Level Up! RPG-like progression systems are creeping their way into all sorts of games these days. This week, the VGH Crew weigh in on the growing trend. Plus: D.J.’s playing Bastion, Randy’s had RAGE all along, and Paul’s putting on his Heisenberg hat.
Viewer Mail: 2:48
Level Up: 34:00
Last Call: 67:00
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This Week’s Music:
“Unleashed” and “Phantombs” by DJ Finish Him, from the upcoming They Bleed Pixels, by Spooky Squid Games
Chuck Palahniuk’s new book, Damned
Breaking Bad – The Game
Weekend Confirmed show/ Dark Souls
In general, I thought the first wave of “leveling systems entering other genres” worked well, in that it was primarily single-player and gave some new depth to types of games that otherwise were getting stale. I even loved it in cooperative multi-player games like Borderlands.
I’m getting a little worried about where the mechanic is going, though. Except in rare instances where a game is primarily focused on building a character, I think it has little place in competitive multi-player games. Yet that seems to be exactly the space it is invading.
In Battlefield 2, I mostly didn’t feel I was at a significant disadvantage because I hadn’t unlocked things yet. It felt that there were different options that were not available to me, but none that significantly held me back in a competitive match as a new player. There were guns to unlock, but they did not seem radically better than the one I had. I worry this will not be the case in Battlefield 3.
And for the most ridiculous example of this mechanic being misused, take a look at Age of Empires Online. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a full real-time strategy game–except you must unlock each unit and upgrade for each civilization in competitive multi-player by grinding. And it is not possible to unlock all the options! You must choose a specific tree of upgrades, which might be interesting if you could switch them around on the fly, but which is disastrous if you cannot and you are stuck with your sub-optimal decisions. There is never what one might consider a “fair match”. And that’s something that is not appealing to me at all in a strategic multi-player game, except in an actual RPG or the most special of circumstances.
Leveling system, I dont mind them as long as the game is balanced. Call of Duty has a terrible leveling system sometimes. Noobs and vets play in the same field, and the noobs get slaughtered.
One of the reasons I like Uncharted 2 and 3’s MP is that even if you are level 20 and the opponent is level 40 I can still take him down. The boosters for the Uncharted series are designed more toward the actual skill of a player.
Dont get me started on World of Warcraft…….
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