Your favorite little things in games

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Kyary

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I've been playing Psychonauts because it's been on my "I'll get to that eventually" list for ages and the new game seems like it might be coming out soon. And one really little thing it does that I love seeing, especially in older games, is that pickups are still visible during in-engine cutscenes. It's one of those little things that I love, maybe because it makes the cutscene feel grounded in the game I'm playing than if they were to hide them? Metroid Prime does this too for health pickups that enemies drop, among other things.

I should say that I don't like this because it might have some tiny gameplay effect. Yes, this kind of thing could show you something you would have otherwise missed, but that's not why I like it!

Anyways, it got me thinking - does anyone else have things they like to see in games that are maybe too specific or subtle or weird to get called out in reivews, podcast discussions, etc?

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VincentVendetta

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The crowds of spectators in the first MotorStorm. Made that game world feel so much bigger than it actually is.

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csl316

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When a level starts with things cranked to 100%.

Like the intro to Contra: Hard Corps. I remember dying immediately for awhile til I got the hang of it, but now every time I start it my adrenaline's through the roof when I jump out and that riff hits.

Silent Cartographer in Halo, Doomsday Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, that sort of thing stands out. Maybe not exactly little things but a cool design thing to throw in once in awhile!

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sparky_buzzsaw

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Horse balls change size in Red Dead Redemption 2 depending on the weather.

Yup.

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Kamui

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I like when you spend time exploring the most obscure corners of a game world/level and when you think you've gotten somewhere you probably were never meant to be, you find a little Easter egg or item as a little reward. Mario Odyssey was the pinnacle of this type of game design imo.

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GTxForza

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#6  Edited By GTxForza

I'd say the F/A Racing the original Ridge Racer car from Astro's Playroom.

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bitbat

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The ability to jump onto ladders (I mean being able to run towards a ladder, jump and stick to it) in first person games rather than having to press a button at the bottom to start climbing. I don’t know what it is, I just really like doing it!

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F1REv2

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Automatic ammo/health/armor pick up when running over bodies.

Automatic travel button, like in Red Dead 2 or Assassins Creed Origins. If you aren't going to allow me to fast travel anywhere the option to just hit a button and put down the controller is the next best thing.

I really thought being able to play music on your cell phone when walking around on foot in Watch Dogs 2 was going to catch on in open world games. Sadly they scrapped it in Watch Dogs Legion.

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eukara

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The attention to detail for things you're not supposed to access. Like inaccessible interiors (like the cool cube interior shader in Forza Horizon) and 3D skyboxes. I also love replays and director modes in games like Driver 1-3, GTA IV PC and so on.

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jamesyfx

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The bottle silencer in The Last of Us Part II.. Before you fire it the first time, there is no hole at the end. Thought it was a neat detail that probably wasn’t necessary but interesting regardless!

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wollywoo

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I like it when NPCs comment on things you wouldn't expect them to notice. Like the clerk you steal from in Link's Awakening or the whole trial scene in Chrono Trigger.

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BaneFireLord

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#13  Edited By BaneFireLord

Being able to pick up and throw around physics objects, as demonstrated by games like Skyrim, Prey, and Half Life Alyx. Always has done a great job of making me feel more immersed in a game’s world rather than like I’m running through a static theme park, even if there’s no real practical purpose for the functionality. I had a lot of issues with The Outer Worlds, but I’d be lying if I said one of the bigger ones wasn’t the fact that all the items were immovable, while the latter day Fallouts it was aping were full of manipulable physics objects.

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liquiddragon

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#14  Edited By liquiddragon

Character-specific walking/running animations I always love. Like in FF15, all your members have a unique walk/run animations and it differentiates them as individuals. Another example is in Bioshock Infinite, Elizabeth would tippytoe around when she was supposed to be quiet or sneaking around at the moment.

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BladeOfCreation

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@sparky_buzzsaw: Amazing. We are truly living in a gelded age of video game horse technology.

