Back on track with a Tuesday episode! (Note: We talk about Overwatch League in this episode but this was recorded before the Blizzard controversy broke. We address the Blizzard/Hong Kong news in episode 47.)
This Week On Make Me A Gamer
Harvey Z Snaps: Fire Emblem vs. XCOM
Main Course #1: Fire Emblem Three Houses & the Overwatch League Grand Finals
Make Me A Gamer Minute: Deadly Premonition
Main Course #2: Fallout 76 helmet mold, Brain Age for Switch, and TMan’s feelings about The Last of Us
So I’ve been thinking a bit and I’ve decided that video games need to rethink the “game over.” In fact, I think the idea of a fail state in games is an unnecessary holdover from the games where you had lives and continues. Yes, having a game over and having to restart from a certain point adds challenge to the game. But in general, with the way games are developed nowadays, often times the fail state just adds aggravation to what is otherwise a wonderful gaming experience.
The problem, of course, is that most games are based around death. Killing enemies to progress is a large chunk of gameplay loops, and the easiest way to add challenge to the loop is for the enemies to, you know, kill back. Health bars/indicators/numbers are the main tracking agent and when you hit 0, time for a fail state to show you didn’t live up to the challenge!
But, and bear with me here, what if that wasn’t the case? What if we figured out a way for games to keep their challenge but eliminate the need to make the player feel bad because they didn’t shoot the guy with the one-hit KO attack fast enough? What if we eliminated the silly QTEs that if you missing pressing a single button you have to do an entire sequence over again?
I’m going to talk about some games that have recently opened my eyes to how good a lack of a fail state is, and how some games have been hindered because of fail states, and how some games have given you an illusion of a fail state but don’t actually have one and that’s what games should try to live up to.
So I’ve put over 70 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses – probably the most time I’ve dedicated to a single game since Assassin’s Creed Odyssey last year. I’ve still not completed my first route (Blue Lions represent!) but I’m closing in on the end. I don’t know when I’ll get to the second and third playthroughs for the other houses, but I legitimately want to see everything from the other perspectives. That’s how engrossed I am at the story level.
The mechanical level has also hooked me, obviously. Three Houses is the best Fire Emblem has ever been on the tactical battle level. Critical battle information has been streamlined and made much easier to access. Leveling up your characters outside battle is also more engaging and you have a lot more options at your fingertips to create bonds between your characters. And the characters are all stellar. I love the Blue Lion house and their interactions both on and off the battlefield. The recruitment system has also allowed me to nab the characters I like from other houses as well.
I’m starting off glowing about the game, but there are a few low points which I’ll also get to. As a heads up, this review won’t contain any major main story spoilers, but might contain minor support conversation spoilers.