One thing that bugs me about high content games is how that content is presented to the player. Especially when it’s unloaded all at once.
The best example of this problem is a newcomer to a fighting game. Last summer I picked up Super Street Fighter 4 AE for PC, and in that time I’ve played with 6 out of the ~40 character roster.
The problem isn’t that there are so many characters, but that there isn’t a system in the interface to quickly play through those. The only way to do it is to log out of a training game. So it loads up the character selection screen, then reloads the game. This process takes much longer than it needs to.
So what would I have done to “fix” this “problem” in SSF4? On the training menu include an option to quickly switch out to another fighter, have a brief pause, and back into the game.
I also picked up Street Fighter X Tekken and Ultimate Marvel v Capcom 3, but again there’s no quick way of playing through and finding out the different fight styles and nuances each fighter possesses.
This problem isn’t just limited to fighting games either. I’ve had the same feeling with Gran Turismo 5, and until the Vita version, Little Big Planet. Any game with numerous modes or characters. Beginning Torchlight 2 I was presented with a selection of fighters that I’ve never heard of before and my only introduction was a short video. Fans of the series will know what does what, as will fans of Street Fighter (which I am – been playing since the vanilla SF2), but these things should be as explanatory to newcomers as possible.
It all boils down to the lack of quick experimentation. Something a lot of games do right – something I feel Nintendo and Valve get totally right. In Mario and Zelda, you’ll be presented with new content and puzzles all the time and you’re free to mess around with them, quickly shifting tactics and items to conquer and master whatever new thing just turned up. In Left 4 Dead or Team Fortress 2 you’re never penalised for taking the wrong weapon, and if it is wrong you can just pick it up again.
I feel as more and more games get full with lovely content, more options are needed to quickly breeze through, to find our feet and get settled in.