5 Recent Game Mechanics That Developers Should Take Advantage Of
by Brandon Russo on April 12, 2013 at 04:13 PM EDT

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Video games are constantly reaching new heights. One thing that is imperative to a game is its gameplay mechanics and game design. It only takes one really well executed game mechanic to leak its influence onto games in the future. Here is my list of certain game mechanics that I feel have stood out in recent games, and should be carried out in others in the future.

5) Hitman Absolution’s Hair Trigger

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Sniping people is really intense. It always has been in a video game. It’s very hard to incite the feeling of holding your breath and keeping your gun steady at the same time. Hitman Absolution designed a unique and interesting way to bring about this concept.

When you’re looking through the sight of your sniper rifle, lightly pressing down the trigger button enables a slow motion effect. This causes a tense, but careful feeling as you slowly plan your kill. It gives the player a window of opportunity, while also making sure they are being cautious in their execution. I would love to see this mechanic in future stealthy games.

4) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s Slice-y Thing

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Fruit Ninja is a fun game. It’s fun because of how dynamic the fruit falling apart is. Wherever you slice is where the fruit falls apart. I always thought it would be awesome to see that in a video game.

The developers behind Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance made that dream a reality. The player gets multiple chances to swing at enemies from whatever angle they wish, as many times as they can. Each slice cuts open the cyborg enemies from whatever angle they approached it with and continue to do so regardless of the jumbled mess of body pieces you’ve just left floating in the air. This is completely aesthetic, and I’m completely okay with that. It just looks and feels nice. To see this implemented in other hack and slash titles would be a fun little extra that adds to the genre.

3) Farcry 3’s Co-op Mode

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Nowadays, co-op in gaming seems to be tacked on. People enjoy multiplayer, and so the developers just drag and drop the main character in a different color palette so they can run around side-by-side working together. This makes things a little easier. That’s all fun and whatnot, but where has the creativity gone?

If a game is going to feature co-op, why not at least go the extra mile to make it a little bit different? This is why I’m mentioning Farcry 3’s co-op strategy. It really wasn’t all that fantastic. It was extremely linear and was just sort of there. But at least they tried (kind of). The co-op was a completely different story and included different characters, entirely separate from the main campaign. If games have to have co-op, let’s at least try to add something worthwhile to them.

2) God of War: Ascension’s Multiplayer

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This one is going to be similar to the previous point, and that’s because it is. Multiplayer is another thing that’s just added on these days for the pure sake of multiplayer. This is especially true with First Person Shooter games. It’s common for developers these days to just throw in a multiplayer mode. I feel like developers briefly consider multiplayer by asking “Can you kill people? Check.”

Then they have a small team develop maps to throw a ton of characters in to the game. For these reasons, when I heard that God of War: Ascension was going to have multiplayer, I groaned and proceeded to ask myself…why? When the beta went online, I tried it and good god was I wrong.

There is such a sense of difference in Ascension’s multiplayer. You really get a sense that it isn’t just the game copy and pasted with more people. The player gets a chance to upgrade their character in ways that matter. When two players face each other one on one, you really need to know how to approach the battle.

There’s a challenge to it, an element of skill and precision that I experienced multiple times while being absolutely decimated by everybody who wasn’t me. Multiplayer has become somewhat of a standard in gaming within recent times. If it must be a standard, then let’s at least try to show some creativity and love.

1) Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth

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I’m going to be completely honest and say that I could probably compose this list entirely out of things I experienced in Bioshock Infinite. However, that would be an extremely biased list. Instead, I picked the biggest accomplishment that shined for me throughout the entire game—the Artificial Intelligence (AI) of Elizabeth.

AI is definitely a main focus in video games. The enemy AI, as well as companion AI, can be crucial to a gamer’s experience. Never in my life have I ever been so pleased with an AI in a game, that I legitimately felt like I needed to have them around.

Elizabeth is so dynamic, that when you brutally decapitate enemies with your skyhook, you legitimately feel bad because of her reactions. If there is an object, then Elizabeth will inspect it. She doesn’t use the typical copy and pasted movements. She will legitimately look under desks, into drawers, around corners, and pick up books.

Elizabeth also adds a wonderful element to combat, while never having to be protected. In a game that finally does not require the companion to be sheltered, I constantly felt like I needed to. Irrational Games had a team dedicated to the mechanics behind Elizabeth, and they succeeded.

An AI this wonderful hasn’t been seen since Alyx in Half-Life 2. I can only hope this type of detail and emotion can be carried into other titles.

Honorable Mention: Quick Time Events

Just kidding.

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  • Joe

    Separate co-op campaigns aren’t exactly anything new… Resistance 2 did this several years ago, and there were others before it.

    • Brandon Russo

      This is absolutely true. I just wanted to emphasize recent triple A titles to keep with the theme of the article, and also to keep with the theme of a lot of games these days adding co-op just to have co-op.

  • benbenkr

    “Elizabeth is so dynamic, that when you brutally decapitate enemies with your skyhook, you legitimately feel bad because of her reactions”

    Funny… Elizabeth in my game doesn’t give a shit whether or not I decapitate enemies, shoot their heads off with a handcannon or shock them to death. Lol @ so dynamic.

    “If there is an object, then Elizabeth will inspect it. She doesn’t use the typical copy and pasted movements.”

    She does. The game is just designed in a way wherer there are trigger points for every searchable object, proven by the fact that you yourself can search it. Throwing me coins doesn’t feel dynamic either, at least for me. It felt like a random thing that I just hit a slot machine.

    “She will legitimately look under desks, into drawers, around corners, and pick up books.”

    Yeah she does, except she looks so surprised at every single thing with the — you guessed it! — same surprised look.

    Yeah perhaps this is as good as an AI actually gets in a game for now, but to call it “so dynamic”? Lol you gotta be kidding. We’ve got a long way to go before we can call AIs dynamic.

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      i think last of us will be have better co helper AI

      • Brandon Russo

        I agree, I think Last of Us will do for gameplay and combat what Infinite did for story and emotional levels.

    • Brandon Russo

      I agree with you for the most part, but where I am coming from is also story driven and drives the gameplay further. For me, she DID react to violent kills. She has the same extremely suprised reaction because this is the first time she’s EVER seen any of these things in her life. There’s certainly a dynamic shift in her character, and her behavior. When she’s mad at you, she doesn’t ever talk to you. By the end of the game, she’s a much different person. It’s a pivotal key in AI as a story telling element, for me and a number of other people I know at least.

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