Try not to hyperventilate, but it looks like Skate 4 is actually coming.
An EA community manager kicked off a firestorm of hype with a single hashtag. While the tweet is far from official confirmation that a sequel is in the works, it’s by far the best reason to hope we’ve gotten from anyone at EA to date. I mean, can you imagine the backlash if the game didn’t get announced after this? Heads would roll, and we’re not sure we’re talking about figuratively. You no longer have to be an optimist to believe that Black Box’s legendary open-world skateboarding series is poised for a major revival.
With all that in mind, we’ve decided it’s the perfect time to revisit our wishlist of ideas for Skate 4, with insights into what could possibly make the game relevant to a 2017 gaming audience. So how can Skate 4 bring the series back in a way that stays true to its roots but still pushes skateboarding games forward?
Build a better playground
Skating video games are like real estate: It’s all about location, location, location. First and foremost, the areas in which players are set free to do sweet tricks should be open enough to allow for experimentation while having enough variety in the terrain to support our minds’ wildest machinations. Setting skate parks on the moon or inside an active volcano is all well and good, but if the popularity of the skate games is any indication, there is something to be said for the realism and authenticity of going to your nearest urban city center and hurling yourself down a flight of stairs.
It is this balance of real-world architecture fused with the smooth gradients and perfect rails of the average skatepark that made the skate games so addictive. It all came down to the satisfaction of nailing the perfect trick in a local art museum teeming the prime skating opportunities without the risk of actually breaking an ankle or getting blindsided by a security guard. If skate 4 finds the happy medium between real life and a skater’s paradise, the replayability will be endless. Also, it needs to include a X Games stadium. There must be an X Games stadium.
Set us free
The next staple of design Skate 4 needs to focus on is freedom, and the broader the developers define this attribute, the better. An open-world format is a necessity for skating, but there is so much more potential for liberty that real skating invokes. To make this proposal less vague, skaters need to be able to get off their boards, but more than that, the subsequent opportunities for tricks and exploration need to be nearly as vast as the players can imagine.
So much of the skating lifestyle is being as creative as possible with the challenges one sets for oneself, and the ability to disembark from your board to climb to hard-to-reach areas or perform tricks that begin with a running start adds a new dynamic to skating video games outside the pendulous movement a half-pipe. Skate 2 allowed players to get off their boards in a limited capacity, and the sequel evolved the concept to a degree, but there is so much offered by this unorthodox style of skating that has yet to be fully explored in gaming.
Do multiplayer right
Finally, skating is in equal parts a solo and social activity, but many developers seem to use its latter trait as a crutch to replace gameplay innovation. Adding a heap of multiplayer game modes, superfluous social networking systems, and arbitrary skill ranking ultimately adds very little to the core experience that makes skating games enjoyable and, furthermore, can result in a lot of wasted effort by the developers that could be better spent elsewhere.
Skate 4 should absolutely support social features, but the features should strive for quality over quantity. Something such as an online open-world where players can meet, skate, and explore organically without too many bells and whistles would be a better option than an excess of confined modes. Skate 4 could easily be a multiplayer success, but before the developers include a bunch of rigidly enforced multiplayer challenges or skyboxes that permit no real access, they should consider one key thing: What makes real skating fun?