There’s one big question on everyone’s minds at E3 this year. Specifically, what’s with all the deer?
A lot of game trailers have had appearances from deer, most of which end with them skittering away. The Division 2 has several appearances of deer, while Just Cause 4 had a beautiful buck in the cinematic and gameplay trailer. A few graze by a creek in Far Cry 5’s DLC. Ghost of Tsushima disrupts a deer’s gentle wanderings. A car scatters a group standing in the road in Forza Horizon 4. Halo Infinite even features a whole herd.
So what’s the deal?
The use of deer in The Division 2 trailers clue us in to what’s happening. In the gameplay trailer, the player character stumbles upon a deer while wandering through a building in a botanical garden; that deer represents wilderness having reclaimed a civilized area.
In contrast, the cinematic trailer includes a lingering shot over a dead deer. But it opens with an extravagant nature shot. This beautiful, safe, peaceful area is actually a portioned-off compound. The area outside is dangerous, cruel, lawless — wild, so there’s a deer, but not peaceful, so it’s dead.
In any media, deer represent peace and calm, and pure nature, the kind we have casual, often surprising contact with. In games where you hunt the deer, it represents reclaiming nature. When the deer continues on its way unharmed, as in Ghost of Tsushima, it represents coexistence.
This all points to a broader trend at E3: lingering shots of vivid, lush, green nature.
Gone are the sparse, brown, desert landscapes of games past. Even for post-apocalyptic games like Fallout 76, we’re seeing more beautiful, verdant pastures. And that includes spring and summer seasons and, of course, wildlife. Which is great — the repetitive starkness of the landscapes was starting to get boring, so any flash of color is fine by me.
What gameplay interactions will you have with the majestic creatures? Maybe none! But we’re hoping you can at least pet, and not just murder, the symbolic beasts. Watch the video above to learn more!