I love the way games can innovate, leading to very unique experiences in games. In games that include battling as a major mechanic, it is important for games to express themselves in ways that don’t feel dry, used and seriously lacking creativity. There have been many games which have a certain type of battle mechanic that ruin games that I think I would otherwise be likely to be hooked on and be able to recommend.
I have grown up with the revival of gaming and been able to see and play games from the mid 80s (before I was born) to the current era of next-gen HD gaming and through this I’ve been able to see the transitions that games have had from being purposefully difficult to pad a game out to last a fair amount of time to keep people engrossed to huge expansive worlds that are literally impossible to complete in a single play through. With this, I’ve seen many great games that have been able to pave the way and inspire future games but the one thing I don’t enjoy between games and franchises is gameplay that feels like it is a copy paste of the same formula. At the time of writing this, Yooka-Laylee by Playtonic Games is a much talked about game. While I think the game looks charming, I can’t fail to look past the fact that this is a game that takes a little too much of Banjo-Kazooie to a point where no-one can play the game without commenting and referencing how each thing is basically exactly the same as Banjo-Kazooie.
With that little rant mentioned, I have laid the groundwork for my argument on the battle mechanic that ruins what are mostly otherwise great games. That mechanic is the common as much 3rd person brawler style mechanic of being a person in a battle, surrounded by a group of foes and you can attack using a button or slight variation combos to pull off tricks then hitting a different button to do a counter on the inevitable second person wanting to be involved in the fight. The games in which I have played where this mechanic was pivotal to the fighting were; Assassin’s Creed, Batman Arkham, Middle Earth and Mad Max. I’m sure there are more in which I have not played but as you may be able to tell from the title, I am not exactly wanting to find and play these games. This style of battling is tedious and has very little to offer creatively in my opinion. It seems to fall into the pitfalls of being a kind-of hybrid between a turn-based and real-time battle mechanic even though it plays out as if it is real-time. You can’t relentlessly beat on your wimpy enemies as there will always going to be that one that attacks you just as you want to pull off a good combo attack.
From what I’ve seen and read, this mechanic gets better and more fun as you play more of the game (in many instances, makes the game very simple) and this brings on another point I think should be discussed. As an outsider to this concept, why should I deal with tedious battle mechanics to play some great gameplay and experience great story? There are thousands of games out there I could be playing, with totally unique features that will have a lasting effect and draw on me, why should I stick to a game where, as much as I feel I might have progressed story wise, I still have the standard punch/kick enemy until enemy attacks from behind, then counter attack. Too many games having a common battle system leads to tedium and a lack of distinction for what may be a great game otherwise. Being the trend follower is nowhere near as cool as being the trendsetter and for me, games that share this battling mechanic feel like they have little to offer in unique gameplay feel.
Of course this is basically entirely opinion based and for you I may be totally wrong. This is the joy of the internet where everyone has a voice and opinions matter whether they are popular or not. For me, I would just like to have more games of the style of the previously mentioned games, but I wish that they would be their own game, with their own unique draws, especially if fighting is a massive part of the game.