RPGamer - Editorial Versus Mode — Drakengard 3 Hype: Yes vs. No

Drakengard 3 is coming to North America in 2014, and there is a decent amount of hype behind the game in the RPGamer community. We have Michael A. Cunningham and Trent Seely each tackling a different side of this hype train.

When Drakengard 3 was revealed, I found myself divided. On one hand, I never got into the Drakengard series, so that world held no interest to me. On the other hand, I am a huge fan of Nier, of which Drakengard 3 shares much of its DNA. In the end, I cannot help but be excited about this new game for many reasons, particularly its premise and soundtrack.

Let's be honest, Drakengard and Nier weren't games you played because of how good they looked. I recall when Nier was revealed; I thought the first screenshots were a joke. The game looked awful in still images, and honestly wasn't much better looking in action. The thing is, despite lacking in visual quality the game was still great. Nier was fantastic because of its blending of gameplay, music, and story topped by a fantastic localization. Drakengard 3 shares much of that, as Taro Yoko is once again directing and writing, and Keiichi Okabe is heading up the soundtrack. The game is has the potential to be something very intriguing, but it still has its detractors.

Slapping the Drakengard name on this might stir up images of the PlayStation 2 games, but those are far removed from this. Sure the first two, and even Nier, have vague connections to this game, but that's about all that can be said at this point. Drakengard 3's lineage is built on trying unique things with gameplay then tying it all together with an original story. That's all my expectations are for this game. If you don't have fond memories of the first two, put those thoughts out of your head, as they were developed almost ten years ago. Look to Nier instead, as Taro Yoko and others returning for Drakengard 3 have come a long way since they started, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store this time.

While I recognized the high quality of Nier, we have to remember that Drakengard 3 is still a sequel in a franchise. Just as many fans of Nier have not played the first two entries in the franchise, and there will be those who would have played the first two games and not Nier. Takamasa Shiba may consider Nier to be the real Drakengard 3 and this new game Drakengard 4, but his opinion doesn't shape those of the consumer. Franchises come with a set of expectations, and those expectations are informed by audience experience. So what is the general reception to this franchise?

Well, considering that the previous entry was released roughly eight years ago and boasted too many plot holes to make sense, I'd argue that many gamers do not have that much faith in a cohesive bridging story. I'd also argue that combat isn't going to be what fans of Nier likely expect. The original two games featured ground combat similar in scope to the Dynasty Warriors series and aerial combat that tried to mirror the Panzer Dragoon series. While that may seem impressive to some, both titles lacked the polish of the series I've compared them to. Gameplay in both Drakengard and Drakengard 2 was monotonous and made infuriating by poor camera implementation and slippery controls. Furthermore, unlike Nier, the aesthetics implemented so far by the franchise were bland and lacked character. To that end, I maintain that Drakengard 3 isn't going to be Nier 2. I'm sorry to squash the hopes of those who are expecting exactly that. All I'm expecting this game to be is an extension of a franchise that already holds a poor reputation.

I'm sure the "better cynical than sorry" mentality is often good, but it's really sad that it's so common these days. Certainly, the first two Drakengard games didn't resonate with some and have soured them on the potential of anything sharing the name. I'm lucky enough to not have a negative view on the series, and with such a positive view of Nier I see this as simply an extension of that game, not something that needs to tie back to the first two. Being down on Drakengard 3 based on the older games is the equivalent of being turned off by Resident Evil 3 and skipping Resident Evil 4 as a result. Judging a book by its cover is bad enough, but this is an issue of ignoring the latest game from this team based on something from ten years, and an entire system generation, ago.

Drakengard 3's director has stated that this is neither old Drakengard nor Nier, but is instead something totally new. I'm not expecting Nier 2 and nor should anyone else. What I am expecting is the same aspects that made Nier special, such as a unique story, an outstanding localization (especially if 8-4 is handling it), a diverse mix of gameplay features, and a fantastic soundtrack. I don't see why any of this is too much to be excited for. The game might still end up being less than stellar, I'm willing to concede that fact, but considering this a straightforward sequel seems shortsighted. Times have changed, teams have changed, and developers have learned many new things. I'll stay interested in Drakengard 3, after all Nier was a fantastic game that was more fun than it was good. I think with an open mind, this could be the same.

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