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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What we're looking forward to in 2021: Trent's big five


What an unmitigated nightmare of a year 2020 has been. Between the natural disasters that went large this year, over to COVID-19 and the horrors of a pandemic, very few people will look back at this year with fond memories.

Typically at the end of the year we look back at the highlights, but given that 2020 has been so unrelentingly miserable, we've decided to look forward instead. Each of the DDNet team is going to list the five things (related to games) that they're looking forward to in 2021. Whether that be new games, announcements, events or experiences. Be sure to let us know what you're looking forward to on the rebound, too! We'd love to knock this year out with a wave of positivity.

Today's list comes to us from DDNet contributor and podcast regular, Trent!!

Events... Any Events

Look, we may have another year of lockdowns ahead, so this might be a bit early to look forward to just any event. But on the chance that everything goes right, everyone does the right thing; wears masks, stays inside, obeys lockdowns if in their area etc, I'd like to think that there could be events next year. For me gaming or anime events like PAX or Smash are not just about what is exhibited, and I do very much miss them as part of my hobby. So do the right thing, people!

Ultimately, it could be the worst gaming event in the history of gaming events and at this point, I will take it. The last time I went to any of these kinds of events was a good four years ago. After that event, it was the last time I had someone say to me “wow you look well-rested” after a holiday, but it was also the last time I genuinely felt rested.

New Nintendo Hardware

Right now, everyone is expecting Nintendo to come out with a Pro version of the Nintendo Switch. This rumour however has been a key discussion point in Nintendo communities for quite some time however, and we've still yet to see anything eventuate. However, when there is smoke, there usually is fire, although Nintendo being Nintendo usually involves surprising us in some way.

Regardless of what form it takes Nintendo launches are always fun, the gaming industry is its best when Nintendo is releasing something, even if it is not what you expect or want. Essentially it is the energy we need in 2021.

More games that “make me feel stuff”

The games I enjoyed the most in the previous decade were those that started to experiment more with the medium with strong ties to narrative design and using music more to tell the story or convey the message of the title. Titles such as Gris, which had environmental vocals to its music to add an extra layer to the gameplay, or who could forget that first moment in Life is Strange where Max puts on her headphones to listen to that folksy music as a way of setting up the highs and lows that followed?

In this past decade the key “make me feel stuff games” have generally been dark, shock factor emotive stories. However, some recent titles have been moving away from that, to more positive messages. After this year I think I can say it for everyone that we want happy feels. We want the stories and highs of the games to amp us up in the way that we can say “we are back”.

Getting into Next-Gen

While I grabbed an Xbox Series X this year, and many of my other fellow colleagues on this site managed to snag a PS5, the next-gen does not feel like it is here yet. Console launches in general always feel like the hardware is there, but most of the fun on them came from cross-platform games. That trend isn’t going to go away for a while, and maybe not even in 2021. But nonetheless what I want to see is something which makes me truly say “the next-gen has started”.

Breath of the Wild 2

As a Nintendo gamer first and foremost, a Nintendo game was bound to be on my list of things I am looking forward to in 2021. Nintendo always comes up with ways to do different things with the Zelda franchise, and Breath of the Wild took one of the key things I loved about the series - the exploration - and expanded on it. The exploration felt genuine and true to the stories that the series genesis was when Shigeru Miyamoto was influenced by the mountains of Japan. On the flipside, there was room for that game to grow, as the narrative side of the experience could have done with taking a few leaves from the kind of complexity that we saw in Majoras Mask. I am hoping that this sequel finds a way of tapping into that.

What we're looking forward to in 2021: Trent's big five
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