What is the deal with RPG progression systems finding their way into games that they have no right being shoe-horned into?
I’m not talking about games like Deus Ex, which masterfully integrated RPG elements into first-person-shooters to create a masterpiece. Some games do it and do it well. Others, not so much.
These days it seems like more and more games are implementing mandatory RPG progression elements. You survived that boss fight? Congratulations! Now you have slightly more health and can deal more damage. Oh, and by the way, you have a special bar now and if you keep fighting, it will fill faster and faster. Good job.
RPG systems shouldn’t be forced into games of every genre. They lead to balancing issues; either the player has to grind to be able to defeat a boss, or they have the option to over-grind to be overpowered and steamroll through a large chunk of the game.
I quite liked The Divison and the Division 2 as games, but the implementation of RPG progression elements means that it is one of the least-realistic video games on the market. On one street, you may be a high enough level to one-shot-kill an enemy. A few blocks away, you can empty clip after clip into an enemy but he just sponges them up and kills you. Guns that look identical but carry a different level do different amounts of damage.
Yes, it’s a video game but it’s also…well, stupid.
Nier: Automata is an example where the balance can be disrupted by these RPG progression elements, too. In the beginning, it is fine, but as you get augmentations the game gets ridiculously easy, to the point where it just isn’t as enjoyable as it should be.
I get it, seeing numbers increasing is nice. It stimulates our brains. We like it. It keeps us playing. But, it keeps video games as being unrealistic playthings and not the realistic experiences that they pretend to be.
What is wrong with games being skill-based? You start off genuinely learning the game mechanics and you end up being better because, well, you got better?
I remember playing Planetside 2 back in the day and getting obliterated. I could literally play for hours and end up with one or two lucky kills. After a lot of practice, I ended up having a positive K/D ratio and felt like I’d mastered something. It made playing enjoyable.
I don’t need to level up. I don’t need a gun that does +100 damage just because it does. I don’t need a special move that I need to power up. I like my enemies to use tactics to fight me, not be able to absorb a million bullets just to represent a challenge.
Now, back to my fifth playthrough of Mass Effect.
I’m a hypocrite.