For as much as I hate to admit it, especially after spending my entire high-school years pretending to believe otherwise, there is a currency tied to being cool. It's not something that's easy to pin down, but there is a lot to be gained by being instantly recognised as being what they call a cool dude.
In the world of video games especially, publishers and developers spend tens of millions on trying to achieve this same instant appeal and deliver a must-play title that appears effortlessly charming (but which in reality has probably been focus tested to death).
Of course, for every game that nails this tightrope walk, there are ten others that fall off, break every bone on the way down, and then crawl over the finish line. The worst part is, they don't realise it, and still they've nailed the landing.
I'm josh from wc.com and these are 10 Video Games That Tried Way Too Hard To Be Cool
10. Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem Forever is not a good game, I think we can all agree on that. But the tragedy is that it thinks it is.
This is a title that was stuck in development hell for over fourteen years, and at one point it probably could have been the next big thing, which explains the arrogance and swagger seeping out of every pore. Of course, when it came out, it might as well have been a fossil from a bygone era that had been unearthed and sold to players - one that you almost pitied being compared to other games of the time.
That's because Duke himself felt like an old man at a wedding who doesn't know he's causing a scene, and that the reason he has to follow everyone around is because he's absolutely not funny, a bit gropey, and stinks of booze.
The game took shots at everything from Master Chief to Christian Bale's on-set breakdown (very timely, that one), and yet came out the butt of the joke each and every time. It thought it was being so cool and relevant, but each punch Duke threw missed so widely it ended up coming back round and hitting the old geezer in the head.
Bulletstorm was supposed to be the next big Epic Games franchise, and the publisher spent a huge amount of time bigging up developers People Can Fly and how they were going to do for first-person shooters what Gears of War did for third-person shooters.
And, to their credit, the actual gameplay was totally spot on. Embracing arcade anarchy at a time where the competition was obsessed with creating modern-military action games where players spent half the time looking at the poorly modelled-ass of the NPC they were forced to follow, Bulletstorm's combat was gory, impactful, and absolutely insane.
However, everything around it couldn't quite justify the same level of OTT bravado. From the weapons, to the generic gruff space marine characters to the "HEADSHOT" titles that would pop up during combat, the game's style screamed trying too hard.
Also, to make the remastered version extra cool, they only threw in Duke Nukem as a playable character! In 2017!
8. Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 is what happens when a publisher and developer thinks the franchise they're working on is bulletproof. When they hit Conor McGregor levels of arrogance, promising the world without wondering whether they have the resources to actually deliver it.
The sequel had hundreds of developers working around the clock to deliver it, and while lip service was paid to returning in part to the series' survival-horror roots, it's clear that the main objective was to create an action spectacle more bombastic than gamers had seen before.
This was reflected in the actual combat mechanics themselves. This time around, the likes of Leon and Chris could pull off 'trick shots' at the tap of a trigger, taking all skill out of shooting so players could ogle the characters flipping around like they were in a John Woo movie. On top of this, melee combat was also doubled down on, and fans were encouraged to chain together wrestling moves on zombies and kung fu them to death.
It was utter insanity to watch in motion, and might have worked in a series that didn't once pride itself on being so scary.
7. Dead Rising 4
I'm not angry, Dead Rising 4, I'm just bitterly, bitterly disappointed. This sequel should have been everything fans wanted: it was bringing back original protagonist Frank West, it was returning partly to Dead Rising 1's mall, and it was set to remedy the drab, grey art style the third game ushered in.
What fans actually got, though, was the lifeless corpse of the first game reanimated entirely by the terrible ideas of dusty old video game executives.
The series had always been wacky and irreverent, but what made the comedy work in previous games was the balance between genuinely challenging gameplay, a cast of (admittedly bonkers) characters you cared for, and how much fun it was to batter zombies to death with fake laser swords.
Dead Rising 4, though, "streamlined" the gameplay to the point where brainless zombie bashing and 'wacky' antics was all the title had to offer.
It all felt so hollow - take a selfie with a zombie here, create a super combo weapon there - and was devoid of all the charm the series once was drowning in.
6. Medal Of Honor: Warfighter
EA have killed a lot of franchises in their time, but Medal of Honor's unceremonious end still stings. After riding out the World War 2 fad for as long as possible, the iconic shooter was re-tooled to compete directly with Call of Duty's contemporary dominance.
While the publisher already had Battlefield, MoH was better suited to fight Activision's behemoth on its own terms, focusing on smaller infantry firefights. Perhaps knowing they couldn't top COD's standard-setting gunplay though, the developers instead turned their attention to the setting and presentation, with the intention to create the most authentic modern-military shooter ever.
