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Since it's a slow weekend news day that falls between two major holidays, I thought I'd give you some light reading material by pointing you to three separate comparison lists that What Culture has recently published. The lists cover ten things that Fallout 4 can learn from Mass Effect, ten things that Mass Effect 4 can learn from Dragon Age: Inquisition, and ten things that Mass Effect does better than Star Wars, just to set your expectations correctly:
In Mass Effect 3, players were offered a simple three-way choice of game modes that would alter the way the story played out for them. The three options shifted the heaviest focus of the game between being story-driven with balanced combat and RPG elements, or being far heavier in favour of action or customisation by choosing one of the other two.
At the initial choice these options seem as though they will offer negligible differences, but in truth they really did alter the experience that players were afforded.
Opting to stick with the RPG heritage of the first title, or lean more heavily on the latter action elements allowed players to stick within their comfort zone, or even step out of it in equal measure. Fallout is a game that splits its emphasis similarly between customisable role-playing and heavy combat, and could also benefit from allowing players to tailor their experience to lean in one direction or the other.
The story choice could obviously offer the chance to leave Fallout's experience as the developers intended, but offering players the chance to influence their own adventure would add longevity to the title. If only for a second playthrough, players may experience a more bloodthirsty wasteland or forge their adventure through careful collection of resources and experience.
Dragon Age: Inquisition may be a fantastic game, but it isn't without its flaws. One minor quibble with the game is its inventory system. While it works fine enough, it simply isn't much fun. Many RPGs suffer the same issue. The game only allows you to carry a limited amount of things, and when combined with the pack rat mentality all gamers share, this leads to too much wasted time fretting over which items are worth destroying or discarding in order to make space. Frankly, it's a chore navigating the inventory menu in an attempt to keep track of which characters carry which items.
So while Mass Effect 4 should follow Inquisition's lead in most aspects of design, this isn't one of them. This doesn't mean an inventory system ought to be thrown out altogether, as resource management is often a major aspect of the open world RPG genre. If anything Bioware should increase the amount of resource management from Mass Effect 3, but the management system itself should be streamlined so as to be as simple and intuitive as possible. The less amount of time a player spends in a menu system the better. Menu screens aren't immersive; they break immersion.
It's not a huge issue; if it was Inquisition wouldn't be as enjoyable as it is. And even if Mass Effect 4 did copy Inquisition to the point where it did contain the exact design it would still be a great game. That's a testament to how good the whole of Inquisition is. But there are still areas to improve upon, and with Mass Effect 4 Bioware has the chance to do so.