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Revisiting the mechanics of Bioshock Infinite in the era of Monty Haul open world first person RPGs

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Infinitron, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    The Bioshock series has traditionally been viewed by hardcore gamer grognards as one of the great symbols of video game consolization and decline in the late 2000s. Marketed as part of the continuum of sophisticated immersive sims and elaborate first person shooters of the 1990s, Bioshock failed to measure up to those games in important ways, becoming in a way a stepping stone from the likes of System Shock 2 & Doom to the full-on linear cinematic experience of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare single campaigns that were so popular around the 2010s. Bioshock Infinite was the end result of this process, dumping the System Shock exploration/survival horror framework entirely.

    However, we no longer live in the era of the linear cinematic story-driven shooter. We now live in the era of the open world first person RPG, a genre that seems to be characterized by an inability to maintain any sort of interesting game balance. My contention in this post is that the Bioshock series and Bioshock Infinite in particular, in its retention of simplified RPG elements in conjunction with standard action-shooter conventions, actually compares favorably with these modern games in important ways.

    For example:

    - In so many open world RPGs, you will never run out of ammo or come close to running out of ammo if you've been paying any attention to scavenging your environment. You'll walk around with thousands of rounds. Ammo weight? Too annoying and inevitably dummied out. Classic shooters offer a solution so obvious it's amazing nobody ever talks about it - maximum ammo caps. Sorry, you can't have more than 100 rounds for that assault rifle. You'll probably find more later, but that's all you have for this fight. Good luck.

    - Perhaps the most important characteristic of open world games in terms of balance is that they offer you complete control over the battlefield and always let you pick your battles. You wander around the world, spot an encampment of bad guys and plan the optimal approach from the optimal direction. Generally, if you have a powerful enough long range weapon, they don't really have a chance. You wipe them out and move on the next encampment, rinse and repeat. Again, these games usually just completely give up on using time-tested shooter conventions. Ambushes, multiple wave attacks, long range enemies who are actually threatening instead of being that one dude you kill first, and even, god forbid, constrained environments that don't always let you hang back and pick the perfect approach.

    - In the typical open world FPS RPG, you have a standard set of weapons, some stats that make you better at using those weapons when you increase them, and maybe a handful of perks that add a few extra twists. As far as combat goes, that's what your character build is defined by. In Bioshock Infinite, your character build is defined by 1) the weapons that you choose to carry (you can only have two at a time plus your melee attack), 2) the gear you choose to equip (essentially a set of swappable perks that you collect over the course of the game, you have four slots) and 3) the weapon and plasmid upgrades you've chosen to purchase over the course of the game.

    As a character building implementation (again looking only in terms of combat) I honestly found this to be better and more impactful than that of any first person RPG. The gear perks are *all* impactful and let you build a character with a real edge in a certain approach to combat (melee, plasmids, sky-line air attacks, etc). Unlike every RPG ever, the economy is actually controlled and you can't buy all the upgrades. And in what may be viewed as a heresy, I found the Call of Duty-inspired two weapon limitation to actually be kind of good. Yes, good. Why? Because the combination of the aforementioned ammo cap and the lengthy, multi-wave ambush battles means you can run out of ammo for your weapon and be forced to scramble across the battlefield to pick up a different one. I think that's awesome - anything that forces you out of your comfort zone in these games is worthy of praise. So the two-weapon limit actually provides two functions here - it's both a roleplaying choice ("I'm a sniper who carries a shotgun for short-range encounters, and I'll upgrade those weapons exclusively") and a mechanic that forces you against the limits of that choice.

    * * *

    Now obviously, open world first person RPGs can't replicate this formula exactly. They are by definition non-linear and can't control player progression and force you into ambushes all the time. They have a broader focus with dialogue and non-combat approaches and so on. But I do think they can try to do some of this stuff more often.

