Do you ever a game, have a lot of fun, enjoy yourself, only for one gameplay mechanic to come and make the whole experience worse? Most of the time it's just tiny stuff, that's at least over fast like the "move your controler" puzzles in breath of the wild.
However one thing that's almost never quickly over is stealth in non-stealth games. So what brings me to this subject?
I play the metro series right now and while I was playing the second game, I realized how terrible and bad the stealth is.
Enemies hear you when you stand up, you can sometimes stand infront of an enemy and it takes them seconds to notice you, the stealth is boring and dosen't have any depth outside of "sneak behind and enemy and knock him out", etc.
So now the obvious fix is to just not stealth, right? Well yeah, but actually no.
Because even tho stealth is boring and bad it's the best thing you can do in the game and it seems like it's what the game wants you to do.
In metro you will have often ammo shortage, meaning you have to save as much of your ammo as possible. Stealth dosen't need any ammo at all, if you do it correctly, because you just knock them out.
Further more if you want to see the good ending you need to stealth, because if you kill too many Enemies the game gives it to you.
Those two factors tell the player "stealth as much as you can".
However it's clear that the game wasn't made for stealth. Like at all. And also this whole "don't kill" thing shoots the game in the foot.
When you knock an enemy out, the game plays a small animation in witch you are invincible. Not just that, you can also knock them out by running in their face, while they see you. So what happends? Well sometimes they will all run to you in a straight line, so you run to the first one and press "e". You knock him out and then see the others looking at you. You quickly spam "e" yet another time to knock out the next one and then do this until they are all gone. From time to time you get behind a box or something to heal, only to run/wait for the next enemy and boom you saved ammo and get the good ending. Is it stupid, boring, clearly not what you came for and pulls you out of the experience? Yup.
And mind you I play the game on hardcore in the mode that claims to "make you save ammo for a more realistic game".
The A.I of enemys is also clearly not made for stealth gameplay, as they don't do much outside calling for reinforcements. They don't try to circle you, infact they just run up to you in straight lines for you to spam the knock out button.
And of course, it's one of those games where enimes notice bodys on the ground, but you have no way of moving them.
"But how do you put stealth into a game like this?" you might ask. Sekiro did it perfect I answer.
As an example. Do enemys notice dead bodys on the ground? Well no, they only MAYBE look around a bit curiously for a few seconds. Is that a bad thing? Also no.
You see if they did, they also need to give the player a way to move bodys away, otherwise it's just unfair. So now you have to move bodys. But what happends if they find a body? Where can you hid them even? Can you walk as fast with a body or are you slower? Can ALL bodys be hidden? Are there maybe little lockers or other hidding places for dead bodys? All of those questions pop up. Also let's not forget that there isn't a single boss in Sekiro who needs stealth. So if you stealth your way through the game, you will be unprepared for the bosses.
So what did they do? They just didn't make enemies notice dead bodys and don't punish players who don't want to play stealthy. That's it. Does it look a bit silly, when your enemies walk over their dead friends bodys casually? Probably, but it would be even more silly if you they would react to them, because if they could, you had to move them, then you would notice that you can't and you would feel cheated on. Gameplay is (in most cases) more important then narrative.
Sekiro is for the most part at least not a stealth game. Again all of the bosses are direct fights, but it has great stealth elements that the player may or may not use.
Sometimes you can stealth and sometimes the game forces you to fight, but for the most part it's up to the player. Sekiro has done stealth right in there non-stealth game.
However not every game needs stealth. I think Metro for example suffers more under it. But how do you make your game more fun and layered withotu Stealth?
Look at Bioshock. One of the most popular games of all times and has it stealth? Outside of some tiny parts no. But in bioshock you can work with the environment a lot.
You can put electricity in water and every enemy who stands in it gets fried, you can move stuff in the air and throw it, you can hack stuff, etc. Also the game plays with atmosphere and music.
Half life is one of the most basic shooters I have ever played, yet it's fun and quick and it dosen't have any stealth.
If we look at Metro again, we see for example that you always fight against one group of mutants, infact there are little to no other ones. Sure some fly, others walk, others crawl, but they almost all act the same way.
As an example there is only one enemy who you have to fight different, because you have to put light on him to make him vulnerable. How about more creative mutants, that you have to fight at the same time? How about one that steals gas from your gas mask and you only get it back when you kill it for example.
Spoiler for the end of the first metro game: At the start of the second game you meet the last dark one, who is tiny. He gets away and the game starts. I know it's made after a book, but how about instead of letting the dark one get away, you actually get the dark one and now have to fight your way back to your station? The dark one is on your back or in a small bag and in game you can let him crawl on people or make a discretion. That would make the game more layered. It would also be great for the story, because you and the dark one could bond over each other, while you bsc walk him to his death. Having two not talking main characters is very interesting and it has a lot of potential for neat story moments that really touch you.
Also Bioshock did the whole moral question thing better. In bioshock you get the good ending if you don't kill the little sisters. However by not killing them, you get less eve meaning you can't buy as many abilities and upgrades.
Firstly) It dosen't get in the way of the gameplay.
Secondly) It actually makes sense in the story that you get the bad ending after killing too many of them.
And lastly) It's extremely stupid, that you get the bad ending for killing in metro. You kill in self defense. It's like "Did you really just kill this nazi, who literally tried to rape a women infront of her child while he was trying to murder you? HOW DARE YOU! BAD ENDING!" like what?
In Bioshock you kill little, corrupted girls or save them depending on how you play. And yes, killing them is actually not a good thing to do.
I don't like this whole "do that for the bad ending and that for the good one" thing very much, because I feel like you shouldn't force players to play a certain way if they wanna see the good/bad ending they want, but in Bioshocks case it was handled very well.
Or how about Dishonored? Killing enemies there not only gives you the bad ending, but it even makes the game harder. Is that bad? No, because unlike Metro Dishonored has amazing stealth gameplay. You can still rush in sometimes and just cut peoples head off because even the fight gameplay in the game is great, but because the stealth is so great in the game they more or less force the player to do it. But if you really want to you can still just sliece peoples limbs off.
You get many tools and possibilities to stealth in Dishonored from both your abilitys and the great level design. Because Metros levels are build for a shooter mostly, while Dishonored knows what game it is and is mostly build for stealth.
What I'm tryint to say is only pull this "Killing people has bad consequences" thing in your game, when it either A) Makes the gameplay better/dosen't make the gameplay worse or when B) your game is heavily focused on story and it fits in the narritve, but even then it should work and shouldn't be annoying or boring. Both things Metro dosen't do.
I'm not saying with this post that shooters can't have stealth or that every game needs to do the same thing. But what I AM saying is that people should stop forcing stealth in their games and then force the player to follow it, even tho it's badly made. Know the thing, your making.
Also I know I made Metro look like a terrible game here and while it is not as great as everyone always says it's still a solid game with a fun narrtive. Infact I wish the game focoused more on it, then the gameplay. I spend more time listening to the talks of some side characters, then with the actual shooting probably.
Thanks for reading and have a great day or night!
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