Massively on the Go: The Witcher Monster Slayer shows why Pokemon Go is still the best


Practically a yr in the past, Niantic staff did a GDC presentation on Augmented Reality design practices, although it appeared a bit extra like best practices than precisely what the corporate does in actuality. Whereas I’ll complain about Pokemon Go design points, I wouldn’t be taking part in if the sport weren’t good. It may possibly at all times be higher, however I don’t wish to maintain good design hostage to desires of excellent.

So whereas there are different AR video games that do some actually cool issues that I want Niantic would add into POGO (or other IPs), The Witcher: Monster Slayer doesn’t have quite a lot of that. A lot of the gameplay is similar to POGO mechanics however with bits and items taken from different cellular video games. For anime followers who keep in mind Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale and thought, “Wow, I’m glad that is an anime and never an actual recreation,” nicely, this recreation could vaguely remind you of a few of that proposed gameplay, particularly quests that direct you to real-world places. Whereas the sport is virtually single-player (I don’t take into account sending presents true multiplayer) and so much less problematic about its monetization, the fundamental AR options are ill-fitted to gaming in the actual world, with just one saving grace.


Don’t be bizarre in public

Story in cellular video games hardly ever feels partaking, particularly amongst top-grossing games. Exterior of TellTale Games, I can consider solely one other title that shocked me with its story other than Genshin Impact (if you happen to overlook in regards to the gacha mechanics). Particularly after Netflix actually introduced The Witcher to new audiences, one would hope an accessible cellular recreation would possibly try this as nicely.

I want I may inform you the sport introduced me one thing recent and memorable, however from what little I noticed, it was pretty simple. For a cellular title, bringing voice appearing and illustrated cutscenes could be spectacular, however when a recreation asks you to stroll a mile or extra outdoors to do a quest, it’s arduous to not blast previous story so that you’re not longer standing on a avenue nook attracting undesirable consideration. Voice appearing specifically may very well be good, however many cellular players I do know within the US play with the pontificate anyway, so it’s wasted effort on most of them.

Whereas Pokemon Go‘s Professor Willow does deserve a voice, I feel Niantic’s animated however strictly text-driven vignettes higher serve its playerbase. A narrative-heavy YouTube video could be cool, like Overwatch, besides with an actual in-game story and never simply taste for exterior tales. This retains gamers engaged with the motion components of the sport but additionally retains gamers inconspicuous. Granted, POGO gamers already do stand out, however The Witcher: Monster Slayer retains quests outdoors at fastened places (which we’ll get into later).

Though Pokemon Go quests can’t precisely be finished wherever, they’re pretty versatile in location so to transfer elsewhere to do what you could do. Keep in mind, because the workforce put it, AR is in shared areas. Niantic says AR video games ought to make the gamers preserve shifting and utilizing energetic gestures whereas aiming their telephones on the floor or sky, to assist illustrate they’re taking part in a recreation. The concept is that this helps be sure that nobody will get too uncomfortable, nevertheless it begins by assuming the participant is snug gaming in actual life. That’s not at all times the case, and appearing “suspiciously” is dangerous for some users.

blankClearly, POGO raids and gymnasiums are an exception to this rule, however you might have a pleasant broad radius that offers you loads of room to discover a protected place to face and play if want be (at least until Niantic nerfs it). POGO gamers who aren’t utilizing the AR+ for catching even have a reasonably easy transfer for catching, and I really feel it’s a lot simpler to play with one hand than another titles, which will help the participant look extra like a daily member of society than like somebody slowly turning into a Pokemon grasp.

Once more, if I miss TWMS’s AR preventing possibility, fundamental fight is extra concerned than what’s present in POGO and even The Walker Dead: Our World. It’s enjoyable, little doubt about that. Fast swipes to do fast assaults, slower-paced ones for sturdy, left and proper for horizontal cuts, up or down for vertical, lengthy press to parry, faucet a button for bombs, faucet one other and making an indication for spells. It’s enjoyable and forgiving, and the fight pacing is excellent (if I put aside that consumables are partially monetized, however the operate is nice). And that is ignoring the expertise timber, which can provide you new strikes or neat utilities, like harm reflection from blocking or delaying real-time assaults by a second.

Nonetheless, this makes the participant stand out greater than throwing balls and requires extra focus. Whereas I really feel TWMS is smarter by having fewer monsters far and wide and making interactions significant, you’re not simply taking part in on the bus or one thing in an AR recreation; you’re taking part in in areas individuals stroll, discuss, and socialize (if you happen to’re fortunate). I can stroll and catch pokemon with associates, however I felt awkward and anti-social attempting to slay monsters with my good friend. I’d a lot reasonably try this at residence than in public, and TWMS has you actually going out in public to play – and never at all times in a protected method.


