Video game trailers have evolved greatly in the past 5-10 years and have reached a point where they can rival trailers for award-winning films. With every trailer, you have gameplay, cutscenes, music, or another element. The main purpose of game trailers these days is to drum up interest or sell people on the respective games. There have been iconic trailers for games such as the trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic which garnered so much demand for a game that wouldn’t be released for a couple of years, the infamous Gears of War “Mad World” trailer which I am sure sold people on the power of the Xbox 360. Here are our favorite game trailers.
Allan Muir – Site Admin/Co-EiC
Mafia III (Gamescom 2016)
I am a man that really loves the Mafia games. I remember playing the second installment before the “Great Storm” of 2012. Even the first game when I was an Allan Jr. even though I have some negative feelings toward the game. Regardless, Mafia III is one hell of a game. When I first heard that 2k Czech would not be returning to make the third game in the series in favor of Hangar 13 I was a tad mad. The news that 2k Czech would be handling the cutscenes while Hangar 13 would be making the overall game gave me some relief.
When I had heard that Haden Blackman, who is known best to me are his ties to LucasArts and his DC Comics New 52 run of Batwoman with JH Williams III made me eager to get my hands on the finished product. The game looked fantastic and had a point of view I had never even thought of when it came to anything mob-related. This came in the form of taking down someone with the help of those who were spurned by the top mafioso in New Bordeaux: Sal Marcano.
According to Blackman, the portion of the Mafia III Gamescom trailer featuring Marcano and his family was a bonus that was added as it does not appear in Mafia III. Throughout the trailer, you are getting two different reactions from the opening of the game. On the one hand, you have Sammy Robinson who is the closest thing Mafia 3 protagonist Lincoln Clay has to a father delivering the line “this isn’t just money, this is freedom”. He finally sees a way to pay back Sal Marcano who he owes money and take care of things in Delray Hollow. While things are happening at the federal reserve, Sal Marcano is immediately plotting what to do after the robbery. It’s once Georgie enters and Sal mentions having to go to Sammy’s to get the money that things started falling into place. If you want to hear me and Emmett nearly explode from hype over Mafia III listen here to an episode of Player’s Club where we came up with what had to be the best or worst Mafia III television series.
Josh Miller – The Family Man
This one is a hard one for me as several stand in my mind as favorites. However, since I’ve already written about one before, I figured I would write about another. This time, Dead Island, a trailer of a vacationing family where things go horribly wrong. Its tense, emotional, and very well put together and sold me on the game long before I saw any actual footage of the game.
The thing about the reveal trailer though is…it’s better than the actual game. That’s coming from someone who likes Dead Island. The trailer pulled at your heartstrings in the way that the game never did and left many thinking the game would be more emotionally heavy, which it wasn’t. Instead, the game proved to be devoid of any real storytelling and pretty forgettable on all fronts outside of the tropical location and a couple gameplay mechanics.
The Dead Island reveal trailer is a perfect way to both do a trailer and a perfect way to never do a trailer. On one hand, it sold an emotional aspect to a story that left people wanting more. It was The Last of Us of trailers in a way. However, it also sold a product to consumers that was never going to come to fruition. People saw that trailer and expected one thing and were severely let down by the end result. However, despite all of that, it left an incredibly large impact in terms of game trailers and remains one of my favorites to this day.
Emmett Watkins Jr – PlayStation Stan
LittleBigPlanet 2 Announcement Trailer
When little Emmett first got his PlayStation 3 for Christmas of 2008, it came with 2 games: Warhawk and LittleBigPlanet. Warhawk hit all the notes I’ve been familiar with in my gaming life: chaotic action, massive-scale battles, and gorgeous visuals. I loved Warhawk and played a whole lot of it, but the game that truly sold me on the next generation of PlayStation was LittleBigPlanet. Seeing that artstyle paired with the ability to make any level I could think up was a tantalizing combination, and once I got my hands on it, I was indeed hooked. But I didn’t truly know how deep my love could go for LittleBigPlanet until the sequel was revealed.
This announcement trailer for LittleBigPlanet 2 is a masterclass in hype building, much like a great E3 press conference. It starts with a familiar face and name in the form of Media Molecule’s logo and Sackboy’s face. This makes you excited instantly to see what’s new in this beloved franchise. Then they show you slight changes to the art and gameplay of the original game that would be fairly exciting all on their own.
Then they go crazy and start changing the perspective of gameplay clips. What was at first a simple platformer became a top-down racer, a side-scrolling shooter, a Zuma style match 3 games, and a lot more. Simply adding new mechanics like the grappling hook would have been fine, but the ability to make not just platformers, but games of so many other genres is what makes this truly worthy of a full numbered sequel.
