090 Why Am I Killing People In Watchdogs?

The hype of an exciting new game release is no stranger to the fatal promise/reality gap; trailers, interviews, and excitement promise a industry-changing game like we’ve never seen before, but the reality of the game falls short of these unrealistic expectations.

Watch Dogs has been considered something like that by most who’ve reviewed it. I went into the game without a lot of those expectations (I try to manage my hype-machine as carefully as I can, for this precise reason!), and so, unsurprisingly, so far I’m really enjoying the game!

However, it is by no means perfect. And one thing I noticed almost immediately about the game… I’m killing people. The game promised me a stealthy, techno-future, cerebral type atmosphere, with (one could only assume!) gameplay to support that. Instead, it’s essentially Grand Theft Auto with smart phones and security cameras.

There’s nothing wrong with Grand Theft Auto as a game, but I wasn’t expecting this game to be like that. My proposal for a revision to this game’s core design:

Take cues from the games that have done stealth right; Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, Dishonored, and even Mark of the Ninja. These games make killing enemies difficult, and staying alive and unseen yet even more difficult. They reward exploration and creativity, and use smart level design to encourage the player to actually use their brain to its stealthy potential.

Watchdogs had the right idea in mind, though. There are strange security gadgets, jammers, connectors, and hacks you can use to get yourself through a level. And when the shit does hit the fan, Aiden can take markedly few shots before going down (compared to the standard He-Man bullet sponges we find in most other recent shooters).

But, it stops short there. In addition to the nifty gadgets and delicate health meters, you’re conveniently handed a near-unlimited supply of bullets, many different guns (surprisingly early on in the game, too), and loads of grenades, all to cause chaos however you please. Even many of the digital hacks are half-assed in execution; I should be able to hack overhead lights on and off, computers, TV monitors, fire alarms, and so on. Basically, anything that’s plugged in, based on the fiction/lore the game creates. Instead, I’m limited to hacking the same types of things over and over, which are all conveniently placed and reoccur (also conveniently) across all the levels. I’m well aware of the need for game designers to reuse elements, but this example is simply far too obvious.

The bottom line here, don’t make me kill people for no reason. Don’t shoehorn your stealthy techno-game into the open-world mold set out by GTA and others before. Make it unique, and don’t be afraid to try something a little different for once. Adding a bunch of new concepts jumbled with a bunch of old tropes and gameplay is not being innovative; it’s being safe.

March 31, 2015

#game-revision, #open-world-game, #third-person-shooter