Surprise, surprise: Bethesda and MachineGames are cooking up a new Indiana Jones game.
That's some exciting and unexpected news, and with nothing more to go on than that little teaser, we're left wondering and speculating about what kind of Indiana Jones game this might turn out to be. MachineGames is known for the Wolfenstein series, gory and exciting first-person shooters, but we don't know if Indy will be an FPS or a third-person adventure, or really, much of anything about it at all. So, it's a good time to imagine just what kind of game would suit Indiana Jones best.
What do you want from a new Indiana Jones game? That's our question this week. Below, you'll find our answers and some from the PC Gamer Forums. Whip yours into the comment section below.
Andy Kelly: Honestly, nothing revolutionary. Part of the appeal of Indiana Jones for me is how, in the spirit of the rollicking '40s serials that inspired it, every story follows a formula. There's an ancient artifact, probably hidden somewhere secret, possibly infused with supernatural energy, and likely prized by the Nazis. And Indy has to travel somewhere exotic and dangerous to get it, with a sidekick in tow. That's all I want from an Indy game. A lavish, expensive third-person action game with minimal combat, some good fistfights, and lots of puzzling in ancient tombs. Tomb Raider, basically, but with a sense of humour and John Williams' Raiders' March blaring when I do something cool.
Stevie Ward: Anything but snakes. I hate snakes.
Robin Valentine: Fair warning that I'm coming in with a very unfun answer...
I think an Indiana Jones game is in a strangely tough spot. Games have been stealing inspiration from those movies for years now, and with big budget series like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, we've not only seen these concepts played out many times already, we've come to recognise some of their more insidious flaws. Stories about privileged white people from the first world travelling to 'exotic' locations to 'rescue' ancient artifacts of other cultures and put them in museums have a lot of baggage that wasn't widely acknowledged back when the Indiana Jones movies were coming out.
That creates a really difficult line for a modern game to walk. I think it'd be pretty irresponsible and blinkered not to address the issues of racism and colonialism inherent to the character, but at the same time Indiana Jones is intentionally a throwback character—to a time in the 80s when people didn't think so much about this stuff, based on a time in the 40s when people really didn't think so much about this stuff. If he doesn't feel authentic to how we remember Indy, then there's not much left to make it more than just Tomb Raider with Nazis.
I don't know the right answer to that problem. Hopefully Machine Games do.
James Davenport: I enjoyed those movies back when. Running from boulders and such. Switches in walls? Cool. I just don't understand the appeal of the character, though I suppose if any studio can make wine from water, it'll be MachineGames. Who expected BJ, a sprite mascot for violence and masculinity, to be so tender and kind and tough in such a surprising, nuanced way? Maybe this is Indiana's shot at a redemption arc. Either way, I don't think I'm interested, especially if this means Wolfenstein is on ice.
Morgan Park: While a third-person action game would lend itself well to Indy, a first-person whipping game just sounds too fun. I think Machine Games should stick to a realistic aesthetic but go completely bonkers on gameplay/physics, not unlike its Wolfenstein games. Maybe Arkane can lend a hand (as it did with Youngbloods last year) and make a decent stealth game as well. That's the dream, but I imagine we're getting something closer to Jedi Fallen Order: a studio famous for its first-person shooters putting their spin on Uncharted (which is itself just Indiana Jones).
Chris Livingston: I just hope it's somewhat on the simple side. Look at Indy's loadout from the films. A whip and a six-shooter. That's all I want, not to carry around a truckload of guns and stop to compare my guns with the guns of the people I just killed and have to decide which gun is the best gun.
If it's got fist-fighting and some fun stuff to do with the whip, a bit of shooting now and again, but mostly some cool environments and locations and mysteries and environmental puzzles in interesting locations and a priceless treasure that Indy finds but doesn't get to keep, I'm in.
