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Playing With History: Looking Forward To The Past

Norse mythology, palaeontology and death by dysentery.

As we all know, one of the best bits about videogames, other than playing them of course, is spending months and months looking forward to upcoming releases. We read rumors, we make wild speculations and almost have as much fun talking about what the game will be like as we’ll actually have when we finally play it.

Over January the TSA team shared their thoughts on the titles for various systems and genres that we should all be looking forward to, but I want to look at this from a different angle.. However, this being a Playing With History feature, I’m going to take a look at four upcoming games that will help you learn, discover and understand something about history, all whilst having a good time in front of your console.


God of War

I mentioned GOW, which as an acronym sounds rather like a yeast infection, in the last Playing With History. And for good reason too, as the adventures of Kratos and friends have always proven an excellent resource for discovering the gods, monsters, and heroes that make up ancient Greek mythology. After the disappointing and disjointed God of War: Ascension (though I admit its online multiplayer was both original and surprisingly compelling) it looks like the series is back on track in this visit to the land of the Norse.

Considering that Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice did such a brilliant job of incorporating various Norse myths, it’ll be interesting to see what Santa Monica Studio will bring to the table. I’ll be looking at the game in closer detail next time but I will say that if Kratos doesn’t pluck out Odin’s remaining eye at some point in the story, then I’ll be very disappointed.


Skull and Bones

After the, frankly forgettable, Assassins Creed 3, Ubisoft had a lot to prove if they were to get some momentum back in the Creed’s favour. Fortunately, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was approximately 84.5% more fun than the third game in the series, and much of this was down to the fact that Edward Kenway actually had some charisma unlike the ‘dull as watching paint that has already dried’ protagonist in AC3, otherwise known as Connor. The naval combat was also a revelation and the studio who pioneered this sea-based action are back with Skull and Bones, a game that takes the naval component and builds an entire video game experience around it.

Whilst the game is, of course, set during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 18th Century, it does not take place in the Caribbean. Instead it’s on the Indian Ocean that you’ll be plundering, pillaging and doing other stuff which begins with P. That might mean no Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach or Black Bart and instead you’ll be getting some John Bowen instead.

Bowen is the most successful pirate that most people have never heard of because, unlike most of his contemporaries who all died at sea or through execution, he was actually was able to retire with his loot. His pirate earnings were a rather impressive £13.5 million in today’s money. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to enjoy his ill gotten gains for long, as he died six months later of an unspecified intestinal disease. It makes for a depressing end to this entry. So instead let’s pretend that he went to live on a magic pirate farm with all his friends and your childhood pet dog.


Red Dead Redemption 2

From one set of outlaw scoundrels to another. After the perfunctory Red Dead Revolver appeared to offer little more than a tech demo for cowboy themed gun-combat, Rockstar Studios lit the TNT and blew everyone away with Red Dead Redemption. It’s initial sell point of GTA fused with the Wild West didn’t do RDR’s unique atmosphere any justice whatsoever. At the time there were few experiences in gaming like that of mounting your trusty stead and heading out across a huge expanse of land, with nothing but the horizon in front of you.

Based on the trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2, it certainly seems that everyone has good reason to get rather excited for the sequel’s eventual arrival later this year. But will we see the title propagate the same myths of the Wild West? You know, the exact same ones that Hollywood have made us believe since motion pictures first got a bit excited about men in spurs and chaps way back in the early 20th century?

First off, the clashes between Native Americans and early settlers rarely happened as the films would have us believe. Of all the hundreds of thousands of pioneers that sought a new life out west, only a few hundred died in clashes with Native Americans. Even when they did, that whole ‘circle the wagons’ tactic was never used to keep Indians out, rather to make sure that their cattle stayed in and didn’t go wondering off in the early hours of the morning.

Then there’s the favourite activity of the average gun slinger: robbing banks. That almost never happened in reality. Research has only found evidence of only 8 such robberies committed over 40 years in 8 states. Compare that to the 193 robberies committed in Chicago alone in 2016, and it’s clear to see that bank robberies must have barely been a concern for the average denizen of a dusty and dishevelled border town. It wasn’t the Native Americans or the bank robbers that would get you, it was all of the diseases.

Whether or not RDR 2 will choose to continue these myths, it will certainly be appearing on most gamers wish lists this year.


Fossil Hunters

After three AAA titles, its nice to wrap things up with something a little more indie, and Reptoid Games have just the thing. Fossil Hunters is a top down action-adventure-puzzle game. It sees the player take on the role of an explorer, who is on the look out for the greatest fossilised discoveries that the world has ever seen. And who wouldn’t, with the help of three friends in local co-op, want to go find some dinosaurs?

If you’re on PC, then the great news is that you don’t have to wait a moment more, because the game came out a few days ago on 13th February. Console players will have to wait just a little bit longer, though.

Its modular fossil building system certainly looks intriguing, allowing the player to combine the skeletal tiles of the newly discovered dinosaur in any combination they wish. Hopefully, there will be the option to feather your dino. There’s now been thirty species of non-avian dinosaurs discovered that had a hide covered in feathers and the working theory is that the feathers provided insulation and later aided in flight. Some palaeontologists are even speculating that all dinosaurs were actually feathered which, if your anything like me and find chickens oddly terrifying, would make visiting a real-life Jurassic Park even scarier than the films would have us believe.

Perhaps the largest dinosaur ever discovered will make an appearance? Living some one hundred million year ago, the Patagotitan mayorum was the equivalent of fourteen elephants glued together, if in size as opposed to looks. This would probably take at least ten thousands tubes of superglue to achieve – important information if you want to try the dangerous and illegal hobby of elephant gluing at home. The Patagotitan was also an astronomical one hundred and twenty feet long. It would certainly take all four players a very long time to piece together the skeleton of this giant!


So, these are my picks. Do you agree? Disagree? What have I missed? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. Just be gentle, I have a delicate ego.

4 Comments
  1. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    An interesting historical setting is probs what draws me towards a game most I think. GoW, S&B and RDR2 are all definite purchases from me.

    Comment posted on 15/02/2018 at 15:38.
    • Adrian Burrows
      Member
      Since: Jul 2017

      Me too. Though all those acronyms makes things very confusing. For a moment I thought you were talking about R2D2.

      Comment posted on 16/02/2018 at 17:39.
  2. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    God of War for me, so i’m still looking forward to the Norse mythology feature. ;)

    Comment posted on 15/02/2018 at 20:14.
    • Adrian Burrows
      Member
      Since: Jul 2017

      Awesome! It should be in front of your eyeballs towards the end of the month. Probably.

      Comment posted on 16/02/2018 at 17:27.