It’s an interesting experience, thinking about the relatively brief timeline that “video game history” has enjoyed thus far. Compared to other forms of entertainment media, games are still among the youngest out there. Digital interactive experiences simply didn’t happen in peoples’ households before game consoles made it possible. But even in that short lifespan, the experiences that we’re enjoying in our games have compounded over and over, until the games that we’re playing today look nothing like what we were enjoying twenty years ago. Still, nostalgia runs strong, and quite a few older games have enjoyed the “remaster” treatment, or have been remade entirely. PlayStation fans have been clamoring for a remake or remaster of titles from the SOCOM franchise, wondering when such a project might see a release date on the PS4.
The SOCOM games were a great experience, and for a certain generation of gamer, incredibly memorable. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’d make great “remaster” material. Or…does it?
One of the most common tropes in a postmodern line of thought is that we just can’t tell any new stories anymore. Everything that can be done, has been done. Our only recourse, then, is to combine elements of what’s already familiar to us into a combination that feels new. Nostalgia plays a big part in that, every step of the way. It’s no wonder, then, that we’re seeing so many remakes and remasters in the video game industry.
Many landmark titles that shaped things to come almost 20 years ago are seeing the light of day once again, thanks to this trend. Final Fantasy VII, arguably one of the best roleplaying games on the original PlayStation, is getting a full remake for this console generation. Resident Evil 2, which presented the pinnacle of the survival horror genre when it was released in the 1990s, is getting the same exact treatment.
And if series aren’t getting remade or remastered, they’re getting altogether rebooted. Surely, you’ve seen Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider across the previous two console generations. Both have received raved reviews; they’re genuinely great games that succeed at telling modern stories. They’re also reboots of a franchise that has been around for more than twenty years, brought forward a few decades so that the characters, themes, graphics, and gameplay all seem up-to-date.
Games are arguably more immersive now than they were all of those years ago, and that has changed the landscape for what types of games can be made. The SOCOM series on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 helped to carve out a niche that would later grow into the team-based shooter genre that’s actually thriving, today. And those games were good in their time, but what fans are asking for now is a remaster, reboot, or remake of that classic SOCOM experience. They just want to see and play it on modern consoles, like the PS4.
Below, we’re going to examine whether or not this is a reasonable fan expectation. If it is, we’re going to speculate as to when we might see a game like this. If it isn’t, we’ll point out some of the reasons why. Because the actual answer is likely to land somewhere in the middle, we’ll probably end up landing somewhere in the middle!
And we won’t depart without making a few recommendations, too. If you were a fan of the SOCOM series during its heyday, there are games released and coming soon that you’ll want to play!
The SOCOM Series
As it stands, the SOCOM series has somewhat faded into obscurity. This is due to no fault of the game itself; more or less, the landscape has grown so wide and fruitful in this genre that previous series that haven’t been recently updated simply aren’t remembered.
It’s a shame, but for now, it seems to be the state of things.
The SOCOM series played an important role in the development of the “team-based” military shooter as a genre. It has appeared on the PlayStation 2, the PS3, and also the PSP (PlayStation Portable.) Most gamers don’t realize it, but there have actually been quite a few games in the SOCOM series. They tend to be remembered for having relatively tight control schemes, compelling action, and the first threads of what would grow into truly robust online multiplayer.
The first game in the series, SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals, all but pioneered online gameplay on the PlayStation 2. Other titles had taken advantage of the console’s online access–it was a major feature at the time–but SOCOM was one of the first to allow players to communicate via headset during their gameplay. And being that the SOCOM series has always been dependent on active strategy, this was a great thing.
You always played as a member of a four-man team in the SOCOM series, and it was this small, tactical unit that helped to give the franchise and its gameplay an identity in a growing crowd of other shooters. It has also possessed a sense of “real world gravity” due to the fact that it emulates a modern geopolitical landscape, and involves recognizable branches of world military forces. In the same way that the Metal Gear Solid series always feels a little bit more relevant due to its few real-world underpinnings, so too did SOCOM have a heft to its worldbuilding and gameplay that players tended to really enjoy.
While SOCOM might have been one of those early games that lit the spark, other titles have moved in to set up residence in the team-shooter genre. Meanwhile, the SOCOM series is nowhere to be seen on modern consoles–though, it’s always been a Sony exclusive, so there’s little reason to expect it on anything but the PS4.
There’s a reason for the genre exploding like it has. Online gameplay has evolved from being an added gameplay feature to a critical part of almost every single game that’s released. If it doesn’t have some variant of online play, a modern game feels as if it must somehow be lacking. That’s a sharp change in direction, from the days of the PlayStation 2, and even the early days of the PlayStation 3. Our game consoles have more in common with “always-on” PCs than they ever have, before.
The drawback in this has hit the SOCOM series fairly hard. Those features that once helped the franchise to stand apart from other military games and tactical shooters are now practically commonplace. More than that, people just aren’t that interested in a modern, geopolitically accurate shooter anymore. Even the Call of Duty and Battlefield series have moved away from modern portrayals–the former into the future, the latter into the past.
It hasn’t left a lot of room for what SOCOM had to offer, and thus, we haven’t seen a new SOCOM game in several years.
What to Expect
Here’s the thing–and you might have read between the lines, to see this already. Because other franchises and titles are moving away from those elements that once made SOCOM popular, it has inadvertently left a small hole in the playing field.
And since the video game industry abhors a vacuum almost as much as nature, there’s plenty of ways for that empty space to get filled.
Will SOCOM Get a Remaster?
Thus far, the signs aren’t looking particularly good that SOCOM is in the works for being remastered. That said, we don’t mean to imply that eager fans should cease their speculation. And they certainly shouldn’t be quiet on the subject. After all, the only way for developers to know what gamers want is for those gamers to ask, sometimes loudly, for the franchises that they’d like to see explored with greater depth.
The last word that we’d heard on the subject came in 2015, and since then, not a peep has been made. The president of Sony Worldwide Studios quite directly said that there were no current plans for a new SOCOM game. However, that was almost two years ago, and much could have changed since then.
Still, all that we currently have is a boatload of speculation and a reassurance that the demand for such a game is alive and well. Meanwhile, there are several other games in the genre that you should check out if you’re trying to find an experience to scratch that SOCOM itch.
If you haven’t checked out Battlefield 1, you’re missing out on one of the best military shooters ever made. It’s set during World War I and features a first-person perspective, as opposed to SOCOM’s over-the-shoulder third-person view, but the action is intense and the multiplayer is incredibly fun. If you’re looking for something that demands teamwork and strategy, try Overwatch! Once more, it’s a first-person shooter, and it’s about as far separated thematically from SOCOM as you can get. However, it’s probably the best team-based shooter currently on the market.
We may not have a release date to share, but there’s no reason to stop asking for a SOCOM reboot, remaster, or remake on the PS4. There’s plenty of life left in this console, and we’d be remiss in not keeping up the demand for franchises that we’d like to see more of!