I’ve been lucky enough to participate in the alpha for Heroes of the Storm recently, Blizzard’s new ‘Hero Brawler’ (Blizz pls, it’s a MOBA) and it’s been a pretty good experience. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who’s been put off by the daunting learning curve in the past. It streamlines many of the typical MOBA features to the point where they retain much of the fun while sacrificing a lot of the difficulty.
This is no surprise from Blizzard; if there’s one thing they’ve consistently targeted as a company it’s accessibility. Many players see this as a fault, that lowering barriers to entry will somehow taint the pristine waters of gaming, but personally I believe it’s a philosophy vital to the continued success of PC gaming.
This idea shot straight to the front of my mind when it was brought to my attention that the loot distribution in Destiny is not based on the skill of the player or the difficulty of content, a concept alien to those of us accustomed to the meritocratically ‘fair’ progression of MMOs.
This struck me as counter-intuitive at first, not rewarding skill while using FPS mechanics far better suited to creating skill based content and tracking the competency of players. Considering the problem from the other direction, it’s difficult to imagine what the benefits would be outside of PvP matchmaking.
It’s like every reward in Destiny is a participation medal, all that is required is that players show up. From the way some players lament ‘welfare epics’ you’d think the server structure would implode in the presence of such a travesty, crashing into a nightmarish singularity of ‘casuals’.
That’s an attitude we PC lovers could do with shaking off; we can’t act as despotic gatekeepers while simultaneously bemoaning a lack of innovation in a deteriorating genre. One or the other is fine—I know some people like their games super-duper-double hardcore, and while that’s brilliant and should be celebrated we can’t pretend it’s a demographic that embraces change.
Our demographic is older now, and has never been more diverse. The only way we can grow is by being open to the opportunities this presents us. If we keep the drawbridges raised we’ll wither and die while everyone else finds new and exciting ways of being awesome.
Meanwhile, players are still hooked on Destiny and a whole new crop of bright young things are experiencing the conditioning we MMO players love to hate, but without the necessity of following a linear path to climb to the next rung. It looks like the need for progression as we know it is a myth; the carrot doesn’t need to be behind a complex puzzle, we just have to know it exists somewhere.