Monday, May 22, 2023

If everyone uses the same spell, it’s probably broken

Many years ago, when Wizards of the Coast tweaked Dungeons and Dragons and gave us 3.5, a friend of mine said that ‘when everyone is using the same spell, you know it’s broken’

In this case, he was talking about the 3.0 version of haste. His argument was that it broke the action economy of the game. He felt that it was the only actual reason WotC needed to make 3.5

I don’t know if he was right but I do know that just about everyone I knew who played a wizard relied on haste.

As I’ve watched my wife play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, I have been remembering that conversation.

Tears is simultaneously very similar to Breath of the Wild and very different. The basic paradigm of an open world where there are lots of different ways of doing things, that’s there. Taking the third option and cutting the Goddian knot, those are core concepts in both games.

But the minitia, that’s a whole different story. 

In Breath, players had access to some crazy powers. Making ice cubes, magnetically manipulation, creating bombs and stopping time. And from what I’ve seen (as a guy who hasn’t played either game but has family who has), being able to stop time in particular was key to a lot of techniques.

Feel free to tell me I’m ignorant, naive and wrong.

So, when Tears took away all those powers and gave the players new ones from more obscure X-Men, that shook things up. (I haven’t read the X-Men in a very long time but I have to believe there’s one who can glue two things together) It took away the comfort zone.

And taking away the power to stop did that more than anything else. As my wife put it ‘Great. Now I have to learn how to fight lynels’ More than any other power, stasis defined a whole playing style.

(Amusingly, you get a new time manipulation power that I’m sure will turn out to have plenty of ways to break the game. You just can’t directly use it on monsters)

And I am not saying stopping time was broken. Breath and Tears are all about figuring out your own way to do things. Tears just needs to have its own tool box to stand on its own.

I’m sure there’s already videos online of players building Mad Max death cars and  mowing through crowds of hynox.

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