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sombre

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I loved the way the original Golden Sun games showed your characters equipment changing in battle. It was a little thing, but back then it felt massive. You'd swap from a long sword to a battle axe, and you wouldn't see it on the world map, but when you got into a battle, it was incredible.

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Mezmero

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Persistent viscera. Specifically in Ninja Gaiden 2 on 360, any time you're killing humanoid enemies their blood and bodies will remain. And since you tend to backtrack in the game it's fun to go back through an area and be like "Yeesh, whoever killed these guys must be pretty twisted. Like some kind of cyborg ninja or something."

Logical hazardous surfaces. An example I'll cite is in Prey 2017, if you're on a metal surface that an electric phantom is also on you'll suffer shock damage, even if the phantom is one that you summoned as ally. Games have been getting better and better about utilizing this type of logic, as seen in stuff ranging from Divinity: Original Sin 2 to Bioshock to Enter the Gungeon where surfaces react to elements the way you expect them to.

@liquiddragon: The walk animations in 13 Sentinels is one of my favorite things about it.

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MisterFrodo17

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I think this is a really cool thread idea! Some of my favorite little things:

- When games seamlessly transition from cutscene to gameplay and vice versa. I've been playing and watching Mass Effect 3 lately, and it does that a lot, which is especially surprising for a BioWare game. It's also why I think Dead Space 2 and God of War are so neat with their "one take" approach.

- Games with multiple playable characters who get unique melee animations/takedowns. For all its flaws, Resident Evil 6 is actually a great example of this.

- When an NPC tosses your character an item (especially a gun) and you catch it, particularly in first person. I know this one's kinda silly, but I remember it happening in the first Black Ops and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.

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AV_Gamer

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#19  Edited By AV_Gamer

I love when characters are very well detailed and animated in their movements. For example, Castlevania SOTN had well animated and detailed characters, especially Alucard who's actions on screen were as fluid as a ballerina, really making him look mythical and mysterious, especially when he performed one of his special moves which used Street Fighter like button inputs. There hasn't been a Castlevania protagonist that well animated since.

Another thing I like is when NPCs are self-aware of the world around them and make comments based on currents events throughout the game. And I like when they have lots of dialog that barely repeats itself. Hades for example has tons of dialog from NPCs that barely repeat, and this is a game where the protagonist dies over and over again before he can become strong enough to advance anywhere meaningful.

One last thing is when a world is created so detailed in a game, that you even notice the insects on the ground and flying in the air.

Edit: Oh yeah, one special shout out goes to Dying Light. The only game I can remember where being in the air, really felt like being in the air, visually. In most games its a zooming effect, so even though the character may be in the air, it doesn't feel much different than being on the ground. There were times in Dying Light where I almost got vertigo, that's how well done the Parkour is in that game. I hope it's the same in Dying Light 2.

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eukara

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liquiddragon

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@mezmero: Yet another reason for me to play it. Thx for letting me know!

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fisk0

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#22  Edited By fisk0  Moderator

Leaves blowing in the wind in Hexen and Killzone 1 always stuck out to me. So many games just don't have light wind or breezes unless it's like a heavy storm. Also just about anything giving your character physical presence and weight/momentum in first person games, like when you can see your legs and body when looking down, subtle bobbing and parallaxing as you breathe and turn (so many shooters don't actually have proper parallaxing when you turn around, instead just spinning the view around a single point), and when your gun/"viewmodel" interacts with the world, either Starbreeze's way of lifting the gun if you get too close to a wall, or stuff like Timeshift where raindrops will hit your gun/scope as it rains.

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eccentrix

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Having subtitles turned on automatically. I don't know why so many games have them off by default; it seems like it should be an accessibility issue, especially when games launch directly into cutscenes. I'd be going into the settings straight away for most games anyway, but right now it's mainly to check that subtitles are turned on.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@av_gamer: You are totally right about Dying Light. Hadn't thought about that but it's spot on.

