‘Game mechanics’ is a pretty broad subject. But whether exciting and innovative, or boring and repetitive, they’re one of the most important parts of any title. So here at Level-Clear, we’ve put together a list of ten mechanics; some which we love, and some which are just downright essential…
10 – Quick Time Events
A divisive one, I know. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, QTEs can be a great way of keeping players in control of the cool stuff that they wouldn’t be able to pull off in regular gameplay. But for god’s sake, don’t build your entire system around them. Yes I’m looking at you Ninja Blade…
9 – Combos
Without them, the fighting game genre wouldn’t even exist. Or if it did, it’d be super boring. We’ve come a long way from the days when you had a jump and a singular attack button to ‘combo’ with. But now it’s a staple of platformers, hack ‘n’ slashers, action-adventures, and of course, beat-em-ups. There’s a huge amount of skill involved in pulling off a perfectly timed, multi-hit, ultra-combo; or you could just button mash. That usually works too.
8 – Levelling
An essential aspect of the RPG. Gaining experience, advancing your characters, getting stronger, and watching the bar between levels creep ever closer to the next ‘ding’. Levelling your character is a great way of feeling like you’ve achieved something, and that the last twelve hours spent killing the same multi-coloured slime monster over an over again wasn’t all for nought.
7 – Customisation
Whether it’s changing-up armour, re-skinning a weapon or refining our loadouts; customising individual aspects of whatever we’re playing makes our games unique to us. Where some titles are content to throw us pre-constructed, unalterable PCs, it’s the ones we create and change ourselves which get us personally invested in the experience. Besides, who hasn’t spent an entire day agonising over their Skyrim character’s appearance before they’ve even started playing?
Just me? Oh.
6 – Cover
A mechanic we couldn’t live without these days, or at least our characters couldn’t. Being able to duck behind a conveniently placed piece of fallen debris or a chest-high wall; and having a place to hide while the AI fruitlessly unloads clips of ammo, adds a great tactical element-to gunfights. And it usually gives us a chance to inexplicably recover our health… Which brings me to number five.
5 – Regenerating Health
All right, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But damn is it useful. Hit in the chest by a shot from a 50 cal? Taken a few stray Hammerburst rounds? Got a bit too close to that last plasma-cannon explosion? Whatevs. Just get yourself behind some cover and shake it off. You’ll be fine in few seconds. Just like real life, right?
4 – Parkour
Whether it’s vaulting over crates in slow-mo a-la Sleeping Dogs, leaping between buildings in Mirrors Edge, or wall-running off buildings onto mechs in Titanfall, in-game parkour mechanics are a sick way of stringing together takedowns, gunplay and feeling like you’re in a John Woo action movie.
3 – Fast-Travel
Most open worlders these days are kind enough to let us immediately teleport between discovered areas. Whether facilitated by horse-drawn carts, taxi drivers or magic crystals; making a trip to from one side of the map to the other, no longer means committing yourself to a lengthy, in-game hike.
2 – Bullet Time
After the release of ‘The Matrix’ in 1999, the world’s eyes were opened to the one thing cooler than guys shooting each other… guys shooting each other in slow motion. Max Payne was one of the first series’ to capitalise on in-game bullet-time; providing players with the means to dive headfirst into combat, guns blazing, feeling like a death-dealing boss.
1 – Saving
Finally, something I feel might be a little under-appreciated these days; but still well deserving of the top spot. In whatever form they might take: in-game menu options, floating blue spheres, ominous red symbols or calls to Mei Ling, the actual mechanic of ‘saving’ allows us to quit without fear of losing all our hard-earned progress. Gaming as we know it, simply wouldn’t be the same without it.