QTEs and why they don't work on the PC. Also Resident Evil 5.

So I bought my regular PC magazine this month, and it came with a copy of Resident Evil 5. Now, I've never been a RE fan (Survival Horror is just not a genre for me) but I respected the series and knew that the gameplay shifted in 4 and 5. I could also play it co-op with a friend, why the heck not?
I enjoyed the game for the most part. Cooperating was fun most of the time and there were some awesome moments. However the one thing that almost ruined the game for us, especially by the end, where the Quick Time Events. Oh God...

Now I actually don't mind QTEs, in fact I like them... when they're implemented properly. RE5 makes a few design mistakes and this is amplified on the PC due to the nature of the controls.

  1. The QTEs come out of nowhere. The first QTE comes up in the middle of a cutscene. A regular cutscene that you saw several of up to that point. There's no indication that QTEs are in the game at all, and more importantly that they are in this cutscene. In God of War you initiate QTE's when you see a big glowing O over the enemy's head, and the first ones are simple to get you going. What's also confusing is not in co-op some QTE's are for both players and some just for one player during those cutscenes. There's no feedback on who failed to do it properly in the shared ones.
  2. The keyboard is not a controller. Ever play a console game with QTE's and fail one of those because "I didn't know this game uses the shoulder buttons in QTE's" (totally happened to me in GoW3 during Helios) or "I didn't know I'd have to press in the analog sticks." The keyboard amplifies this tenfold. On consoles you have a general idea of what buttons might be used, but on the PC, even if you can restrict the amount of keys from over 100 to just the ones the game uses it's still a problem.
  3. Custom control configurations can break your QTE's. Actually, default ones can too. RE5 by default has the following QTE's: Tap F or V, Press F, V, A+D or F+V. Now try to have your fingers in the right spots for all of those. I had to reconfigure my controls for the QTE's to be under Q and E to have it be manageable, but I still can only have my fingers on one set of buttons. This also brings me to my next point
  4. All the keyboard buttons are the same. Controllers have buttons that are color coded, and have different shape in the case of the shoulder buttons. All the keyboard buttons are trapezoids with a different letter. It's far less intuitive and requires you to process more information, slowing your reaction time (that's already slowed thanks to problem number 3). Especially when the button in jumping up and down...*
  5. Bad game design based around QTE's. Finally I'll go back to RE5 for a moment. This is kind of like point 1, but touches other gameplay elements. Not going to spoil the game for anyone here, but the boss battle at the end of Chapter 5 sucks. It's not hard, it's just frustrating because you have no idea what to do... no, you know what to do, but it doesn't look like it's working and the game gives you no feedback. OK, so you're not supposed to outright kill the boss, you know that. And there's a QTE you can do. So you do it, franticly tap the button and the boss breaks out. OK you think, you just have to do it like 3 times. Well no, you have to do it like 30-40 times. We thought something was broken. The game gave us no feedback if what you're doing it right or wrong. I read up a bit, and apparently you CAN shoot the boss a bit in the right place and decrease the QTE amount, even though the game was very explicit about not shooting a moment ago. That fight was really unfun.
So developers (who I'm sure are reading my blog at this very moment) please, think about the platforms you're putting the games out on more and give the player some feedback and warning signs. No one likes to die from something they had no idea was coming. There are simple ways these can be fixed.
  • Ease the player in. Train him to be ready to react to QTE's by giving him a sign.
  • Design your game, or your port with the controller in mind. The PS3 trigger buttons kind of suck and if you're putting out a shooter you probably want to shooting to be on R1 and not R2, even though the Xbox version might benefit more from using the right trigger.
  • Make sure to give the player feedback if what he's doing is right or not.
* Also, yes, you can use a controller in the PC version of RE5 but that can even make things worse. If you have an actual Xbox controller it's probably fine, but if not then the game will probably be using Xbox buttons that in no way relate to the symbols on your controller, or use a horribly generic "1, 2, 3, 4..." button layout that's even worse. I played through the PC version of Ninja Blade using my PS3 controller and having the game spit out Xbox button prompts at me. How's that for multiplatform?
Plus, why would you want to play a shooter with a controller if your mouse is right there?
Start the Conversation
1 Comments
Posted by Poki3

So I bought my regular PC magazine this month, and it came with a copy of Resident Evil 5. Now, I've never been a RE fan (Survival Horror is just not a genre for me) but I respected the series and knew that the gameplay shifted in 4 and 5. I could also play it co-op with a friend, why the heck not?
I enjoyed the game for the most part. Cooperating was fun most of the time and there were some awesome moments. However the one thing that almost ruined the game for us, especially by the end, where the Quick Time Events. Oh God...

