Top 5 Trends In Gaming That Need To Go Away

Video Game

Video games are an interesting form of media. On one hand, we have almost limitless possibilities of video game to advance the realm of interactive storytelling. 

On the other hand, developers and publishers are holding the medium back when they apply the same tired trends over and over to games because they think that is what the fans want or can’t be bothered to find some inspiration.

Today I’ve put together a list of the top 5 trends in gaming that I wish would just disappear for a while.

far cry 3
I want to note that I don’t disapprove of every iteration of the ideas presented below, simply that they’ve all become so overused and sterile that every time I hear about one in a new game, I feel a bit sick.

Zombies

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Zombies were at one point an innovation. Resident Evil showed the world how scary a video game could be by utilizing the tried and true film creature, the zombie.

While there have been games as of late that do something interesting with the concept; namely The Last Of Us, most zombie games are nauseatingly similar to a point that every new zombie game to come out looks like the ten before it.

If you are going to use zombies in your game, you best come up with an interesting way to apply them, as they’ve been used so much that even the zombies are sick of being badly represented.

THINK OF THE ZOMBIES!

dayz

Uninspired Skill Trees

Role-playing games took the world by storm. They showed us that we could have customization in games that would further enrich the experience, while simultaneously giving you the feeling that you have an impact on the journey of your character beyond simply guiding them through the world.

The problem is that developers now use skill trees so much that we hardly see games that don’t have some sort of progression system in place. Furthermore, a lot of the skill trees we do get are so uninspired that they almost needn’t exist, and single-handedly cripple their sense of immersion by some of what they offer.

I did an interview a while back with Charles Cox of 4gency, the studio behind the intriguing and unique Habitat. Not only was Charles a genuinely kind person with goals and aspirations that reach the stars, he also recognised the terrible trend in skill trees and with his game, sought out to prove that we could still have skill trees that matter.

Why do I need to unlock the ability to stealth kill If I am capable of wielding a knife and employing stealth to traverse the level, would it not then make sense that I, as someone skilled in the art of sneaking and murder, could then take out someone from behind vcover? One could argue that I might be learning as I go, and in some cases that’s true, but when we have such arbitrary unlocks like 5% health increases, it has almost no impact to the point of not needing to exist.

This is even more apparent when you almost exclusively play as these big tough brodudes capable of punching through solid concrete. We needn’t have such pitiful upgrades.

Use your untapped pool of creativity developers!

terraria

Crafting

 Remember in Skyrim how you could spend twenty minutes chopping wood or drying leather? picking herbs and smelting iron? I sure do. I remember it because it was so commonplace that it’d be impossible to forget.

Remember how every game that had crafting had this slow, tedious, unrewarding grind that took so much out of you that your entire playtime would be spent doing these acts?

While crafting can be an excellent feature that can make you feel as if you’re truly empowering yourself and your character or doing what it takes to survive, these needlessly forced crafting systems in half of the Steam Greenlight games and triple A titles need to stop being a thing.

I don’t want to have another game full of pointless items to collect and combine so that you can arbitrarily add a supposed layer of depth to your shallow experience.

Come up with an interesting way to beyond simply looting herbs from bushes, or at the very least, don’t make it so damned time consuming.

Spec Ops The Line

Forced Multiplayer

 Xbox Live and Playstation Network showed us that we could have truly immersive and unique multiplayer experiences on the home console. It was a blessing and it felt amazing to take a game you loved online to compete with your friends and foes alike for the top spot.

And then every game had to do it…

The recent trend of shoehorning multiplayer into your game to add the buzzwords “replayability” and “online experience” to your box is getting so out of hand that our single player experiences are suffering greatly. I like to play games for narrative, and I also like to best my friends in an online setting. That said, I don’t want to take my friends on in every single game that comes out, especially ones that are clearly not designed for multiplayer.

When you decide to focus several months of development time on an underwhelming and shallow multiplayer experience, you are not investing your time productively. Your single player is what will sell your game believe it or not, because even die-hard multiplayer fans are getting sick of having Dead Space multiplayer, or Bioshock multiplayer, or Open World Zombie Shooter Crafting Simulation 2015 multiplayer.

If you want to make a rich multiplayer experience, you best have a team big enough to handle the task because a throwaway campaign will do nothing but hurt sales.

phantom pain

Open Worlds

 I’ve talked a bit about open worlds when I wrote my piece on Catherine, but I want to specifically focus on why I am so tired of open worlds and I think this is the best time to do so.

First and foremost, not every video game needs to be a non-linear, open world experience. When you choose to go open world, you sacrifice the following things: pacing, storytelling and a sense of progression.

Some games did it very well like Vice City or Red Dead Redemption. Even something like Far Cry, despite it lacking any sort of decent plot.

