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Ghost Recon Breakpoint Is An Infuriating Mess

I have never played a game as inconsistent as Ghost Recon Breakpoint. In its finest moments, when the stars align, it delivers stealth action on par with the best in the genre. When it falls apart, as it usually does, a tangled weave of glitches and half-baked systems reveal a game compromised by bland AAA design sensibilities and a ceaseless desire to churn out content at a breakneck pace.

Ghost Recon Wildlands was a disaster. The 2017 game’s expansive open world was dull and difficult to traverse, its jock-bantering AI companions grated on the nerves, the length never seem justified, and its caricatured cadre of Mexican villains weren’t just embarrassing but racist. It’s an understatement to say that I did not care for it.

Breakpoint moves into the realm of speculative-fiction, shifting from a “what if” scenario about a real place to a poor man’s Metal Gear or Deus Ex on a fictional island. Its narrative has more focus, its world map is more diverse, its villains are more charismatic, and its moment to moment gameplay is sleeker than before. These improvements come with their own shortcomings and mistakes. The end result is an improvement over WIldlands that nevertheless disappoints more than it impresses. It is a better game, and you can have a lot of fun playing it.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is at its best when you’re taking lengthy hikes through thick forests and stealthily infiltrating bases full of elite soldiers. But, like Wildlands it ultimately crumbles apart into a heap of conflicting ideas. It is a loot-shooter where loot doesn’t matter, a game about technology that constantly confuses its message, and a survival mechanic-laden exploration game where you never struggle to survive. A lot of things are thrown against the wall, rarely sticking.

Here’s the thing: when Breakpoint works, it evokes the best moments of games like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Kitted with the right mix of sniper rifles and personal defense weapons, a smart player can dispatch platoons of hapless guards and slink into fortified bases to interrogate commanders or hack computers for the latest intelligence. These forays might unlock a lengthy series of investigations that bring them face to face with dangerous enemy operatives who, while too easily dispatched when discovered, tease the possibility of grander battles. Helicopter chases erupt into something terrible as strange automated tanks fire flak volleys upwards into crackling bursts. Excursions through wind-swept fields turn grim as a surveillance drone swoops by and detects you before cover can be found. It summons a high-tech kill squad to chase you through the brush. All of these moments are incredible and hint at a game far more exciting than the complete package. But damn, if they’re not fantastic in isolation.

Breakpoint abandons the gritty pretext of Wildlands imperialist geo-politics for a techno-thriller whose pitch is more exciting than the execution. After a tanker goes missing off the coast of a remote corporate island commune, the player and their squad of “Ghost” special forces are flown in to determine what happened. Arriving at the island of Auroa, they are shot down and left behind enemy lines. The once-thriving libertarian paradise is now controlled by rogue paramilitary forces led by former Ghost Cole Walker, portrayed with slimy delight by Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal. Walker and his allies have seized control of the island’s drone technology, with the aim of expanding outward and using it to quell conflict with grand displays of technological violence. It’s up to the player and a few allies—including the scientists responsible—to thwart Walker. It is a far more compelling set up than Wildlands, offering a clear villain and personal stakes alongside cursory commentary about modern warfare. But it never commits and is lost amid the static of rote gameplay systems.

Pulling from Destiny 2 and its cousin The Division, Breakpoint models itself like a loot-shooter. Players have an overall gear score, which rises as they collect new items from fallen enemies or hidden caches. Weapons and armor come in tiers of rarity—cruddy grey, decent green, quality blue, rare purple, and legendary yellow—which often boast small bonuses such as reduced recoil or increased stamina. But unlike Destiny, were you might find a weapon with a unique history that you upgrade in order to have a constant companion at your side, Breakpoint’s loot is meant to be discarded as soon as you find something better. This means that an assault on an enemy base might yield fresh body armor that you immediately replace halfway through a firefight with more body armor because some random schmuck dropped a slightly better version. Once, I killed a high ranking enemy and received their unique submachine gun, only to find that the shopkeeper in my base was already selling more powerful weapons when I returned from my mission. There’s never any time to develop a weapon preference or create a unique character build. You grab loot, equip it if there’s a little green arrow indicating it’s better, and replace it as fast as possible. It’s not a grindy system—any excursion will upgrade your gear score from 5 to 10 points, depending on luck—but it is pointless. Loot is generic enough that players will not care about what they find, and perfunctory enough that raising your gear score rarely seems important. Breakpoint’s developers want the loot-shooter structure, the slowly rising power curve, without ever really committing to it.

