I’ve been playing the original Mass Effect lately. I never got into it before because I have to admit I found it a bit challenging for the amount of time I wanted to put in to the combat system, but I’m a big fan of BioWare’s games and I always wanted to like it. Anyway, I’m smashing through it on Easy setting now so I can play Mass Effect 3 when it comes out, and I’m having a lot of fun.
Playing Skyrim recently (and now this) has reminded me of a few things I really like to see in C-RPGs:
The ability to change your character’s appearance in-game
As an avid miniature painter and general art fan aesthetics are really important to me. I find there is not much more annoying than painstakingly designing your character to look exactly how you want and then when you get into the game, the first cut-scene starts and they don’t look quite right. The manly scowl you gave him makes him look like a moron deeply confused by the village blacksmith’s greeting, or the cute wide-eyes just make her look surprised all the time. If I could go back and change my Commander Shepherd I’d just change her nose from up-turned to down-turned. That’s all I ask. But I can’t. In Dragon Age II they had the Black Emporium DLC which allowed you to change your appearance any time you want. That was genius.
It’s pretty disappointing when you want to look like a shirtless barbarian or a Mysterious Stranger in Black Leathers but are forced to wear some huge gold armour with spirals and gems all over it just so wolves don’t kill you. I get that RPGs have a tradition of measuring a character’s defence capability with armour, but seriously it’s a video game. Realism is not the point. I’m not generally a fan of the Fable games but I like how armour is purely cosmetic and doesn’t do anything for your survivability. Games where you can’t remove your helmet are annoying too. Why did I spend an hour making my dude just to look at the back of a grotty leather helmet all day?
Realistic Money Systems
OK, so I’m now going to turn around and say that lack of realism annoys me sometimes too, especially in monetary systems. Sci-fi ones are alright because it’s pretty much like today – things can cost stupid amounts without seeming unrealistic because we assume that there is a complicated system of capitalism like we have. But it pisses me off in medieval-like settings when you meet merchants who have wares that cost ten times as much as you can possibly carry. I’m no economist, but shops generally don’t bother stocking things they can’t sell. A fruit seller in a developing country is not going to be stocking new luxury cars next to his carrots. Why the fuck does the village blacksmith have a Sword of Frosty Slaughter next to his Rusty Spoon? And in a cash only economy who could carry enough around to pay him for it? It annoys me to look at my inventory and see 18,000 gold. Where the hell do I keep it?