The common theme seemed to be the combat. Others enjoyed the stalking parts, but hated when they were forced into a combat situation. Many described defeating enemies in hand to hand combat as just mashing buttons. I contrasted this to my experience, where I never button mashed, and was genuinely invested in going a step further, trying to kill every thug in one combo without getting hit, and eventually, trying to do it with lots of variety. I always felt a perfect balance of required skill and potential failure, where failure felt like my fault, and something that I could overcome (players blaming themselves is a real boon for design; maybe more on that in a future post)).
Dissecting the combat complaint, it seems safe to say that the feedback (visual feedback, the challenge, experience bonuses) they got from combat wasn't interesting or accessible enough to enjoy. Knowing where the game fell flat would be difficult to dismantle, and could vary greatly from player to player. Visual feedback, challenge, and experience bonuses are all subjective, but to make matters worse, solving combat feedback goes beyond balancing components in combat and into balancing it with stalking feedback because in the players' minds, they compete as tools for disabling opponents. (Even if (if!) the designers saw them as separated since stalking was generally for enemies with guns, and combat for melee enemies.)
So some toolbox (i.e., potentially bad) thoughts:
- To reduce competition between stalking and combat
- Make clearer tools for changing combat scenarios to stalking scenarios, and vice versa.
- For players that enjoy stalking more than combat
- A clearer device for getting a group of melee thugs to disperse and wander, allowing you to stalk them
- A flashbang that gives you a cleaner way to get back into stealth mode without getting shot (balance with long timer?)
- For players that enjoy combat more than stalking create clearer tools for handling guns with thugs
- Dodging leaves you invulnerable to gunfire (long enough to dodge again)
- Batarangs disable thugs with guns (they might already do this without my knowing; I noticed Batarangs prioritizing giants over normal thugs)
- Blend the experience bonus feedback between stalking and combat clearly
- If combat feedback needs improvement
- And the problem is with the challenge...
- Remove combo ruining...
- When "blue" thugs hurt you with electricity
- When "red" thugs blocks your attacks
- Or make it so you can dodge out of a committed attack (correct your mistake)
- Give more leeway (if possible, it often isn't) to counter
- And the problem is experience then separate thug-beating specialty from experience gain
- Experience gain is flat (stalk or fight, x dead thugs = y experience)
- Tie high combos and technique challenges to special in-game rewards, such as bonus Riddler content
- This puts challenge objectives into the main gameplay
- Challenge gameplay was brilliant because it taught you cool things about the game, but only once you unlocked challenges, and without main-path gameplay relevance