Grief­ing process


For Honor (p112) might just be the most hon­estly ti­tled videogame ever. While pre­sum­ably in­tended to in­voke the spirit of good, old-fash­ioned, blood­thirsty sword com­bat, the game’s name is also a per­fect de­scrip­tor for how its mul­ti­player matches play out. Ubisoft Montreal has surely pri­mar­ily de­signed this PVP brawler to let play­ers duke it out hon­ourably. Yet it’s also been crafted with a mis­chievous eye, un­der­stand­ing that some­times the no­tion of do­ing the right thing can get stuffed. You’ll throw foes off high walk­ways to their doom. You will bait out a mis­take, then kick them into a river of lava. Grief­ing used to be an un­for­tu­nate by-prod­uct of the MMO. Now, in a host of gen­res, it’s in­creas­ingly part of the de­sign doc­u­ment.

It’s even spread to the sin­gle­player game, and this month’s se­lec­tion of re­leases con­tains the lat­est work of the mas­ter of it. Yoko Taro’s his­tory of trolling play­ers is leg­endary, and Nier: Automata (p102) is no ex­cep­tion. This is a game with 26 end­ings, the first of which comes to us straight af­ter our first death, just a cou­ple of hours in. These days, de­vel­op­ers speak of the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing the player who spends lofty sums on their work. Yoko sim­ply counts your money, then sets about mess­ing with you.

Need­less to say, how­ever, it’s not an ap­proach for ev­ery­one. Play­ers can make each oth­ers’ lives a tem­po­rary mis­ery, and a mis­chievous de­vel­oper can by all means poke their player with a pointy stick. But woe betide the pub­lisher that thinks it can do the same to its cus­tomer. With

Su­per Bomber­man R (p123), Kon­ami has thrown to­gether a cheap and nasty nos­tal­gia play – and it’s £50. Suf­fice it to say, we sug­gest you spend your money else­where, on some­thing made by a de­vel­oper who knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween pok­ing fun, and flat-out dis­re­spect.

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