eGamer Awards 2013: Best New IP
The gaming industry is producing more and more sequels with new IPs becoming a rarity. We have publishers such as Ubisoft opting not to greenlight a game unless it can be turned into a franchise with plenty of sequels. We look to new IPs to give us something fresh, something we haven’t seen before. Arguably, these are the games that can do something innovative with great ideas. 2013 was not the greatest year for new IPs but we certainly had a few really great titles.
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In a world where sequels are the norm, new IPs get us really excited. It’s a great thing when developers decide to pursue new ideas, concepts, gameplay mechanics and attempt to create something entirely new. It’s never an easy thing, as starting something new can be a daunting challenge. Everyone loves seeing something completely new or something that has never been done before. There is often so much riding on a new game. With a sequel, generally, and this is a very basic outlook, you use the tools and gameplay structure from the first or previous game(s) and upgrade – not to mention you always have a pretty good idea of what to expect from a sequel without hearing anything about it. When it comes to new games, you’re starting from scratch and building it all up. Sure you’ll borrow some gameplay ideas or popular mechanics and often base your game on another, but somewhere down the line you’ll have to come up with your own ideas and this is where the excitement lies. In a nutshell though, this award is given to a new IP that excelled, managed to make the most of its concept and delivered an exciting and better gaming experience overall than the rest of the competition.
The Last of Us
Zombies have been done to death but The Last of Us offered us something unique and fresh in a character-driven and supremely compelling narrative with great gameplay. Arguably it was comparable to what we’ve seen in The Walking Dead but the experience was something we had never quite seen in gaming. With entertaining multiplayer, a demand for resource management and characters that were just so damn engaging this was a game that felt like no other. It was a game that people loved so much they were clamouring for a sequel immediately after, even though it really doesn’t beget one. That is the mark of a great new IP.
The fact that this game got made and was not utterly terrible is a miracle in and of itself but Deadpool showed us that some developers are still willing to take risks on projects that are very difficult to realise. High Moon Studios managed to perfectly capture the brilliance of Deadpool’s character with a game that oozed his quirky personality and broke the fourth wall regularly. It was far from faultless but got the characterisation and humour spot-on right away.
State of Decay
Zombie Survival games are not uncommon but good ones are and State of Decay certainly made a huge impact with its fresh approach to the subgenre. A massive open-world at your feet, satisfying combat and no shortage of things to do made the game great. What really set it apart was the survival aspect – gathering resources and truly having to survive adds a very realistic element to the game. Every death in the game is permanent and this truly adds something which is new to the genre. Also, whacking zombies with car doors.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Some would argue it was simply Mortal Kombat with a DC Comics reskin. However, Injustice is pretty darn fun and really allowed us to feel what it’s like to get into a fist fight with the biggest heroes and villains DC Comics has to offer. Each character felt completely different and required players to fight with a different approach with genuinely rewarding combat. Multi-tiered fight environments added a refreshing new layer to fights. It may have borrowed heavily from Mortal Kombat but Injustice did a lot to establish itself as a unique fighting experience.
Path of Exile
Isometric RPGs are back in a big way but Path of Exile came as a great surprise for its innovations and the sheer fun it offers. The dark art style is great and manages to look interesting in an industry where grey-brown is the standard. With a unique economy and an old school approach, Path of Exile offers up an intriguing action RPG experience. Despite some typical combat the game sets itself apart with a unique ability system and passive skill system which allows players to craft their character as they see fit. It truly is a gem of a gem.
It wasn’t Path of Exile because while it was a great little action RPG, it was not without fault. The combat was droll and led to encounters lacking variety. Despite a great visual style, some environments and characters looked rather shoddy and worst of all the game suffered from desync issues.
The winner wasn’t Deadpool either, because if we factor out the characterisation and the way the game felt like an issue straight out of the Deadpool comics then what we end up with is a game that feels anything but new. The gameplay was dull on the whole whilst the environments were drab and colourless.
Injustice: Gods Among Us didn’t win either, although it gave us a great deal of fun. It may have been pretty unique and really given us the feeling of titans clashing but suffered from awful character designs and bad cutscene animations. Worse still, its plot was a contrived joke .
State of Decay was not the closest competitor for Best New IP but it didn’t make it for a number of reasons. The game is a technical mess with many glitches and bugs and voice actors are clearly recycled for multiple characters. Back to technical issues, there were plenty of texture pop-ins and frame-rate issues. The game also leaves you in the dark a lot of the time with no clear indication of what to do. Ultimately, State of Decay wasn’t the most interesting new game we got this year to be centred around zombies.
The Last of Us is not flawless but it is certainly near perfect. It is easily one of the biggest gaming highlights of 2013 and will likely be remembered by many for years to come. It gave us a fresh experience that was not only unique but highly engrossing. Here was a new IP that came out getting it right and polished to a gorgeous shine. It boasted great gameplay with a big emphasis on crafting and resource management but also greatly detailed environments with beautiful cutscenes. It shone with a uniquely macabre yet compelling narrative and wonderful characters who you became highly invested in. Will we ever forget the lovely Ellie? By the time you got to the game’s ending, you wanted Joel to make the “bad” decision. That takes some brilliant writing. Ultimately, what really served as a barometer for The Last of Us’ status as the best new IP of this years is simply how many people were clamouring for a sequel.