Hot Topic Weekend Part 1: Most Popular Video Game Genres

Resident Evil 2 – who doesn’t love it? (photo: Capcom)

Readers discuss their favorite video game genres and how they think they will evolve on the next generation of consoles.

This week’s Hot Topic topic was suggested by reader Gannet, who asked what you traditionally consider to be your favorite genre and why? Which games do you think are the best examples and how do they compare to other famous entries in the genre?

Almost every type of game has been suggested at some point, but role-playing, open-world games, and 2D platforms were especially popular.

Easy answer
I thought this would be a tough question until I thought about it a bit more and the obvious answer came to me: survival horror! It all started with Resident Evil as a kid and I’ve continued to love almost every other classic in the genre, from Silent Hill to Project Zero to Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

The odd thing is that I’m not a huge fan of horror movies – I find a lot of them quite boring – but good survival horror is just amazing. I love the feeling that you can literally be frozen in fear by just playing a video game, something that you know is not real and that you are in control of.

Resi will always be my favorite, because it’s that mix of cheese, action, and fear that no one else ever manages to replicate. Village already looks good too, and I love that it’s such a long series with very few hiccups.

To arouse interest
My favorite genre is probably RPGs with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs, and what I’d like to see in the future are more strategy elements included. I think in recent years the Total War series has added more RPG elements, and some RPGs have added basic strategy and construction (Ni No Kuni 2 had a combat system, Mass Effect 2 had a evolutionary ship and Final Fantasy Type-0 had a combat system).

I would also love to see a speed up button similar to the Final Fantasy 12 remake and the Cold Steel series, especially when the grinding makes the game much faster and more enjoyable, which is handy when game time is limited.
Michael, Crawley
PS: what would you recommend as the best game that combines role-playing, strategy and base building?

CG: We’re not sure a single game will have these elements exactly as you would imagine, but Suikoden 2, Fallout 4, Heroes Of Might & Magic 3, and Fire Emblem Fates all come to mind. XCOM 2 too, although it’s not really a role-playing game.

Open formula
I’m not sure it counts as a real genre (maybe it has its own name?) To be very stereotypical, but I think if I mention them everyone knows what I’m talking about.

Rockstar are the masters though. Red Dead Redemption 2 is such an amazing game, it’s unreal. Or rather, it is incredibly real to an incredible degree. So much so that I doubt there will be a better game for many years to come, especially if Rockstar releases a next-gen patch.

The allure of games is obvious, I think, is getting lost in a huge, completely convinced world where you can do almost anything you want. I prefer Red Dead to Grand Theft Auto because the outdoor natural environment is so relaxing to explore, which I think no one would ever say about GTA.

I get complaints about the games, that they are too generic and generally don’t have good gameplay, but I love them and will always be interested in any game that has an open world.

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Your turn
I love turn-based strategy games so you can imagine what I think they are relatively popular these days. I don’t think they’ve ever gotten really cool, but they’re not uncommon at all, even though real-time strategy, which was once the choice of cool kids, is all but extinct these days.

My all-time favorite is probably Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance, but I also love everything from XCOM 2 to Darkest Dungeon. Into The Breach comes the closest to beating Advance Wars, with a set of rules and controls so tight it’s just magical.

I don’t know what to expect from games in the future though. Turn-based games generally have very simple graphics, so they’re not the kind to show off a next-gen console, although they do get the extra power to process artificial intelligence, as you can see on XCOM 2. That’s why I’m hoping that an XCOM 3 will be announced soon, for consoles and PCs.

Always hungry
My favorite genre is 3D platformer games which is a problem because they have always been extremely rare. Fortunately, the proportion of them that are good is unusually high, but even so, it’s a frustrating kind of game to be a fan because you’re always hungry for more.

Obviously, Super Mario games are the best of the bunch, Super Mario Galaxy 2 being the best game ever for me (I’m really looking forward to Bowser’s Fury!). But there are plenty of other good things that aren’t Nintendo, including Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Psychonauts, Ratchet & Clank, and the new Crash Bandicoot. Recent indie games like Yooka-Laylee and A Hat In Time have also been good, although a bit rough around the edges.

For me, the reason I love the style of play so much is the density of things to do. It’s like open world games where instead of wandering aimlessly for hours on end, everything is crammed into these small, tight areas where almost every inch of it hides a secret or an enemy. I think they’re considered too complicated and unstructured these days, but I like them in pieces.

Fast scrolling
After all these years and I still love 2D shooters. You don’t have a lot of new ones these days, but if I want to relax or cheer myself up, then a little bit of R-Type or Radiant Silvergun will cheer me up.

Games are never easy but the satisfaction of completing what for a new player seems like an impossible level without getting hit once is such a thrill. The recent PC Engine Mini was also a godsend, allowing me to play a number of classics that I had never been able to get before.

Its own kind
It was difficult for me to choose because there are so many great franchises. I have to mention that I’m really excited for the Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time remaster as they were my favorite games at the time for pure gameplay. And maybe that’s the influence of what has become my favorite series over the past couple generations of consoles, which is Assassin’s Creed. Since the first game, I’ve been hooked. The historical settings, story, and gameplay all make this a great series to work on. Granted, there are a few missteps (Unity and Chronicles) but I think overall it’s a series that I’m really looking forward to the next game.

I think the three games with Ezio were the best of the bunch, although Revelations wasn’t a step forward enough. Crossing Renaissance Italy was an absolute joy. Even so, I still come back to the first from time to time. Yes, it was buggy; yes it was repetitive but I love the setting and the history.

The first of the games that I didn’t rush to buy was Odyssey, as if it felt more like a departure from the traditional assassin element of the franchise. As much as Black Flag was a pirate simulator, it was just a Spartan simulator. The point is, I thought Black Flag was an amazing game and maybe it shouldn’t be an Assassin’s Creed game, but its own standalone IP (yes, I know Skull & Bones!).

Still, I still haven’t made up my mind to complete Odyssey as there is simply too much to do. After Origins reinvented the series I thought it would open up another chapter of great games and Odyssey did, it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

I think to move forward into the next gen Ubisoft would have to watch the series and really commit to a role-playing format fully or go back to a more Assassin’s Creed game. As much as I enjoy Valhalla, I feel like the stealth and assassin aspects of the game have been incorporated, just to keep the Assassin’s Creed name alive.

I also think the rumors of a Japanese setting are far from false, as Ghost Of Tsushima brilliantly did recently (one of my favorite games of 2020). The framework of the rumor in China seems interesting depending on the time it takes place (Tang dynasty?). It could also bring features like unarmed combat, learning new techniques, etc.

I know this hot topic will be full of the usual Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Autos, but I personally think Assassin’s Creed games have changed so much over the years, in settings and storylines (not so much gameplay), that everything the world is cool and you find a different challenge.

CG: The topic was about genres and not about specific franchises.

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The fine print
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