Loot doesn’t matter because Breakpoint is astoundingly easy on default difficulties and only marginally harder on higher settings. Almost every weapon can be silenced and equipped with powerful optics, leaving the player to gleefully sneak about and eliminate enemies at extreme ranges or even up close with a single shot. This is true in nearly all cases, regardless of the difference between the player’s level and the enemies’ own strength. One time, I found myself on the hunt for a dangerous foe called Flycatcher, a sort of discount FOXHOUND operative who had a masterful command of engineering and an army of drones. After a long chain of interrogations and sleuthing, I located his base of operations. I snuck past the elite “Wolves,” Walker’s personally trained death squad. The sneak was exciting. Although I could kill with a single shot, the base layout was a mix of tight tunnels and drone-packed landing pads. I was eventually detected and pulled into a firefight with powerful troops. After the fight was over, I resumed my push through the base and up to Flycatcher’s position. When we previously met, there was a cutscene as his drones chased me through hallways, gliding around like deadly predators. This time, with his drones somehow oblivious to my presence, I snuck into his command room and killed him with a shot to the back of the skull. So much for the mighty boss. So much for our much-teased final encounter.

Breakpoint does have some interesting ideas and exciting modes. Its campaign uses a largely non-linear structure that allows you to tackle any challenge, up to and including the final battle with Walker, whenever you want. This is fantastic. There’s plenty to do and you can do it on your own terms. Wildlands gated content behind side missions, asking players to perform a variety of minor tasks in order to take on greater challenges. Breakpoint is open, letting players embark on whatever sort of experience they’d like. That can mean treasure hunts, daily missions to destroy enemy supply lines, the somewhat generic but enjoyable story mode, tracking priority targets, or wandering for better gear. You are the center of a wheel, with various spokes pointing out in disparate directions. It is often more over-the-top Just Cause than classically stealthy Ghost Recon. You can cut loose, track targets, grind out faction reputation. It’s in your hands, and the world is more exciting as a result.

Draped over all of this is Breakpoint’s most controversial feature: a robust suite of microtransactions that’s proven difficult to talk about given the immediate, inflamed response. This anger is justifiable—that so much of Breakpoint has been chipped and locked behind an instantly implemented store is a grim mark of what modern gaming has become—but the reality is that this monetization structure is more egregious in its nonsensical existence more than anything else. Much of this stems from a now-unavailable purchase that was never available during any point of my playtime: the ability to purchase ability-granting skill points. Alongside gear score, players slowly level up their character through experience points that contribute to a general level. Each time you level up, you gain skill points to spend on various passive buffs, drone abilities, and equippable boosters that grant bonuses such as increased accuracy at a distance or reload time. Their continued inclusion would have upset the game’s already precarious balance. That they were considered at all is frustrating. What remains is a largely avoidable collection of purchasable crafting materials, vehicles and cosmetics that nevertheless grates with its very presence. While there was never a point that I felt compelled to buy anything nor was I made to engage with these systems the same way I might have been with Star Wars Battlefront 2’s odious loot boxes, Breakpoint is draped in a heavy cloth of currencies and unlockables. Year after year, players receive a new Ubisoft open-world game. More recently, this comes hand in hand with a new shop meant to wring extra cash from consumers. Many will ignore it, others will not but it’s there, waiting for whoever it might snatch in its jaws.

