May 20, 2013
2013: The Year Of Shadowrun
The fifth edition of the Shadowrun role-playing game is slated to come out this summer, and I, for one, am quite excited. Shadowrun is one of my favorite table-top games, right up there with Anima: Beyond Fantasy, the Dresden Files RPG, and Pathfinder, and from what I have seen of fifth edition, it looks like the developers are doing a fantastic job of combining the best of the older editions with the streamlined mechanics of fourth edition (yes, players, fourth edition is streamlined by comparison). In addition to the latest version of the table-top game, there are also a lot of other Shadowrun related projects in the works, such as two video games (Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun Online), novels, a miniatures game, and a card game. So, with all of these wonderful products about to hit the market, why am I hesitant to throw myself into everything Shadowrun?
Simply, I’ve seen all of this before. Let me take you back to 2008, the year of Dungeons & Dragons. For the better part of a year, Wizards of the Coast had been dropping tidbits about the upcoming D&D 4E (Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition). Everything they showed looked absolutely amazing, fun, and exciting. They were responding to player feedback, but never launched an open Beta; at the time those were still a relatively new concept to table-top games. It wasn’t until Pathfinder‘s astonishingly successful open Beta that they really bloomed. My game group, as I only had one back then that met every Friday and Saturday, had just finished up with a multi-year campaign in D&D 3.5, and we were holding back to start our next one until 4E‘s launch. The day of release, the lot of us headed straight for our local game retailer, The End Zone, and eagerly awaited the UPS truck that held within our glorious new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Once the books were in hand, we headed to the house of the friend who lived closest and poured over the books. I even remember taking them into work that day and peeking at them every free chance I had. After work, I returned to my friend’s and we continued with our devoted absorption of all the wondrous content within.
Only it wasn’t all that wondrous. Concerns cropped up right away, and then over the course of the following campaign they only grew worse. The longer my group played, the less we seemed to be enjoying the game. All of those amazing new features of the game didn’t give us the same enjoyment as the older version did. Eventually, we just stopped playing Fourth Edition and returned to D&D 3.5, and later to Pathfinder, which we all felt was a superior product.
Looking back on it, it is easy to see how caught up we all were in the “newness” of Fourth Edition, and thus I am cautious of allowing myself to become that excited for Shadowrun Fifth Edition. I have faith in it, to be sure, and I am always glad to see where the minds of those who are working on the project are at. My advice to all gamers is to not get too excited over a new edition or source book until you have a chance to try it out for yourself. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing if the newest edition of Shadowrun will be a vast improvement on the previous or not until the game actually releases. Even so, I plan on having the book in my hands on release day and finding that out for myself.
Image Credit: Catalyst Game Labs