No matter how you slice it, EA screwed up scheduling their games for the holidays. Titanfall 2, one of the best games of the year, got completely buried by their own much more anticipated title, Battlefield 1, which was released only a week before. It was a completely unforced error, and one that has had a crippling effect on Titanfall 2’s sales. Despite EA’s claims that the two first-person-shooters were targeted to completely different audiences, the fact remains that they shot themselves in the foot by pitting two great games against each other.
“This whole Nazi resurgence is because we stopped shooting them in video games after Call of Duty 4, isn’t it?”
I tweeted the above this week in response to the horrifying video of Richard B Spencer leading the alt right in a Nazi salute to President Elect Donald Trump. It was a joke. You have to be able to make light of the insanity America is currently facing, or you’ll crack completely.
Half a season is not often enough to determine whether a heavily-serialized show is worthwhile or not, but in the case of Westworld, it’s even less telling. At the very least, HBO’s latest foray into “genre” television is intriguing, placing its moral quandaries front and center and trusting audiences to put its narrative pieces together. There are loads of elements to break down and discuss, and the myriad of puzzles and mysterious references should be enough to make the show a watercooler favorite for the remainder of the season. What is a little less clear is how emotionally engaging the series can be, an important factor in the success of mega-hit Game of Thrones.
First things first: Westworld deftly presents its themes by placing them in recognizable contexts. Westworld itself is a Western-themed amusement park for the extremely wealthy, with a cast of highly-realistic robots, or “hosts” who act out storylines and engage with the guests, or “newcomers.” While nothing like this exists in the real world, the general make-up of the park is very similar to that of an open-world video game. “Hosts” are what are known in the gaming industry as “NPCs” (or Non-Player Characters), and “newcomers” are the players themselves.