I’ve recently discovered that movement is a very important part of how I enjoy an action game. Fun movement abilities can make or break a game for me, be it the high flying powers of inFamous or the choppy wall-running in Darksiders 2. As interactive media, games invite you to explore their worlds, sometimes through meticulously designed dialogue and quests, but not every game is an RPG. Action and adventure games live and die by their gameplay mechanics. And a great many games have fantastic quests and missions, but trudging across the world to get to them is not nearly as satisfying. Here’s some games with traversal mechanics and systems that have kept me playing games far longer than I should have.
This post will be very gif heavy, just a heads up.
inFamous 2 & Second Son
In a world where we still have to endure open world games holding onto the lasting legacy of GTA’s “realism” simulation, Sucker Punch decided to make a game about being a superhuman. And they also decided to make it fun. All of the missions are an excuse to make you move around the environment, and SP built specific powers around traversal. This means the not only the missions are satisfying, but getting to them is often just as enjoyable. The standard hover helps you get from rooftop to rooftop (barely) at the start of each game, and by the end of the game you’re never touching the street level unless you want to. Special shout outs to the Neon run in Second Son and the Ice Launch from inFamous 2.
Released in 2010, and the industry still hasn’t made a better third-person shooter.
Vanquish flew onto the action game scene with one goal: make cover obsolete. If you’re using cover in Vanquish, you need to reanalyze the way you’re playing. For Vanquish, having to use cover is a moment where you messed up. The primary form of transportation in Vanquish is sliding and rolling too fast for the enemies to track you while popping bullet time at the perfect moments to assist your aim. Your slide and bullet time powers draw from the same meter, and if it runs out you move slower and take more damage. The game gives you the standard tutorial at the start, but like most Platinum games, you’ll have to experiment with all of your abilities if you want to see everything the game has to offer. If you want to play the game to its fullest, you’ll need to master slide/roll cancelling and keep your wits about you.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
There’s a reason people won’t shut up about Spider-Man 2 whenever a new Spidey game gets announced.
It’s just the swinging. That’s it. This game came out in 2004, over 13 years ago, and no Spider-Man game has done the web swinging as perfectly. The weight, momentum, and speed is all perfect. The overall game itself isn’t much to right home about, but the swinging was outstanding to the degree that even new Spidey games are held to its standard.
Titanfall & Titanfall 2
Of course, this list could only end with the current king of video game traversal and movement: the Titanfall series.
First-person shooters were reinvented by Call of Duty 4, but had fallen into a rut. Thank god Respawn Entertainment exists. While the tribulations that studio went through were of considerable strain on the staff, they managed to make the best, most enjoyable shooter since CoD 4, which they had made. Aside from the wall-running, the Titanfall games don’t actually introduce anything new to the shooter genre. Titan combat is incredibly visceral and intimidating, but it’s still mostly just standard FPS combat on a larger scale. The parkour is necessary to help Pilots confront and evade Titans. Everything unique about Titanfall stems from it’s movement. Skilled play isn’t a simple twitch reflex test, but a display of mastery of the game’s core mechanics and systems. Titanfall simply wouldn’t be the game or cult classic it is without it’s movement and traversal. In an era where FPSs think changing their setting to a different conflict is all it takes to innovate, the team at Respawn shows that the most important part of a video game is the game.
It moves fast, and the range that you can activate the violent melee Glory Kills at allows you to almost warp across maps and over obstacles.
Dishonored & Dishonored 2
The Blink ability grants you near-instant teleportation power. This is useful not just to reaching across gaps or up to hiding places, but for getting behind unaware guards in a flash.
While none of Overwatch‘s movement systems are as tight as the main mentions here, the sheer breadth of movement is impressive. Tracer can teleport, Pharah has a jetpack, Lucio has his wallride, Genji and Hanzo can climb walls, Mercy has her teammate based flight, D.Va has her boost, Reinhardt has a different boost, and Soldier 76 has your standard sprint.
Thanks for reading. It was a slow news week so I decided to write about something I actually had interest in. Tell me what games you enjoyed moving around in down in the comments or over at my Twitter.