Life isn’t fair. But while interviewing Jamie Ferguson of the Total War: Rome 2 team – expect that interview later – the subject of balance came up. His take is that history often takes care of the balance issue for them – but that’s not always true, is it? Is that why we see so many games from certain periods?
We’ve certainly seen a lot of World War 2 games, and medieval combat games. The weapons of the time do make for a natural balance. A rock/paper/scissors that ensures multiplayer is a problem that cannot be “solved”.
But we don’t see a lot of World War 1 games, do we? Is it purely because it’s seen as a less romantic war? Are there periods of history that are in need of a balance patch? A stealth nerf for Sparta? Seal Team 6.1? One could argue that the conflict would be very short in such a scenario. I tended to think there were many conflicts in which one side clearly trumped the other, but Ferguson’s comments got me wondering why these situations took so long to resolve.
The majority of games under the modern warfare umbrella might provide a challenge, but it’s a few against many. In multiplayer, you’re against foes with similar tech – but in singleplayer, it’s wave after wave of terrorist whack-a-mole. Some missions are even intentional statements about the one-sidedness of war, such as one that involves blasting enemies from great distances in a plane, and this is likely to increase as games tackle drone warfare.
Now’s the time for all that history knowledge. What conflicts, ancient or recent, didn’t balance themselves? What situations didn’t stabilise? And what games could we be missing out on, that might otherwise be cool, but for the fact that historical accuracy renders balance impossible?