There was a time in gaming where we couldn’t simply pull up our map and warp to a previously found location. We’d have to trek miles through hostile territory if we wanted to revisit a discovered village or to complete a certain sidequest. While certain games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time offered players shortcuts, we still spent many a time running across the fields of Hyrule.
Fast traveling is just a nice convenience if you are a hoarder like me and need to collect all the junk and then instantly sell it. You can’t expect me to run across a dangerous wasteland with 40 desk fans, can you?
Oh, what’s that? You didn’t like how the story has turned out and wish you could have chosen a different path that could have possibly saved Aeris? Well, there was a time when a lot of games didn’t offer us choices that would significantly impact the world, but with more complex storytelling working its way into modern gaming, we now have this option.
Being able to help weave your own tale enhances the story of the game, allowing for a unique and memorable experience. It’s perhaps one of the most important new mechanics to make its way into modern gaming as this lends video game storytelling a depth that no other medium can obtain.
Sure, there are some games that offer massive open worlds to explore, but none have ever been on the scale of what we see today. Not only do modern games offer huge sandboxes to explore, but many of them are painstakingly detailed to help immerse the player.
Worlds like the one in The Witcher 3 have different geographical regions, cultures, monsters, and unique traits making it feel like a real world you get to explore. Some of the older games offered big worlds to explore, but most of those game’s worlds were incredibly sparse. In contrast, every corner of open worlds feel painstakingly detailed, helping them immerse players into the setting and story.
Being able to craft and design what your character looks like is an often under appreciated mechanic in gaming as it almost feels expected in any RPG or big online game.
Titles like Fallout 4 and Dark Souls 3 allow you to sculpt virtually every aspect of your character. This can not only deepen our attachment to our character but can result in some hilarious results. After all, who doesn’t like making celebrity look-alikes and having them blast away Super Mutants?
Saving your progress in a game has taken an interesting journey over the course of gaming’s history. At one point you weren’t even given the option to save, but instead given a long code you had to input if you wanted to load into that level. Others only allowed one save file, which meant if you got stuck somewhere you had to start all over.
Now we not only have multiple save files but the ability to just have the game save for you during certain sections. Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a mechanic that we rarely think about anymore unless said game only lets you manually save.
Ease of Multiplayer
It’s crazy to think how far we have progressed when it comes to playing with other people. For a long time, the only way was to have multiple controllers and hope some of your friends could come over for a gaming session. Now you can simply hop online and play with people across the entire world, with little to no issues.
Sure, there will always be a place for gaming with your best friends on a couch, as that is still one of the best ways to play. However, online multiplayer offers an incredible convenience for when you just want to play with others and not have all your snacks eaten.
Choosing How to Play
At the risk of sounding like every E3 conference in the modern era, being able to choose how you play is fundamental to many games now. Not everyone prefers to go about things the same way and video games have begun to tailor to the needs of multiple playstyles.
I for one will usually pick the stealthy route, while another may just want to kick the door in and start firing away. Both of these are options and before modern gaming, we rarely had a choice in how to finish a mission. This also plays into games having morality systems in their stories, offering gamers a chance to become villains rather than saints. In older titles, we were almost always on a linear path and rarely did we get to be the antagonist so having more freedom in our narrative is quite welcome.
This is another gaming mechanic that has boomed lately and for good reason. Crafting weapons, shelter, drugs, and medical supplies have become a foundation for certain games and, if done right, can highly deepen a video games combat. Yes, the crafting mechanic can and has been abused, but the importance of it should not be lost.
Rarely in old video games did you have a chance to create or customize your tools before going into battle, forcing players to deal with the equipment they currently own.
Is there anything more entertaining than ragdoll physics? Something that a lot of players may not even notice, but how physics have developed over time in gaming is quite fascinating.
Many times enemies would either fall off a stage or explode into pixels upon their death, however now we have to not only deal with the bodies but sometimes hide them. Physics help ground a game and lend more weight to the world itself, making everything feel natural and organic. That is until you make a pile of bodies and put buckets all over their heads.
Being able to move the camera from a fixated position was revolutionary when it was first introduced and now such a mechanic feels like an afterthought. Fixated cameras were very hit and miss, but once we got the ability to swing the perspective around our hero it changed the game entirely.
This made traversing the world not only easier but more natural thanks to a refining of this concept over the years. Even though some games still have issues with their camera, it’s very rare we even criticize such an idea as camera controls have pretty much become mandatory in modern gaming.