Believe It Or Not, There Is Actually More Than One Way To Play A Game

Breaking a habit is no easy thing -- even when a game designer does their best to give players options. Take Call of Duty: Black Ops II, for instance.

Few things are as seductive to a CoD player as perfecting their kill/death ratio, and little about the game is designed from the ground up to encourage anything other than lone-wolf, kill-focused play. Even if that wasn't true-could you blame the average player? For years, the franchise has primed them to play in a certain way.

Getting players to change the way they look at a game is a Herculian task. Treyarch made a noble attempt when they included "scorestreaks", which reward players for their overall score. That includes kills, captures, objectives, assists and so on. Conceptually, the hope is that players would have an incentive to focus on something other than kills. In my experience, that hasn't actually happened.

I can't help but muse on this now while playing Gears of War: Judgment online. If you've ever played a competitive Gears mode, you might have noticed that most players live and die by the Gnasher shotgun. Last time I checked, about 45% of all kills in quickmatch are via Gnasher -- keep in mind that the game has like two dozen types of weapons! It doesn't matter. Some players are so blindly devoted to the Gnasher that they'll refuse to use anything else -- even when, say, trying to kill someone at long-range.

Sometimes, if you use something other than a shotgun, players will get mad at you for it, if not try to downplay your prowess in trash talk. It's as if it's widely accepted that there is only one way to play Gears of War, and that's with your shotgun out. In a way, this habit makes sense -- the shotgun is an excellent weapon, particularly if you're a fan of gibbing.

Gears of War has gone through great pains to try to alter the shotgun predilection. Assault rifles were modified so much so that one of them-the retro lancer-could effectively be used in close range in a one-on-one against a shotgun-wielding opponent. The lancer rifle was beefed up to seriously hurt at long range. On the opposite end, the shotgun's starting ammo was decreased. More fantastic power weapons were developed. A new type of shotgun introduced too -- the sawed off shotgun. (Solving a shotgun problem with a shotgun? Sort of -- the gun is so powerful that players might stand back and shoot at long rage instead of trying to gib up close.)

Despite all of that, you would guess the majority of players still seemed to think the Gnasher was the only weapon available, in the same way that many people defaulted to Ken Masters when playing Street Fighter IV online. It seems like most communities develop something like this -- a preferred mode of play that people follow closely. Almost too closely -- you start to wonder if they know there are other ways of playing a game. The hardcore Smash Bros. community has that famous meme, for example: Fox only, no items, Final Destination. Here, too, it doesn't matter that there are literally hundreds of other ways of playing the game. Nope. Only one character and no items whatsoever, on a very specific stage!

Not everyone follows trends like that of course -- in Gears of War's case, some of us took great joy in lancering other people down: it can be more effective at killing people than the shotgun is, under the right circumstances. Plus, it was particularly delicious to see the utter confusion some people had when they saw that their holy shotgun wasn't pulling miracles anymore.

You start to wonder if they know there are other ways of playing a game.

It still took a long time for me to stop automatically switching to a shotgun at the start of the match, though. Once I did, I was happy to find that a fantastic game only became better when you diversified what guns you used. I can't help but wonder how many games we play like this -- where we assume one method of play or one specific trend is the only valuable or fun option. What if it's not?

Things are different in Gears of War: Judgment though. You have to choose between either your assault rifle and a shotgun, coupled with a secondary pistol, instead of starting matches with both as in the older Gears games. So far, in the limited community I've encountered pre-release, almost everyone rolls with a shotgun. That includes me, though it feels like agony to have to choose in the first place. I wish I didn't have to choose -- I wish I could use the appropriate tool for the job. Now it's like I've fallen back on a bad habit.

I'm afraid that this design choice will cement Gears as a shotgun-only game, even if players can pick up other weapons. Hell, I'm afraid that for most players, it won't even seem like a choice. But then again, looking at how difficult it is to get players to stop doing what they want to -- well, maybe what choices People Can Fly offer us don't matter.


The Multiplayer is a weekly column that looks at how people crash into each other while playing games.


Comments

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is known as Complacent Gaming Syndrome. Enjoy your stay at TV Tropes, it might take the rest of your week.

      if I wasn't already there, I'd say you were the worst person ever.

        I'm a monster.

          Hernandez article. Nuff said. Youre no monster Trjn. But youre awful furry n cuddly like Sully!

      Half way through this article I thought to myself,
      "Hey! I haven't been on TV Tropes in a while. Might go there after I finish reading this."

      Scroll down to comments, and I'm already given a place to start my journey into the very depths of tropes. See you guys in a few hours.

      First time I have been on there - Was just lost 2 hours of my life.

      So worth it

    Most people DON'T use Ken in SF4. I know, I play it every day!

    Ryu would be the most popular character by far.

