Tuesday 17 February 2015

UT4 - Spam Online

I've been playing quite a lot of UT4 (Unreal Tournament 4 pre-Alpha) lately. While the game is still early in development the core gameplay mechanics are coming along and starting to give us a pretty good idea of what we can expect in the end.

I'm not sure I'm going to like the final result. The thing I liked most about the original UT is it was what I consider an inbetween game, a well balanced game that didn't favour one playstyle over another.

It wasn't just another twitch reaction game with absurd movement like Quake, nor was it a too realistic slow paced camper game like CoD.

It was in between those extremes, a game you could be successful at playing either way.

It wasn't all about long range instant hit weapons like the rifle, nor was it all about close ranged in your face fighting with rockets and flak.

In fact the best strategy was often playing to an opponent's weaknesses. If your opponent preferred close combat, fight him at medium or long range with sniper and shock. If he preferred long range combat, take the fight to him at close range with rockets and flak.

Then you had the mini, a terrific midrange weapon, very good at short range and as a finishing weapon but not so good at point blank range and weak at long range. And of course the extremely versatile shock which has always been UT's signature weapon and a favourite of better / more experienced players in almost any situation at almost any range.

Ever since UT2k3 the game has moved towards a Quake-like twitch game where the one thing that matters above all else is reaction time. Most of the time ping, hardware and configuration settings make more of a difference than actual skill. The guy with the lower ping and the least video/input lag wins.

In the original game you could compensate for that with various different strategy and tactics. And the guy with the ping/hardware advantage couldn't just fly across the entire map grabbing all the powerups in under 5 seconds either.

Now you can cross the entire map much more quickly. Strategy is pretty much just "whore the armor and spawn rape". If you control the powerups nothing else really matters much. And tactics have devolved to the platform jumper level of just moving quickly and unpredictably while spamming the fire button.

The shock rifle is insane right now. High damage, high rate of fire and extremely spammable. It's the only weapon that's good at any range and in virtually all situations. In fact about the only situation where shock isn't clearly best / tied with the best is at point blank range where flak beats it... But that'll likely change soon since all the shock whores are crying to nerf the flak.

Just about every match on every map is one giant spamfest with the better, more experienced players spamming shock (or maybe Flak) and everyone else spamming whatever they can get their hands on and get a few shots off with before dying again.

Online player numbers were at their highest with the original game and have been dropping ever since. Since the original game had the highest player counts why do they continue taking the game in a direction that reduces player numbers rather than going back to it's more successful roots?

I don't care for the direction the game seems to be taking. It's turning into a 3d platform jumper with guns.

How about putting some of the skill back into it?

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