Photo Credit: Joe The Goat Farmer on Flickr
As you folks already know, I’m not totally immune from liking first or third party shooters. I loved Mass Effect (up until the ending of 3) and I’m nuts over the Fallout games. So when a new 3rd-Person shooter based in the aftermath of a massive disease outbreak and resulting loss of society came out, and it was based in New York City, I was in. The game, however, really and truly sucks for casual gamers, which became painfully obvious within about 90 minutes of playing. Here’s why:
1 – The story is OK but not great. Ubisoft created yet another generic, voiceless protagonist who is about as interesting as dirt. Then they added a cast of milquetoast characters and a story made more to further the shooting than further the plot. That’s pretty much what we have here. Nothing pulled me in. There is no reason for casual gamers to want to play it, aside from hours of fun shooting people if you’re into that. I, personally, am not so much into that. I want to get drawn into the storyline of the game. I want to understand the reasons for doing what my character is doing other than “you’re the good guy, and bad stuff happened, now here’s a gun.”
2 – Mandatory, always on-line. Why would ANYONE still require this for a single-player game after all the fiascos in the last 2 years? Because Ubisoft, that’s why. You need to be always on-line because the game tries CONSTANTLY to matchmake groups. So as far as having a playable single-person storyline, that’s a big red flag. Now let’s add in queues to enter various areas because the game is tracking simultaneous users so that it can attempt to matchmake you. There are games that get this right – like the Borderland series – and there are games that get it totally wrong, like this piece of… code.
3 – Difficulty spikes from hell right after the tutorial. Great, you finish the tutorial – which is very much single-player but still tries to matchmake you (see #2) – and get to Manhattan. At which point, you *will* die on every single mission. Every one. Granted, I’m not an expert at cover systems, but I managed to get through Mass Effect 2 and 3, and several Gears of War titles without major issues. I died on and off, there were harder-than-average missions, but the gameplay was enjoyable and not so hard on “normal” that I wanted to fling the controller across the room. Here, it’s constant “reloading at last checkpoint.” Wave after wave of guys shooting at me, hurling grenades while their buddies shot at me, finding new ways to shoot at me. That, alone, isn’t abnormal, but when you finally do best them, guess what, there’s 10 more coming after you. I’m one guy with one gun, but for some reason this game thinks I’m an army with a full artillery squadron. I soon also realized that the enemies took about 3x the number of shots to die compared to me, so add that in too. It’s beyond “good AI” or “challenging missions” and right into “the computer is a cheating bastard” territory.
4 – It’s not actually a single-player game. It’s not, don’t let anyone tell you that it is. Get a group or get annihilated. I don’t have a problem with this on it’s face, but why bother to even pretend there’s any point to this than grouping up and playing a co-op shooter? As with the other reasons, this alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many games are challenging for a single-player but much more playable with a group. There’s a line between that and “just give up unless you have a group,” which is what we have going on here. So, of course, unless you have 5 hours to invest and want to completely give up your life, good luck enjoying the game. You’ll be stuck in pick-up groups from hell, and I challenge anyone to say that a PUG game is fun for casual gamers.
So, if you want a hardcore shooter that requires a group to avoid frustration, this is a great title for you. As for me, I’m heading back to Fallout 4, where things can be quite challenging, but at least there’s a semblance of a reason that you’re fighting against Super Mutants, and you can – if you work at it – beat the odds.