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Mandatory campaigns in endgame-focused games and how to do them “right”?

Gamingtodaynews1f - Mandatory campaigns in endgame-focused games and how to do them “right”?

Good afternoon, this came to me after a bit of thought about a game I’ve secured a preorder on (Godfall). I’m usually not a fan of mandatory campaigns. I’ve said it many times, I’ve skipped games cause of this particularly but coming to think of it, I shouldn’t avoid games that help the player get primed into the mechanics and world. I just feel a lot of games are taking advantage of the storytelling and dragging them on to the point of making early-game a chore to go through.

Mandatory campaigns, especially for endgame-focused gameplay like looter-shooters and collector RPGs aren’t necessarily bad if they’re done well. In fact they can be great for slowly getting introduced to a new world and gameplay. The problem really is how it’s done.

Here’s a few keypoints about how I think the “main story” of a game can be done badly:

In terms of story, progression and length, i feel there needs to be a sweet-spot in how long it takes to get to endgame. 10-15 hours IMO is about there. The problem I see with some games is the developers assume that everyone doesn’t like story so they forcefully make cutscenes unskippable. Even with bland slates as characters and uninspired narrative. It really ticks me off.

One game that did the mandatory campaign oh so horribly:

Monster Hunter World – Fujioka couldn’t have turned me off anymore by saying in an interview: “we don’t allow skipping cutscenes cause we put too much effort into it”. What an absurd statement. I’ve not heard one person say how great the cutscenes and story was in MHW, only how boring early-game is and how uninteresting the story and characters are. It doesn’t help that the game is 30-40 hours long. 40 hours to start the meat of the game is taking it too far, especially with how difficult it can be.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s some main stories I’ve been compelled to play the whole way through and never felt a single urge of “I just want to beat it already”:

Diablo 3 – it’s straight forward, fun and can be beaten in under 10 hours. It may not be the best Diablo but it certainly seems like Blizzard cares about how to prime a player in unlike Fujioka. Skippable cutscenes, engaging gameplay and can be played the whole way through co-op. IMO the best way to do a campaign is making the gameplay relevant to endgame.

Pokémon Sword/Shield – Unskippable dialogue aside, it truly feels like an adventure. Characters are great, the region is a blast to explore and challenges are outright engaging despite being a little on the easy-side. I was actually compelled to play through it and honestly the endgame just did not compare to the amazing campaign.

There are obviously points when NOT to do a mandatory campaign too, lifestyle and sandbox MMOs especially but that’s another topic altogether.

Any thoughts? How would you make a campaign mandatory before the contentious endgame but engage the player enough to not make them scum savefiles? Any examples, successes or vice versa?

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