Breakpoint’s gameplay is weighed down by extraneous systems, and the narrative similarly stumbles as it tries to juggle too many ideas. It’s not a bad story, but it’s more fraught than the writing seems capable of handling. Breakpoint’s creators want to tell a story about the dangers of technology and the terrifying nature of unmanned drones but can never point the finger adequately. This is a game where rogue agents get their hands on deadly and impersonal weapons, where the player often needs to hide from overhead drones lest they call in destruction. These weapons, Breakpoint shows, are something to fear. They are a power that can easily be subverted for evil. And yet, the player has access to a personal drone that can mark and instantly destroy targets and somehow nothing bad comes of that. Much of the story is focused on rescuing scientists so that they can mope about their creations while also working to subvert them and, ultimately, get them back into the right hands.

The game has no time for the idea that these weapons, at least in their basic forms, are a part of warfare today and that regardless of who has them they enact untold death upon not just enemies but civilians as well. Instead, it presents its weapons merely as tools. Science can get overly ambitious, yes. As Breakpoint protagonist Nomad says: “progress isn’t a zero-sum game.” But in this particular case, what matters more is the user and not the weapon itself. Walker is a rogue agent, a mad outlier seizing innovative technology. The player is the loyal soldier, the good American, who will save the day. We don’t want drones to fall into the enemy’s hands. Better to keep them in our hands, where at least they will sometimes blow up the people we are aiming at. Let me just deploy my drone and tag the enemies for execution. Thank goodness I upgraded my own tech enough; it would be horrible if anyone else had this power. This disconnect is frustrating because Breakpoint’s gameplay manages to imbue these weapons with gravitas. They are terrifying to behold and it is always horrible to feel the cold gaze of a recon drone hone on your position.

Gameplay systems speak, and their absence also speaks. That I benefit from the tools that I wish to rob my enemies of becomes a judgement on them and not on the tools. What do my enemies lack? Not weapons but discipline, loyalty, and the things that make a “good” soldier. More clearly: what is Ghost Recon saying? Well, nominally that the status quo is fine and that there’s “good” and “bad” applications of technological violence.

The story also falters in other areas. While Bernthal is a deeply watchable actor and Walker chews up every scene he’s in, he’s also a disposable villain. He needs to be, if you’re able to hunt him down whenever you want. As a result, while there are flashbacks that show off the player’s history with Walker and try to bring a more personal side to the story, it falls flat. Walker’s motivations are vague, his speeches empty, and whatever dangerous bite he is introduced with diminishes over the course of the campaign. Breakpoint’s effort to create a compelling villain are commendable—I certainly paid attention when Walker was on screen—but its loose structure ultimately undermines the narrative. I was told that Walker was a “revolutionary” who “has a reason for being here,” but there’s little time devoted to those motives. It’s clear that Walker feels shackled by government bureaucracy. “We’ve chosen to become the warriors we were meant to be,” Walker says. What that means isn’t apparent until his last moments.

There are smaller narrative annoyances, too. Side characters lack Bernthal’s raw charisma, their individual quest arcs rarely coming to a compelling endpoint. There are times where I get a sense of who these characters are, and times when I came to really like them. The ousted corporate CEO Jace Skell seems disconnected until we learn he’s been funding research into a cure for someone’s cancer. Fiery revolution Haruhi Ito struggles with her methods after a bomb’s collateral damage kills innocents. In other cases, it’s a jumble. Who is this AI specialist and why is she suddenly working with one of my scientist compatriots? Do I really care if one of my fellow Ghosts betrays me if we only had one scene prior to his heel-turn? It’s easy to lose track of the plot.

There’s lip service paid to high concept ideas including the bias of computer algorithms and anxieties about transhumanism, but these are deployed more often as buzzwords than ideas to explore. It doesn’t help that Breakpoint often confuses what these things mean. (Take a drink every time they’re actually talking about posthumanism instead of transhumanism. Take another when the term is used as a boogeyman without context.) Breakpoint’s creators want the game to be taken seriously, but doesn’t want to do its homework.

