Final week noticed the seventh anniversary of the launch of the Future franchise, and Bungie’s sci-fi MMO has arguably by no means been weirder.
Again in 2014, I’d began to develop uninterested in video video games. I wasn’t working within the business then, however it felt like outdoors of watershed moments like The Final of Us, I used to be destined to drop out of gaming. Nonetheless, as an enormous Halo fan I jumped into the Future beta and got here away enraptured – its world, its model, its loot had been all so intoxicating.
As soon as it launched, I discovered myself logging in with buddies and buddies of buddies, coming into the Vault of Glass, slaying different gamers within the Crucible, and nonetheless having completely no clue concerning the overarching storyline outdoors of its infatuation with correct nouns like “The Darkness”. I neglected the shortage of a map, the necessity to return to the Tower between each exercise, and the actual fact the marketing campaign was half-finished as a result of there was nothing prefer it.
Quick ahead seven years, then, and I’m nonetheless logging on as many evenings as I can to play Future (albeit now Future 2). I’m nonetheless checking in with Xur on Fridays, and I’m getting somewhat connected to Trials of Osiris, too. There’s nonetheless nothing prefer it.
What’s it that makes me, and so many hundreds of thousands extra, need to hold returning to this world?
Future nonetheless strikes a chord
“Video games as a service” has change into a bit of bit like a grimy phrase for players, however thus far, there are few that do it in addition to Future. After I boot up Future 2 in 2021, I’m nonetheless enjoying lots of the similar Strikes and PvP maps as I did when it launched in 2017.
Lots of that has to do with Future’s phenomenal core gameplay. The act of firing a weapon, or utilizing a capability, and even simply leaping, feels proper. It’s cliche to say a sport makes you really feel like a superhuman, maybe, however Future has constantly nailed the sensation of being highly effective, of being feared by your enemies. Fight lands someplace between Halo’s “floatiness” and the ADS-heavy nature of Name of Obligation, with the skills of an MMO thrown in for good measure, and every half compliments the final.
An enormous a part of that’s right down to the sport’s weapons, which for a lot of are the rationale they play. Weapon varieties and archetypes really feel distinct in delicate methods, from recoil to controller vibration, to their reload animations, and there are a whole lot, too. Because the franchise started we’ve been subsequently launched to SMGs, grenade launchers, swords, and even bows, and never certainly one of them feels any much less enjoyable to make use of than the final. That’s no imply feat.
The darkish occasions
That’s to not say there haven’t been loads of awkward moments throughout Future’s teenage years, notably the beginning of Future 2. Whereas Bungie made an enormous deal about how a second sport would want to earn the large “2”, it’d be truthful to say its sequel was off to an inauspicious begin.
Future 2 launched with loads of content material from Future 1 eliminated, a missing endgame, and micro-controversies together with slower XP acquire and consumable shaders (the latter of which continued till earlier this yr). Worse but, the sport’s first DLC enlargement, Curse of Osiris, was dismal – uninteresting and over too rapidly.
Future 2’s strategy to extra content material has actually been a sticking level for a lot of. Whereas the bottom sport is now free-to-play (and shorn of a lot of its launch content material), Bungie has launched not solely annual expansions however three-month season passes, too. It’s a tricky spot to be in, with the developer searching for methods to fund extra content material, whereas additionally making an attempt to appease gamers which have logged hundreds of hours and are searching for causes to take a position hundreds extra.
Beating again The Darkness
The excellent news is that proper now, these seasons embody a few of Future 2’s greatest moments. Slightly than Bungie pushing gamers by means of siloed-off content material just like the Black Armory Forges or Gambit Prime as seasons did earlier than, seasons at the moment are stuffed with story revelations, intense character moments, and a brand new collection of challenges and rewards each three months.
It’s a hell of a mannequin, and whereas Bungie has undoubtedly made some missteps alongside the way in which, Future 2 proper now (with the enlargement content material) feels just like the promise of video games as a service fulfilled.
After seven years, Future represents so many issues to so many individuals. For some, it’s the reminiscences of 4AM raids the place gamers crossed their fingers and toes for a Gjallarhorn. For others, it’s reaching the Lighthouse after seven wins in a row. For a lot of, it’s simply the proper technique to unwind with buddies, no matter exercise they’re enjoying.
Maybe that’s the magic of Future and Future 2, then – it’s a hodgepodge of continually shifting content material all tuned to be performed by means of with buddies. For me, it’s the sport that reignited a love of gaming and kickstarted a profession in video games media.
Completely happy birthday, Future. You probably did good, child.