Progression Regression - chanceisshane Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Progression Regression

I love progression systems in games. The feeling of constantly getting stronger as I progress both by a means of RPG elements such as leveling up with stat increases and through item procurement by means of quests, money, or crafting. However, I only love them when they are done correctly and treated as a core part of the game. Some games irritate me with what seems like hastily made progression systems that seem to be implemented only to increase replay value. One game in particular is Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

When I first booted up Blacklist I thought it was going to be similar to the previous game, Conviction, where there are one-time challenges you must complete for points to upgrade your weapons. If I remember correctly, in order to upgrade everything you had to earn a majority of all points obtainable which I enjoyed. However, Blacklist forgoes this almost entirely with a system based mainly off of money.

"Millionaire Sam Fisher is about to go on a spending spree."

With this new system you are rewarded money for every mission, side and main, that you do based off of how stealthily you handled the mission. The challenges also remain to reward you with additional money should you complete them. However, all of this falls apart when you can be rewarded the same amount of money for replaying missions and challenges. Because of this there is no incentive to play levels more stealthily for greater rewards. I ended up unknowingly amassing a large sum of cash inadvertently when I replayed a few side missions multiple times as I was unsatisfied with previous playthroughs. So, just after a third of the way into the game I had bought the best available gear and the preceding gear to unlock them that was not locked out by side-missions which is not many. I was now way too over-geared for most upcoming missions outside of the final portion of the game.

"Sam, please stop looking at $48000 like it is a lot. Get in your time machine, replay a few missions, and when you return you will have enough. It is not like you age or anything."

I found this weird that the developers did not compensate for this. A simple restriction similar to how Hitman: Blood Money handled this would suffice for the most part. If the player had to beat their score on a mission and was rewarded with the difference between the new score and the old one, then money in the game would have more value as well as the upgrades and gear.

Speaking of weird and overlooked, the game gives you the choice of having your melee attacks lethal or non-lethal. The difference being how many points you are rewarded with non-lethal giving more. My problem is that there is no incentive to choose lethal. Unconscious enemies do not awaken by themselves or if found and the speed of the animations between the two options are roughly the same so there is no advantage to lethal kills. This means that players will be rewarded with more points and therefore more money based entirely off of a choice that comes down to “do you want less points or more?”

"That choice in the center? Just keep it to the right. Trust me."

I do not know why they would replace Conviction's progression system with this one. It was not perfect, but I felt much more rewarded for my actions in that game compared to the trivial grind in Blacklist.  

Addendum

Would you guys rather I put my additional thoughts in an addendum like this rather than a preface? I personally prefer it this way as my preface took up the whole preview text when looking though the blogs. Anyway, this took WAY to long to finish. I originally had this planned to be released around half a year ago. *Excuses and more excuses* I should really stop making public my deadlines for my blogs until I am sure that I can meet them. 

Note: This blog has not been edited to address that the immortal Sam Fisher uses a time machine to earn money. 

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