Something I've noticed over the past few years since monetization in games took off and the age of "flashy hero shooters" entered, is that multiplayer games these days rarely ever stick to their chosen aesthetic or artstyle. Ironically the games that this design approach benefits are games like Fornite, Overwatch, Paladins, Apex Legends (to a point), or Splatoon 2 because the cartoony and flashy colours work to its advantage. Borderlands would be a good in-between because of it's very graphic-novel inspired artstyle and outlandish story. I'd argue Destiny is also a good in-between balance of two as well because a lot of the colours are subdued and mix well with the flashy powers. League of Legends get super creative with their skins, but it can often clash when they bring in modern twists. But I've noticed in games like Call of Duty, Halo, Rainbow Six Siege, Gears of War, and Battlefield all kind of diverged from their given aesthetic with bright, flashy, even goofy, gun skins or decals that would look completely out of place in the world they're presenting. Even Quake Champions a game with a history rooted in its gritty, brutal art style seemed to lean more towards having a brighter colour palette.
Just recently 343 introduced a bunch of different customization options in the Master Chief Collection which meant that there were tons of stuff that clashed, and eventually they added the option to toggle this off for those who wanted to see the original Halo artstyle without all the mismatched pieces from Halo Online. Nothing against flashy colours but its as if every single game needs to tick that box off to include it even if it clashes with all the drab colours, but it could also be said for cartoony games like Team Fortress 2 in which the artstyle became overwhelmed with those options. Why are there so many wacky gun skins that are either pizzas, solid gold or promo material for e-sports teams? Why aren't we getting stuff grounded in the game world's aesthetics? I know there was a time in which all shooters were drab colours and all kind of blended together, but it feels like a majority of (mainstream) competitive multiplayer games are chasing that bright aesthetic.
It does make me wish more games with actually take more effort to be more aesthetically subtle, but most of those games aren't even on the publics radar like Arma or Hell Let Loose. A good example example of a mainstream game that gave players the options while still remaining grounded is Rainbow Six Vegas. It still gave players the choice to customize their character while also remaining true to its tactical aesthetic. More recently, both Division games do this relatively well but there are a few instances where bright colours seep into the marketplace.
What ever happened to this stuff? I noticed an overabundance of cartoony skins popping up a lot lately in multiplayer games, especially in M-rated games and am wondering why its got such a presence where they could be selling stuff that looks cool instead of out of place. There's a time and place for bright skins, but it honestly feels like companies are specifically targeting younger audiences even in M-rated games, and ultimately it just dilutes the original art style.
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