Some of the most fun I’ve had with video games has been when I’m doing something the game doesn’t want me to do — whether it’s going beyond a map boundary or killing enemies in an unconventional way. Here are a few ways I’ve subverted developer expectations and done things my own way.
I recently started playing Fallout 4 for the first time. When I reached one of the first areas of the game, I took on a mission to get a suit of power armor and clear the enemies out of a town — including a huge and very powerful monster called a deathclaw. But instead of doing what the game wanted me to do, I picked off the human enemies one by one without the power armor. I then found a good vantage point atop one of the buildings to deal with the deathclaw. I shot it a few times and it ran away. After a short time, it came back into view and I shot it a few times again. All I had to do was rinse and repeat until it was dead. After that, the game actually gave me credit for getting the suit of power armor even though I had never found it. It’s as if that mission had been programmed with the assumption that there was no way I could have cleared out all of those enemies without that armor.
While driving around on planets in the Mako in the first Mass Effect game, I preferred to get out of the Mako and use my sniper rifle when I came across enemies. I found it more satisfying than using the Mako’s weaponry to clear them out. But at one point in the game, I did the opposite. While fighting the geth on a planet called Therum, you eventually come to a pathway which is too narrow for the Mako to pass through... or so it would seem. The reality is that if you run into it just right with the Mako and flip the vehicle on its side, you can just squeeze your way through the passage. This changes everything for the next section of the game. What’s scripted for the section is that you encounter a huge enemy called a Geth Armature. And without your Mako, you would have a very risky fight ahead (since the Armature can one-shot-kill you and your teammates). But since I was inside the Mako, it was a piece of cake. The game expects you to be outside the Mako for that section, so being inside it completely throws it off. The Geth Armature just stands there and looks at you as you pummel it with shot after powerful shot from the Mako until it’s dead.
Ah, Mass Effect: Andromeda. Such an unfortunate production wrought with problems. But for all its issues, it did get a few things right: combat, exploration, and environmental visuals. The latter two are what I’m focusing on here. The worlds you can visit in Mass Effect: Andromeda offer quite a bit of exploration under normal circumstances, but you’ll probably run across a shimmering barrier at some point that the developers put in place to keep you from going outside their sandbox. I wasn’t having this, so I started using Biotic Blink (the Explorer profile’s evasion/dash move) over and over again past the barrier... and it worked! After placing me back inside the barrier quite a few times, the game eventually messed up and placed me outside the barrier instead. After that, I was free to keep going until I reached the fully rendered edge of the map.
I’ve managed to do it on Kadara, Eos, and Voeld, and I had fun doing it on all three (and I ran across what appeared to have been an abandoned and unfinished side curiosity past the barrier on Eos). But Kadara (pictured above and below) was special. Journeying to the fully rendered edge of that map was beautiful to behold. As you can see, the lighting was gorgeous and the unfinished landscape beyond the edge looks like sand dunes cast in shadow.
Here’s a screencap from when I was past the barrier and on my way to the edge. (A funny thing to note is that when you get a certain distance past the barrier, your teammates stop in their tracks as you continue onward. They effectively abandon you.)
Well, that’s all for me. But I want to read your stories of thumbing your nose at the way things are supposed to be and playing your games the way YOU want to play them. Let me know in the comments below.