Infamous: Second Son finally hits in a couple days. In addition to being the first really big Playstation 4 exclusive of 2014, it will also be the first next-gen game with a moral system and the opportunity to do something different with it. Will your choices be as simple as saving an orphanage or drowning some puppies? Or will they be more subtle?
Of course a moral system has been a huge feature of games in the last couple generations, most notably Bioware games, but of course the real question is did they really matter? At the end of Mass Effect 3, you come down to that same controversial scene. Dragon Age? There are some different cut scenes, but the end result is still pretty much the same.
I’m not really bagging on these games. I love Mass Effect (even 3, as one bad scene at the end doesn’t ruin the whole game/series for me), Dragon Age and especially Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic. But in them and the Infamous series as well, the system is very black and white, and it’s clear when you are being a good guy or a jerk with obvious results. In the end, it just doesn’t matter that much. The end boss is usually the same, and the major parts of the game are roughly the same. Maybe some enemies have been switched out, but it still plays the same.
Back in December, the director of Second Son said in an interview with OPM that the moral system will be more subtle, with things like enemies surrendering and the option to either execute or kill them. Does that really sound more subtle? As a general rule, superheroes don’t kill their enemies. How about something like letting them live, which might have unintended consequences later that you’ll have to deal with? That at least seems a little more evolved. Or how about being evil or good cuts out a significant portion of the story you never get to see? Because usually it’s some rather inconsequential side missions. Maybe even DLC that you can only play if you finished the game as a good guy or vice versa?
I understand realistically why this is. Games are hard and expensive to make. And most gamers don’t finish their games these days. So why bother making a game that’s really worth playing through twice or more when a huge majority won’t even go all the way through once? That makes perfect sense. Doesn’t stop me from hoping that this next generation will present choices in a way we’ve never experienced them before.
That’s not to say I’m not excited for Second Son. I have it pre-ordered and plan on getting it first thing Friday morning and really enjoying playing around with the powers I’ll have at my disposal. I just hope this next generation of games start having some moral systems that really mean something beyond a slight tweak in gameplay or a slight change in a couple cut-scenes that still ultimately lead to more or less the same ending.