The more I played Breakpoint, the more frustrated I became. Breakpoint, for its momentary victories, it often feels superfluous and bland. Its tacked on loot rarity system is neither interesting nor robust enough to warrant inclusion. The story claws at ideas without grasping anything, even if it hits individual beats from time to time. Ubisoft’s structure of annualized releases, of constant open worlds and content, robs Breakpoint of any staying power. Did I not just play another military loot-shooter when The Division 2 released in March earlier this year? Won’t I just sneak around more guards and evade more drones when Watch Dogs Legion releases next year? Wasn’t I silently taking out bases in Far Cry New Dawn in February? The answer is yes, but here I am slogging through a massive open world to find bursts of enjoyment in a game that’s in over its head.

I knew what I was in for and managed my expectations. Booting up Breakpoint, it was cliche and generic but I didn’t dislike it at first. For the first few hours, it was harmless enough until I eventually resented it. I resented the idea of playing 20 to 30 hours of this bland sludge. I resented its dull military hooting and hollering. I groaned at another cosmetic packed store, another fresh way for someone to lose twenty bucks. It started slow, far too slow. I didn’t care about Walker and I barely do now. I was supposed to trudge through his huge map, another world built by committee, until I faced off with this crew cut clown? Fuck that. I wanted no part of it. It was only after nearly 10 hours of playtime that things started to fall into place. As Breakpoint allowed me to wander from mission to mission and expanded my sneaking tools, things started to fall into place. Removed from the tacked on loot system and vapid skill trees, I found bright flashes of chewy stealth action. Damn, they were good.

Finding those moments doesn’t absolve Breakpoint of its many missteps. It’s not a redeeming enough fact to wash away the AAA triteness. Breakpoint is a game that feels meant to satisfy a company’s coverage of Q3 profits, a game with systems so blatant and unnecessary that they literally mean nothing within the game itself. Gear score is an arbitrary value. You can’t even call it a carrot on a stick. It’s all stick. There’s no point. It’s there because that’s what big games do now. There’s a giant piece of raid content because you gotta have a big endgame for your years-running service games. Microtransactions are slapped on, with useless cosmetics and (initially) sneaky ways to power up your character because a one-time purchase is never enough these days. Bases, side-quest, daily reputation grinds, guns, guns, and more guns. Breakpoint embodies the corporate philosophies that I’ve come to loathe and which many players are rightfully sick of.

I have gone from ambivalence to anger to quiet acceptance with Breakpoint. There is so much that frustrates me, so much that drags down the experience into a muddled and forgettable thing. But every now and then I’ll dive into a snow filled ditch, covering myself in dirt as enemies walk within feet of me or hit a shot from 400 meters out and everything feels right. It’s a damn shame that Breakpoint seems religiously devoted to slapping together mismatched bit of modern game design into a mediocre patchwork. For all the clumsiness, there’s something here but it’s been watered down.

Source: Kotaku.com

The New Mode In Ghost Recon Wildlands Is A Small-Scale Spin On The Battle Royale Formula

Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting a sequel later this year, so most fans and Ubisoft will move on to that next game. But before that happens, Ubisoft has released one last major update for the game which added a brand new competitive mode called Mercenaries. It blends different elements of Wildlands into a small, focused battle royale-like mode that mostly works.

I haven’t played Wildlands in over a year, so coming back to the game to check out this newest and last update was strange. But once I got comfortable with the controls again, I jumped into Mercenaries and ran right into the mode’s biggest problems: Loading screens and errors. It took me three-game restarts to find a match due to server issues. Once I did find a match, the loading times felt long.

After getting through all that, I was plopped into a match of Mercenaries. The mode pits 8 players against each other in a cordoned-off area of the main map. In this mode, players start with no weapons or gear. So, like in every other battle royale, you have to scrounge around looking for weapons, ammo, grenades, and armor. Unlike other battle royale modes, however, in Mercenaries players can respawn and keep their weapon. On the one hand, this makes death feel less annoying, but it also makes kills feel less satisfying. But due to the lower player count and map size, respawning feels like a necessity. And even with players coming back after death and continuing to explore the map, I still had matches where I felt like I was playing alone.

