There’s been a big trend towards including freerunning and climbing gameplay into a lot of games in the last few years, particularly action-adventure games, and this has generally been an enjoyable step forward for the genre. Graphics have advanced enough that having smooth contextual animations for all sorts of running, jumping, climbing and rolling moves is completely doable. Almost all the recent big-budget titles with free roaming elements have managed to make them look pretty good. Many of them have failed to make them feel good, however.
I recently finished Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and playing around with its climbing and freerunning aspects gave me an interesting idea. Thinking back through some other recent action-adventure games I’ve played, a theory began to emerge: The level of autopilot present in a game’s free-roaming mechanics form a bell curve of enjoyability. This may not immediately make much sense, but let me give you a couple examples. Continue reading