Tutorials, as many of you have probably experienced, have gotten a little out of control in the last generation. Not just tutorials but the constant guiding hand of the game creators leading us through the game. Assassin’s Creed games are my go-to example for this conundrum, as they are easily the worst I have seen. Every game takes around 5-10 hours reiterating all the stuff you remember from past games. During this time, you cannot really freely explore, and the game slowly opens up its various parts for you to access. It is the main reason I haven’t bothered playing AC3 yet, because I’m dreading that excruciatingly slow build-up until I’m given free reign. No matter how many games there are in the series, each of them still does (and most likely will continue to do) this.
Why do developers feel this is necessary? Game mechanics have been suffering a “dumbing down” in all aspects. If you don’t believe me, go back and play some games from the PS2 era and be amazed at how rough the difficulty is compared to today. Games nowadays are much nicer at easing you into the rough points, which is a nice feature. Too many of them go way too far. Does every third-person cover-based shooter really need a tutorial level? I can usually figure it out, based on my time with other games in the same genre. I can understand a developer thinking that someone might be getting into the genre with their game and wants to ensure they know what to do, but I don’t think it is that necessary. As long as the game’s mechanics aren’t too cryptic, it is fairly easy to figure out what to do, especially today with lengthy (and free!) guides and tips all over the net from day one of a game’s release.
It’s gone too far. I’m tired of wasting so much time waiting for a game to start challenging me or getting to the point. When I want to wait five hours for a game to really start, I’ll go play a JRPG. All a game needs is a decent manual (in-game, like all games now) with all the concepts clearly laid out. Better yet, offer the tutorial as a separate option, so that those of us who are more confident can skip it without missing anything. Tying your tutorial into the game is neat, but I’d rather it just be some abstract space where I can learn what each button does.
I really hope that developers change their habits in the next generation. Games have gotten a bit too easy (at least for me), and I’d like to see them at least offer more options in difficulty, if not just outright making a game harder. Don’t worry so much about leading us by the hand every step of the way. A simple waypoint and good level design is all that is necessary.