Please Stop Giving Video Games Such Terrible Names

‘Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden,’ I’m calling you out.

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Mar 29 2018, 3:00pm

Image courtesy of Funcom

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This is a short rant, but an important one. Yesterday, Austin was chatting up strategy games in Waypoint’s private Discord, and linked to some footage of an upcoming game that looks really damn cool. The pitch is simple: an RPG with XCOM-like combat. Oh, and one of the characters is a sarcastic duck? Sign me up for whatever the heck this is.

And then I saw the game’s name: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. What are you supposed to parse from that? Why does the game need a colon with a subtitle? The title of a game should communicate something about the experience, even if it’s not descriptive. Maybe it’s evocative, a sense of the world. You don’t get any of that here.

Mutant Year Zero is already rough, but at least the developers have an excuse: the game is based on a Swedish tabletop RPG called Mutant, and when it relaunched a few years back, it was translated into Mutant Year Zero in English. Fine! I’m sure Road to Eden has connections to the story that’ll make sense when you play it, but in the meantime, you’re left with a name whose length is gonna lose anyone not already onboard.

(I’ve worked at a couple different websites, and we often refer to some titles as “headline poison." If you mention the game’s name in the headline, you’re likely to doom the story from getting clicked on by anyone who’s not explicitly familiar with the game itself. Often, there are interesting stories to be told about a game, even if you haven’t played it. When this happens, the name is purposely left out of the headline.)

I had a similar reaction to Horizon Zero Dawn. The subtitle absolutely made sense later, but how much cooler is Horizon? Zero Dawn draws the sci-fi connection a little sharper, but Horizon effectively communicates the game's broader goals and themes.

(As a separate aside, it drives me bonkers when games try to avoid appropriate punctuation in their titles. Horizon Zero Dawn should be Horizon: Zero Dawn, but that's not how Sony spells it. Why? To make me irrationally upset, presumably.)

Anyway, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden looks rad.

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