What makes a Great Game Trailer?

  • Global Moderator

    Its hard!

    It comes down to the pacing, what questions in raises, what type of game it tries to show off etc.

    I do believe that the Mass Effect 2 trailer with the real trailer music is one of the best trailers in term of pace and feeling.

    HOWEVER, I Love the Battlefield: Bad Company trailers due to their sheer humour and how they "mock" other games/media.

  • Depends on the game, and depends on which trailer it is. I feel like Persona 5 has struck a good balance of gameplay, story, and atmosphere thus far.

    Trailer 1

    Trailer 4

  • I think a good trailer shows strong fundamentals (mood, pacing, music, etc) but I think a great trailer knows how to play up to viewer's anticipation/anxiety and rewards them for their attention.

    To me, the BotW trailer is 3 stars. It shows lots of gameplay and the potential of what's to come (look how big that world looks!). But its also very textbook and suffers from cuts that are too long and feel like filler. All of the padding feels forced, like, Nintendo is saying, "Look! See all this stuff? It's cool!" And I agree, it is cool. Really cool! But all this trailer kind of does is dump everything in front of you and says, "Please be excited!". All you can do is nod and smile, but can't help but feel a little let down.

    On the other hand, the FFVII trailer builds up all that tension and emotion. It knows what you want but holds it out just out of reach, teasing you to come closer. It's dangling that shiny red strawberry in front you and you're so hungry but it keeps pulling it away. You keep following and following and just as the saliva from your mouth starts to drip over, it feeds you that delicious fruit. It's just a strawberry mind you, but all that anticipation makes it the sweetest, juiciest strawberry you've ever had... a 5 star trailer for sure.

    The MGS2 trailer is similar, but its more like a trail of little candies with a slice of cake at the end.

    I've mentioned trailers for mainly sequels because they have the advantage of being anticipated, obviously. But new trailers for new IPs like No Man's Sky and Horizon use mystery to build that anticipation and rely on our need for answers to build excitement/hype.

    But enough of my ramblings, I'm off to find some strawberries...

  • I like trailers that are more than the game, while keeping a faithful representation of the game.

    Youtube Video

    In this one they use an in-game track, with in-game text, in order to tell a story and give you a large tease at a lot of the game, without revealing too much. Not only that, but it's using a lot of art assets completely separate of the game (but very much based on the game) in conjuction with the assets of the game itself in the manner that you would expect to see them in the game.

    It makes it all entertaining to watch even if you've already completed the game, in fact it may be even more entertaining to watch due to the appreciation of plot elements and characters.

    I still might rank that P5 trailer above it though, where they're skating on the highway. Perfection.

  • alt text

    The debut trailer for Orbital Shock Drop Troopers - instantly leaps to mind.

    In the first instance, it came out of nowhere, so there was definitely a sense of the unknown as it played.

    The way it worked on confusion, turned day to night, to rainy streets and the reveal of our hero - this time not a multi-billion dollar fighter jet of a soldier, but just a man.

    The gorgeous jazz noir of Marty O'Donnell's score, veering into something very venerable and human, then bursting into gallant and suggesting such adventure with that daaa DAN DAAA at the end. brilliant.

  • To me it depends on what it's trying to achieve. I don't mind CGI trailers if they are able to set the tone, introduce characters, do some world building. I'd consider memorable trailer as great, since it's about marketing and then the game is on my mind.

  • Wanted post this in celebration of No Man's Sky going Gold.

    One of those best trailers I have ever seen was the No Man's Sky E3 2014 gameplay trailer. Usually we should differentiate a trailer that has edit cuts from the videos that are playthroughs of a game, but this video was definitely a trailer.

    Youtube Video

    Sean Murray had said that this trailer was recorded by him while he was just randomly playing through a game, capturing some footage for a trailer. He had his headphones on, listening to his favourite band, 65daysofstatic, and managed to sync his actions to the tone of the music. Quite frankly, he had a miracle happen to him. This trailer had it all with zero cuts in it.

    It is important for a trailer to leave you wanting more, and boy did this trailer made everyone want more, so much that Sean was pretty annoyed at revealing too much before the game came out. I honestly felt sorry for him because I understand why all of it should be a mystery. The feeling of space exploration, the vast unknown, is captured in this trailer. Alien life, alien plants, hostile creatures, ships launching into space and landing again, it is the sci-fi dream come true, and no one has discovered it but you.

