Popular sequels that break their predecessors' game design

Discussion in 'Games (and Other Interactive Entertainment)' started by cuc, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. cuc

    cuc New Member

    I recently came across this post on the first Heroes of Might and Magic:
    As the poster had pointed out, there are major aspects of the Heroes game design that only made sense in H1. For its two vastly more popular sequels, the designers changed some parts of the game to be more appealing (replacing spell memorization with Spell Points and skills; making battlefields larger in each sequel), but didn't account for how they undermine pillars of the game.

    Similarly, I recall reading that some mechanics of the Total War series were made to fit the original Shogun: Total War. As soon as they made the first sequel, Medieval: Total War, Creative Assembly begun a history of adding new features without adjusting old ones. I think there was one game where the generals can gain experience, but their natural lifespan is too short for the experience to be useful, things like that. The series have never been properly balanced ever since.

    These are sequels developed by the original teams, who still managed to miss the point of their own design. Sequels made by different teams are worse. The best example is probably Dungeons & Dragons. The original D&D was inspired by pulp fantasy adventure novels; Gygax disliked LotR, and only added Tolkienesque player races at the behest of other players. The only source of Experience Points was treasure, because the player characters were supposed to be vagabonds and rascals who climb social ladders using the wealth they gained through plunder. They were morally grey as the inherent premise of the genre, and the system did not reward them for killing. Later versions shifted the vision towards both rewarding XP for killing enemies AND the more popular good vs. evil epic fantasy genre created in the wake of LotR. I don't think I need to stress the far-reaching harm this has done to the decades of pop culture influenced by D&D.

    What are your favorite examples of such changes, especially when most people have only played the sequels?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  2. SwiftSpear

    SwiftSpear Active Member

    I feel like this is true of almost every sequel that wasn't as good as the original game.
  3. cuc

    cuc New Member

    But what makes it interesting is when for various reasons, the sequels (sometimes indirect successors) reached greater popularity than the original.

    Another of my favorite example: the first Assassin's Creed does not have much meaningful gameplay, but it was an ambitious-for-AAA attempt to create an interactive experience with a story that actually says something, and a virtual world that appears to players as a self-contained, cohesive whole, especially when you play it the way it was designed for - without HUD.

    Following its good mass market sales but mixed critical reception among hardcore gamers, Ubi management mandated the development team to copy the GTA formula for the sequel, while the director stated in interviews that the first game "did not teach players enough about how to play it." As a result, AC2 has exactly the same gameplay, except with a main campaign that's essentially a 18-hour long tutorial for the first game, a story that constantly flatters the players, and GTA-style side content filling the map. To this day the most common advice from hardcore gamers is: "stay away from AC1 and play AC2, best game in the series!"

    I think there is plenty of materials for this topic.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  4. Juli

    Juli Well-Known Member

    Diablo 2 made it so that enemies respawn between game sessions, giving you an infinitely grindable source of XP, gold, and items. The results were predictable. It shifted randomness away from being, "thing you need to adapt to and/or account for," and into, "thing that increases the number of hours you need to farm in order to get that item you want." That adds grinding, but also totally shifts how character building works. It's all about determining your best-in-slot gear for whatever skills you're gonna select, then getting stats for it. Like in Diablo, you might find an axe that you don't have the Strength for, so you start leveling Strength. Or you level Strength because you know you MIGHT find something that makes it worthwhile, but there's not really any guarantee. OR you hold on to stat points, temporarily weakening yourself, in the hopes that it will pay off when you find something good that requires a lot of a particular stat. In Diablo 2, you know that ebotdz is the best weapon for your build, so you get 128 Strength, then farm until you have an ebotdz.

    It also made resource management pretty pointless. You don't really need to worry about what you're doing with your gold when you can farm it forever. You can buy as many potions as you want because gold doesn't matter, so mana doesn't really matter (but boy is it annoying early game when you gotta chug a potion every 3 or 4 spell casts).

    I've been playing Torchlight 2 recently, and it feels more like a Diablo 2 than Diablo 2 does, in large part due to the fact that enemies don't respawn.
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  5. Weaver

    Weaver Member

    Starcraft 2:

    1. It weakens the importance of terrain by adding a lot of early units that ignore the terrain.

    2. It made a lot of map subtleties vanish by introducing the Warp Gate.

    3. It introduces a path finding system that's too intelligent, reducing complex battle formation to several different types of deathballs.
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