It may not look like it now but (cue old man voice) back in my teenage years, my life revolved around two things: music and skateboarding. At the time, video games were tertiary: my day-to-day schedule would be to wake up early and skate for an hour, go to school, go to the skate park after school, play drums, then play video games. Due to my interests, that game to cap the day was Skate and then Skate 2 a few years later.
The inaugural title released at a time where the popular Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was losing its luster with the release of both Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground. Taking a more realistic approach, Skate uses the right analog stick to position your feet and flick the stick in a specific way to do a trick. At the time, it was a breath of fresh air for skateboarding games that appealed to both gamers and skaters.
If you noticed, I did not mention Skate 3 as one of those games I’d end my day with: there is a reason for that. The last entry, which launched back in 2010, didn’t have the same flair that the other two games before it had. That is partly due to the direction that the game took. Where the first two struck a good balance with simulation and arcade-style gameplay — especially in Skate 2 with the Hall of Meat challenges — Skate 3 leaned a bit too far into that arcade-style. It also wasn’t a true open-world game like the first two; the map was broken into a few sections that you would have to load into rather than skate, making the gameplay feel a bit disjointed. The satisfaction of successfully completing a line throughout the entire city was gone and it killed the joy I typically had for the Skate series.
Despite that, I have been anticipating another entry in the Skate franchise since 2010 and that has yet to come to fruition. That is in part due to Black Box Studios shutting its doors back in 2013, heavily diminishing any chance of a new game happening. I have yet to lose hope, and it seems that I am not alone.
Last year, on January 27, Electronic Arts’ Senior Manager of the Community Engagement Team Daniel Lingen composed a simple tweet: a tweet that would give many fans maybe a bit too much hope.
— Daniel Lingen (@HuskyHog) January 28, 2017
Is it entirely possible that this was just a ploy to get Twitter likes? Absolutely. Is it also a possibility that Lingen is just expressing his want for another Skate game? Sure. But this tweet got me thinking: what would Skate 4 even look like today? Skateboarding doesn’t seem to be in the zeitgeist now, making it hard to imagine what this game would even be. Who are the pro skaters that will be featured here? What are the popular spots today that would influence the game’s world? What are the popular skate brands that I’ll get sponsored by in-game? I don’t know the answers — especially after being so disconnected from skating after a few bad injuries — but this is what I think a good version of Skate 4 would look like.
First, it should go back to the basics. The problem with Skate 3 and even Skate 2 in some ways was the goofy vibe the game exudes, as well as its arcade-style direction with features like Hall of Meat and the odd tweaks to the physics making the impossible possible. What initially made the Skate franchise intriguing was its realism and representation of the sport; every time I turned on my Xbox and put the disc in was akin to grabbing my board, going outside, and skating for a few hours. Putting the actual skating in the forefront and creating a more grounded experience would be ideal.
Having a robust character creator would also be favorable. In most games that I play, I try to create some ridiculous-looking avatar that, as of recently, I always name Apollo. Skate was one of the few games where I attempted to recreate myself so that I can live out my dreams of becoming a pro skater without destroying my body in the process. Most games nowadays have a decent creation suite with options to choose between sexes, different body types, skin colors, facial features, and more. It would be great to have the ability to create the character I want, rather than be limited by a few choices, which have been the case in every Skate game.
Just as important as your character is the cast of characters you’ll meet throughout whatever fictional city the game takes place in. So, who are the popular skaters today? After looking, I still have no idea who are the best skaters right now. However, two names I kept seeing were Lizzie Armanto and Riley Hawk, both of which have had successful careers since they began.
If you are wondering, yes: Riley Hawk is the son of the world-renowned pro skater, Tony Hawk. While Riley doesn’t specialize in vert like his father, he is, without a doubt, a fantastic street skater who would have made a name of his own even if he were not related to one of the most popular and influential skaters of all time. Is he a marketable enough skater to have the franchise be rebranded as Riley Hawk’s Skate? Maybe. It would definitely generate interest, but it would go against everything Skate is. Skate is more a celebration of skateboarding, rather than the people who represent skateboarding.
From everything else I saw, it seems some of the skaters from previous Skate and Tony Hawk Pro Skater games are still pretty relevant today. This would be my dream lineup for a new Skate game:
- Riley Hawk
- Lizzie Armanto
- Don Nguyen
- Dustin Dollin
- Andrew Reynolds
- Jamie Thomas
- Terry Kennedy
- Chris Cole
- Bucky Lasek
- Danny Way
- Chris Haslam
- Rodney Mullen
- Daewon Song
- David Gonzalez
- Nyjah Huston
I understand that this may not be indicative of the popular skaters today, but there is a good mix here that I think would make a fine lineup in a new Skate game.
Additionally, including Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song would mean the introduction of an in-depth freestyle skating system to the series which would be a great addition if it can be done correctly. There is a foundation for that when Skate 3 added darkslides and underflips, so it is a possibility.
4 is not just the game I’m hoping gets announced at this year’s E3: it’s the game I’ve been waiting for the past eight years.”
Lastly, going back to one big open-world is a necessity. Having to load different maps in Skate 3 disrupted the flow of gameplay. With how powerful consoles are now, the in-game city can be immensely larger and without load times, save for the initial loading screen. Having a bigger city will allow designers to evenly distribute a variety of spots for people who favor a certain type of style.
Skate 4 is not just the game I’m hoping gets announced at this year’s E3: it’s the game I’ve been waiting for the past eight years. With the advent of 4K HDR gaming, you can imagine how fantastic this game would look with its low-angled third-person camera and colorful environments. It is clear that there is an audience for another Skate game, now it just depends if EA thinks it’s worth reviving. Hopefully, we’ll find that answer in a few more weeks.
As we near E3, what do you want to see the most at this year’s show? What’s your dream scenario? Be sure to let us know in the comments. Lastly, be sure to check out some of the other hopes and dreams for E3 2018 from the rest of the DualShockers writers.