The main goal of Mercenaries to exit via helicopter. To do this players need to search the map and find three transmitters. These aren’t marked, however, so instead players find intel on the map. These are more plentiful and show up on the map as you get close. Once you have some intel you can use it to find a transmitter. Activate three of these and the helicopter will come to pick you up after a few minutes. But every player is alerted to this and can also activate transmitters and find the location of the pickup before the chopper arrives. So the pace of matches can vary greatly.

One match, I never encountered any players and nobody got the helicopter activated for quite some time. It was a laid back match. The next match, someone got the helicopter activated in like three minutes and suddenly everyone was rushing around the map, running into each other at transmitters and intel locations.

Compared to other battle royale modes, Mercenaries feels less punishing but it can also feel less social. You don’t really interact with other players that much, especially if your match is filled with people who aren’t using vehicles or hitting intel locations regularly. There are AI enemies on that map, but they are easy to avoid and don’t add much to the experience.

Something that is annoying in this new mode is how tanky players can feel. At one point a player got the drop on me, I took a ton of damage, but was able to run up to them and bash them twice with my knife and win the fight. After killing my attacker, I didn’t feel like that was fair. On the flip side, I would sometimes shoot enemies with dozens of rounds and they could get away. Considering players can respawn after death, making players so tough feels like a mistake.

Mercenaries might not bring a lot of players back to the aging Wildlands, but as a send-off to the game before the next entry in the franchise, it feels nice. Sure the map is a bit too large and the time-to-kill might be too high, but the mode mostly works well. For players who have sunk months into Wildlands and want something new to play while they wait for the sequel, Mercenaries might be the perfect time killer.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ghost Recon Bungled Bolivia, So At Least They’re Going Somewhere Fictional This Time

The first thing you might notice about Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the newly-announced follow-up to 2017’s co-op special ops shooter Ghost Recon: Wildlands, is its setting. The fictional Auroa islands are a marked shift from the previous game’s take on the real-world South American nation of Bolivia. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find more change: Instead of a cartel fronted by a charismatic kingpin, you’re facing an angry former Ghost played by actor Jon Bernthal. He’s backed by special forces operatives like the player character, but they’re supplemented by autonomous drones of varying shapes and sizes.

In Breakpoint, a mission gone awry strands you on the private archipelago owned by Jace Skell, whose SkellTech drones have been commandeered by rogue Ghost Cole D. Walker (Bernthal) and his team, known as Wolves. They’ve got plans for Skell’s drones, and you’re one of the few people left who can stop them. It’s a techno-thriller premise consistent with the game’s Tom Clancy branding, but it’s also quite different from what came before, perhaps in an effort to court those who found Wildlands fun but were repelled by its messy politics.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands took the tactical spec ops gameplay of the Ghost Recon franchise to a sprawling open world, mostly to great success. It looked good and played well. One of its biggest problems was its choice of locale and antagonist—here was a meticulously researched and elaborate game that worked hard to make players feel like a team of trained special operatives, and yet that same care and attention seemed absent in its portrayal of Bolivia, recasting it into a tropey narco-state to fit its needs.

Wildlands’ cartel-run Bolivia was a caricature to drape Ghost Recon’s jingoist realism against, a playground for carnage where the player character would shoot their way through South American villages, showing off their command of Spanish slurs while threatening to “ventilate” cartel associates, with a few oo-rahs thrown in for good measure. Our reviewer called it propaganda, and Bolivia filed a formal complaint with the French embassy over Paris-headquartered Ubisoft’s portrayal of the country.

When I brought the reception of Wildlands’ setting up to Nouredine Abboud, Breakpoint’s executive producer (and a producer on Wildlands), asking him if this shift was intentional, here’s what he told me: “When we thought about Wildlands, we wanted to have this big open world. Bringing the Ghosts into a military situation that was different from the classic ones that we’re used to, and the Cartel as an enemy helped us tell a different kind of story—while at the same [keeping with] the Clancy heritage. We believed it was the perfect idea, and we did the best with the story, the situation that we could.”

