I think this is the question that has plagued me for the entirety of my adult, gaming life:
Can a game stand on quality of gameplay alone?
What do you think super-fans? For the longest time, I’ve been a vocal proponent of the negative. Shooters, for example, have always been the genre where I’ve found that I need a lot more. CoD, Battlefield – how many brown people can you kill before you’re just fed up? How many times can you go online, get racial slurs and curses thrown in your direction while listening to people arguing who is the bigger “noob” because their K/D ration is .1 better than the other guys?
I think this is the easiest genre to pick on. Well, other than say, sports, racing and fighting games. All those games have ever had was gameplay to stand on. And, frankly, that’s fine. It’s just one of those things.
But with shooters, if I’m going to spend a bunch of time, immersing myself into a world, I need something to sink my teeth into. Give me a Borderlands. Give me a Bioshock. In the case of the former, yeah, you need to have the same sense of humour you had when you were fifteen. That’s a given – but at least there’s something there. Some reason to keep killing bandits and bosses. The sheer thrill of the kill just isn’t enough.
The latter, the Bioshock series (excluding 2, to some extent) are some of the best games I’ve ever played. In all due deference, Bioshock 2 did have a good story on it’s own. Against the unadulterated brilliance that is Ken Levine, nothing is comparable. Yes, one is a little too Ayn Rand-y for my tastes. Even with that in mind, it’s still easily one of the best games of the last generation – and don’t get me started on Infinite.
The reason I ask this question is: when I see games like The Division or Ghost Recon: Wildlands – to me, those games look like the sort of thing that can stand on their own two legs without needing the high quality story telling that I’m used to. The level of freedom, the ability to decide what you want to do in any given situation, gives the player back the power.
I think that’s the real appeal of story heavy games. You get immersion, so long as the quality of the story is there. With games like The Division, allowing you to decide the actions of your character – whether it be to team up with those strangers, or to back-stab them at the last second to take their booty, that is real freedom. No rails. Just personal choice.
Bear this in mind, gamers, it’s still a little early to tell. Ubisoft has a bad track record of showing off stuff that looks amazing and has unprecedented levels of promise *cough* Watch Dogs *cough*. So I might end up eating these words in the next year or so. But I’m hopeful, and totally willing to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt, despite some severe let downs.
All I’m saying is: My view has been a bit narrow up till now. Mechanics are important, but I would have never put them ahead of anything else.
That’s not to say that all story-heavy games are good. I’m sure I’m going to make a pariah of myself by saying this, but I’ll say it anyway. Last of Us, well, it wasn’t as good as everyone made it out to be. Not to say it wasn’t great. Because it was. I just don’t think it lived up to the hype. The gameplay mechanics weren’t bad, though at times they could be pretty frustrating on the difficulty level I generally play at, but it wasn’t all mechanics that dragged the game down. There were some pretty slow parts of that story and it felt kind of disjointed at times. Ok, I’ll finish up so you can all get your pitchforks/torches ready.
– The Ego