Immersion and Odd Mechanics

Can I just preface this by saying that this is not a serious post and I get that these mechanics are here for gameplay purposes, but it doesn’t make them any less odd or annoying when you actually sit and think about them.

I was watching a video of the opening of the new Call of Duty WW2 game, and there was a part during that opening mission that just made me lose all sense of immersion in the game – even from just watching it.

You’re dragging your buddy to safety because he’s hurt, you have enemies all around you, but conveniently enough they only appear in groups of three, and it just so happens that your side arm that you’ve been carrying now miraculously one shot kills any one you shoot. As a nice double bonus, your enemies also have terrible aim, even from about 5 feet away. It’s these kinds of ‘hero’ moments that appear in almost all Call of Duty games, and probably most AAA games nowadays that make me dislike them. I know why they include them and I realise that having 20 troops descend on you with near perfect aim would be ridiculous. But I can’t help but go “Ugh” when I ever I see something like this happen, it’s predictable and boring, which then completely ruins the immersion for me.

This got me thinking about other instances where games completely break immersion.

Let’s start with storage and upgrading storage amounts – more specifically backpack storage, something that I’ve noticed in Tom Clancy’s The Division. You start the game with a backpack, somewhere to keep your ammo, cans of food, drinks, knee pads, masks and….guns. But that’s not even what I’m here to talk about, sure the idea of your backpack holding 7 assault rifles is baffling, but I’m more concerned about why your agent decided to take the smallest backpack available. I can’t remember the exact size right now, but I believe it was somewhere around the 30 items mark. Why,  oh why, did an agent – who let’s not forget has secretly prepared for these doomsday scenarios – probably including years of training, decided on taking a backpack that can hold about half the items of the ‘higher level’ ones. It just makes no sense. Also, ‘you can’t wear this other backpack because its level 30 and you’re only level 29’…. Sure, ok… makes perfect sense.

Moving on from small backpacks we have stealth. Stealth mechanics in games has always been an odd one, you can’t make it too realistic because it would just be too difficult, so we’re left with a pretty much laughably easy stealth system – NPC’s who can’t see you until they’re literally bump in to you, NPC’s that can only see about 15 feet, NPC’s who can’t  see you behind objects even though you’re clearly poking out a fair bit.

I have a few specific examples that have baffled me over the years.

Commandos 2: Men of Courage was a game I loved. But it had this weird thing where enemies had this cone vision, ok that makes sense, peripheral vision and all that. But what didn’t make sense was that beyond a certain point, their vision faded a bit meaning that if were lying down on the floor they suddenly couldn’t see you. You could be in the middle of a forecourt lying on concrete, they still couldn’t see you. But, if you stood up “ALARM”! What? If you were in grass then maybe I could understand.

Worst. Tank. Ever!

Sticking with stealth, what’s with all the whistling and throwing things? In what world would that work? Who would honestly walk towards a bush, a pile of hay, a darkened corner or anything else if you heard someone whistle from it – especially if you’re a guard and you know that there could be someone out to get you!

Another one that bugs me is when an NPC gets alerted or they find a dead body or catch a glimpse of you running away, no less than 20 seconds later they forget all about it. “OMG, someone got shot in the face right here and there is a body and blood everywhere, there must be an enemy close by. I should search for them!” *wonders around for 20 seconds* “Huh, they must be gone”…..

Invisible Ellie… You probably know what I’m going to talk about right away – yup, The Last of Us and the fact that Ellie is basically invisible to enemies. You can be stealthing (that’s a word right?) around, trying not to  get spotted when suddenly Ellie runs through the middle of a group of bad dudes armed to the eyeballs, but it’s ok, because they can’t see her…

Just a picture of a room, nothing else.

Don’t even get me started on Metal Gear Solid and the box or picture of a woman on the box and the less said about Sam Fisher and his bright green ‘eyes’ in the pitch black the better…

Assassin’s Creed is another game that has some oddities to it, firstly and probably the most obvious and prominent is being able to jump off of buildings of varying heights – some extremely high, and land in a small pile of hay completely unscathed. Sure hay can be kind of cushy, but from a height of 100 metres or more? I’m not so sure. Secondly, why does sitting on bench, or standing next to someone hide you, but standing on your own you’ll quickly get “ASSASSIN!” shouted at you.

Assassin? No, not me, I’m sitting down!

Far Cry has some strange things going on too, one being the healing animation. Ok, it looked cool digging a bullet out of your wrist and bandaging it up the first couple of times, but why am I then doing it after getting mauled by animals? Do they have bullets for teeth? Do they only attack my wrist? What is going on!

Finally I’m going to mention torches, no, not the battery powered ones, but torches in caves, temples, tombs, basically anywhere that’s ancient and or dark. Why do so many of them have torches in them that are already lit… Some of these places have been abandoned for hundreds if not thousands of years. I’d like to know where they got this eternal flame from. How are there upgrades for my very modern weapons in these very ancient tombs?

What things in games baffle you?

-Will

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6 thoughts on “Immersion and Odd Mechanics

    • Which is something I’m becoming less and less a fan of. I don’t think I’ve really enjoyed a COD game since BLOPS2. I just got tired of the formula. Although from what I have seen of the campaign, I do think it looks decent.

      • I quite like AW and BlOps3 because they went a bit out there with the formula. All the exo-suit stuff was really fun and changed the formula. Haven’t played one since then though.

  1. This was such a fun post! People’s reactions to weird game mechanics are the best. I can totally see why these mechanics exist (ok maybe the healing animation one was actually a little lazy…), But they’re still fun to point out. My favorite has to be Invisible Ellie. When my brother, husband, and I played through that game we made up dialogue for enemies that didn’t see her, imagining their nonchalant air when noticing a kid standing among them.

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