Do You Need Combat in your Games?
Spurred on by a conversation on twitter with Belghast and Adrel I started thinking about the games that I play that I enjoy more than others. Two immediately came to mind, Wurm Online and the Sims franchise. Both are games that (due to my play style) have very little if any combat – and I love that about them. Yes, arguably you can combat as much as you want in Wurm Online but that’s not how I tend to spend my time. In the Sims games there’s almost never any combat, not in the traditional sense. Of course there are ways to encourage combat if you want (you can make enemies and start fights) but for the most part the game is pretty peaceful. Then there’s all of the visual novel games that I enjoy playing, games like If my Heart Had Wings, and Dandelion – Wishes brought to you. Mindless games I enjoy just because like Cook, Serve, Delicious. Building games like Cities: Skylines. These are the sorts of games that entice me the most and I suppose until I sat down and looked through my games it’s not actually something I noticed before.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy combat in games, too. I do. Diablo 3 is pretty much nothing but blowing things up. The thing is I get very bored of those games very quickly – just like Belghast tends to get bored of games that don’t have combat in them (per our conversation earlier). I think that in the majority of games I play I spend my time equally between combat and no combat depending on the game. EVE Online is a good example. There’s combat, and I do combat via missions, but a lot of the time I’m running delivery missions or I’m mining or I’m doing industry things that don’t involve any combat at all. The same can be said for EQ2 and WoW, sure, there’s combat, but a lot of the time I’m harvesting, decorating, or crafting and none of that (at least for me) involves any combat at all.
Do you have a preference or are you about equal in terms of combat vs. non combat gameplay? Would you tend to fall asleep if one or the other aspect was missing from your game of choice? Let me know in comments!
There are probably way more games without combat that one can think if initially. My personal favorite is Kerbal Space Program.
I can’t say I ‘prefer’ combat or not. My favorite games (EVE Online and Kerbal Space Program) only have space in common. Apart from that they are extremely dissimilar. In eve I’d say I dabble more in Player vs Player combat more than running missions. At least time wise.
The years best game for me, Life is Strange did not have combat in any traditional sense. But the few situations in it that did contain violence where very powerful.
I recently played through “The Park”. The game is completely free of combat, but still a great experience. Outside of that one, all of the games I currently play have combat, although I know that I also enjoy games without. (In some way I wouldn’t mind Civilisation without combat, but it’s simply part of the game. )
Anyway, while the first mentioned “The Park” is a perfect example on how to make a great game with interesting story and dense (although very grim) atmosphere, it’s also quite hard to make such a captivating game, while it’s much easier to build some combat mechanics which keep the player busy. Thus cost efficiency enforces that most games we see center around combat.
That all being said, I also have to admit that I do enjoy combat games, it’s not like I am a gaming-pacifist who is forced to play games with combat.
I don’t need combat in game but I play a lot with combat. I like Sim City lots. In fact…there are mobile games that involve city building that I wish there wasn’t combat. I just want to build a cool city and be left alone.
I like a game that engages me, and that usually ends up being one where I have to take a long view of the goals. Like building games (Cities: Skylines or Banished). Other games like Rome: Total War also have building, but also rely heavily on the idea that someone is going to want to take your stuff…and I’m not a fan of that.
But for a lot of games that have combat AND… the AND is usually an afterthought. Combat is pretty easy to model, and easy to grasp, so I can see why combat is the focus of a lot of games. Crafting or other ancillary systems in MMOs, for example, aren’t full featured enough to keep my interest, so I usually find myself just blowing things up.