Popular sequels that break their predecessors' game design

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

  1. cuc

    cuc 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 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 Active 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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  6. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    Far Cry:

    * The first game was a straight forward, completely linear "realistic" FPS with wide open maps, with great AI and visuals.
    * The second game was thematically about sickness and decay, and the mechanics supported that: Weapons broke, you could conquer and lose areas, and so on. It's by far the most complex of them all.
    * The third to sixth game were your run-of-the-mill generic AAA openworld shooter with zero depth and a player character that's totally OP.

    One and Two were somewhat successful, Three was a huge hit.
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  7. bbobjs

    bbobjs Active Member

    SoulCalibur V:

    While the Souls series as a whole is widely praised for its core design quality (particularly within the 3d fighter sub-genre) the sixth entry into the franchise (SoulCalibur V) completely destroys the foundation that made SC1 & SC2 so widely appealing with just two primary changes.

    1. The implementation of a "Super Meter"
    Adding a "Super Meter" to the game isn't inherently flawed. The previous entries in the series and fighters in general are littered with abusable moves. By tethering strong options to a resource, you can maintain the "fun" of something that's otherwise "too strong" and in that regard the Souls series should have been a great fit for a meter system of some type. Unfortunately we didn't get a "Resource Meter" we got a "Super Meter" which means forcing "Supers" into a game that was not designed to include them. Here are some flaws:
    • Super freeze isn't a big deal in 2D fighters because the camera is simple but in 3D fighters there's this desire to distort perception by shifting to a "cinematic" camera angle. This is somewhat minor but it breaks flow and makes the situation annoying to judge.
    • Although you can use the meter for EX versions or extensions of normal moves, their primary function is combo extension and damage bloat, not option enrichment. This shits on the "Directional Influence" system because these moves are designed to bypass that paradigm and the result is that a system which could add a decision layer to the combos structure is actually removing a layer.
    • Although you can use the meter for Impact Guard, a defensive system, in essence, because the only counter to an Impact Guard is a counter Impact Guard and because it requires meter, it's just another way the meter is designed to translate itself directly into damage rather than emergent gameplay.
    • The worst thing is that because the meter persists between rounds and because 3D fighters are so momentum based, the inclusion of the meter decreases the frequency of balanced rounds.
    2. Exchanging the Impact Guard system for the Just Guard system.
    One common flaw of 3D fighters is that "High" attacks are weak because there's nothing they innately beat as an class. This means that in order to become a valid part of the mixup game they need something unique like high +frames on block or something. This results in confusing gameplay, but because of the Impact Guard system, SoulCalibur never had this problem:
    Typical 3D Fighter:
    ???< Highs <High Block <<<Duck
    L-Block< Mids <H-Block (<<<Step)
    H-Block< Low <L-Block <<<Jump​
    SoulCalibur 1-4:
    L-Impact< Highs <H-Block <<H-Impact <<<Duck
    L-Block< Mids <H-Block <<L-Impact, H-Impact (<<<Step)
    H-Block, H-Impact< Low <L-Block <<L-Impact <<<Jump
    The Just Guard system only makes highs more irrelevant to the basic mixup game:
    SoulCalibur V:
    ???< Highs <High Block <<H-Guard <<<Duck
    L-Block< Mids <H-Block <<H-Guard (<<<Step)
    H-Block< Low <L-Block <<L-Guard <<<Jump​

    So not only does the Just Guard system make the basic mixup game less interesting but it has other inherent flaws. Unlike Impact Guarding, it can often be attempted for without consequence, making it a more mindless system. Unlike the Impact Guard system, it often doesn't offer a chance for rebuttal. It also activated in a much more obtuse way (inputting block for ~2 frames or less) which drastically increases the execution requirements and makes it nearly impossible to get consistently on dome switch controllers (I.E. the standard PS3/XBOX 360 controller).

    To make things worse, the primary reason it was added was added was because in testing it was considered too easy to Impact Guard Supers and to accommodate this Impact Guard was changed to require meter while Just Guard was added to fill the gap. The thing that's EXTREMELY dumb about this is that SoulCalibur 3 and 4 already had the special case addition of Just Impacts that would have addressed this perfectly. Basically normal Impact Guard couldn't beat Unblockable moves, but the more strictly timed Just Impacts could, a paradigm would could have been applied to Supers.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
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  8. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Interesting views on SCV, and I think mostly correct, although I do think SCV was close to being the best SC since 2, but like all SC's has massive glitch and balance issues (that would've existed even if they hadn't put in meter, supers, and JG)


    To add some stuff:

    SC2- While it's closer to plot than game design (since you could list game design shit all day) there's a overall feel to SC and BW that isn't t here for SC2. SC and BW feel like dirty scifi with a very real threat, lots of betrayal and loss, with "winning" really being just not dying today, but still being left in a horrible position. The ending of BW was pretty great as far as video game plots go.

    Conversely SC2 is literally every terrible action movie cliche they could think of and completely ignores their own characters and motives from the first games.

    D3- You could probably do a case study on this. It also has the plot issues of the previous, but jesus the gameplay.

    What's odd is that D3 in a way understood what was awful about d2 and tried to fix almost all of it.

    1. People will buy gear anyways if we let them trade. "ok real money auction house!"

    2. Stats are dumb. You just figure out your build t hen figure out your stats "alright more flexible stats!"

    3. Skills also work backwards in that picking skills as you like is dumb. You need a build in mind "ok you can respec whenever AND skills aren't tree based but have modifier runes and multilple slot options!"

    The problem is not only did they make one of the worst videogame plots i've seen, they also wrecked the core gameplay.

    They made a real money auction house with NO WAY FOR ITEMS TO LEAVE THE MARKET. It instantly replaced the normal markets and grinding and they didn't even add pvp which was a huge reason for buying gear in the first place.

    They tried to fix stats and builds by making everything mostly the same outside of set bonuses. Who cares what elemental damage you do? It's all basically the same?

    They got rid of stupid build locking by also making most builds feel extremely similar. At the end of the day you're usually spamming mass aoe while you watch things die so they can drop junk you can turn into more gold so you can buy something off the auction house.

    It was really quite impressive.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  9. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    Yes, Diablo 3 was impressive on the scale of its failure.

    However, if you have access to Reaper of Souls, I recommend revisiting it. It's a completely different game now, and the vast majority of issues are fixed. They removed both auction houses (gold and real money), which allowed them to rebalance drop-rates, which allowed them to have more interesting items, especially in the set and unique department. Instead of grinding a character to max level, you get there in like two hours (not kidding, you get new abilities so fast you can barely try them out before you get the next one), and then you try to find and adapt your gear/skill combination with ever changing parts to deal with ever increasing threat.

    Diablo 3 is a great case study I believe.
  10. Hogflute

    Hogflute New Member

    Destiny 2 :D its the same thing as Destiny 1, but with a 2 in the end.

    Honestly though, they could have just made Destiny free to play with micro transactions and updated it instead of turning out the same thing again.
  11. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    Sure, but then you'd miss out on the sweet money of all the fans spending $60 on a content patch. The games industry's AAA publishers that focus on consoles first have only disdain for their customers, trying to milk them for shitty products. Now we even get full-priced single player games with real-money loot boxes, or other such shit. (Shadows of War, the idiotic sequel to the overrated Shadow or Mordor).

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