Richard Stanton: You have to respect what Machinegames managed to do in bringing Wolfenstein back to life, but the studio was established by seven Starbreeze veterans (including that developer's founder Magnus Högdahl) unhappy with EA's management of the Syndicate reboot (what a surprise). The games they'd shipped before that included The Darkness and Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (a semi-remake of the studio's earlier Escape from Butcher Bay), both extremely inventive, surprising games that turned an existing license into a standalone game version. Riddick in particular is as good as licensed games get.
That's exactly what Indiana Jones needs: a game that is inspired by the source material, but not a game version of the source material. Some elements of Indy may have aged badly but that's not a problem, because this is free to leave them behind and write its own take on a grand globe-trotting adventure. It should be exciting and pacey and clever, aim not to outstay its welcome, and have a rambunctious take on combat that doesn't get hung up on the slick combos and cover and lock-ons that games use almost by default now. I think there's something quite innocent in Indiana Jones's appeal, like a Saturday morning cartoon: that longing we all have for adventure and mystery, the sparkle of eyes at discovering treasure, the simple world of goodies and baddies chasing the same thing. Whatever style they choose to follow with the game, that atmosphere is what I want it to capture.
Steven Messner: Maybe I'm too closed minded, but I just have such a hard time seeing how MachineGames can make Indy feel relevant in 2020 let alone what I'd personally want from an Indiana Jones game. But when I do think of those movies, what I loved the most were fist fights and elaborate traps. It'd be great if this new game captured some of that tension by setting you loose in big, dangerous environments that operate like one giant puzzlebox that you slowly have to solve. But I'm also with Robin, I can't see how you resurrect Dr. Jones in 2020 without rectifying some of the grossest aspects of those films. But, hey, MachineGames has done amazing work so I'm excited to find out what they come up with.
Andy Chalk: I am a simple man, with simple desires:
From our forums
Frindis: My dream Indy game has already been made and it is called Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. A good old fashioned point&click adventure game with a dash of arcade moments. It got your typical puzzles and some of them quite good, like the moonstone puzzle, an excellent plot, Indiana fighting thugs with his bare knuckles, voice/sound that is memorable, and of course the cherry on the top: cheesy dialogue and a little dash of love.
So, if they are going to make a new Indiana Jones game I hope they make it in a similar style. Wishful thinking though, since we are talking about a studio known for making Wolfenstein games with pure adrenaline and little to no problem-solving with the exception of a couple of puzzles thrown at you. We most likely will get a Jones similar to the Uncharted fella or Croft, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but It won't be the Indiana Jones we know:
Indiana Jones : [Indy is making shadow puppets with a flashlight and makes a dog] Neat! Woof, woof!
Sophia Hapgood : ...Indy?
Indiana Jones : [makes an elephant] It's Jumbo! King of the Circus!
Sophia Hapgood : What do you think you're doing?
Indiana Jones : [makes a rabbit] ... and here's Nur-Ab-Sal!
Sophia Hapgood : Stop that this instant!
Indiana Jones : [turns off flashlight] ... sorry.
Mazer: Fisticuffs! One of the things that Emperor's Tomb got very right (besides having a very convincing faux-Harrison Ford VA) was the melee combat, great grappling and contextual attacks based on the environment, and it's inherent coolness served to de-emphasize firearm use. Something like Mad Max's system, the animations sold the character, except Indy should always be slightly outmatched and scrambling to survive.
badman: It wouldn't mind if it turned out to be a 3th person Tomb Raider game. You can forget the classic adventure Indiana, btw. That would be great, but Bethesda probably isn't going to make a game for the 'niche' market. It's going to be multiplatform, so either FPS (please NO), or Lara Croft-style.
McStabStab: I'd really like it if there was a branching quest system, kind of like the old C&C games did. I want to see that iconic map with the plane traveling along the dotted line but with choices. Should you pursue the grave robbers in Peru? Confront an invasive force defiling religious monuments in the Middle East? Or follow a tip on a freighter caught in the ice that may hold treasures from Early Chinese Dynasties in Siberia?
Whichever path you take would offer different options, more storylines, more replayability. It's a pretty big want, but a want nonetheless.