Everything is just borrowed
It’s one thing to have confidence in your work, but it’s another entirely to think that others should be following your lead. Yet during our latest look at
Prey (p36), we hear how Arkane Studios is so enamoured with the immersive sim – the label for a loose collection of games that lets the player put a complex web of systems to work in the manner of their choosing, seamlessly combining a host of genres and gameplay styles into a coherent whole – that it doesn’t understand why every game isn’t built to the same set of principles. Prey, on latest inspection, certainly seems to back that up.
We had a similar feeling after playing Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor, the 2014 adventure that subtly redefined our expectations of the open videogame world. Its Nemesis system saw enemies move around the land as you did, levelling up and changing after winning or losing to you in battle. It gave Monolith’s vision of Mordor a level of dynamism and intrigue that persisted long after the credits had rolled, and felt like one of those mechanics that would spread around the industry, aped far and wide: the future, perhaps, of the open-world genre. But it hasn’t worked out like that. As such, the sequel, Shadow Of War (p42), feels like every bit the breath of fresh air its predecessor was.
Elsewhere this month, however, we find evidence that some borrowed ideas might be better left where you find them. For Injustice 2 (p50), developer Nether Realm is borrowing – from World Of Warcraft, Destiny, Diablo and their ilk – a randomised loot system. Tweaking your character’s look and playstyle with stat-buffing weapons and gear pieces is all very well when you’re shooting wizards on the moon, killing rats in a fantasy land or slaying demons in the pits of hell. But fighting games live and die on their balance; for a game with aspirations of becoming a fixture on the tournament scene, randomness is a dangerous thing indeed. They say great artists steal – but the best know when to leave well alone, too.