But Media Molecule didn’t stop there, because they end the trailer by promising that all existing levels from the original game would be forward compatible in the sequel. For LBP fans like me, this is the part of the trailer that went so far pass what I thought was possible. Seeing a game’s community created content be carried forward like this was unprecedented at the time, and considering this predates the current cross-play, cross-save, and cross-generational movement were living in today by over a decade, I’m sure the technical complications to pull this off must have been massive.
And the vital cherry on top is the wonderfully cheery Sleepyhead by Passion Pit head underlying the entire trailer and you get what is probably my favourite game trailer of all time. Still, all these years later, it impresses me with how much emotion it’s able to get outta me despite being so simple in retrospect, and it’s all thanks to the love I had for the games themselves more than the theatrics of the actual trailer. It makes me proud to be a Media Molecule fan.
Graydon Webb – The Contrarian American
Assassin’s Creed Unity (E3 2014 World Premiere)
Before we get going here, I just need to applaud Josh for praising the Dead Island trailer. As a massive fan of Dead Island myself, I almost chose the Dead Island 2 reveal trailer for its badass song and a guy who sounded a lot like Jack Black. I went with another choice, obviously, but I always love seeing some appreciation for the Dead Island franchise.
Please bring it back.
Now, onto my personal choice. In the realm of video game trailers, few series consistently leave me feeling floored as much as Assassin’s Creed. I must admit I’m a bit biased, as this is my favorite game franchise of all time. However, I feel whether you like the games or not, the artistic quality of these trailers is undeniable.
From Brotherhood‘s memorable Borgia encounter to Revelations‘s use of Woodkid’s epic song, “Iron,” to the many inspirational trailers for Assassin’s Creed III – including popular songs like “Coming Home” and “Radioactive” – these previews deliver the perfect balance of hype and plot points to get the crowd pumped for some bloody action as well as a deep fulfilling storyline.
My favorite of all of these, though, has to be the reveal trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity. Though the game may have been panned by players for its numerous glitches which left it damn near unplayable for some, the story – focused around the French Revolution – and its ambitious gameplay changes made for one of my favorites in the series.
Unity‘s reveal trailer featured sweeping shots of French locales, gorgeously rendered in CGI, while Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears played in the background. Or should I say “overhead,” as it truly feels like her voice surrounds you and whisks viewers straight into the unrest onscreen. Couple this bleak-yet-beautiful landscape with a focus on the new assassins and their weaponry and you’re left with a sensational reveal trailer that’s bound to stir up excitement in any fan. It certainly left a lasting impression on me.
Michael Bizier – Proud Cat Dad
I am probably the biggest Hideo Kojima fan I know. Kojima just has this knack for combining the supernatural with military intrigue in a cinematic way that has always been very compelling to me, but the trailer for Death Stranding really took his style to the next level. That opening shot of the baby screamed classic Kojima, and my first glance at Mads Mikkelson threw an exclamation mark over my head. Everything just looked so real and seeing the star-studded cast of Mikkelson, Guillermo del Torro, and Norman Reedus really made me feel like I was watching a sneak peek of a crazy sci-fi movie. The most enticing thing about this trailer though was the aura of mystery surrounding it. Vague lines were dropped here and there about the need to bridge the divide in America, and I was left with more questions than answers. What the heck is up with this baby? Why does rain kill people? What were those floating creatures? Why does the world look so ravaged and desolate? And what the heck is up with the baby??? The song Path by Apocalyptica built up a feeling of intensity with its wailing guitars and violins, and the whole thing climaxed with footage of Norman Reedus battling goopy looking soldiers and a tank that faded in and out of existence. By the end, I was convinced that Death Stranding would be Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus, the ultimate middle finger to Konami, an exquisite dish of vengeance served ice cold.
Then I saw the gameplay trailer and well… let’s just say I felt very disappointed.
In a word, the gameplay just looked boring. From what I could tell, you played as some kind of post-apocalyptic Amazon delivery guy which is not as fun as it sounds. In order to carry these packages, you literally have to stack them on Norman Reedus’ back through the bane of all fun in video games- intense menu navigation. The actual delivery method proved to be just as time-consuming. For whatever reason, Kojima took the simple concept of walking and made it bone-crushingly convoluted. Apparently you have to shift your weight around by pressing L2 and R2, and if you don’t time it right, poor Norman Reedus will trip, your packages will fall over, and you will have to run and pick them up again. At some point, Norman Reedus peed on a mushroom… just because? The scenes of Norman Reedus battling off the Beached Things using blood grenades were interesting, but sadly not enough to balance the monotony that came before.
I felt so conflicted. Could my favorite game creator of all time actually create a horrible game? I held off on buying it, waiting to play my brother’s copy instead.
Sadly, my suspicions proved correct.
The moral of Death Stranding is, don’t judge a game by its trailer. Even the mighty can fall.
There you have it, our favorite game trailers, what are yours?