Abboud then told me about the dueling concerns of gameplay and story, and how, as a designer, the former takes precedence, since it’s the aspect unique to games, and what brings people to them.

“We always start, at the core, with the technology and the gameplay,” Abboud said. He called my attention to the hostile drones players will face in Breakpoint, noting how they solve the uniquely video game problem of making foes harder to kill without compromising the Ghost Recon brand of realism. “When you’re playing with high-level characters, you still want to keep the ‘one bullet one kill’ if you shoot someone in the head. Because the drones can be customized, they can increase the resistance, they come in all shapes—for us, it was a very good way to improve the interactions and gameplay elements of the previous game, while staying true to the brand.”

It’s a response that recalls Ubisoft’s attitude towards The Division 2, where developers leaned hard on the fiction of the Clancyverse and the technological achievement of its heavily-researched environments as a way to assert that the game was a somehow neutral work, free of ideas that ascribed to any sort of ideology. The game itself would quickly dispense with that notion, immediately dividing a post-collapse America into takers and builders, with lethal force the only law of the land once laws broke down.

Despite its developers’ reticence to talk about it at this stage, Breakpoint does seem like a work that’s trying to remove itself from a political minefield, and depending on your personal preferences, maybe it’s enough. It is, however, quite far from apolitical. It’s still a work of hardcore military fiction, a jingoist fantasy that fetishizes guns and spec ops training that filters the world into threats and the threatened. In its gameplay systems, Breakpoint doubles down on this with new features that emphasize the feeling of survival behind enemy lines, and the tactical preparation necessary to achieve success in the field. Its new setting on a wealthy capitalists’ private islands and emphasis on drone warfare also gestures at a new set of politically loaded subjects like the surveillance state and tech companies’ relationship with the military, subjects Breakpoint may overtly comment on.

In this first look, Breakpoint appears more palatable, more safely ensconced in the clandestine organizations of the Tom Clancy universe, but that universe remains one that’s as ugly to contemplate as it is fun to play through. Breakpoint’s biggest job might be succeeding where Wildlands struggled: Enticing you to dive into the pleasures of its meatier tactical gameplay, while hoping its new techno-thriller bend is enough to keep the full range of its players from being too troubled by what that fantasy means.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ghost Recon Wildlands Is Getting Even More DLC And A Free Weekend

Ubisoft’s love for microtransactions and map defogging missions may be tiresome, but the company’s propensity to support its games for a long time continues to impress. The mega-publisher just announced that Ghost Recon Wildlands, fresh off two years of post-release content additions (and two years of season passes, naturally), is now getting more free missions in year three.

Ubisoft announced the two new missions, called Operation Oracle, in a trailer today that also introduces a new character to the team-based stealth shooter set in Bolivia. The character, Cole Walker, looks to be played by Punisher and Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal, though we’ve reached out to Ubisoft to confirm.

A Ubisoft press release describes the missions and Walker as follows:

Playable in single-player or co-op, Operation Oracle sends the Ghosts on a rescue mission for a Skell Tech engineer taken hostage by Unidad. This typical rescue mission will soon turn into something much bigger. Forget what you know about your enemies and friends as you meet Cole D. Walker, a Ghost Team Leader on the hunt for truth.

Unidad are Bolivian special operations troops who hunt the player throughout the game.

The update is free and will come out this Thursday, May 2, to kick off an extended free weekend of all of Wildlands on Xbox One, PS4 and PC from then through May 5.

Wildlands’ DLC has been wide-ranging. It has included big expansions, PvP and crossover content with fellow Tom Clancy-branded Ubisoft franchises Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon Future Soldier. There has also been a surprise crossover with the Predator movie series and, earlier this year, the addition of several audio logs to tease the release of The Division 2.

Our reviewer found Ghost Recon Wildlands fun, but as with other Ubisoft Clancy stuff, the gameplay competes with a potentially off-putting political tone as the player, in this case, runs roughshod through a country wracked by drug violence with limited exploration of the consequences of your government-sanctioned violence.

