The Witcher 2 - Roundup # 9 - More Reviews
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June 1st, 2011, 12:07
The game has the right difficulty curve, RPG wise. The analysis is flawed and another symptom of the RPG genre bad health.
Under the pressure of certain developpers, reviewers and players wishing to see the RPG genre healthier than ever, elements in a (socalled) RPG are not assessed through the quality of RP they allow a player to experience but are described as defining elements of the RPG genre identity itself.
One prevailing element that shall define the RPG genre identity is the character system progression. If a game has a system of character progression then at least, this game has RPG elements in it.
A pure non sense but that is the insane reality of today RPG genre assessment.
And most likely, a game without a character progression system could not be listed as RPG genre. And very often, current games listed as RPGs are mainly different in their elements thanks to the inclusion of a character progression system ( a game like Portal 2 is no RPG as it has no such system and so, a game like lastest iteration of Call of Duty is said to lean toward RPG because it includes a perk system and so on)
By this situation, the flawed analysis on the difficulty curve is enabled.
As the character progression system is now considered a defining element of the RPG genre identity, it has to be applied no matter the consequences on a possible RP experience.
Back in the days, developpers used to field the same stereotypes of characters, that is a nobody climbing up the ranks to establish itself as a mattering force in the gameworld.
Hence the normal standard of being a 30~50 level game.
But now, to maintain the appearances, the system is applied to already well established characters hence a total distortion.
RP well established characters is no issue in a RPG, it only means that the character will not level up frequently or not at all. No issue as levelling up is just one side of RP, nothing pertaining to identity.
In The Witcher's universe, Geralt of Rivia is well established, one of the best swordsmen in the North. He is a man above the average by far.
Typically the kind of characters that should progress slowly over a full adventure and who knows the basics.
So in order to apply the character system progression to Of Rivia, it grows necessary to weaken the character below his real level.
Basically, of Rivia starts at a negative level compared to the character he is and the whole story is about himself regaining his level.
TW1 rationalizes this with the loss of memory story. The man is the shadow of himself so he has to regain his level.
TW2 uses (weakly) the other classical trick: the prison.
All this to state that the difficulty curve is right, the closer the character to what geralt is in his universe, that is an exceptional fighter, well above the average swordsman, the easier fights must become.
If one refers to the other characters in the cut scenes and how they make short work of their enemies, Geralt of Rivia must be at least on par with all these characters.
ME series has this slightly better in ME2 as the reduction of stats allows seasoned soldiers to shoot as seasoned soldiers, while in ME1 seasoned soldiers miss 8 out of ten.
In ME3, as they want to label a game with no RP in it a RPG, they will keep doing so through association to so called RPG elements, including the character progression system, meaning sending back Shepard, one of the best fighters in the universe to boot camp.
All this to conclude that the issue is not the difficulty curve being wrong. The difficulty curve is right. Geralt is far above the average fighter in his universe, making it easy for him to dispatch several regular soldiers.
The issue is that to keep pretending that a game is RPG while it is not, some elements have been declared as identifiers of the RPG genre and through association to them, a game is told to be a RPG.
Hence Geralt of Rivia has to be weakened in order to accomodate the progression system.
If of Rivia is level 32 in his universe, in the video game, he starts as level 1, has to become again the dominant force he is in his universe and might gain three levels to finish level 35.
In terms of RP experience, such action is horrible but still remains necessary as without the character progression system identifier, it would grow harder to sell TW2 for a game it is not: a RPG.
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