Most games however, have an issue wherein having an open world experience breaks up the story so much that by the time you get to the end, you forget everything that has happened before it. Beyond this, being able to select which quest you do and when takes away any sort of intricacy or agency. It leaves you playing short episodes within a bigger world, and none of these episodes have any sort of impact on either in most cases. While that’s fine, your story will lose it’s conciseness and a lot of the flare it’d have if it were a more scripted and linear experience.

Another point I want to focus on is that developers keep taking our beloved franchises and making them open world. Some might be screaming excitement but I on the other hand feel a great sense of anxiety about whether or not these video game will deliver what their predecessors achieved.

Why does Final Fantasy need to be open world? Final Fantasy XV is going to be a huge video game with sprawling cities and massive landscapes for us to explore. Except, I don’t want to. I play Final Fantasy games expecting to be enthralled in the story they offer. I like having choices and being able to do what I want, but you need to have a limit on it or we’ll end up back to square one, picking herbs and exploring shallow areas that give us little to no reward. Why would you prefer that over having a constantly progressing story that doesn’t take huge breaks for you to endlessly wander? Wouldn’t you rather have a tight progression system not hindered by the bad pacing of an open world? One that makes you feel as if you are growing throughout the story?

The demo, while gratifying and exciting, spent way too much time with your characters repeating banter while traversing a huge and empty landscape. Furthermore, your progression while it worked, was partially linked to you randomly finding weapons to unlock new abilities for your sword-slinging limit-break. While this is okay, it was clear that taking it open world made it suffer.

Final Fantasy isn’t the only video game though. We have existing franchises that had open world-like qualities like The Legend Of Zelda, Dragon Age, Metal Gear Solid, and The Witcher where you could do what you please, but they still offered a concise and satisfying narrative —  in Zelda’s case, a rewarding adventure through diverse dungeons full of traps and puzzles. So I wonder to myself and ask you again, why would we want to break up all of what makes these video games great for the sake of having a gigantic empty world? Unless they manage to fill the world with life; something I am not counting on.

The Witcher 3 doesn’t need to be the biggest video game world in history. The Witcher 2 balanced open world mechanics with storytelling in an almost perfect way, so having The Witcher 3 potentially disregard all of this so you can explore massive landscapes seems counterproductive to me. You should only need big worlds in narrative-driven video games to get from point A to point B with some small excursions along the way. They should feel as if they don’t drag on for too long, and they should be there to house the story, not take you out of the story or sabotage the pacing. (Sandbox games don’t apply to this)

Dragon Age had wonderful progression and it offered side-quests if you so chose to take part in them. Now we have The Hinterlands that alone, offer sixty hours of meaningless and frivolous side-quests.

How rewarding…

Bigby Wolf

Despite everything I just said, I don’t mean to say that every single thing listed here should be abolished, just that developers should be cautious how they apply these ideas. They’ve been doing nothing but crippling otherwise interesting games for far too long.

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 2 ‘A House Divided’ Walkthrough

House Divided

The second episode of Telltale Games The Walking Dead, A House Divided, has been released on March 4th and Clementine’s story is back for a whole new adventure filled with stunning revelations. Choices made during the first episode, All That Remains, will affect the development of this chapter and consecutively generate different outcomes at certain times.

Episode 2 Walkthrough: ‘A House Divided’

A House Divided catches up with the latest events of episode one, where Clementine had to choose between saving Luke or Pete. The beginning depends exclusively on players’ decision, however Pete’s fate is already defined and he won’t survive the escape. Furthermore, this episode will unveil the future of the cabin group, as well as its enemies.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
Pete sacrifices himself to ensure Clementine escapes.

Part 1: Live or Die

Clementine will run and hide with whoever she chose to save at the end of episode one. If she preferred to rescue Nick, then they’ll both find a small cabin and lock themselves there until the walkers calm down. In the meanwhile, Nick will act extremely depressed and get himself drunk with the whiskey stored inside. Players can then try to support him into getting out of there alive or show disdain towards his pain. If Pete was saved, then Clementine will end up in a small truck with a wounded Pete. After realizing that Pete can’t be saved, Clem can choose to be friendly by offering him some water and cigarettes or deny him the goods. Eventually, Clementine is able to escape with the assistance of her chosen companion and reach the main cabin by herself.

Major Decision: Be Friendly or Conflicting with Nick/Pete.

Tip: Try to be supportive with Nick, he’ll remember your words later on.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
Carver locates the cabin group and Clem is unable to protect their identity.

Part 2: Who’s that Strange Man?

Carlos and Rebecca go out to look for the rest of the members when Clementine arrives and reveals them what happened back at the river’s stream. Before leaving, Carlos asks Clem to look after Sarah. While the two girls take pictures of each other with an old automatic camera, a strange man approaches the cabin. Sarah recognizes the man and identifies him as dangerous. Clementine has no choice but to handle the talking. Soon enough and due to his persistent questionnaire, she notices that it might be Carver, the man feared by the group. Clementine tries to protect her friends continuously but Carver finds out the truth when he finds Sarah’s photograph lying on the ground. When the group returns home, they realize Carver has discovered their hideout and they must immediately leave. While discussing the matter, Sarah mentions that Carver saw her picture and Carlos gets angry. Players can then back up Sarah or pretend they didn’t know anything.

