Welcome to “Palaver” – a monthly discussion where the Another Dungeon team answer a question presented to them. If you have a burning question you’d like to ask you can post a comment below or send us an email.
This months question is:
Batman: Arkham Knight is a wonderful game that’s almost ruined by the inclusion of the Batmobile – what element of a game almost stopped you from loving it?
Andrew: As the Batmobile caused me to come up with the question, it’s possibly not fair of me to rag on it again (I have Batman Noel to thank for that this time round). No, this time I have to say the worst inclusion to a game has been the daily challenges for Rayman Legends. Whilst the core elements of Rayman Legends are downright perfect and an (almost) equal match to the Greatest Game of All Time™ Rayman Origins, the inclusion of the daily challenges became quite an irritating bother for those who were going for the much desired Platinum Trophy. These daily challenges utilise one of my pet peeves with platformers today – procedurally generated levels.
What makes a Rayman game great is the genius level design, so throw in these annoying procedurally generated levels that reward you with the lowest amount of points possible and are supposed to get you to the next level of ‘awesomeness’ was frustrating, to say the least. It took weeks of tedious game play to get to the next level. “Why didn’t you stop, Andrew?” Because I wanted that damn platinum! If it weren’t for these procedurally generated levels, I’d have played this on more platforms than just the PS3.
Ben: I’m ashamed to say, but for me this would be Darkest Dungeon’s inclusion of corpses (though they have since included the ability to turn them off). Whilst the ravenous hordes of the internet will now be clamouring for my head over this controversial stance, I honestly believe that the medium they delivered the game in forced their hand. The game is Early Access, and as such players are given the chance to make assumptions and grow attached to the game in an unfinished state. Much like any post-release patch that changes gameplay, additions onto Early Access titles can fundamentally change play experience for the worse. And, at the end of the day, the people paying for and playing your game are the arbiter final on the matter!
Whilst I respect what the team behind Darkest Dungeon were attempting to do with the corpse update (that is, when opponents die they drop corpses, which essentially act as more monsters that cannot attack and must be overcome again), I also believe that they introduced an aspect of the game that fundamentally changed their players’ fun, in some cases, for the worse. They should be lauded for listening to their fans and repealing the changes.
Noel: The only game I’ve ever actually experienced this with is Arkham Knight, I love Batman, I love all those wonderful toys, and I was excited about the inclusion of the Batmobile into Arkham Knight… until I started playing the game and I rapidly grew to hate having to use it. To me, it felt like such a forced/tacked-on game mechanic that adds nothing to the story or the game, just an element of frustration. The game looks brilliant (as does the Batmobile) and the story is great, but with the constant back and forth of having to use the Batmobile slowing progress throughout the game, and the handling being a bit lacklustre, it really just killed the game for me. I mean, I’ll still play it (it is Batman, after all) but I don’t feel the urgency to play it like I did when I first got it.
Tim: This is a tough one for me, as usually if there’s a mechanic that I don’t like, I won’t finish the game (I have a lot of unfinished games). I guess for me one general game mechanic that I’m not a fan of is turn-based combat. I really don’t like it. We’ve evolved to a point in gaming when you no longer need to slow down the game, but developers keep insisting on making turn-based games. So with this in mind, I still can’t explain why I love Pokémon games. The very core of the gameplay revolves around wandering through waist-high grass, trying to get into turn-based fights with innocent little creatures who were minding their own business.
There’s no denying that the Pokémon games have certain charm, and I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest Pokémon fan ever, but I own and enjoy several Pokémon titles and love them all. Now, if only we could get an action RPG Pokémon game, I would never have to leave the house. Well, I’d still have to work, but I guess there’s always the dole.
Amelia: I honestly cannot think of a game experience that exactly fits this question, but I do have something close. I was a late-comer to the Heroes of Might and Magic franchise, but after I discovered Heroes of Might and Magic 3, I developed something of an obsession with it, making up for lost time. After playing HOMM3 for more hours than I care to calculate, I moved through more recently released titles, playing 4 and 5, and finally arriving at 6. I was very excited to try out a (then) current generation HOMM game. I was slightly put-off my shiny new title when I discovered that I had to install something called ‘Uplay’ before I would be able to try it out. However, my excitement fuelled my perseverance, and I managed to install Uplay and eventually began play. The game was quite enjoyable… apart from the extremely invasive Uplay features, which required you to interact with the game’s online community in order to unlock certain parts of the game. After this ‘feature’ caused the game to crash and I lost all my progress, I gave up, my respect for the franchise totally gone. I’ve stuck with the pre-Internet purity of HOMM3 ever since.
Dave: The first thing that sprung to mind when I read this question was “poorly implemented quick-time events”. They’ve become a constant in many modern games, but are not often well designed – meaning you either miss out on the cinematic or can’t progress with a game! For example; The Bourne Identity on Xbox 360 had QTEs as essential scenes for a boss fight – and ONLY in a boss fight. The timing was so tight I was unable to beat it, meaning a game I was (arguably) good at for 95% of the time was punishing me for failing the 5%. This was incredibly frustrating, and almost had me give up playing – until I realized my TV settings were wrong and my issue was latency, not the QTEs themselves.
Your question indicates a specific example, however, so I’m going to choose the “on rails” chapter in Resident Evil 5. Why they wedged that level in the middle of an otherwise consistent game is beyond me. The lack of defence and the required change in tactics was poorly implemented, jarring, and frustrating. Throw in an annoying boss fight and you have a level that took almost an hour to beat on the hardest difficulty and brought relief, instead of joy, once it was behind me.
Jair: I’m incredibly hard to please when it comes to games. Pretty much every game has something going on that will stop me playing it soon after I pick it up. The lucky ones are the games that almost stop me playing, but manage to bring me back by some sort of miracle. Love is a strong word and it is a word I rarely use to describe how I feel about games; however, one game I do love (but very nearly didn’t) was Heroes and Generals, the free-to-play WW2 FPS available on Steam for PC. The free-to-play monetisation system was brutal on me at first and I very nearly gave up, but due to some social intervention from a pal also playing it – not to mention my desire to unlock my favourite WW2 rifle – I kept at it and it’s now a regular play.
Greg: Much like Tim and Jair, if I come across something in a game that I don’t like, it often means the end for me. I could totally love the game, but the chore of having to do something tedious or frustrating makes me procrastinate – and often I just forget the game even existed, and later lack the desire to return to it. A specific example of a game I do love, except for a certain aspect, would be the Resident Evil games – all of them. Opting for a frustrating control scheme does increase anxiety, but I often wonder if it was really necessary. Thankfully, the games themselves were great (up to 5, at least), or otherwise I would have smashed my controller against the wall in a fit of rage and sworn myself off them.