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RPG mechanics taking over everything. Good or bad?

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I don't mind skill trees and levelling up characters as you go along, giving a feeling of getting more powerful and skillful

 

What I despise with everything I have, is any game with crafting (I'll just about forgive Zelda the cooking but would still prefer it not in the game) - endlessly looking for resources to ludicrously turn into something else is just busy work to pad out play times - you have found 280 red rocks, 15 special gold ones & 4 blue flowers and can now make a 200 gazillion watt laser zapper.

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18 hours ago, Pockets said:

Having said all that, I also don’t like difficulty levels. I think the core experience in most games should be designed carefully and not require you to make too many decisions outside of where they’re appropriate. I hate sliders in sports games for example. To me it seems like something the devs can point at if anyone complains about the core experience. I seem to be in the minority with this but I don’t get why. I’m paying the company for making me a game, not for giving me the tools to try and make it myself. 

 

I agree with you about sports sliders and other such configurations - I think their implementation is generally too wishy washy and offloads the job of balancing the game onto the player. I'm all for customisation options to suit styles of play, but that should be because the developers have considered the effects of each of these. 

 

However, difficulty is an issue of accessibility rather than personal taste, and should definitely be catered for where possible. Likewise Shadow of the Tomb Raider's separate settings for combat, traversal and puzzles, which allow people to focus on what they enjoy more about the game rather than having to put up with difficult sections that they don't enjoy just to be challenged by the things they do.

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2 hours ago, BeeJay said:

HZD was a really good example of how to do it in an adventure game. The gathering/crafting never felt like gatekeeping to content and didn't take too long apart from the very end game weapons which weren't necessary to complete the game. Almost every upgrade felt worthwhile, with the choices coming down to playstyle. Looking back, that was nearly the perfect game for me. The setting, the combat (not having to learn 100 different combos), the story. I've tried many games that in theory, are very similar but they just don't do it for me.

 

Christ, no. HZD was an example of crafting and upgrading done horribly. I spent more time trying to catch fish and rabbits than robo dinos in that mess of a game. I deleted it in a disgusted rage when I realised I'd been staring into rivers trying to catch fish for hours to upgrade some trivial inventory item. Awful.

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But you didn't need to. The game doesn't force that on you. If you choose to spend hours on a trivial inventory item, that's on you. 

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No, it was to increase ammo carrying capacity or something like that, required to kill a boss at the level I was at. I definitely wouldn't have done it if it was optional.

 

But that's only one of the reasons I thought the game was mostly shit.

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57 minutes ago, Uncle Nasty said:

No, it was to increase ammo carrying capacity or something like that, required to kill a boss at the level I was at. I definitely wouldn't have done it if it was optional.

 

But that's only one of the reasons I thought the game was mostly shit.

 

It really was optional. I completed the game on the hardest difficulty and spent very little, if any, time shooting fish or chasing wildlife. I did get the pouch upgrades but they weren't required.

 

I guess my love for the setting and story overcame the terrible crafting/skill tree. I don't remember it that way at all but I did play it a long time after release so maybe they patched out the problems by then.

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This is a bad trend overall. Loot, experience points, skill trees and so on are almost always busywork to create the illusion of content, rather than providing actual content. I imagine it must be infinitely easier to ask an artist to design a load more weapon skins for the same weapon with different rarity levels and stats than it is to design just one more weapon with meaningfully different handling and gameplay characteristics.

 

Fusion action/rpg games like System Shock and Diablo clearly really opened the way to this new world where everything is an RPG-lite, but those games would still force you to make choices in the skill tree that defined how your character would fight - in games like Spider-man, it's quite clear from the off that you will have unlocked every last skill by the end of the game.

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For myself, I'm more than happy with RPG mechanics provided that the base game feels good to play and fluid to begin with. I've been putting plenty of time into Warframe lately, and while for sure that game has plenty of grind involved, the starting act of combat and traversal feels incredibly satisfying without the upgrades that come over time. There are some that tread the line real fine (I love Dying Light but there's a few upgrades on the skill tree there that I feel should be a default action, and I recall Dead Rising taking the piss with having to unlock a dodge roll) but so long as the action doesn't feel constricted and the unlocks a requirement to properly play the game, I like me some RPG mechanics.

