as good as its predecessor; just because it’s a new Red Dead game from Rockstar. This is what hype does to things.
Being skeptical doesn’t mean you can’t get excited for new games, it just means that you’re cautious about the hype that surrounds major titles. I’m a huge fan of the Mass Effect series and it’s no doubt that I’m excited to play Mass Effect: Andromeda later this month, but I’m also incredibly skeptical going into it. We still don’t know much of anything about the story, recent gameplay presents a lot to be concerned about, the human models still look mediocre, its multiplayer beta has been cancelled and its day one patch might not be ready for the Origin Access launch. Do these points mean that Mass Effect: Andromeda is going to be terrible? No. But they are red flags that gamers should take note of to caution themselves. I don’t even have to bring up the atrocity that was the out of control hype machine for No Man’s Sky last year.
Gaming is fun and everyone has their favorite games, so you should get excited for new games. It’s perfectly fine to get hyped up for major releases, take time off work and prepare to marathon the game to hell once it releases. But it’s also ok to keep your hype in check and be skeptical or critical of the game at the same time. You should never feel bad about being skeptical or critical of something you like. Treating things with caution and objectivity helps keep developers and companies on their toes so that they’re bringing you the best product possible, which is all anyone really wants.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to get into Breath of the Wild immediately because I’m wrapped up in Horizon Zero Dawn, but I have a feeling that the hype will cool down by the time I get there. But if you’re picking up Breath of the Wild tonight/tomorrow, have a blast.