Let the participant lead, not the sport

One factor Niantic’s staff didn’t point out throughout that discuss was taking part in in unsafe areas. Once more, Niantic has long-running points in terms of this drawback. People die playing this game, and whereas the corporate can warn individuals all they need, incentivizing real-life actions through a recreation has penalties even if you use an EULA, which Snapchat is learning about the hard way.

In Niantic video games, there could also be a Portal to seize or gymnasium to absorb a restricted space or shady a part of city to be taking part in at through the night time. There’s temptation to go there in any respect hours. Nonetheless, TWMS could “randomly” put your quest there. It looks like it will get worse, as one Twitter user noted a quest needed him to return to a quest location at daybreak. I’ve had the sport direct me into individuals’s fenced-off yards, gated communities, the again pickup/rubbish space of a mall, a busy car parking zone, a hill identified for land/mudslides, a development web site, and busy streets.

One of many points is that this isn’t like POGO the place you may see Squirtle fortunately ready so that you can seize it. It could provide you with a large, unsafe house and direct you to discover it. When that’s a residential space you don’t stay in, and also you don’t appear like your anti-social neighbors who don’t know that you just stay in the identical group as them, you might be in for a nasty time. That’s how people die.

It’s immensely disheartening {that a} developer would put this sort of characteristic into an AR recreation when it’s been coated by mainstream media. I’m used to devs not likely realizing what’s going with gaming outdoors of AAA titles, however POGO crimes nonetheless make mainstream media information, and I might assume any affordable firm would no less than have somebody looking for these sorts of points.

Now, TWMS does have a button to alter your quest location, however I’ve seen individuals miss the button, which is hidden within the journal part of the sport. Worse, being near the search space makes you unable to make use of this characteristic. This implies you might stroll a mile or extra to a quest space solely to seek out out you may’t play in that space. Not solely is that this unsafe for strolling gamers, however it might merely encourage individuals to drive and play, which from the sport’s warnings is not the best way the sport ought to be performed.

Admittedly, it might be the devs’ method of attempting to encourage individuals to stroll. POGO does this as nicely, however when you could journey a sure distance, you then activate the search at your leisure. This ensures that you are able to do your quest completions wherever you’re snug reasonably than on the spot. And there’s actually no time-based mostly quests. Whereas there are particular actions, comparable to evolving a pokemon at night time, there are large home windows of alternative and could be finished wherever safely.


Clear however thrilling rewards

I’ll say that one factor each video games do nicely is have good rewards gamers can usually perceive. Whereas “epic loot” in POGO is mainly new, shiny, or hatted pokemon, you may’t at all times visibly inform if what you bought is one thing good.

TWMS makes issues pretty clear. No harm ranges, armor scores, dodge percents, nothing like that. Loot does will supply issues like a free consumable impact with out having to make use of the consumable, decrease spell solid occasions, and even straight-up XP bonuses. Granted, there isn’t any randomly generated loot, so it’s most likely a bit simpler, however I nonetheless really feel like I may present TWMS loot to an informal gamer and he may extra simply work out what he needed than if I confirmed him two MMO swords of the identical item level and requested for his desire.

It’s a small however key factor, particularly as the ability of ARs is that they’re performed in the actual world by a bodily cellular gamer, so the video games have extra bodily publicity and potential to rope in additional gamers, significantly gamers from non-gaming or restricted gaming backgrounds. The issue is that many of those video games take issues from conventional gaming and attempt to make them work in a real-life setting. Whereas ideas like dailies and base capping are easy sufficient, design like hidden fight mechanics and arbitrary harm numbers is simply complicated for informal gamers whose concept of video games is proscribed to Sweet Crush and Mario Bros.

Being inclusive of different types is the benefit of the AR recreation, and whereas I can’t say The Witcher: Monster Slayer isn’t enjoyable, I can say that I wouldn’t advocate it as an AR recreation, particularly in its present non-multiplayer kind. Strolling round swiping my display screen like mad is embarrassing and doesn’t really feel social, and being directed to stroll to locations the sport doesn’t appear to acknowledge as unsafe feels irresponsible, particularly when the sport prevents relocating quests if you’re “too shut” to an unsafe spot the sport directed you to. Possibly if there have been extra of that neat loot round that I may seize with individuals, it may enchantment to a bigger viewers. However then its monetization points, comparable to XP-granting armor and an entire expertise tree devoted to RL-purchasable consumables which trivialize content material, would stand out much more.

blankMassively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and knowledgeable ARG-watcher. No one is aware of Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go in addition to different cellular MMOs and augmented actuality titles!

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