In this edition of Dreaming Up, the new series I just created when I typed it into the title, we’re going to look at 007 video games and how a great Bond game would look today. GoldenEye 007 is largely considered not only the best first person shooter of the
Nintendo 64 era, but also one of the best games of all time. I don’t agree with this, but it is a lot of fun. Rather, I’d say that I had more fun with Quantum of Solace which gave me an incredible FPS experience through campaign and extensive multiplayer competitions. Either way, fans of any James Bond game will tell you: the franchise has long been extinct.
When and where this downfall began, though, is hard to tell. Some would say that the publishers are largely to blame since EA and Activision are the two most recent publishing companies but their game plan seems to be (almost) strictly “games as a service” instead of as a good. Because of this, fans seem doubtful that either company will put forth another game and the only other company that has made noise about wanting to take part in a James Bond game was Telltale in 2014 but they’ve recently shut down, and Curve Digital in 2016 but they don’t seem to have made any moves since.
I created a bar graph detailing the critical reception of each main-entry console 007 game in the last 20 years, which makes one aspect very clear: this series was dead long before the final nail (Legends) entered the coffin…
It sure is no secret that James Bond has faded from audience, developer, and production studio interest over the last few years mostly because better options have become available; whether you like Mission: Impossible movies, Hitman games, or anything else remotely like those, you can find superior spy choices in any given medium. 007 needs a return, and it sure as hell won’t happen in movies anytime soon. So, let’s Dream Up what a great 007 game would be like if it were released today.
Since this has to be a game to not only regain trust of longtime fans but also usher in a new era of gamers into James Bond lore, this game has to be designed as if it were going to be the only one in it’s series. It has to have everything, and I mean everything. This is going to be a game that showcases Bond’s entire career without doing what Legends did, and without attempting to bookend anything. This needs to be the Arkham Knight of Bond games, that ties everything together nicely but also leaves room for follow-up titles in the universe. Actually, Arkham Knight is a great example of what to do…
From the hub, the player can access missions, follow leads, acquire gadgets, rank up, check up on statistics, and see progress thus far. Above is a screenshot from Batman: Arkham Knight that showcases the questlines the player needs to finish. Each side quest has multiple mission segments that revolve around the player’s progress within the main campaign. If the player hasn’t progressed enough in the story, then some side missions will be labeled as something like “No New Leads Found,” just to keep the player focused and moving forward. Of all games and side-quests I’ve done, I think they’re organized best in Arkham Knight and would work perfectly in a 007 game.
The hub is really the most important part of my 007 Dream Up with characters such a M to give you missions, Q to give you gadgets/weapons/upgrades, and fast-travel being most proficient from MI6 HQ. Even though I mention “fast travel,” I most certainly would not want this game to be an open-world because a game to kick off this franchise needs to be tightly knit and perfected. I doubt it would have the budget it deserves so a more linear story with explorative capabilities (or at least the façade of exploration) a la Bioshock Infinite if it’s how I currently imagine it. Alternatively, LA Noire in which the player has the freedom to walk or drive around the city but for the most part, exploration is just to make the transition from Mission A to Mission B less of a cutscene-heavy slog.
Imagine this: an opening sequence that’s similar to Skyfall‘s that acts as a tutorial stage but doesn’t attempt to tell too much or assume the player knows everything. We chase after one of the lesser-known villains like, say, Emilio Largo from Thunderball. When he slips through our fingers and shoots us, the game begins. Honestly, Skyfall is written like an amazing video game because once injured, Bond would be taken to the MI6 HQ to train and get back into shape. From here, the aforementioned M, Q, and other characters would be able to get the game going in the right direction. That’s what happens in the movie, and to take that idea for a game would be looked at as an homage instead of a ripoff.
As far as style goes, I’d say that it would play mechanically like Splinter Cell/Hitman with the world of Batman: Arkham Asylum but in-game structure of Arkham Knight with the side-quests that will balance the many enemies the game will have for you to kill (note: also Wolfenstein II‘s or Metro hubs). One element that I appreciated from Far Cry New Dawn was the ability to travel to other areas in little extra missions that would work well in this game. However, these mission locations wouldn’t be one-off but rather more like 2018’s God of War in which these locations will be utilized for missions, but also able to be returned to at any time for any reason, like collectibles or extended exploration.
Upgrades will be something that has great attention to detail, such as: basic upgrades should not be needed. I hate when games (especially sequels) that follow experienced characters still ask you to upgrade basic abilities as if the character is completely inexperienced. So, these upgrades will all be 00 upgrades and not things like “reload time” or whatever; Bond is already the best. Now, he just gets to have more fun and kick more ass. Maybe he goes from being like Agent 47 in Hitman to Desmond Miles (Animus projections) in Assassin’s Creed so that he can just do what he does with more creativity and swiftness. One example from a game that I consider to have the best skill-tree is Horizon Zero Dawn, allowing the player to get better at certain things but not really allow base-level abilities to be unlocked.
So, to summarize what we have so far:
- A Third-Person 007 Shooter
- that Utilizes Stealth Mechanics a la Hitman or Splinter Cell
- in a Semi-Open World that Allows for Exploration between Guided Linearity a la later Uncharted games but with Returnable Areas a la God of War
- with a Rich History of Villains to pit against the player a la Batman: Arkham Knight via main missions and side quests
- a hub like the Batcave in Arkham Asylum in which players can upgrade weapons, check statistics, acquire new missions, and explore a la Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus‘ ship
- with characters such as M, Q, and Moneypenny to give the player meaningful tasks that tie back to the aforementioned history of Bond adventures, cars, guns, and characters
- and an upgrade system similar to Horizon Zero Dawn or Marvel’s Spider-Man that allows the player to get better at what 007 does without asking one to unlock basic skills…like the ability to do a silent takedown.
So, that’s how my dream 007 would look if it were released today. Bond is at it’s best when it just tries to be a fun Bond game; if it tries to rely too heavily on the movies (007 Legends) or is made without being taken seriously (GoldenEye 007 Reloaded) then the fanbase will stop caring entirely. But, if serious effort, attention, passion, and pride is placed into this game, then it will become a franchise with unlimited potential.
We’ve played Bond games, give us something for the modern gamer.
If you like this idea, then help me get into contact with somebody who could help us make one hell of a stealth-action-adventure game starring the world’s most famous spy.
As always, thanks for reading; check out my other posts if you’d like to see more! I’ll see you soon