Friday, April 17, 2020

The "Checkbox" Approach to Game Design

I've recently picked up Metal Gear Solid 5 again after a few months of not playing it. It's crazy how much the last 2 Ghost Recon games (Wildlands/Breakpoint) copied from Metal Gear but somehow made it worse. The reason for this is likely because Ubisoft game design is more restricted that it was for the Metal Gear series. If you played a Ubisofts games in the last 5 years then you pretty much played them all. The gameplay mechanics may be different but there are a lot of familiarity between games. Gear score, RPG elements, items to be found all over the world, towers to climb... this tells me that the game design at Ubisoft needs to fit into someone's checklist. It's not necessarily a bad thing since it generated a lot of money for them but it does cheapen the experience of their games.
If we compare Breakpoint, for example, to Metal Gear Solid V which came out 5 years ago we can get the feeling that Breakpoint is an unfinished game. The enemies in MGS5 feels more believable and alive than they do in Breakpoint. There's also a wider range of animation to be found in MGS5.

My biggest pet peeve is that enemies in Breakpoint can't climb ladders which means that if you've been found, you can just climb a ladder and wait it all out. Why add ladders to a game if it's not going to be used by the NPC?

The games that Ubisoft create are still fun to me but they seem to be doing just enough to get them out of the door while MGS5 feels like it was released when it was ready.

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