Header illustration by Sunless Design.
Welcome to the Waypoint High School Class of 2016 Yearbook. We're giving out senior superlatives to our favorite games, digging into the year's biggest stories via extracurriculars , and following our favorite characters through their adventures together in fanfic. See you in 2017!
You're all here for a reason.
It's not our intention at Waypoint High to punch down or drag games that never really had a chance. Game development is hard, we know! The best laid plans go horribly awry sometimes, and we like to believe that most people making games are doing so because they want to make something good—a successful product, a fun social experience, a piece of art or expression or nostalgia that will speak to people.
But, like I said, you're all here on a Saturday for a reason. Detention.
I see you in the front row, Mighty Number Nine, Star Fox Zero, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force. You all have impressive pedigrees—your elder siblings were stars of the school in years past, but you didn't exactly bring your A game this year, did you? Here, we can work something out. Let's do a little extra homework today, take a look at what made your franchises (or spiritual predecessors) so special, and work on that. Reinvention is possible, and we'll look for improvements from all of you next semester.
Above: the stunning combat camera of Final Fantasy XV
Cameras from Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian, why the hell did you come to class intoxicated? You know it's against school rules, it's bad for your health, and it really bothers players when they can't see what is going on with their on-screen characters. I know you are both a little older than the rest of the students, but that's no excuse. I'm sorry, camera, but, go home, you're drunk.
Homefront: The Revolution and Battleborn, look, I know you guys both have some trouble in class. You're struggling to find your audience. Maybe things aren't going so hot at home. We're going to hook you up with personal guidance counselors and see if we can get to the root of the problem here.
Ill-advised marketing campaigns for Battlefield 1 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, you guys need to take a serious look at your behavior. Battlefield 1 Twitter account, you managed to make a really tasteless joke about killing people in one of the most horrific wars in human history. Thankfully, you took the jokes down and issued an apology. You're still in trouble, but at least you seem to know what you did.
Mankind Divided marketing campaign, you dared to take the Black Lives Matter movement's language and adapt it to your game? And then you doubled-down and make yourself look like a bigger jackass when people called you out on it.
Both games that you were representing attempted (however successfully is another debate) to engage thoughtfully in issues, like the hellish, impersonal nature of WW1 and the rights of people who are different from others. You two are going to be in here every Saturday until you graduate, so get comfy.
Related, from Waypoint: You know who's NEVER in detention? The Ashen One from our most reliable game of 2016.
No Man's Sky, we're all very excited for your science project. Procedurally generating an entire galaxy is a cool experiment! And I see that you tried to get good marks in biology and geography too. But you are completely failing all of your other classes. You haven't shown up for your language class since October, and we're not even going to talk about how poorly you did in Home Ec. Stacking iridium? What the hell does that even mean? That's not a thing!
Kid, we think you have a bright future ahead of you, but you really, really need to learn to manage your time better, ok?
Palmer Luckey. Oh boy. Palmer, you are certainly entitled to your political opinions. But funding a tasteless, sexist, misogynist, thoroughly shitty online smear campaign is not how a grown-ass man should voice his concerns. Or how any reasonable person should conduct themselves, ever. What's worse is that it seemed like you thought it was all one big, hilarious goof. You're going to be in here until you grow the hell up and learn to take responsibility for your actions.
The Witness—no, stop with that smirk. We have a special detention just for you, smartass. And take your dumb statue with you.
(Disclosure: a close personal friend did work on Mighty Number 9)