Let’s face it, video game trailers have become quite dull. Aside from the odd few trailers that try to do something different, most can be summed up in the same way. They all contain some bombast, some sweeping vistas and usually some barely appropriate soundtrack to go along with it.
This problem is particularly noticeable in trailers for first person shooters. They all pretty much follow the same formula, meaning that, if you’re not paying much attention, you aren’t really sure if you’re watching a trailer for Call of Duty, Battlefield, or a whole host of other shooters. They do nothing to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. All they ever seem to want to show you is some generic shooting by generic shooter guys in generic environments. They seem to operate under the idea of why should they do anything different?
Well to answer that, it’s because these trailers are god awful. They don’t inspire me to go out and learn more about these games, and they certainly don’t inspire me to buy them when they launch. All of these trailers make the games look exactly the same. It doesn’t matter if it is set during a World War, during the modern day, or even if it’s in space, they all look the damn same. They have fallen into a rut, making them indistinguishable from each other. For those of us who are constantly reading about games, its fine, we can tell the difference (barely), whereas I imagine it’s a lot harder for the average consumer who doesn’t spend all their time in the sphere of gaming. I would imagine this leads to conversations such as the one below, which is definitely a real conversation.
Person 1: ‘Hey friend, come look at this new Call of Duty trailer! Isn’t it great?’
Person 2: ‘Why yes friend, this game does look great, but I do believe it’s actually the new Battlefield!’
Person 1: ‘Oh really? Well that’s good to know. Let’s both enjoy this Battlefield trailer then!’
Person 3: ‘Friends, you are both incorrect. This is actually the new Halo trailer! Wouldn’t it be easier if these games bothered to distinguish themselves from another? Anyway, are you interested in this new Halo game based on this trailer?’
Persons 1 & 2: ‘No, this looks so damn generic. We’re going to go and stare at a wall instead! That’s a lot more interesting!!!’
This definitely real conversation that one hundred percent takes place in real life is emblematic of the problems caused by most modern video game trailers. How can a game ever hope to garner much interest from a wider audience when it does nothing to make it self look in any way different from all the other titles out there?
This is where Wolfenstein II comes in. Choosing to eschew typical video game marketing, it so far has been one of the most interesting marketing campaigns for a game in some time. The first reveal trailer opened with a fake film about a girl and her clumsy Nazi Robot Dog, which in itself is pretty out there. Even when it then moves to typical gameplay shots the trailer does a great job in making itself stand out. Yes, there are clips of gunplay, but there are also cat monkeys and weird drug sequences. It manages to show a personality whilst at the same time showing what the game is in terms of gameplay.
And then there’s the newest trailer. Just look at it. It’s amazing.
Most of the trailer doesn’t even show the game. Instead, it showcases a game show in German-controlled America. It’s weird, it’s funny, and by the end, it’s damn uncomfortable. Most importantly, it’s interesting. I don’t see how anybody could watch this trailer and not then be interested in the game and what it’s about. It doesn’t need to be yet another two minute trailer full of shooting in generic environments; it knows how to catch your interest- with a Nazi game show that seems to have a chilling twist at the end. It has also done a good job by making people talk about the game. Here I am, writing a piece inspired by this one trailer- that’s perfect marketing, and it is doing it in a fresh and unique way.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this issue with trailers. Not all fall into the same generic trap, but most recently do seem to. Aside from setting, can you honestly say that the trailers for Call of Duty and Battlefield look all that different? That’s the magic of what iD and Bethesda are doing with Wolfenstein II. They are going down a route that is completely different from pretty much every other game marketing campaign out there, and it is far better off for it. Trailers like this are going to make people far more interested than just the regular old style that people have had for years and are now fed up of. Why go for a bland trailer when you can go for a Nazi game show?