 

God Hand is probably my favourite example of how to approach the unlockable moves. You have a pretty robust set of actions to begin the game with, and over its course you can buy/unlock new moves to add or replace in your arsenal. Aside from a few unfortunate instances where a move is literally just the same with a higher damage output, these moves are distinct from one another and come with unique properties (launching foes, speed of attack, attacking low/high etc), though none are required to complete the game. It makes Gene as a character feel deeply customisable to your own playstyle, and you'll still be required to display skill to beat the game, as there's no godlike setup that will trivialise enemies.

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Castlevania with RPG elements, levelling up, and gear! Man, that would be rubbish. I hope nobody makes that game.

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Breath of the Wild would have been an EDGE 11 if only there had been a skill tree that locked access to your core abilities until you reached the fourth tier of each branch and then gave you the option to increase their power by 5% each time. Better luck next time, Nintendo.

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31 minutes ago, Cheyenne said:

God Hand is probably my favourite example of how to approach the unlockable moves. You have a pretty robust set of actions to begin the game with, and over its course you can buy/unlock new moves to add or replace in your arsenal. Aside from a few unfortunate instances where a move is literally just the same with a higher damage output, these moves are distinct from one another and come with unique properties (launching foes, speed of attack, attacking low/high etc), though none are required to complete the game. It makes Gene as a character feel deeply customisable to your own playstyle, and you'll still be required to display skill to beat the game, as there's no godlike setup that will trivialise enemies.

God Hand is extremely unabashedly a character action game though. I don't think the combo building screen is a borrowed RPG element, because I couldn't name an RPG that has a combo building screen where you pick a chain of moves to execute in a fight. Or any other game full stop, maybe.

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I think as a trend, I'm roughly against needless skill trees and definitely pointless crafting.

 

A skill tree like in Far Cry 3 (which is where a lot of this, to my mind, seems to have been cribbed from) where you're going to unlock (and be able to use) the whole thing through normal play just seems like bad gating of an overly-complex control scheme. Horizon Zero Dawn and Spider-Man both suffered from this, to an extent (they were both excellent games.) On the other hand, does Uncharted feel too one-note when you don't get any new moves from the opening level to the end?

 

And then all the needless crafting, particularly seeking out herbs and pelts of a certain quality. I don't believe anyone's cowboy fantasies are being served when you're seeking Wild Thyme to concoct a recipe, or whatever the red flowers were in HZD. Or enacting a rabbit genocide, just to get one Perfect pelt. It's dull dull busywork.

 

All the gear crafting in Dad of War got tiresome, for minimal gain. Witcher 3 had hundreds of plants and materials, and crafting key armour or potions was tedious as fuck.

 

But @Pob I'm not sure I'd include Destiny as an example of your trend. I think they're making an action RPG. It's got RPG elements because it's that sort of game. Using the right skills to have the right effects is core gameplay there.

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8 minutes ago, Mr Cochese said:

God Hand is extremely unabashedly a character action game though. I don't think the combo building screen is a borrowed RPG element, because I couldn't name an RPG that has a combo building screen where you pick a chain of moves to execute in a fight. Or any other game full stop, maybe.

Yeah, I was likely stretching it pretty far to include God Hand in there.

 

It's a tenuous connection, but something like Pokemon kinda fits into that description with how you have a limited number of moves to attach to a Pokemon from a far larger pool of moves. It's not as easily customisable as God Hand (you don't hold onto discarded moves to potentially reuse them and they unlock via levelling instead of purchase) but the TM's, especially in later games where they are infinite instead of single use, kinda have a similar idea in picking moves to use within your team.

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6 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

And then all the needless crafting, particularly seeking out herbs and pelts of a certain quality. I don't believe anyone's cowboy fantasies are being served when you're seeking Wild Thyme to concoct a recipe, or whatever the red flowers were in HZD. Or enacting a rabbit genocide, just to get one Perfect pelt. It's dull dull busywork.

Getting the pelts is all about studying the animals to find the right one and knowing what weapon to use, not bringing down the entire bloody forest like Blaine from Predator's amazing rotary cannon.

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16 minutes ago, Mr Cochese said:

Getting the pelts is all about studying the animals to find the right one and knowing what weapon to use, not bringing down the entire bloody forest like Blaine from Predator's amazing rotary cannon.

 

Which is fine for a deer or elk. You try binocularing and tracking that one specific squirrel or bunny. Fuck that. Varmint rifle, run through the grasslands killing everything.