    You didn't need to know anymore, the gameplay mechanics, the upgrade system, the objectives. This game just lets you explore the strange vastness, and the trailer just gave you enough to make you feel that. Couple the video with the great audio. The music syncing perfectly with the actions of the player, and the audio had that familiar vibe of Earth, yet it strikes the tone of discovery and wonder. The space scene sounded perfectly sci-fi as the music climaxed at the right moments.

    This is definitely one of the best trailers for me, and I am very much looking forward to the game.

  • Youtube Video

    Probably the greatest reaction to a trailer of all time. And to end with Miyamoto with a sword and shield. AHHHHH, my 14 year old self was crying.

  • This ME3 trailer is interesting too, in that it is all CGI, but is pretty much a prequel to the game

  • The Bioshock trailer always comes to mind for me

    Youtube Video

  • Youtube Video

    Shows of environments & monsters & actual gameplay

    Has a kickass song

    That musical queu when your hunter takes out the scythe and the music holds for just a second...

    Another example

    Youtube Video

    Showing off cool new environments & weapons all while that incredible song is rising in the background.

  • @Lexad The reaction makes the trailer legendary, and the trailer itself is such a perfect hype inducing thing as well. As much as I adore Twilight Princess, it's a shame the final game never lived up to the full vibe of the trailer. The Breath of the Wild trailer does a better job of conveying the final product I feel.

  • @Hero-of-Lime said in What makes a Great Game Trailer?:

    @Lexad The reaction makes the trailer legendary, and the trailer itself is such a perfect hype inducing thing as well. As much as I adore Twilight Princess, it's a shame the final game never lived up to the full vibe of the trailer. The Breath of the Wild trailer does a better job of conveying the final product I feel.

    It is a shame we never got the full out war that the trailer conveyed, but I loved TP. Because I played it before Ocarina of Time, I honestly feel it is a better game since I am not affected as much by nostalgia.

  • @Lexad I prefer Ocarina (it's my favorite game in general) but TP is either my second or third favorite Zelda game. The final game is perfectly fine, but the early environments in this trailer were so amazing. The forest, the dark wasteland, that's one thing BotW seems to be picking up the slack on.

  • Something that gives you an idea of the tone of the experience, doesn't spoil any major plot points or events, yet still leaves you wanting more. I think CG trailers have a place in gaming because it's an easy way to give us the tone they are going for without actually using any segments from the game (thus avoiding spoilers if they do it correctly).

    Here's a great example of a trailer in my opinion -

    Youtube Video

  • @Whoaness This is probably in my top 3 favorite posts in all of the forums. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much for your critiques and insight.

  • Twilight Princess '05

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution

    A trailer needs to take you on a journey. If it does, it doesn't even matter if block-pushing puzzles are part of that journey. I think a trailer can only be as good as its music. The way the music slowly builds in the Twilight Princess and Deus Ex trailers is palpable: You feel it in your bones. I don't usually feel that if the music isn't an original composition for the game, capturing its tone.

    There's something about the Eidos Deus Exes that makes overbearing narration and Adam Jensen's sheer edginess just work. We totally accept the random 16th century throwback because it fits with what they were going for.

    Both the Twilight Princess and above Skyrim trailer really try to sell the adventure. You can tell by how they both devolve into gameplay montages near the end. Skyrim shows you nothing but first-person environmental shots at the beginning of the trailer, playing to the worlds Bethesda are known for. It's also neat how they show both the dragon and Dragonborn's perspectives, highlighting their connection and even tilting the camera in time with the dragon's wing beats.

    They both have really strong endings, too, the Skyrim trailer playing up the natural wonder of respawning dragons. Meanwhile Twilight Princess uses a great zoom to eliminate negative space as Link and King Bulblin charge at one another head-on, giving the audience no room to breathe before cutting to the logo with the lightning. TP also had a bunch of great shots earlier in the trailer, like how they zoom out, de-syncing the camera with Link as he runs into the dark, unknown woods. It helps that Twilight Princess' in-game cutscene direction is still largely peerless in the gaming space.