This slideshow is going to dive into what makes a game great. There are six main aspects which join together to achieve the best games, things like gameplay, interesting storylines, diverse quests with lots of choices, engaging characters, and innovative ideas. But, how do these make games great? Read on to find out!
*Beware this slideshow will contain some spoilers*
The best games in the world have amazing gameplay that challenges gamers to devise new strategies to defeat their opponents. They also give you dozens of ways to complete a single objective. A great example of this has to be Witcher 3, where you can take out enemies with melee weapons,spells, potions, track down enemies using your senses, and you can even bewitch people and bribe them. It makes playing Witcher 3 so much more exciting knowing that you have so many options to choose from. Not to mention the quests in this game are unique and extremely well crafted, you don't get a ton of repetitive quests asking you to go and kill someone or collect an object. There are only two things that are repeated and they are contracts and quests to find armor pieces, both are optional and both change slightly each time.
But coming back to my original point that gameplay is important, you only have to compare Witcher 3 to Dragon Age Inquisition's immensely boring world to realise how important it is to be able to choose the way you complete your objectives, and the way you fight each battle. Doing the same thing over and over again can get old very quickly.
The best games I have ever played, like the The Last of Us, have this incredible storyline that makes you feel every moment of it. Every heartache, every moment of joy, and every close call to death. There is no other game in my opinion that comes close enough to eclipse The Last Of Us by Naughty Dog. The story truly entrenches you in their world and makes you a part of it. You feel the pain of their loss, you feel their growing affection for other characters. You practically feel everything; the fear, the panic, and the excitement of delving through an apocalyptic world.
If the story is that good, you don't care where the story is leading you, all you can think about is how you want to see more of this world, you want to know what happens next. That's what really makes a game truly immersive and enjoyable to play.
I cannot stress enough how important quests are in making an average game extraordinary. To do that games need to follow four simple pieces of criteria I always find myself using.
1. The side quests have to play a relevant role in supporting the main quest, whether that is subjugating rebel tribes in order for you to ascend to the throne, or simply helping you to build your reputation in the provinces. In either case those side quests have to impact the main quest in someway to give it meaning. Otherwise completing those side quests can become a tedious chore, which most people will only do because their either completionists like me or want to gain some extra experience.
2. All quests have to fit in line with what the character's role is in the game. A bad example of this is Fallout 4's Minutemen quest line, where you become a General, a rank where you would assume all you would have to do is dictate what needs to be done and assign duties. But instead we have repeat quests of you rushing to defend a settlement, rescue hostages, and clear settlements. Which would make sense for the first few settlements, because you're rebuilding, but once you have three fully functioning settlements, you should be able to use to some type of map to have your followers do some work for you. I mean what's the point of being a leader, if a lot of your time is spent doing the same stuff you already do everywhere else in the game?
You see the same problem appear in Dragon Age Inquisition, you're the inquisitor, a person with great power, and yet you are constantly reduced to a mere servant. Collecting and killing a certain amount in nearly every single side quest, except for friend quests. While the map is an excellent addition to the game, which I hope future BioWare games use, why are there only three people to assign tasks to?Surely the Spy, Commander, and Adviser all have hundreds of people under their command, yet we never get to use more than three. Why?
3. Make every side quest unique and interesting. In all honesty I would prefer to have fifteen good long side quests, rather than having hundreds of filler quests, where the only purpose is to waste your time and keep you occupied. Witcher 3 again is an excellent example of side quests that are not only useful for experience but excellent to play. It's the only game where I actively go around searching for side quests, because I don't want to miss out on anything they have in store for me.
4. The last, and most important, rule for all quests is the pacing. I hate it when a ton of quests are dropped on top of me in the first few minutes of the game. Way to make me feel the weight of the entire world resting on my shoulders! It would make so much more sense for those games with only a few good side quests to spread out the quests to places the main questline will eventually take us too. There's no need to be immediately inundated with quests that make us feel like we are being steam rolled.
I have recently begun to notice a growing trend of games providing choices that can have immediate or future consequences. This, by far, is the most exciting development in gaming history. Having choices that matter, makes you truly think about, and weigh up, each decision you make. It adds that extra spice to every single action you make, and forces you to question every single decision you make -- in a futile attempt to get some type of foresight into what is about to happen next.
But the absolute greatest thing about having choices is replayability. This allows for a whole new side of the story each time you play, and that makes you far more likely to start the game again. Plus it's nice to see, after hours of game time, the impact you have left upon the world -- whether it be good or evil.
Companions and great voice actors are another important tool in making a decent game, into an epic game. While some people might undervalue this aspect in comparison to graphics and other areas of gaming, it does play an essential role in drawing people into their world. By having unique and interesting companions with you, makes you look forward to every piece of dialogue or conversation in the game, it makes you want to learn more about them and in doing so learn more about the world around you. Having characters that act like your wing (wo)man just generally makes you want to play the game just that little bit longer, especially if you're able to level them up and watch them gain new abilities.
But what would really take games to a whole new level of amazing, would be to see games break the restrictions on romance options, get rid of companions that give long tedious explanations about their lives, give companions actual dialogue that relates to each main quest so that you can engage them throughout the game, design companion side quests that will have a genuine impact on the results of the main quest, and be able to befriend anyone you meet on the road, not just companions you have to use because they're part of some main quest or side quest. I think by doing all that, games could become a lot more immersive.
Lastly having voice actors that are good at what they do, by conveying emotion through their voices or bringing the characters words to life can play an important role as well. A good example of this is Ezio in Assassin's Creed Series, his voice is constantly being adapted to show his age and his maturity. Now while you might not be able to notice the subtle difference, the way it gets deeper and gritter in each Ezio game in the series does affect the way you perceive your character.
Too many games are getting caught up in imitating other games. Now while that can lead to better quality versions of that particular game, it can also lead to overuse of those mechanics. Most people, while they like a certain kind of game and will usually buy similar games, will usually stop buying them once they realize they are pretty much buying the same games again.
Games need to be freshened up every once in a while, otherwise as gamers grow older many will drop off the radar, because they have seen it all and played it all. If the gaming industry is to increase in growth and expand, they need to hold onto every single gamer and attract more with innovative ideas that keep those older generation excited and hungry for more.
Two games that stand out, and deserve some type of award for having achieved that very goal is Fallout 4 with its Settlement System, where you can build a settlement, and Dying Light for its extremely fun parkour mechanics. These two games have transformed their relatively simple and average gaming experience, into something truly epic, simply by adding two complex innovations. Building settlements and watching people come in to fill them up, although quite time consuming it can be quite fascinating. I can usually spend hours building a settlement, just so I can have a base in the area to get supplies, and have some sort of safe house from the wasteland. Which can be very useful, when playing survival mode.
The Parkour system is the same way, you find yourself stomping, killing, jumping, and running all the time because it is so much fun to watch your character do it. It's even more thrilling when you have Night Hunters chasing after you. Nothing gets your blood pumping like the sound of Night Hunters detecting you in the middle of the night, and being chased through a zombie infested city.
Good gameplay, interesting storylines, quests which offer choices, deep companion characterization, and innovative ideas all play a key role in making you enjoy any game you play. These are my top six aspects of gaming, and that will most likely change as games become more advanced. But what are some of your ideas for what makes a great game? Or what would make a game even better for you?