The lights are on
We usually have a good idea of what we're supposed to do
when we play games. Shoot the bad guys. Score more points than your opponent.
Craft and quest. And yet, why do we feel lost?
It's a very common occurrence in this office – and I'm sure
you've had a similar experience with your friends – where someone comes in
with important questions for others who've already played a game. How do you
perform this attack? Which weapon is the best to use? Which skill tree should I
avoid? As gamers, we're obsessed with doing things "right" – whether that's to get
a correct ending, see the full game, get achievements/completely fulfill an
objective, or simply not to waste our time. Even if you've played a lot of games, it's easy to feel like you're doing
things the wrong way.
For instance, a lot of people I talked to who played
BioShock Infinite weren't sure which weapons they should keep or discard. Given
that you can only carry two, ammo for your specific weapons isn't always
around, and that you never know which kinds of enemies you are going to face, I
felt uneasy early in the game until I talked to the other editors who assured
me that it didn't really matter.
But how was I to know? Obviously I would have eventually
found out, but it could have saved me a lot of unnecessary hand-wringing and I
wouldn't have altered my playstyle at the time if the whole system was designed
better. I guess I still have memories of getting burned in older games where I
ran out of money or spent skill points on a useless branch of a skill tree.
Sadly, these kinds of guessing games persist to this day. Poorly explained objectives and gameplay systems – as well as unbalanced
components like how a game doles out health, ammo, or money – befuddle players
and leave them guessing. This goes beyond a particularly hard puzzle or
inexplicable bugs in a game. It's strange that as evolved as our medium has
become and how much time and money is often put into integrating all the
elements of a game, it's natural for even experienced gamers to be left in the
Thankfully, there are always fellow gamers out there willing
to help; who are empathetic to your struggles and happy to point the way.
Despite unfortunate circumstances and the fact that you'd think even triple-A titles
would be constructed better, I guess it's just another objective/mission/puzzle
to conquer in games that are already full of them. As always, we're up for the
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
This happened to me in White Knight Chronicles II--I got through more than 3/4 of the game only to become stuck because I had not made any of my characters mages and so I had to start the whole game over.
If yer not using cheat codes during a PS2 era GTA game, then you're playing it wrong.
I've never understood all the love for Borderlands and its sequel, to the point were I was seriously considering if something was wrong with my palate. The game just felt like, to me at least, a scaled-downed MMO layered with dull combat, pointless loot, and an infinite stream of the most grating jokes imaginable.
Fable 3 was all this for me. I played through every thing I could and I was absolutely bored the entire time. I must not have been playing right or something, but I got nothing out of that game.
I think the worst are MMOs, you're doing great until you start grouping up with other players and all of a sudden everyone is saying you chose the wrong skill set essentially forcing you to change all your skills and almost how you play the game.
I would probably need to write an essay to list all the reasons why I agree so much with this article. So, I'll just say that I totally agree.
However, I will also admit that several players prefer to find these things by themselves via trial and error. Some, including game developers, may also think that it is an incentive to replay a game after you have found the "ideal stuff" for you.
Nice feature, Kato! I tend to get this feeling, more with MMO's and strategy games than anything.
That's why I like RPG's that let you respec. Nothing worse than getting a hundred or 2 hours into a game, only to have your setup fail completely.
I had this problem in Sacred 2. It takes multiple playthroughs to get even close to maxing out any skills, and by the time you've experimented, you've spent WAAAY too much time on your character to just toss him/her/it aside for a new one.
There was a time when I would play the same game for months straight, but there's just too many games I'd like to play now. I just don't have time to play one game that long, only to have to start over again because something didn't work.
I think this is why we should be more comfortable with getting lost in a game. Don't use the best weapons. Don't use the best build. Don't play the game the "right" way. Just do what you do and see what happens.
I actually managed to play planescape torment wrong, i wanted to be a rogue (all right, thats where things go to hell in torment) but i wanted to get as many dialog options as possible. Then i sacrificed 30hp to the pillar of skulls. So i ended with a character, who died like nothing, couldnt hit anything, didnt do any damage... I never managed to beat the final boss, he just one shotted me every time. Some times i was able to survive for a few rounds with my fairly high (low) ac, but it always ended badly. After a ton of tries i got really pissed at it, and decided that the nameless one never got his mortality back, everyone died and he lost his memory for the last time.
I like that games make you figure out your play-style, without saying, this is the most efficient and easy route. That is actually what I hate when I play a game. It's more rewarding when I get it right that way.
I completely agree! I hate games where it does not give a clear objective as to what you are to do!
I can't agree more.
Hitman: Absolution is "the" game that always makes me feel like I'm never doing it right. I still haven't, to this day, beaten the game because of how often you are penalized for not being stealthy. Also there are so many options on how to approach a situation that often times I'll go back a restart a certain scenario just so I can do it "cooler" than the way I did before. Most games I'm willing to just enjoy from point A to B with no problems of wondering if I'm doing it right but Hitman: Absolution really brings out the OCD in me. The developers have set up a particularly bittersweet reward system. Still one of my most favorite stealth games ever.
Sometimes I feel this way with Dragon's Dogman: Dark Arisen. I had the original Dragon's Dogma and just feel like I am not doing it right. But screw it, I will run around and explore and find items. I will get jumped by a Chimera and get thrown off a cliff by a cyclops....
It is more fun that way, though I still find myself wanting a strategy guide some days. :)
I know a lot of gamers don't like it, or have the patience to wait for informative submissions, but that's why I keep checking websites like GameWinners.com for any walkthroughs or strategies. Nothing's more frustrating than taking a long walk down the wrong path (only to re-fight the same enemies back to where you started), or not knowing how to fight the next "boss" enemy. Especially the latter, I hate having to go through, from the last save point over and over, trying different tactics to find how to take the "boss" down. Again, I know some feel the tips are somewhat like "cheating", but they can save much frustration trying to get through a certain spot of the game.