    Because what we're seeing now is that the latest open world RPGs are being streamlined in certain ways. They're increasingly giving up the adherence to simulationism that would prevent them from adapting some of these shooter conventions. Eg, "Why shouldn't I be able to carry as much ammo as I want? That's not realistic." Well, you're already playing a game where ammo is weightless, so realism is already out the window here. So what I'm saying is if designers are already streamlining their games, they might as well consider streamlining them in ways that make combat better. What was a decline going from System Shock 2 and Doom to Bioshock, might just be an incline going from Fallout 4 and The Outer Worlds back to Bioshock Infinite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  2. TheSentinel Arcane

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    stopped reading at "in bioshock infinite, your build"
     
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  3. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    Is this a post from 2010 or 2020? If anything, the open world first person RPG is in full decline right now, after years of doing the same crap over and over. Even game journos called Outer Worlds "more of the same".

    Besides, Morrowind and New Vegas are open-world RPGs, so I don't see your point. Heck, Ultima Underwolrd 2 is open world-ish. The exact same "style" can give you extremely different games, the real issue are the devs and the vision behind it.

    And no, Bioshock will never be incline.
     
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  4. vortex Fabulous Optimist

    vortex
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    I didn't find 2 weapon limitation very enjoyable becasue often than not you're not at the spot to use skyline. You run away to find skyline spot to hook up, enemies are shooting at your back (not very realistic).
    All of that threw me away from the gameplay flow. Burial at sea was breath of fresh air. Whole game should have been made like that.
    I suppose I want to have more control over the game and not to think about ammo weight.

    Sniper was pointless in Infinite if you think about it. You play with the gun and the plasmids but with sniper you can't use plasmids because you choose play at distance where plasmids are not effective.
    Often I would used that horse plasmid and electroshock combined with shotgun and gun.

    Bioshock 1 was amazing. Story,gunplay, Rapture everything. It's a game where combatfags and storyfags were treated equally. Bioshock 2 story just didn't hook me but it was great sequel.
    I wish they return to that original formula and introduce inventory if Bioshock 4 will have some open world environments.
     
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    I think open world games in general (RPGs and non-RPGs) are the dominant game style of our time (I suppose second only to multiplayer arena-type games). I would agree that they're going stale (which is the reason this post exists) but to be in "full decline" something else would need to replace them.

    What I said here is also about New Vegas - this isn't just about the latest games.

    Sure. My argument here is that once we've accepted its retreat from the complexity of the immersive sims it claimed to inherit, we can evaluate it for what it is. Put System Shock and Deus Ex aside. Right now, what we have is a bunch of open world FPS/RPGs that are trying to become better shooters, but are being crippled by poor balance and other issues. The Bioshock series approached this problem from a different direction years ago, and it may have some things to teach them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  6. Viata Arcane

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    Ok. Is this a real infinitron thread post or something he copied from somewhere? :abyssgazer:
     
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  7. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Sure, but not first-person ones. Ever since Dark Souls showed how to do third-person combat good, we get more and more of those and less first-person ones. Witcher 3, Sekiro, Outward, Monster Hunter, ELEX, Yakuza, Greedfall, Star Wars, Vampyr, AssCreed, etc...
     
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  8. Viata Arcane

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    You kidding, right? Bioshock 1 has a shit gunplay, at least 2 had fixed that shit and the gunplay was way better.


    I really think the one that deserves credits for that is Dragon's Dogma.
     
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  9. vortex Fabulous Optimist

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    No, I'm not kidding. I find it great. You have to use shotgun and switch plasmids a lot. Rapture and story are what excels.
     
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  10. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

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    Bioshock had some issues but for the time it came out it was a highlight for sure. Even today I'd take that game over most AAA games, honestly. Bioshock 2 improved its combat pretty substantially too, which was nice (though it had worse level design IMO). I've always thought those who attacked Bioshock 1 and 2 for not being as good (or PC focused) as System Shock 2 were being try-hards. Things don't have to be 10s to be enjoyable.

    Anyway, Outer Worlds really screwed up by having zero ammo balance whatsoever. To make that game's combat much better all you'd have to do is make the revolvers and high powered rifles much more powerful and also make ammo for them super scarce. I think these games are always worried about the players who don't search through crates and shit, but by focusing on those people you're basically destroying the game for anyone who DOES search, and that's probably a sizeable majority. Outer Worlds just reeks of "we can't assume people are actually playing the game right" design, which makes it a super simple brain-dead affair even on hard mode. And it's not the ease of combat that's even the worst part, it's the complete lack of having to pay attention to any system in the game.
     