      It's a meme from the early days of vanilla Street Fighter 4, where the lower ranks of play were plagued with flowchart Kens.

        Yeah, I know... but so what? The journalist said it like it was fact. That's misleading, weird and 2mins of research would've told her what the most popular character was.

        If she was referring to a meme, maybe she could have said so???

          I think most people who didn't keep playing Street Fighter 4 think that it's still Ken Fighter 4 and don't realise that it was a meme mocking the Xbox Live players with their flowchart Kens.

    There's not much more satisfying in gears than killing a shotgun specialist with any other weapon, you can almost see the look of confusion followed by assumptions of lag or cheating because their one and only tactic has fallen apart

    Maybe if they didn't make the shotgun an overpowered sniper rifle, it wouldn' tbe such a problem.

    Ken4Lyf bitches.

    I've been fighting against this for ages across all games. I got angry at Gears for the Gnasher and despite the fact that I hate it, I love the DBS in Gears 3. Because all the rage the Gnasher users had being easily beaten by that one weapon? Thats how even non-Gnasher user felt in previous games. So I did like that weapons introduction as it let them feel what other players had felt.

    In an average, good game. The opposite Gnasher team would get about 10 kills a piece when they win the match. In the few times when the weekend playlist was "This is my Rifle", which didn't have Gnashers in the match, my K/D ratio was 30-3 each game, as I was learning how to play the GAME rather then learn how to play the Gnasher. The result? Some guy going, "Man, fuck this rifle bullshit!" and quit out. Because of complacent gaming syndrome they couldn't learn how to beat me. Their strategy was only limited to sneaking up on me with a chainsaw. A tactic that I started to easily repel as they just didn't know how to play the game. Now they have a playlist where its only Gnashers in Raven Down. While still being able to go into any other playlist and limit the game down to the Gnasher.

    Frankly, both shotguns should have been map pickup from the very first game.

    It's the reason why I get annoyed in Halo as well. Where the game as always been just about the Magnum/BR/DMR. I actually like the fact that the DMR is OP in Halo 4, causing all "BR is pro!" MLG wannabes to cry. As they experience what it's like for someone to limit the game down to just one weapon.
    In the few times during Reach when there was a challenge was AR kills, the games were much more fun and intense. Since people were discouraged from just picking people off from a distance with the DMR. Any suggestion to make it more balanced was met with hostility, even a simple suggestion like increasing weapon strength or turning off headshots in the options. That was before talking about how to balance the game with a TU (which the TU in Reach didn't do).

    When you allow someone the chance to explore non-OP means, you end up with Boxer. Who took the Terran team in Starcraft, who were considered underpowered compared to the other two factions, and completely changed the way that Starcraft played competitively. But until developers learn that the vocal minority are only trying to push their own agenda to control the game, videogames will just be losing players who get tired and fed up with tryhards spawncamping them.

      Yeah I have to agree with Halo. When Halo 3 launched there were a few blessed months where in 60% of the game modes you started with assault rifle/pistol - so if you were lucky enough to find a BR (or was it DMR only back then?) it was a fun little ride until it ran out of ammo and then back to using a variety of other weapons.

      Then about 6 months in they patched the game so that everyone started with BR(or DMR or whatever)/Assault Rifle and the headshot wars started...

      I weep for what it has become.

    Its simple, people get used to something, they get comfortable. Then if the developer tries to change it (regardless of whether its for the better or not), then there will be outrage. The shotgun/pistol/br is too powerful/slow/nerfed. It's a pity that people get so attached to these kinds of things, instead of just enjoying the game for what it is meant to be - something new.

    I was never much into the gnasher myself, but if that's what the players like using why bother trying to change it... should have added more types of gnashers if anything or specific matches designed for gnasher.

    Anyway... I wanna ask, I don't have gold anymore but loved playing gow3 with my wife, co op horde, beast.
    Is this game worth getting for me, I really liked horde and beast mode but I've heard they've been removed, if I'm not going online is it worth it?

    I'm a mostly lancer player, although I've never played a ranked game before (quick matches just faster to get into). So seeing those gnasher stats for quick games comes as no surprise.

    Its ridiculous the amount of hate messages I've gotten for using the lancer. Idiots calling me a pussy for not getting in close to fight them and picking them off from a distance. It can get pretty off putting sometimes. It's like they think the only way Gears should be played is with a gnasher, and if you do anything otherwise and they lose to you, then you're being cheap.

    Thats why I really hope Judgment weakens the gnasher. That way it'll mix things up and then I'll hopefully cop less abuse for using a lancer.

    The dominance of shotguns really turned me off the first game, thankfully it's been cleaned up a lot in #3, I prefer the Lancer, my aim is never good enough in Gears to make the shotgun useful.

    Oddly in Battlefield an 870MCS is my weapon of choice

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