Quicktime events. Love them or hate them, they’re there. Sometimes, games do them well. Sometimes, they don’t. Some people say they’re fun. Some say they’re not. I personally enjoy them if they are done correctly.
Recently, I’ve been playing The Order. The shooting is fine and so far it’s nothing special, but there’s nothing that sticks out as completely atrocious. However, the worst part of the game so far, is the quicktime events. (A quick disclaimer: I am on chapter 4 or 5 and have not seen the rest of the game yet). At a certain point, you have to fight a boss. The guy’s pretty big and he’s slapped your gun away in a cutscene. You think the game is going to give you a chance for some melee combat after this little movie. No. It shifts right from the cutscene intto a quicktime event. Now, this can be done well if you are expecting it and the event makes sense. The Order just throws you right into dodging the bosses attacks. What have you used to move the character the entire game? The left stick! What do you suddenly have to use to dodge with your character? The right stick! And it’s not like it gives you a huge prompt in the middle of the screen. The game gives you a tiny little right stick icon on whatever side of the screen you’re dodging towards. I could barely see the tiny R on the prompt and assumed that it was the stick I was using to control my character for the rest of the game. Suddenly, the boss grabs you and you have to mash buttons (and more on button mashing later) to get him loose. I don’t know why but sometimes it just doesn’t work. I pressed the button and nothing happened. I died multiple times from that. When a quicktime event comes out of no where and completely blindsides you, that’s when it feels cheap and unfair. Now, we need to talk about button mashing, game designers.
Button mashing, like all other quicktime events, can work. An enemy grabs you (say in Uncharted) and you have to mash a button to get him off of you. The problem comes when the whole sequence revolves around button mashing. Take Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for example. At a certain point in the game you have to just mash the X button. That’s what the whole segment is. Of course, if you are playing co-op, the second player can do something really easy and prevent you from having to mash buttons. Now, I am a friendless loser and I have to resort to button mashing. I kept dying on this part over and over again. Eventually, I decided to look up how to get past that part, and there was no gimmick to it. It was pure button mashing. However, I did find out that if I put my finger inside my shirt and slid it back and forth across the button that would hit it much faster than my tiny human fingers could do. This is infuriating and not very fun, and it can ruin a game for some people. It just wasn’t fun, even though getting through that part felt so good because I was done with a tedious segment like that. Even the first Metal Gear game had something similar but it wasn’t required to progress, and in fact you got my preferred ending by failing at it. However, it just doesn’t feel good if it’s required.
Going back to The Order, there is a part where (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME) you are attacked by three or four werewolves. You have to press the X button when they come towards you in order to dodge. However, you’re in very tight corridors and they seem to come out of nowhere. The prompt for the X button is sort of attached to the monsters, so if you don’t have your camera turned the right way, you won’t see the prompt. Plus, with the way they come out of nowhere it’s a huge pain to dodge like that. Then you have to run up to them and stab them in the heart. Well, while you are taking out a wounded werewolf another one shows up right on top of you and you barely have any time to dodge their attack. Not to mention, like before, where sometimes it just feels like the input doesn’t work. Quicktime event prompts need to be apparent to the player so they have time to react.
Quicktime events need to be fine-tuned. Don’t have them come out of nowhere. Don’t make the whole segment button mashing. Make sure the prompt is nice and apparent to the player. Those are my three biggest pet peeves when it comes to quicktime segments. Nothing makes me more mad then when a game does one of those things. This doesn’t make you want to blame it on the game. Games with good difficulty make sure that the player doesn’t feel like its the game’s fault, it’s the player’s. Make your quicktime events feel good and responsive and players won’t feel mad and like they got cheated.