Game systems that become popular, even revolutionary tend to see other developers try their hand at versions of their own. For Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor‘s engaging, even antagonizing, revenge feature the Nemesis System, it is one that could enhance a number of games in new and interesting ways.
While it is a bit overkill to try and highlight every brand the Nemesis System seems perfect for, I have five franchises that seem to be excellent fits for it. Let’s start off by talking about the one, the only, Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar Games’ gargantuan open-world franchise would thrive under the influence of the Nemesis System.
It is a brand that already proves to create engaging, compelling characters. With certain personalities like Devin Weston from GTA V, Toni Cipriani from GTA III and Officer Tenpenny from GTA: San Andreas, this franchise has plenty of amazing antagonists who would be even badder with the influence of the Nemesis System.
Just think about failing one of the main story missions that comes from meeting Devin. One that comes to mind is the “I Fought The Law…” quest. This is the first of four high end car theft missions Devin gives you. I’m sure some of you failed this mission or another one along the way.
As a result, what happens if he becomes more ruthless as a character? What if the mission becomes more difficult with stronger resistance from the cops? The Nemesis System can go beyond the whole one versus one concept. Making missions more difficult as a result of your failure is another way to implement the concept of the Nemesis System.
Another franchise that more obviously fits the Nemesis System is The Witcher. There are so many brutal boss fights in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Think about how the Nemesis System would advance bosses like Nithral, Caranthir or even Eredin. These enemies are challenging enough, but what if this ingredient was added?
Seeing these bosses with embellished combat moves or varied movements as a result of you dying would be incredible. While it might not be a direct function of the system now, what if an enemy’s movement patterns changed every time you died? What if their attacks switched with each death?
Enemies in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are all so different and each has unique characteristics. The world is so vast and deep that it’s great as it is. However, I can’t help but dream about how a system like the Nemesis could impact its experience? It is uncertain if we’ll ever get another installment in the series. However, if we do, I’d love to see something like the above in the next game.
Assassin’s Creed is not exactly known for having the most difficult bosses. While the upcoming installment will definitely bring more difficulty to those who fight outside their level rank, it is a franchise that is focused on making you, the player, feel like a badass versus testing your resolve with ruthless bosses.
With that out there, I feel the brand could benefit greatly from the influence of the Nemesis System’s ideas. For some of the bigger targets in the game, perhaps they alter their location when you die trying to assassinate them? Dying and dying helps gamers understand what they did wrong. When the same layout is presented before them, eventually they learn how to beat the mission.
However, what if a target’s location, ability or enemy layout were different each attempt? If a target is always at the back of a mansion you have to fight through, why not move them to the front of the building without the player knowing? This is something that keeps the player from discovering a pattern out of repetition. Instead, it rewards those who skillfully identify and assassinate the target.
After all, isn’t that the most rewarding thing a gamer can experience? Beating a mission or boss through their own skill, not necessarily luck or memorizing a mission’s layout. Ubisoft’s franchise is going to become far more difficult this fall, but concepts from the Nemesis System could push it even further.
The Mass Effect brand is another example of one I believe fits great with ideas from the Nemesis System. Again, while it doesn’t always have to change an antagonist’s ability or skill, losing a mission could mean a different loadout for your enemies. Perhaps enemies you have to fight through in a quest changes their squad.
Instead of having X range foes, X brutes and one boss-like challenger, how about two bosses, zero range enemies and a throng of brutes? This is something I feel varies up a cover-based experience nicely. It keeps players on their toes and forces them not to fall into gameplay routines.
Changing up the layout of a map is also an interesting possibility. Surely this is a task too great for a development team, and I don’t think we’ll ever see this level of sophistication for something like the Nemesis System. However, I’ve got a keyboard, so let’s talk about it.
Imagine the various cover areas not being in the same place twice. Think about the impact of ammo caches spread out in different areas for each attempt. Like the weapons box in Call of Duty‘s Zombies mode moves, this is how I think of the movement of ammo caches. Even if enemy movement or ability doesn’t change, all of this still forces the player to think and act differently.
Lastly, Final Fantasy seems like a great candidate to have the influence of the Nemesis System. One of the obvious impacts here would be how it enhances the performance of bosses after each player death. While this is certainly some juicy, low-hanging fruit, it’s not necessarily what I reaching for.
Taking inspiration from Final Fantasy XV‘s combat, what if each player death saw a major cost to your team of characters? I’m talking about losing a companion character each time the player dies. While the straight up removal of a companion would likely decimate your chances of winning, a remedy would providing the player with more ability points to assign to their remaining characters.
This alleviates some of the pressure of losing a companion. At the same time, it allows gamers to keep the companions they have stronger and effective. In theory, it helps provide balance for the boss fight, while still penalizing the player for failing. I feel this equals meaningful loss without completely taking out a gamer’s legs from under them.
There are a number of brands and franchises where the concept of the Nemesis System feels like a perfect fit. The idea of it adds meaning to each death and puts further hesitation into the mind of the player. The ideals that come out of the system cast a wide range of possibilities other franchises can learn from.
We’ll all see how the system evolves with this October’s new game. WBIE’s Middle-earth: Shadow of War launches on Oct. 10 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Middle-earth.
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