Worth Reading: Games Should Let You Skip Combat

Worth Reading: Games Should Let You Skip Combat

It’s Saturday. There’s a new Jurassic Park. Before you hit the theatres and spend way too much on popcorn, enjoy our weekly roundup of the best games writing.

Hey, You Should Read This

Worth Reading: Games Should Let You Skip Combat

The demise of cheat codes continues to make me sad. Instead, publishers slowly removed them from video games, and managed to monetise cheats through downloadable content. One of my favourite pastimes used to be turning on invincibility and all weapons in Grand Theft Auto 3, and seeing how much destruction I could unleash. But Max Battcher makes a more telling point, in which he argues games should be equal opportunity when it comes to player preference. If you’re allowed to skip a game’s cutscenes, why can’t you skip the combat, too? Interesting idea.

“I also get the argument that ludogically it follows that “tough moments” in a story might best be served with “tough combats” that reflect such. I think the issue here is that the game can be tough without beating me over the head with how tough it is. It’s that point where stress/anxiety meets frustration and becomes ragequit that I’m particularly looking to mitigate. There’s certainly room for a game to maybe not make it easy to skip a combat, but after you’ve spent thirty minutes on this, wiped five times, and shouted a half-dozen obscenities at the console’s microphone maybe your game could consider that you’ve gotten the point across?


I still recall with great fondness how apolegetic the Full Throttle manual was that not everyone might like it’s few action sequences/combat scenes and it handily provided a shortcut key to bypass a scene as if you had won the action.”

If You Click It, It Will Play

Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Mike Williams weighed in on the ongoing conversation about race and The Witcher 3.
  • Austin Walker explained how criticism doesn’t mean you’re demanding games change.
  • Annie Zaleski found out why we all suck so hard at crane machines: they’re rigged.
  • Richard Cobbett wrote a eulogy for World of Warcraft-style MMOs.
  • Kevin Schut praised Splatoon‘s cheery aesthetic in an industry full of grim darkness.
  • Felipe Pepe looked beyond P.T. to analyse what other parts of game history we’re losing.
  • Ashley Barry celebrated the silence of games like Journey and Shadow of the Colossus.


  • Three thoughts:
    “Games that play themselves? Don’t we call those movies? ”
    “Great. Another thing for dodgy publishers to monetise.”
    But, hasn’t this already been done?
    “It looks like you are struggling with this mission, would you like to buy a mighty eagle to destroy all the pigs?”

  • Since Max Battcher doesn’t seem to like any gameplay at all why doesn’t he just watch people playing the game on twitch or youtube? All of the narrative with none of the bother.

    • To my mind, this is actually the best way to experience some games, like Catherine.

  • I was stoked to find GTA-V had included the option to skip sections of gameplay.

    Normally that sort of thing is an absolute bastard, and can be the point where I end playing a game.

  • I would kind of feel annoyed if a game asked me if I wanted to skip something if I died a few times trying to do it, like the game was mocking me. Like those shiny Tanooki Leaves in Mario 3D world do. Perhaps I take things too personally.

  • The summary of that guy’s blog post seems to be “I keep playing games that aren’t intended for people like me so I can complain about games not pandering to me.” To be fair though, some of it came down to generally poor game design.

    Games in general have been getting better with their combat design, often letting you skip past battles by either providing an alternate route or just making it possible to run away. When the point of the game is combat though, you need to understand that you are going to have to fight, it’s what the game is about. If you’re just going to give up all the time and ask the game to play itself, you might want to re-evaluate your game choices.

  • I admit sometimes I play through games on the easiest setting first for the story but skipping things altogether is a bridge too far………

  • Games should never let you skip combat. Combat and challenge is a key component that elevates games above other media in story delivery. The fact that YOU as a player had to fight the enemy yourself to progress, makes the story more meaningful. The issue with current games is (especially JRPGs), they prioritise grinding too much.

    Even in most western games, there is too much disconnect between story delivery (mostly via cinematic) and combat gameplay. Very few games have been able to deliver story while in gameplay with voice-overs, environmental objects etc…

    Although, I think this issue will forever be debated in gaming and a wide variety of games ranging from no story (Minecraft, rogue-likes), where you build your own narrative and heavily scripted experience (uncharted, military shooters) where its essentially a movie with QTEs will result. And if you like games, I think its fine having a broad range…

  • To me in a great game skipping combat is like skipping a chapter in a book, totally doable but silly and robbing you of a much deeper experience.

    Combat in well crafted games is more then mechanics at play. It helps tell the story, set the mood, immerse the player. Dark souls for instance while not the only example its a well known one. Much of the story is told through the combat, the struggle of the player is also the struggle of the protagonist, often feelings are mirrored. Combat is not hard simply because it can be but because it causes emotion within a player. Something that would be totally void if skipped, or even if the option was there. Failing would no longer mean your journey ending but pressing a button to go to the next part.

    Most games would not qualify for such a feature, even games that relied on gameplay from a strategic standpoint and less of a story point rob the player and developer from the experience they want to create & have.

    Maybe in pure arcade games the feature has a place, such as platformers or bullet hell games. I think game companies already cater too much to the player and soften the experience to suit the masses far too much. I understand people are busy and so am I but too many times ease of use gets preference over creating something meaningful or fulfilling.

  • Despite my love for frustratingly hard games (long time Souls series victim here) I actually played the last Dragon Age game on the easiest setting. Mainly because I play these games for the rich storyline development not the combat. I’ll also play through them multiple times to explore the different story arcs

  • Jennifer Hepler from Bioware suggested a button to let you skip combat and got crucified for it. I’ve actually come around to the idea. If there were a difficulty setting that allowed combat to be skipped, and that led to more people buying a game, without taking anything away from the game’s harder difficulty levels, then I’d be all for it. The more people buy a game, the better.

  • As something that gets unlocked if you’ve already beaten the game, I’ll say “why not?”

    • Definitely. A reward for beating the game that allows you to then explore the game at your leisure.
      Lots of games have done this successfully in the past where you can access “Cheat Modes” for beating the game or specific challenges (e.g. Goldeneye on N64).

  • Not a fan of this idea. The game still needs to function properly with all these options, so somehow the depth or value of the gameplay will be changed to accommodate. If the player can skip almost anything, then those components will become more and more modular: story happening only in this sequence, fighting happening only in that sequence. What the player did in one wouldn’t affect the other because there’s a chance they did nothing. Whereas I’d much prefer that the gameplay remains built to service the full experience, with mechanics intertwining alongside the story and other activities.

    The only reason we get away with skipping dialogue and cutscenes is because they tend to be static with no interaction. So it becomes a convenience to skip them if they have played before.

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