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.