Source: Kotaku.com

More Games Should Let You Destroy Empires

I recently finished Crackdown 3. While it wasn’t the best game ever made, I had a great time jumping around and blowing stuff up. But it also let me take down an evil corporate empire. I love taking down empires. More games need to let me topple regimes.

In Crackdown 3 players are tasked with taking down Terra Nova, a large corporation that controls a dystopian hell of a city. To do this, your agent needs to systematically take out all the checkpoints, bases, warehouses and other assets the corporation owns. I love doing this shit.

One by one I would check off buildings plus other locations from my list. From monorail stations to labor camps to prisons, each location was another bit of the empire removed. It’s like taking an ax to a tree and chopping it down. Each swing making the whole thing more unstable until finally, everything crumbles to the ground. However, unlike a tree, video game empires tend to put up a fight and get very angry as you chop away.

In Crackdown 3, the corporate leaders will begin to bicker and in-fight as you slowly, but steadily destroy their empire. There is nothing more satisfying to me than blowing up a weapons cache, then hearing the asshole who ran it yell on the radio at his security team. This could even influence my next target. Sometimes I would focus on the especially annoying bastards just to hear them complain.

The evil CEO in Crackdown 3

Other games that have let me take down empires include Ghost Recon Wildlands and Mafia 3. I especially loved Mafia 3. Getting to slowly break apart racist criminal empires is oh-so-satisfying.

Maybe the best moment in any of these games is when you’ve captured all the checkpoints and destroyed all the operations in a territory and the big bad leader becomes available to take out. Usually, these games make this mission a large scale fight, which is fine by me. It makes the end all that better. When you walk up to the leader and they tremble and freak out or get angry at you, it’s always the best. Even if I had to grind through dull combat or boring fights to reach this point, the reward is usually worth it.

As open world games have become more and more common, it seems many are using the empire destroying blueprint. It makes sense. A great way to get players to complete tasks and check off items on a large list is to tie it all into a system about power and revenge. I would have probably stopped playing Mafia 3 or Wildlands long before the end of the game if it was just a series of missions without any powerful organization to destroy.

A bad open world game is one in which you never feel like you are impacting the world in any meaningful way. Sure you finished a bunch of missions, only did you actually change anything? Having players topple an evil government or underground criminal cartel is a great way to keep players invested in the world because they get to actually change it.

The different leaders in Wildlands

It also serves as a better reward for progressing in a story. If after completing a series of missions all I get is some cash and a new gun, I usually feel like I didn’t do much beyond kill some time. But if after finishing a chunk of missions I get to watch a giant mansion explode or take out some evil leader who supports genocide, then I feel a much better sense of progression.

For all of the shortcomings and issues Crackdown 3 has, it nailed this feeling of destructive progression. I would play for hours more than I planned on in some sessions because I was so close to taking out another part of the big evil machine.

Some open world games, like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, allow players to take over territories without knocking down any powerful group. Taking some turf from the Ballas isn’t nearly as compelling as wrecking every part of the Cartel’s empire in Wildlands.

Part of the problem is that in a game like San Andreas there isn’t anybody really yelling at you about what you are doing. That is a big key in making the empire destruction feel rewarding. Taking some turf is fine, though taking some territory and getting to hear the enemy general or leader yell about it is so much better. Again Crackdown 3 does a fantastic job at this. Each member of Terra Nova will get more and more angry or frustrated as you ruin everything.

I think my brain is just wired to enjoy this type of progression. I’ve always enjoyed clearing a map in games like Far Cry. So getting to clear a big map while also having people get angry about it, people who are often evil, makes my brain just light up with pleasure.

Maybe in a past life, I was some rebel fighter, pushing back against an evil government? Or possibly I have problems with authority? Or I just like annoying powerful people? Whatever the reason, toppling kingdoms is something I get endless joy out of.

What are some other games that let players destroy empires and does anyone else out there like knocking down these big organizations?

Source: Kotaku.com