There was quite a bit of fuss earlier this week when the Xbox Portfolio Team's internal review of PlayStation exclusive The Last Of Us 2 was brought into the spotlight as part of the ongoing Apple Vs. Epic Games court trial.
In the review, the team highlighted a couple of negatives about the gameplay specifically, but otherwise lavished it with praise, saying they "loved it, had a great time playing it, and find ourselves still thinking about it." They also called the title "first and foremost a narrative-adventure game", rather than something like Naughty Dog's other IP Uncharted which was described as an adventure game where the narrative is there to "service the action-adventure gameplay."
The story generated quite a bit of discussion here at Pure Xbox this past Monday, and we thought we'd conduct a little talking point on it as a result - the idea helpfully suggested to us by community member themightyant!
Arguably, most (but not all) Xbox first-party teams don't tend to lean towards the narrative-adventure style - at least not in the way the portfolio team described in their review - and these few paragraphs are an interesting read:
"In order to achieve the detail and believability of the character interaction and dialogue in the game Naughty Dog has made a clear choice to sacrifice much of the player's agency in the story in favor of fixed outcomes in order to achieve the highest production values. That the player doesn't have the ability to greatly influence or determine the outcome of the narrative might prove anathema to many players and how they view their role in the video game experience."
"We would argue that not every video game must be about the player roleplaying their character's story. The medium of interactive entertainment also needs games that drive stories where you are participating more in the capacity of an active "observer," just like other mediums of entertainment, otherwise we're going to be locked into a limited number of stories to tell."
"The Last of Us Part 2 is the exceedingly rare video game where what it accomplishes in moving forward the art of narrative storytelling in video games as a medium ultimately outweights whether or not everyone 'likes' it or even if everyone has 'fun' playing it."
So, what are your thoughts on the matter? Would you like to see more "narrative-adventure" games like The Last of Us 2 on Xbox, or are you not so fussed about the "observer" based single-player structure? Or perhaps you think Xbox already has enough examples of strong narrative-adventure games in its portfolio? Give us your thoughts below.