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  11. Jaedar Arcane Patron

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    Project: Eternity Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
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  12. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Bioshock Infinite is more shooterized than the original Bioshock, but in one way I think it worked better as a quasi-RPG than the original Bioshock.

    In the first Bioshock, you use ADAM to buy all your character upgrades at the Gatherer's Garden. It's basically the equivalent of experience points in an RPG. So what we have is an RPG where the only way to gain experience points is to kill a single enemy type, the Big Daddy.

    In Infinite, you buy your weapon and plasmid upgrades with regular money, which you can find in all the usual ways. And you also find gear in boxes hidden throughout the world. So that ends up working more like a regular RPG where you'll get regularly rewarded with experience points for killing any kind of enemy, looting, exploring, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  13. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    That isn't true. A thing can be in full decline yet not have a clear replacement. See: The Roman Empire. Everyone could tell it was in full decline mode and wanted to replace it. Nobody actually succeeded in doing so and it remains a fragmented mess to this day.
     
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  14. Viata Arcane

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    Nah, as soon as you get the Sniper Rifle, you don't need to care about anything, you even get infinite(heh) bullet.

    This is what I think whenever I see someone praising the game:
     
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  15. Lacrymas Arcane

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    TL;DR, just wanted to complain that a Bioshock Infinite thread is in the RPG section.
     
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  16. vortex Fabulous Optimist

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    In some of infinite realities, Bioshock IS RPG.
     
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  17. Viata Arcane

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    Nah. As we know, Ken Levine is making a new game, so Infi is being paid to shill his old games so people get interested in his new game.
     
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  18. Eyestabber Arcane Patron

    Eyestabber
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    Imagine believing 2 weapon limit has an actual justification other than "consoles and gamepads".
     
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  19. orcinator Savant

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    Open world FPSes have bad mechanics so we should look at a linear FPS with bad mechanics for inspiration.
     
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  20. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

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    I don't really view any of them through an RPG lens at all, which is maybe why I cut them some slack. They're more like shooters+ to me, or something. But then we're getting way too close to the "WHAT IS AN RPG" topic.
     
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  21. Wunderbar Arcane

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    I'd take Fo4 over Bioshock infinite any day.
     
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  22. agentorange Arcane Patron

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    'What was a decline going from System Shock 2 and Doom to Bioshock, might just be an incline going from Fallout 4 and The Outer Worlds back to Bioshock Infinite.'

    What a meaningless statement. Worded differently this would be: Going from System Shock 2 and Doom, to Bioshock and Biuoshock Infinite, then to Fallout 4 and The Outerworlds Worlds, represents a continuous decline.

    Oh, if we go back one step from the current decline to the previous game then it makes an incline! Yeah no shit Steinberg, that's how a fucking decline works.

    If you want to point to a recent game that steers the first person RPG hybrid back onto the right path, while moving it further forward in important ways, then reference Prey. Bioshock Infinite is an irrelevant and cancerous offshoot that stops at a dead-end and can be safely forgotten.
     
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  23. Grampy_Bone Arcane

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    Bioshock Infinite was a shooter with barely any "shock" DNA left. There are plenty of other System Shock 2 descendants--nuPrey, Dishonored 1/2, Deus Ex prequels, and now System Shock 3 and a remake are set to come out, plus Bloodlines 2. I'm expecting Cyberpunk to at least have similar elements, it may be the 'fusion' game you're talking about, but I doubt it will play like Infinite.

    Now if Rockstar took their storytelling chops and put them together with Ubisoft's content-generation and Obsidian's quest design, you might have something truly spectacular.

    Another question is what inXile is working on now, some AAA RPG, perhaps they're taking Wasteland to the Fallout 3/4 route?
     
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  24. karoliner Magister

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    Ken Levine deserves the firing squad.
     
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  25. lukaszek the determinator

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    well, in far cry you had mechanics of each camp being able to call for help
    whats more - as your 'hate' progressed there were better and better geared patrols. Those often engaged in fights and were hard to plan for.
    Those 2 made open world camps invasions more interesting
     
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