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3 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

But @Pob I'm not sure I'd include Destiny as an example of your trend. I think they're making an action RPG. It's got RPG elements because it's that sort of game. Using the right skills to have the right effects is core gameplay there.

I’m not criticising Destiny at all. It’s just a fairly clean example of a totally non-RPG game (Halo) that has been thoroughly RPG-ified. 

 

In fact, when I used to play Halo I really longed for reasons to replay the levels, because it’s just so fun at its core. Destiny brings a whole system to rewards to encourage this, so it’s a great match. 

 

The upside of RPG mechanics is that, if you really love a game, they give you loads of little feedback loops to get you get balls deep into it. If a game is really great you want excuses to keep on playing.

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4 hours ago, K said:

Castlevania with RPG elements, levelling up, and gear! Man, that would be rubbish. I hope nobody makes that game.

As clever as you're trying to be, Symphony is absolutely nothing like IV. Adding RPG elements to straight out action games is so often lazy. 

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RPG mechanics have been taking over / enhancing video games since the mid to late '80s, and since my favourite arcade game - Wonder Boy: Monster Land - is so clearly in love with RPG mechanics this is obviously a superb thing.

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24 minutes ago, Pob said:

I’m not criticising Destiny at all. It’s just a fairly clean example of a totally non-RPG game (Halo) that has been thoroughly RPG-ified. 

 

Yeah, I get you weren't criticising it. I just think it's a different fit than, say, Horizon or Spider-Man.

 

I think it's inaccurate to say it's Halo with loot/levelling bolted on. I think it's been designed from the ground up to be an RPG in that respect. Unlike the new Tomb Raiders, or the various other games in the video, where it's just a thing they do because games do it.

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Anyway, I just watched the video now I'm no longer at work. I'd forgotten God of War actually had a skill tree, and would agree with the video guy that it was of good length and mostly worked to introduce the wider move set well. It's a good video, making good points.

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4 hours ago, Uncle Mike said:

 

Which is fine for a deer or elk. You try binocularing and tracking that one specific squirrel or bunny. Fuck that. Varmint rifle, run through the grasslands killing everything.

 

You don't have to binocular them. Once you've studied one of them, it shows you how many stars any others you aim at have at the bottom of the screen.

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I'm pretty dead against lite RPG mechanics. I want my RPGs to be RPGs and action games to be action games.

 

 The worst example was new Doom - it wasn't overt but I seriously question why it was there in the first place.

 

Replayability probably.

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I just like clearly defined parameters. Depth is good when done well in a good, deep game that you go into hoping for an 80 hour + experience - like a JRPG - but don’t work in shorter, or what should be shorter experiences. I don’t play Assassin’s Creed games despite mildly enjoying the second one’s gameplay because there’s hours of bullshit you have to wade through. 

 

I think I’d have had more time for it when I was younger and maybe even enjoyed it but my favourite game this year was Celeste I think. No difficulty levels, no extraneous bullshit, only one real upgrade I think. That’s my ideal. I don’t mind  how hard something is as long as the task is clear and you’re not wondering if you need to spend more hours doing bullshit and come back after. 

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There was a time in the early 90s when I was really in to RPGs and I used to imagine what it would be like if RPG mechanics found their way in to other games. I'd seen hints of it in Zelda:LTTP and the old shop screens you'd get in Amiga shooters but I kept imagining something more in depth, and how amazing it would be.

 

turns out it's... okay... I guess?

 

A few years later I got in to old school roguelikes I used to imagine what it would be like it roguelike mechanics were in other games, I'd see hints of it in Diablo and later in Phantasy Star Online but I kept imagining something more in depth, and how amazing it would be.

 

turns out it's... okay... I guess?

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15 hours ago, MW_Jimmy said:

I'm pretty dead against lite RPG mechanics. I want my RPGs to be RPGs and action games to be action games.

 

 The worst example was new Doom - it wasn't overt but I seriously question why it was there in the first place.

 

Replayability probably.

 

I felt like the RPG mechanics in Doom and Wolfenstein: The New Order encouraged me to play them in a way which made them less fun as shooters, constantly ducking into menus to check progress while doing X of a thing specifically to level something up, scouring the emptied maps for pickups before moving onto the next section and abusing checkpoints to grind for new abilities instead of getting on with the game.

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