Now I actually don't mind QTEs, in fact I like them... when they're implemented properly. RE5 makes a few design mistakes and this is amplified on the PC due to the nature of the controls.

  1. The QTEs come out of nowhere. The first QTE comes up in the middle of a cutscene. A regular cutscene that you saw several of up to that point. There's no indication that QTEs are in the game at all, and more importantly that they are in this cutscene. In God of War you initiate QTE's when you see a big glowing O over the enemy's head, and the first ones are simple to get you going. What's also confusing is not in co-op some QTE's are for both players and some just for one player during those cutscenes. There's no feedback on who failed to do it properly in the shared ones.
  2. The keyboard is not a controller. Ever play a console game with QTE's and fail one of those because "I didn't know this game uses the shoulder buttons in QTE's" (totally happened to me in GoW3 during Helios) or "I didn't know I'd have to press in the analog sticks." The keyboard amplifies this tenfold. On consoles you have a general idea of what buttons might be used, but on the PC, even if you can restrict the amount of keys from over 100 to just the ones the game uses it's still a problem.
  3. Custom control configurations can break your QTE's. Actually, default ones can too. RE5 by default has the following QTE's: Tap F or V, Press F, V, A+D or F+V. Now try to have your fingers in the right spots for all of those. I had to reconfigure my controls for the QTE's to be under Q and E to have it be manageable, but I still can only have my fingers on one set of buttons. This also brings me to my next point
  4. All the keyboard buttons are the same. Controllers have buttons that are color coded, and have different shape in the case of the shoulder buttons. All the keyboard buttons are trapezoids with a different letter. It's far less intuitive and requires you to process more information, slowing your reaction time (that's already slowed thanks to problem number 3). Especially when the button in jumping up and down...*
  5. Bad game design based around QTE's. Finally I'll go back to RE5 for a moment. This is kind of like point 1, but touches other gameplay elements. Not going to spoil the game for anyone here, but the boss battle at the end of Chapter 5 sucks. It's not hard, it's just frustrating because you have no idea what to do... no, you know what to do, but it doesn't look like it's working and the game gives you no feedback. OK, so you're not supposed to outright kill the boss, you know that. And there's a QTE you can do. So you do it, franticly tap the button and the boss breaks out. OK you think, you just have to do it like 3 times. Well no, you have to do it like 30-40 times. We thought something was broken. The game gave us no feedback if what you're doing it right or wrong. I read up a bit, and apparently you CAN shoot the boss a bit in the right place and decrease the QTE amount, even though the game was very explicit about not shooting a moment ago. That fight was really unfun.
So developers (who I'm sure are reading my blog at this very moment) please, think about the platforms you're putting the games out on more and give the player some feedback and warning signs. No one likes to die from something they had no idea was coming. There are simple ways these can be fixed.
  • Ease the player in. Train him to be ready to react to QTE's by giving him a sign.
  • Design your game, or your port with the controller in mind. The PS3 trigger buttons kind of suck and if you're putting out a shooter you probably want to shooting to be on R1 and not R2, even though the Xbox version might benefit more from using the right trigger.
  • Make sure to give the player feedback if what he's doing is right or not.
* Also, yes, you can use a controller in the PC version of RE5 but that can even make things worse. If you have an actual Xbox controller it's probably fine, but if not then the game will probably be using Xbox buttons that in no way relate to the symbols on your controller, or use a horribly generic "1, 2, 3, 4..." button layout that's even worse. I played through the PC version of Ninja Blade using my PS3 controller and having the game spit out Xbox button prompts at me. How's that for multiplatform?
Plus, why would you want to play a shooter with a controller if your mouse is right there?