Hey Game Developers: Make Your Video Game Trailers like This If You Want Me to Buy Them

Hey everyone, this week I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite video game trailers and discuss why I love them.  Two AP English classes have made me fairly critical, and unfortunately/fortunately I overanalyze stuff now, which in fairness works with this post.

Before I get started, I’m going to briefly touch upon what types of games I like.  The first thing I look for in a game is a great story and characters, and it’s pretty rare for me to play/enjoy a game that doesn’t at least have some effort put into the writing and story.  The second thing I look for, or rather listen for (pun totally intended), is a good soundtrack.  If I’m going to be spending a decent chunk of time playing something, I want there to be a memorable score (or in some cases curated actual music) that is emotionally evocative and fits well with the purpose of a scene.  This explains why many of my favorite games have larger soundtracks, with each scene having at least a unique arranged BGM (background music).   After music, I look for graphics/gameplay.  A key part of a good video game is immersion, and clunky gameplay and graphics can easily get in the way of this.  I don’t care if the graphics are photorealistic, but I do want them to have effort put into them and fit the tone of the game.  Lastly, I look for replay value.  I don’t usually replay games, and I don’t really actively look for this in a game.  However, in the rare case when I do find a game with good replay value, that’s always a plus.  More bang for my buck.

Having discussed that, there is a difference between a good game and a good game trailer.  They’re two completely different art forms.  Video game trailers used to be an afterthought thrown together at the end of a game’s development cycle.  Now whole studios exist just for the sake of creating trailers, and trailers can sometimes make or break a game.  So here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite video game trailers:

  • Banner Saga (Launch Trailer)

A fine example of a cinematic trailer that showcases some of the game’s best moments without spoiling the plot.  Set to an evocative track (That unfortunately never made it into the final game.  At least the final OST is still fantastic) this trailer excellently portrays the dramatic contrast between bleak and beautiful that is the Banner Saga.

  • This War of Mine (Teaser Trailer)

The teaser trailer for This War of Mine does an excellent job of setting up your expectations and then dashing them.  Sure, it’s a “war game” but definitely not in the traditional sense.   While it’s absent in the beginning the end of the trailer does a nice job of showing off the pencil-sketch aesthetic of the games.  Also, the trailer is set to the beginning of Gyöngyhajú Lány, an iconic Eastern European Prog-Rock song, which conveys a sense of “iconic-ness” to aware audiences.

  • Tropico 6 (Announcement Trailer):

While this game may not be out yet, Tropico 6’s announcement trailer gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect without showing any actual gameplay footage.  More of the absurdist, satirical Dictator-Simulator gameplay and story, all the while subtly teasing new features.  It even manages to take a few subtle jabs at the current political clime, cementing it as “relevant” (of course who knows if they’ll be relevant when the game comes out, development cycles are rife with delays these days).

  • The Pillars of the Earth (Launch Trailer)

Several times this launch trailer reminds you of it’s narrative-based and novel-derived gameplay.  And while it could be argued that adventure games like this are basically interactive cutscenes, remarkably this entire trailer consists solely of actual gameplay footage (all of which looks great).

  • Telltale’s Walking Dead: The Final Season (General Trailer)

By not focusing on zombies, and rather on people, Telltale reminds the audience of what their series is all about.  It does an excellent job of making an ordinarily mundane nursery rhyme into something unnerving.  It also hints at the unsettling differences between our world’s childhood and that of the apocalypses’.   And finally, it ends with a “throwback” image, which immediately feels familiar to series fans, and frankly, anyone who’s ever been on the internet, raising hopes that it will be a return to form after the (mostly) terrible third season.

  • Sunless Skies (Early Access Trailer #2)

Fast-paced and filled with rapid-fire images, the Albion Region trailer for Sunless Skies shows off the games ability to balance the absurd and serious.

  • Final Fantasy XV (PS4 Trailer)

This trailer may have too much going on, but that’s exactly what makes it great.  Final Fantasy XV is a big game that mashes together a traditional fantasy world with realism.  The PS4 trailer does a good job of showing off the gameplay, story, major characters, and stunning graphics of the game.

  • Banner Saga 3 (Music Preview)

What, I’m not allowed to do the same series twice?  I can’t help if Stoic is really good at making trailers!  I love how this trailer focuses on the music of the game, all while managing to sneak a few fleeting glimpses of new footage in at the same time.

 

That’s all I have for this post!  Thanks for taking the time to read (and watch), make sure to link to or name your favorite game trailer in the comments!

 

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2 thoughts on “Hey Game Developers: Make Your Video Game Trailers like This If You Want Me to Buy Them”

    1. Exactly, they’re supposed to be (and some of the games are very cinematic). Specifically with the Banner Saga, the art/animation style is supposed to look like classic Disney cartoons, they based the art style off of Evynd Earle who helped animate Sleeping Beauty.

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