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RPG Mechanics Improved : ME2

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RPG Mechanics Improved : ME2

Editorial - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 15 February 2010, 18:54:59

Tags: BioWare; Mass Effect 2

Learn how Mass Effect 2 managed to improve on outdated RPG mechanics.

I've heard some complaints from players that the system is too simplistic, but is that really the case? Let's do the numbers.

In ME2, each power that Shepard can learn can be upgraded to 4 different levels. Acquiring a power requires one squad point, upgrading a power to level 2 requires 2 squad points, and so on, up through level 4.

Contrast that to the original Mass Effect, where each talent had 12 ranks which granted incremental improvements. All of your combat talents had three tiers (Basic, Advanced, and Master), and achieving each new tier gave extra bonuses.

For a specific example, consider Throw, a biotic power common to both games whose mechanics were largely unchanged. When you hit an enemy with Throw, you apply a certain number of Newtons of force, which causes damage upon initial impact and then further damage if the enemy hits something after being thrown.

I crunched the numbers on the statistics between the two games, and I found that in ME1, a 1 point increase in Throw produced a 7% average increase in force, whereas in ME2, upgrading Throw produced a 33% average increase. However, if you only consider the three tiers in ME1, you have a 45% average increase per tier - and a 33% increase over four tiers is roughly equivalent to a 45% increase over three.

So what's my point here? Well, let me ask you this: In the heat of battle, when that krogan is charging and you need to knock him on his ass to buy yourself some time, are you really going to notice that 7% and say to yourself "Man, I'm glad I spent that 1 extra point in Throw last level?" Honestly, a level 2 Throw (which cost 3 squad points) in ME2 does 700 Newtons, while a level 5 Throw in ME1 (which cost 5) does 800. Who in the world is going to be able to tell the difference?

That's what I've been trying to explain. I don't think that ME2's skill system is too simplified, I think that the typical leveling systems used in other RPGs are overly complicated!
Let's face it, just about every RPG with a more complex leveling system has introduced tiers in some way. Oblivion did it, Fallout 3 did it, Dragon Age did's necessary for the developers to tell their players, "Yes, there really is a concrete difference between a Science score of 47 and 50!" Otherwise, progression would be so abstract and subtle that no one would be able to tell they were progressing, and where's the fun in that?

I think he has a point here dudes, just look at the numbas.

Spotted at: The Banshee

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