Bioshock Infinite's combat blows

Title Bioshock Infinite's combat blows
Author Nick Diamon
Posted in Games
When April 4, 2013

Jonathan Blow, the outspoken designer of Braid, has some thoughts about Bioshock Infinite's combat and regenerating shields in general..

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I prefer to describe this as compression rather than a low pass filter. AAA games are pretty good at removing the lows, but often remove the highs as well. You end up with a pretty good experience theoughout the game, but not good enough for the discerning ear (so to speak).

Your Halo 4 review was page hit seeking bull crap. Like I am going to bother reading anything else you ever write.

Tom wrote the Halo 4 review dumb ass. But yeah, it was bull shit only made for page hits.

Maybe they're just trying to make it feel more analog.

Halo introduced shields to solve a problem. Through attrition, players were losing health in each encounter and had to scrounge for healthpacks to continue playing. If the designers didn't place enough healthpacks in the right spots, the player could enter a failure loop where they could not continue the game.

Almost as bad, they could be incentivized to leave healthpacks when they don't REALLY need them, and then backtrack through entire levels to heal up. That's no good. And these are the problems shields were designed to solve.

Blow's points are of course completely valid; they have their downsides too.

I think a better way to approach the problem would be to go with a traditional health mechanic, no shields, but allow health to quickly regenerate outside of combat (when no enemies are actively attacking you, or looking for you). You would also place healthpacks around combat areas, so players could run to them to heal up in the middle of combat, but wouldn't feel like they should "save" healthpacks for later.

I think the idea of "spammy" encounters is an interesting thread. Done right, I like spammy. See the Borderlands series, especially the second iteration.

And wasn't there an inherent spammy-ness to the original Bioshock? Isn't that why we spent all that time hacking turrets and bots? Just two lousy splicers could ruin your day if you just tried to dump a bunch of bullets into them. You had to have a strategy for each and every encounter.

Bioshock Infinite doesn't feel like it needs strategy, thus far. In fact, I have yet to be presented with an opportunity to really engineer the battlefield in my favor.

Also: removing the hacking mini-game was a mistake. Ever go to hack a security camera in the middle of a fire-fight only to find out that it's difficulty was well past your current tonic buffs? Or maybe it wasn't impossible, but you blew it anyway? Didn't happen very often, but often enough to keep your attention every time you hacked something. Now? Hold x.

There are several issues with Bioshock Infinite combat - but overall it's quite good for a story-driven shooter.

The primary issue is how they've combined a checkpoint system with checkpoints too spread out and the automatic respawn system.

The shield recharge mechanic is fine - and it makes for some tactical decisions that are satisfying and yet retains constant pressure on the player. If you play hard or 1999 mode - the game is very challenging throughout and there's absolutely no way you can ignore getting hit. You just don't have to constantly restock health if you play cautiously.

That's as it should be. The designer of the gimmicky one-trick pony Braid should come up with something better than that.

Also, if you look past the strong albeit relatively traditional shooter gameplay of Infinite - you'll find yourself an actual participant in a story that goes FAR beyond pretty much all other AAA games out there - which is taking quite a risk, given the material. It does so much more than shooting - and ignoring that by reacting like a 5-year old wanting attention and refusing to use your brain for a fair and reasonably objective evaluation of the game - is not an impressive thing to do. It's the kind of thing that will be remembered LONG after Infinite is established as the classic it deserves to be, warts and all.

Kinda like your excessively short-sighted response to games like Deus Ex and Secret World.

I'm starting to feel jealous that I didn't write the reviews for Halo 4, The Secret World, or Deus Ex. Maybe the next person can blame me for Heart of the Swarm...

I like the shields in Bioshock Infinite, and in fact very much didn't enjoy the brief combat before getting the shielding, because I felt it very difficult to do anything without taking at least a little damage in the process, and getting that much closer to death. Now, maybe the AI and other combat elements could have been tuned to alleviate that feeling, but overall I prefer having health recover outside of combat over having to scrounge for cotton candy in the trash. Maybe it's because I play too many MMOs where health auto-regens out of combat.

Seriously dude? Halo 4 came out months ago, and has nothing to do with this game. Why would you pop in just to say that you didn't like his Halo review? Wouldn't it be better to, I don't know, post that in his Halo review?

This neatly encapsulates a lot of the reasons I've drifted away from shooters in general, of late.

Well now you know what you have to do. Make your bones, dude.

Yeah, it's not like there's an extremely apparent shared agenda anywhere in the recent quoting of Bioshock Infinite articles. It's REALLY subtle and objective.

And yet, today, you are here. Reading and commenting.

there was an inherent spamminess that engaged with the hacking and the vita-chamber and health system. spamminess meaning generating enemies that you'd have to actually worry about or enemies you could mine. or sneak past. i like it, especially in bioshock 2. haven't played infinity. did borderlands have generative health? that's a game where you mine everything

Your solution is basically shields without the word. Halo-esque shields are essentially an extension of the health bar in that they, along with the health bar, determine how many times you can get hit before you die in combat. Whether shields+health or just health regenerate immediately outside of combat, the effect is the same. Survive this immediate battle and you're back to full strength. This in no way addresses Blow's point about creating tension across the level (5 minute tension vs. 10 second tension).

I'm not saying your solution is wrong. It's just that it reads to me like an argument for the Halo/Bioshock shield approach just with the word shield omitted.

Or even an article that Tom wrote. I.e., not this one.

Shields or regenerating health are great (the innovation I thank Halo for, as opposed to the weapon limit that I curse Halo for) specifically because shooters have in my experience never done much to support not getting hit.

No, it's not. Shields regenerate in combat. You can get hit 5 or 6 times then duck behind a rock and your shields regen to full. Huge difference.