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Battlefield 3 Trailer – Better Than Dead Island’s Trailer

Battlefield 3 Trailer – Better Than Dead Island’s Trailer

EA released a trailer for Battlefield 3 yesterday, which got that there internets squealing with excitement because it looks pretty. Not that game trailers are incapable of looking pretty, obviously, but the kicker with this one is everything you’re seeing is in-game:

Looks good, right?

I’m excited because, as a gamer, I know that what I’m seeing is in some way representative of what I’ll be playing come launch day. The lighting effects, the scale of the action, the squad animation, the hints at the destructive evolution of the Frostbite engine, everything in the trailer tickles my geek crotch in the right places. The only way it wouldn’t representative is if 1) EA release further trailers that slowly and gradually dial down the graphics and expectations or 2) they’re lying. And given the uproar over the infamous Killzone 2 trailer from way back at E3 2005, I don’t think many publishers would willingly settle for option 2).

(As a side-note, watching that E3 trailer some six years later is… interesting. At the time, it was written off as voodoo magic that couldn’t be possible and Sony must be lying and evil and corrupt and FAIL and whatever else angry fists were clattering onto internet forums at the time. Now, that very same trailer almost seems primitive compared to what Killzone 2 actually was and especially compared to what Killzone 3 actually is. Funny how these things work out.)

So, onto the Dead Island thing. I’m running with a sensationalist headline, blah blah blah, I know. But the Battlefield 3 trailer is better than Dead Island’s simply by virtue of it showing in-game footage and representing what I’ll be playing come release day, or at least pretending to do that. After all, EA could still go for option 2), right?

Dead Island’s trailer is awesome as standalone footage, even when considered as a short film, but its value to me as a gamer? Practically nil. There’s no in-game footage. There’s no clue on what to expect beyond ‘it contains zombies’ and ‘it contains axes’. Some people have used the argument of ‘if the trailer was for a film, you’d be excited!’ But it’s not for a film. It’s for a game. I want to see something about the game I’m going to play. That is what makes a trailer worth watching and also the reason I loathe CGI trailers. I don’t play games for the cutscenes. I play games for the game.

Now I know that in talking Dead Island yet again, I’m proving that their trailer worked, because… I am talking Dead Island yet again. Marketing Department 1, Ryan 0. I’m not going to deliberately go out of my way not to mention it just to prove a point, as tempting as that is and as childish as I can be. Yet the reaction after the Dead Island trailer hit was that it was different, it was emotional, it was exciting. It had the gaming media worked up to a fever pitch that I haven’t seen in a fair old while, to the point where people who didn’t like it were called out as ‘miserable industry c***s’ (and why does our industry need to grow up when we can enjoy such intelligent, sparkling debate!).

The trailer hit a nerve because it suggested Dead Island would rise above generic zombie-game fodder. Then you go to official Dead Island website, which boils the game down to:

– First person melee combat
– 4-player co-op
– Weapon customisation
– RPG elements for character development

None of those things are different, emotional or exciting. None of those things sound special. Dead Island The Game suddenly becomes a very different thing from Dead Island The Trailer. So what’s the point of the trailer?

That’s what I’m getting it. It’s why I’m excited about Battlefield 3 and why I’m not about Dead Island, because I’m still waiting for clues that the game itself will be good. That’s when it’ll get my excitement, which is something Battlefield 3 has earned by having the balls to show off its gameplay rather than relying on a gimmicky if effective concept trailer. Dead Island could be amazing. Dead Island could be special. But shouldn’t we basing our excitement on trailers confident enough to know their game is good rather than those hiding behind a clever smoke and mirrors act?

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