“Oh no, for some reason, I seem to have forgotten all my abilities and lost all my weapons!!”
And that is pretty much what happens at the beginning of direct sequels to games!
I was playing Prototype 2 last night for the first time, and having played Prototype previously, I had an idea of what to expect.
What I didn’t expect was that it would turn out to be pretty much the exact same learning curve and ability growth!
There are slight differences, but you basically learn skills at the same rate, for the same reasons as the predecessor.
And that got me thinking (dangerous!).
There are some pretty contrived ways that games make themselves accessible to new players part way through a sequel.
The most blatant one I can think of was the Metroid Prime series on Gamecube and Wii.
Each game started with some kind of catastrophe that meant Samus’ suit got put back to bare minimum.
This was especially annoying as you were able to play as a fully powered-up Samus from the start and then have things taken away.
But this doesn’t just happen in those games though, something happens in every game to make her lose her abilities!
Go check it out!
If I was her, I’d put some serious consideration into making my suit a bit more secure!
Some games are more subtle, yet still just as devious!
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood starts with you as you left AC2, fully skilled and powerful, but then leaves you injured and without your armour.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations begins in a similar fashion, except this time your twin-blade is broken (so that’s out of the equation!) and you end up injured again so your health bar is decreased.
Yes, it would be an easy game if you just waltzed into it as some kind of super-assassin from the get-go and it wouldn’t leave much room for improvement or development, but I didn’t go into AC:R as my first foray into the series, I’ve played the previous 3 games and I know how to hide in hay, climb things and assassinate people.
I know for a fact my character does cos I’ve seen him do it in cutscenes by himself!
So why do you have to spend time relearning what you already know?!
The obvious answer is accessibility.
People may just jump into a game halfway through the series due to necessity through not having access to the previous titles, or because they just believe it will be better than the previous titles because it is newer, not realising it is a continuation.
This is fine, titles such as Mario games, GTA etc. don’t need you to be totally aware of the world they are set in because they don’t have set timelines or any sort of chronology running through them, linking them together.
The problems arise within games where they do follow each other, and that needs to be addressed by developers.
It’s all very well saying that I just want to jump straight in from where I left off, but that wouldn’t work for a new player who picked it up on the off chance.
They need their hand holding throughout and telling that you can run at the wall and climb it by holding a certain button, I get that, but give me the option to avoid it.
In this day of HDDs and even Cloud saving, it shouldn’t be difficult to link game saves together to create a more relevant environment to start a game in.
Give me the chance to miss out on the tutorial stages if I’ve already played at least one game in the series and have the save game to prove it.
Mass Effect did it very well, and while it did make you build up stats, if you took a save game over it gave you a level and stat boost to reduce some of the stress of getting strong enough to make it a little less hectic on the battlefield.
But it still tells me how to change weapons and open doors.
They missed a chance to make it a seamless transition from one game to the next by reverting back to hand-holding.
Would it have really been that hard to include a way to eliminate the pop up tutorials that tell you how to command your team-mates after 2 whole games?
I wouldn’t have panicked and forgotten that to bring up the weapon or team-mate wheels I just have to press the bumper buttons!
I clocked up 80 something hours across them 2, I remember how to press A to pick up a datapad!
Tell me the things I don’t know, like new abilities or actions.
Imagine how irritating it would be if Tony Stark had to spend the first 25% of both Iron Man films rebuilding his suit piece by piece because it got damaged somehow.
(Yes, he has new suits but we don’t sit and watch him build them!)
Or if Spider-Man got cured at the end of each film and then got bitten at the start of the next and he had to relearn all his skills and remake his costume!
It would get pretty boring.
At the beginning of the next Iron Man film, I expect him to be fully suited up, flying round and getting drunk, because that’s what Iron Man does!
Yeah, have a bit of exposition for the new or forgetful, but don’t draw it out rehashing stuff we already know.
That’s what the origin film is for!
So yes, by all means, make the game accessible for newcomers because you don’t want to kill off a new generation of gamers before they have chance to get involved, but please don’t make me have to find an add-on I previously possessed and then relearn how to charge up a gun by holding down the shoot button when I’m 3 games in to the same series!
I know all that stuff.
If it’s a case of it becoming too easy with the skills and abilities being carried over, make it an option to select a harder difficulty from the off for gamers carrying their saves over.
Or do what Mass Effect did on the PS3 and have a quick recap mission or story for beginners where you can make choices ready to affect the next proper game.
It would be good to have an interactive story for the AC games where you are given a recap of the story and taught the moves you require ready to begin the game on the same level as those who have been there from the start.
It would only have to be an hour or so long (if that) and would bridge any gaps in storyline.
This could then free developers up to make a game like you’d make a film sequel, direct and to the point.
To mention him again, Tony Stark just keeps getting new toys while keeping the old, can’t we just make it so that we don’t have to put them away and then get them back out every time and work out how to use them?
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