A Link to the Past


Ragnarök is coming. Finally. After months of rumours and speculation, on Wednesday Sony announced the news that everybody was hoping for; God of War will be released on November 9th, this year. So how did they choose to reveal this most anticipated detail for arguably the biggest game in their roster? At a plush industry event filled with the gaming media? With a bombastic 20-minute trailer revealing new gameplay and epic boss fights?

Well, not quite. With a blog entry and a Twitter post, of course.

I’ve seen and read multiple stories over the years about how preparing a trailer for an in-development project (usually for E3) can take precious time and resources away from a game, and with God of War’s development quite clearly cutting it fine in order to hit that 2022 release date, the lack of one is a good thing. There was a lavish CG trailer to accompany the news, admittedly, but there’s no chance members of the dev team were involved in making that. Announce the date, leave the devs alone, and release the game when you promised. Lovely.

Predictably though, as is so often the case these days, there was a bit of an online backlash over the fact that such a huge game was announced in this relatively low-key fashion. But I like it – it reminds me just a little bit of the way things used to be… *cue hazy dream sequence*

Back in the olden days – i.e. the 90’s – things were a bit different. In those almost medieval pre-internet times you had no option other than to devour previews and stare at images in magazines in the months leading up to a game’s release. The first time I ever played Super Mario 64 was also the first time I ever saw it running. I had read everything there was to read about that game before I got my hands on it, but I’d never seen it in motion. I’m sure those who were there will remember quite clearly just how mind-blowing picking up that controller and seeing Mario running and jumping in 3D for the first time was.

Even in the PS2 days when the internet was more prevalent things weren’t quite the same; I distinctly remember starting the download for a 2-minute gameplay trailer of Jak & Daxter on IGN, and then trotting off to make lunch as I waited for the download to finish. If you wanted video game information back then, you kind of had to work for it.

This might seem frustrating – unimaginable even, by today’s standards – but I don’t know, looking back now I kind of miss it. It added to the anticipation, and my goodness seeing these games running for the first time as you held the controller in your hand was an incredible thing. Would Link riding Epona across Hyrule Field to that achingly beautiful score during Ocarina of Time’s opening sequence have been as awe-inspiring and affecting if you’d already seen it countless times online before you played it? I doubt it.

We’ve seen a gameplay clip of Ragnarök already, but on the whole news of the game has been oddly subdued. As things stand, arguably the biggest game of the year will be released in just 4 months and we know hardly anything about it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve enough to think that this won’t change as November draws near – that bombastic 20-minute gameplay trailer will arrive at some point – but frankly, in an age where we know everything about every game long before we play them, the build up to God of War so far feels mysterious and exciting.

It reminds me of the good old days, back when game information wasn’t constantly fired at us from all angles. Back when we were left to our imaginations. Its refreshing, and I like it.


This article is an extract from The Week in Games newsletter.

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