Both the original reboot and its sequel bet everything on this element, bringing in advisers and specialists to make sure their version of warfare was as gritty and true to life as possible to make COD look like a kids game, only to make themselves look a bit silly in the process.
5. God Of War 3
The first two God of War games deserve way more credit than they get. In 2020, they're looked upon kind of as relics of a bygone era, a moment in gaming where everything was about excess and big, manly anti-heroes beating the ever-loving snot out of hundreds of enemies.
While the first two games did have some of that, it was the third that pretty much became everything the franchise's harshest critics always said it was. Things that were tongue in cheek before were played straight here, and it was clear that this time around the devs were being as crass and hyper-boneheaded as possible because they thought it was cool.
Consequently, we got a Kratos who was more bloodthirsty than ever, destroying an entire civilisation and killing innocents because he cold, while at the same trying to convince players he was genuinely going through an 'emotional' and 'tragic' narrative.
It didn't work, and lost the tight balance that made the spectacle of the previous releases so unashamedly enjoyable.
4. RAGE 2
Like a lot of games on this list, RAGE 2 actually might have been cool had the game actually backed up the bombast of the marketing. When it was announced, it actually managed to convince players that they wanted a sequel to a ten-year-old first-person shooter they never liked in the first place, thanks to some glorious Mad Max-style trailers that promised something far more fun and exciting than the drab original.
However, even then we should have seen the cracks in the plan. This was another post-apocalyptic blockbuster aping a colourful, neon pink aesthetic and juxtaposing extreme violence against a cartoon-ish end-of-the-world scenario.
It also didn't help that they got Andrew W.K. - aka the party king - to perform live during the E3 reveal. The entire marketing strategy seemed designed to be as loud and in your face as possible, and when the sequel actually came out, players realised why: this was a title that desperately needed to hide how boring it was by trying to be as random as possible at all times.
Lawbreakers was a solid hero shooter that boasted explosive gunplay, well-designed levels and characters and intense game modes, but it was let down by a marketing campaign designed to be as abrasive as possible.
The brainchild of former Epic employee, Cliff Bleszinski, Lawbreakers immediately drew comparisons to Overwatch, and a huge part of the hype cycle was focused on differentiating it as much as possible. As a result, this new game was pitched as the cooler older cousin to Blizzard's colourful smash hit. Hell, Cliffy B even compared it to a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Pull quotes like that, combined with trailers that were full of ironic pop songs, explosions, and OTT reactions of professional gamers faking how much they were loving what they were seeing, all made it clear that Lawbreakers was trying its damnedest to impress potential players.
When you see every cringeworthy bit of hype put side-by-side - like in this excellent Crowbcat video - it's no wonder why fans didn't lose their minds over Lawbreakers.
As surprisingly as it might be, I'm not actually going to rag on Fortnite for being, well, Fortnite. The colourful characters, bandwagon jumping and (shudder) flossing are all fair game and a distinct part of the brand, and what helped it become a pop-culture phenomenon.
What is a desperate attempt to nab 'cool points' though, is the constant crossover events. Pretty much every time there's some kind of notable movie coming out, Fortnite will sell its soul to include a tie-in. From Star Wars to John Wick, (seriously, how many kids playing this game know who the hell John Wick is?) the devs don't miss a beat to cash in on the thing everyone is talking about.
Throw on top of this in-game 'gigs' headlined by virtual versions of artists like Marshmallow, which encourage everyone to pop off their best emotes, and the whole thing comes across like EPIC is desperately scared Fortnite's insane popularity will dwindle, and are doing everything they can to associate it with whatever hip brands are currently in vogue.
1. DMC: Devil May Cry
Everyone and their mums have ragged on DMC: Devil May Cry in the seven years since it released, and while it is a bit like kicking a dead horse by now, it's not as though the game doesn't deserve it. And no, this reboot isn't on the list because it tried and failed to retool a beloved franchise for a modern audience, but because it was trying so hard to sell everyone on this new take being better than the old, and still ended up being aggressively lame on its own terms.
Front and centre is the new Dante, who is just totally, utterly insufferable. Original Dante was defined by arrogance and swagger as well, but here the new, younger version combined those traits with above-it-all sense of apathy.
The devs clearly thought they were onto a winner, but it was like playing a dude who had just stumbled his way through Hot Topic, told you he doesn't believe in money because capitalism is bad, and then blew a smoke ring in your face after tooting on his vape.
Sure, he had cheekbones that could make you weak, but even they couldn't disguise the fact that Dante now had the personality of a mossy rock.