Major Decision: Back up Sarah about the photograph or remain silent.

Tip: Don’t be too aggressive towards Carver, he knows you’re covering for the cabin group.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
The cabin group hits the road to escape Carver and his men.

Part 3: On the Run Towards North

The group hits the road towards north, hoping to reach the mountains, where they can easily lose Carver and his men. If players saved Pete, the group will try to find what’s left of him at the truck location. Five days later, the party finally reaches its destination but first they must cross a damaged bridge crowded with walkers. After taking down several zombies, Clem and Luke meet with a strange armed guy who offers them assistance. In the meanwhile, Nick approaches and he immediately loses control. Despite what his friends tell him, he ends up shooting the friendly guy. The group crosses the bridge and scavengers a nearby small cabin, where Clementine finds some food and a knife.

Major Decision: None.

Tip: Fight your way and save Luke – after dropping your hammer, grab nearby weapons to defeat walkers.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
New friends or old friends?

Part 4: Reuniting with Kenny

At the doors of a huge ski lodge, the party looks around for an entrance, while Clem climbs a tower to recon the area. She spots two flash lights around the bridge and immediately comes down. But she’s not really able to tell the news, since she realizes Kenny is alive and among the hostile group. After a short introduction, Kenny vouches for the cabin group and the new survivors offer temporary shelter. While Kenny and his girlfriend, Sarita, guides the guests around the house, Clem helps Walter with the dinner. However, she realizes that something is wrong when she see a peach can that looks exactly as the ones found in the small cabin near the bridge. Besides, Walter mentions another member who’s outside scouting, Matthew. When the dinner is served, Clementine is able to choose sitting near Kenny or Luke. Anyhow, Kenny will end up arguing with Luke and Nick about Clementine’s future.

Major Decision: Sit with Luke (cabin group) or with Kenny (mansion group).

Tip: Try to be coherent and stick with one group, playing two sides at once might not be the best idea.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
In this case, the truth will save your skin.

Part 5: The Truth and Only the Truth

Walter speaks with Clementine about values and literature and once again, he mentions his dear friend Matthew. It’s late and he hasn’t returned yet, which makes Clem very nervous. Kenny and Walter go around the lodge to check the windows before the storm hits and they find a suspicious woman, who claims to be Bonnie, a starving mother begging for food. Walters hands a crate full of food and she leaves. Back at the lodge, Luke reveals to Clem that Matthew is actually the guy shot by Nick at the bridge and asks her to hide the knife found at the small cabin. But it’s too late, Walter has already found it and demands an explanation. Players can either lie or tell him the truth about Nick and the shooting at the bridge. Also, if he’s not convinced that it was all an accident, he’ll take revenge later on.

Major Decision: Lie or tell the truth about Matthew’s murder.

Tip: You should tell the truth about Nick’s actions; else Walter will let Nick die later on.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
Saving Nick is exclusively on Walter’s hands.

Part 6: The Windmill Issue

As the storm approaches, the windmill gets jammed and starts making loud noises, which soon enough draws walkers’ attention to that specific zone. The two groups grab their weapons and prepare for a huge invasion. Clem shuts down the windmill but as soon as she finishes, walkers are already everywhere. During the fight, everyone look after each other’s back. Even Walker will save Nick, if he was approached correctly during the last part. After a long conflict, the remaining walkers start getting shoot by another party – Carver has successfully tracked the cabin group.

Major Decision (Result): Persuade Walter that Nick is a good man or tell him Nick is just another ordinary guy.

Tip: Always shoot the closer walkers first, else you’ll get overwhelmed.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2
Apparently, Carver’s team has won this battle but will it win the war?

Part 7: Point of No Return

Carver, Bonnie and his men take most of the group members as hostages inside the mansion. However, Luke and Kenny are able to escape and Clementine joins Alvin and Rebecca who are hidden upstairs. Carver demands to see Rebecca, who’s carrying his child, and since the group doesn’t collaborate, he starts breaking Carlos’ fingers. Clementine must make a crucial decision – surrender in order to save Carlos or go out looking for Luke and Kenny, who’ll be able to help from the outside. If Clem surrenders, she’ll join the hostage party. However, Kenny will start shooting Carver’s men and he will kill Walter. On the other hand, if Clem goes outside and choose to fight until the end, he will also kill Alvin. The episode ends with Luke missing and everyone else being held hostage.

Major Decision: Surrender or keep fighting.

Tip: Heavy retaliation will cause Alvin’s death.