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Should linear action-adventure games continue to implement RPG mechanics?

Content of the article: "Should linear action-adventure games continue to implement RPG mechanics?"

I've noticed in recent years there's been a pretty strong trend towards adding in levels, gear, crafting and skill trees to basically every game, even linear action-adventure games that normally wouldn't have included such mechanics a decade ago.

God of War is one title in particular that seems to exemplify this trend. Despite being a linear game, you will level up, purchase new gear, upgrade your current gear with modifications and invest in new skills in the skill tree. But it's a common occurrence in other single player action-adventure titles like Spider-Man, Assassin's Creed, and quite a few others.

Some aspects of this, in particular skill trees, are actually a pretty good inclusion in my opinion when done well. Instead of slowly and steadily giving players tools as the game goes along (play through something like Assassin's Creed 2 for an example of this) you let the player choose which tools look most interesting and are most useful for their playstyle. It gives more freedom and can add more depth to the game by creating different styles of play for the character. (A lot of games do this poorly, but that's a topic for a different post).

Where this system seems to fail is when too much gear/loot is added into the game, forcing the player to basically pause the experience for a good 10-15 minutes every couple of hours as they figure out the game's systems and sort through all of the different options for gear and upgrades. When the only thing that this changes is how difficult the enemies are, then it ceases to have any relevant purpose to the game. It will only create unpredictable difficulty spikes that the developer has little control over and keep the player from experiencing the things that they are meant to experience; that being the world and the narrative.

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Better I think is when the developer does something like with Naughty Dog games, where the difficulty spikes are all planned out properly in order to keep the player on their feet and engaged, as well as to help drive home the narrative. The difficulty is more finely tuned this way and the character isn't dragged out of the narrative to manage gear upgrades and purchases. But what do you think? Do you like this trend towards action-adventure titles including more and more mechanics from the RPG genre, or do you agree with me that it's unnecessary and lowers the quality of the games they are in?


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