E3 2012 to 2013: A Dystopian Year in Gothic Gaming [EDITORIAL]

Gothic/Artist/Video Game Enthusiast KJ Hood is organizing an incredible Fallout based photoshoot series across the East! (Photo by KJ Hood Photography.)

Gothic/Artist/Video Game Enthusiast KJ Hood is organizing an incredible Fallout based photoshoot series across the East! (Photo by KJ Hood Photography.)

As the new DarkestGoth Gaming section gets into gear right before E3, I find myself thinking about the year in gaming. We’ve seen some amazing changes in the world of games with story and games that’ve managed to make you care when you shouldn’t!

Bioshock: Infinite came out of nowhere with game dynamics and story that vaulted the franchise into a whole different level. Because of its cerebral storyline and intriguing mystery (which reminded me of a cross between two Gothically-themed films: Donnie Darko and Butterfly Effect), it earned DGM’s first Brilliant Moon award and has brought all sorts of gamers into the franchise. (It’s even brought non-gamers into the doors of gaming.)

The game that’s most pleasantly surprised me this year, however, is not a game from a struggling franchise, but one from a franchise that earned Game of the Year in 2009: Borderlands (which Ironically, is also distributed by 2K).

Most companies have a tendency to rest on their laurels, at least a little bit, when they have a title that wins Game of the Year in a genre. The old adage comes to mind: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However the developers at Gearbox clearly didn’t do that. You can tell they spent a lot of time play testing the first game, which has to be why they released special powers that don’t unlock until level 5. (No proof for this, but my best guess is that its because they found people weren’t learning basic game tactics if they got the special powers initially and it took until level 5 for people to have gotten the needed pre-reqs down!)

They must’ve been collecting data from gamers since before the initial Borderlands was released and, when it came time to work on the sequel, they clearly went with the mantra: if it’s not perfect, tweak it.

I didn’t realize how vast and subtle the reworking of the game was until today, when I was introducing my cousin to the franchise. I started a new game with him in Borderlands GOTY and tried a different class than my preferred Soldier and Hunter: Brick the Berserker. Later, I started a new character in Borderlands 2 with the same cousin, this time I chose the Borderlands 2 comparable Salvador the Gunzerker (someone very different than my Siren or Commando in the sequel). Just immersing myself in both games at the intro gave me so many insights on the improvement process.

The new game gets you into the play and story so much more quickly, launching you into a boss battle almost immediately! When you get knocked down and have to defend your life, you can now crawl to get better aim! The guns are all retooled in ways that make them more organic: like the revolvers you can fan as fast as you can pull the trigger and shotguns that actually do massive damage if enemies are close by. Guns were made more stylistic and varied, cumbersome health packs were removed in favor of more health drops, and high falls no longer damage your shields. All of these little things have made the series subtly, but noticeably better.

This year, rumors are hot and heavy that Bethesda will finally be announcing the release of Fallout 4 sometime in 2014. Unlike Elder Scrolls, which was created by Bethesda, the brutally ironic Fallout franchise was acquired by Bethesda before Fallout 3, with the gameplay completely re-invented on the Elder Scrolls Oblivion framework FO3. The new take on the game opened the door to many more players, providing a beautiful combination of adventure exploration with FPS action and RPG customization. The new reboot on Fallout has been especially well received in our community and many of our readers are eagerly awaiting the potential FO4 news (which will likely be built on the gorgeous Skyrim engine).

In the mean time, Gothic photographer and artist Kat Hood (of KJ Hood Photography) has successfully helmed the collaboration of a group of gothic models, photographers, effects makeup people, and props masters for the largest Fallout themed series of fan cosplay photoshoots in the game’s history.

While dates are still being set up for later this year, the shoots will occur in a number of places in the Eastern United States. Folks who are interested in getting involved can contact Kat through her Facebook page.

No matter how you cut it, this year is shaping up to be another exciting year for gothic game enthusiasts and DGM will be hear to help connect you to the news you care about most!

(Cover picture created by KJ Hood Photography and used with provided permission for this article in all forms of distribution under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 permission. All other rights reserved.)

Author: JT Hanke

J.T. Hanke is the founder and current editor-in-chief of DarkestGoth Magazine. Founded in 2012, DGM took a break from publishing at the height of the pandemic so that all the staff could work through their own issues, but was able to return in January of 2023.

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