Gaming: Things I’d like to see

Greetings everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but with a lot new game content on titles I play extensively coming out now, I thought I’d take the opportunity to waffle on for several paragraphs about things I like, things I don’t like and things I’d like to see more or less of in the games that I play.

Firstly, Elite:Dangerous. I’ve covered this game a lot in previous posts to the extent that I may go back and give those posts their own category… But with the latest expansion (2.1 – Engineers) hitting a live roll-out, I thought I’d start here. There’s a lot of good stuff in Engineers. I like it a lot. But listening to the Lave Radio podcast has given me some thoughts on how extra depth could be added to the universe.

I like their suggestions of starports (the big ones, not the orbital platforms) having multiple docking ports. One dock facing the host planet for trade to the surface, the other facing space for interplanetary/interstellar traffic. While this might only be a consideration for starports orbiting inhabited planets, or planets that have multiple docks in orbit around them, it would introduce a new dynamic to the docking system. Clearance could be requested from either port, but getting clearance from one wouldn’t mean you could dock through the other. It would allow pilots to land quickly after dropping from supercruise near the station, would help to reduce queues around busy ports but would also allow pirates and ne’er-do-wells to target traffic in a more intelligent manner. Of course things like this could only be implemented on Coriolis starports: the other station types are designed around one entry port, and would have to remain as they were.

Of course, another possibility that presents itself to starports with two docks is a one-way system… One entry port, one exit port… That’s assuming you follow traffic rules…

Sticking with Elite, and another idea mooted by Lave Radio, is the idea that on frontier systems, news and GalNet traffic is a few days old… It takes a while to get out there, of course. I appreciate that in a real-world scenario, this is something that might happen, however in game its difficult to cater for, and pilots can simply read the real-world newsletters, forums and other web pages on the internet. That said, to make things a bit more believable, each system could have a time delay property assigned to it based on its distance from the core worlds. The greater this time delay is, the longer it takes in-game GalNet articles to appear when one is out on the frontier. This mechanic might even give rise to new mission types whereby pilots are entrusted to courier news to frontier worlds or stations, bypassing the time delay.

Exploration is something I would like to see more love given to. Or rather, the things that you can find if you travel a bit off the beaten track. I like the idea of finding dead ships just spinning through space. Are they actually dead, or just in silent running? Are they a decoy or a lure from pirates to draw in unwary travellers? Perhaps the ships themselves are old models that you can’t buy any more, and they’ve been spinning through space for centuries… A quick scan could lead to some interesting navigation findings or intelligence that must be reported to the authorities. Now I appreciate that space is massive, and that there will be things that we don’t see straight away, and that is how we might expect real-life space exploration to work, but we have to remember that this is a game, so some signposting of this content might be in order. Maybe a news report of strange sensor contacts, or an old-style radio transmission is detected, kind of like when the USS Copernicus drifted near Babylon 5… Some of these finds might just be junk or space decoration, but others could serve as signposts themselves, pointing to larger goings on within the background simulation and the plot that Frontier has for the game’s story.

On to more Warhammer related things now with Vermintide.

Again, this is a title that I love. A new expansion of three missions has just been released. Set within the foreboding ruin of Castle Drachenfels, these missions introduce some wonderful new dynamics. The actual levels themselves are very maze-like with several routes available to get you to your final destination, and with no map provided and enemies around every turn you really do feel as though you’re adventuring through an ancient, evil fortress. The darkness mechanic that has been introduced for some of these levels is also awesome. In the dungeons you can’t see where you’re going unless you’re carrying a torch or in an area with lit torches, which adds a huge amount of depth. As you wander around, you have to be careful for traps and pits, and of course the ever-present Skaven, spying on your with their beady-red eyes from deep in the blackness… While carrying a torch helps your squad see where they’re going, you can’t use your weapons when you’re providing light, meaning you have to be on your guard at all times. You may find yourself having to retreat to the safety of your companions, or having to drop your torch to ready your swords and then hoping for the best! Having no light is a simple thing, but it makes all the difference here.

The darkness is further enhanced by magic in some areas, making even torches useless. You can tell the difference between normal and magical darkness because magical darkness has a red-tinge to it. When you’re at the mercy of magical darkness, you have no choice but to proceed slowly and hope for the best.

Fat Shark have done a great job implementing these new levels. The castle is wonderfully atmospheric and features shout-outs to several key points of Warhammer lore, as discussed by your characters when they find them. The darkness is a wonderful thing to experience, and its not over-used which makes it a nice twist when it happens. It would have been easy for it to lose its touch through excessive use, but the developers have neatly avoided that trap and made a set of levels to be proud of.

I would like to see more levels set within and around the castle, as well as other areas of the Old World. Fat Shark have shown they have what it takes to care for the world they’re developing in as they go, and I can’t wait to see what they offer up next.

Moving on, but staying with the Warhammer theme, we have Total War: Warhammer. This game is great. The Total War mechanics really suit how Warhammer works, and although there are parts of the game I would change (army upkeep and auto-resolve to name a couple) I’ve been playing for ages now, and I’m still enjoying it, even though the forces of Chaos are rampaging through my armies with apparent ease… Maybe I’m just a crap leader?

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