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Kyary

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@sombre said:

I loved the way the original Golden Sun games showed your characters equipment changing in battle. It was a little thing, but back then it felt massive.

This reminds me of how in the FF7 Remake, the materia you slot into your weapon show when you're walking around. I assume that's something the original did but I thought it was cool as hell.

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FinalDasa

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@kyary: I need to play Psychonauts, don't I?

Right-clicking to clear my menu selection in management games. It's such a small thing but a lot of games don't let you easily clear your selection/screen. You end up stuck with the demolish tool, or a house layout, or something as you're trying to move on.

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Shindig

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When commentators in sports games throw out some hot stats about your or the opposition's season. It's nice to contextualise what form the opposition is coming into or where your strengths lie.

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judaspete

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#28  Edited By judaspete

Cloth animation, mostly in 2D games. Next time you play an old King of Fighters, take a close look at Kim Kaphwan's pants when he stands idle. Like watching ocean waves.

I also notice when a game has bugs flying around a light in the darkness.

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Rejizzle

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In Mega Man X your character starts breathing heavily while at low health. On an ice level you can see the character's breath in that state. I have no idea why a robot has breath, but I always thought that was a neat touch.

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ShaggE

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#30  Edited By ShaggE

Physics glitches. As long as they don't disrupt gameplay, they're an endless source of entertainment.

I also really enjoy when foliage moves upon being touched.

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mellotronrules

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character or environment-design details that show, not tell.

most recent example- joel has a copy of 'idiot's guide to space' on his nightstand in TLOU2.

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Onemanarmyy

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#32  Edited By Onemanarmyy
  • It's not a huge issue any longer, but back in the day it was a serious bulletpoint on the box feature for me if the equipment you put on your characters in a RPG would also show up on your character model.
  • Atmospheric dark synths.
  • Being able to listen to audiologs on the go.
  • How games like Pokemon and Shining Force put the carrot-on-a-stick of an evolution / promotion in front of you. Yeah, this character might be a bit lame right now, but wait till i get him to level 10 and change him completely!
  • I enjoy when your missions affect the NPC's and environments of the world in some way. In pretty much every RPG, you are the ultimate warrior that will shape the future with your extremely important missions, yet so many missions don't really have a noticeable effect on the world. They just open up a new questline that assumes you have completed the previous missions. To have NPCs talking about your deeds, or the environment changing depending on your choices helps to give you the feeling that you are actually affecting the state of the world.
  • Finally, i appreciate localized damage and gore. Not that i am looking for shockvalue, but i just feel like the impact of your weapons nowadays often feel very lacklustre when there's no real indication that you really hurt your enemy badly and that their body is now fucked up. In the Witcher 3, you can technically decide to fight with a mace. But why would you ever do that, when the alternative is being able to see bodies get spliced, legs get cut off and heads get severed? Why would you decide to shoot arrows at enemies over and over as you slowly see their healthbar drain? A game like Monster Hunter is all about carving enemies open and using their bits to build yourself better gear. But all we see is Tekken-ish light flashes or dust clouds as you connect a hit. You're not tearing flesh apart and making blood spill out. In other games i'm mostly staring at healthbars to figure out how good of a hit i delivered instead of seeing an arm fall off after a clean hit on it. It just feels like a wasted opportunity to get combat to feel as powerful as it can be.

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Nuttism

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My favourite game, Spec Ops: the Line has a few, though I like those details in other games as well.

I really like how the game transitions seamlessly from the start menu into a cutscene once you start the game, and also how the start menu keeps changing as you continue through the game, showing the time of day you are actually in.

I wish more games did this, but they way Martin Walker's (the main player character) face changes throughout the game, steadily getting more messed up and bruised as you continue throughout the game. His combat dialogue and executions also become more aggressive as you continue playing.

I really like choices in games, but I personally am not a fan of picking between dialogue options, or time freezing as you pick between two or three actions. The choices in Spec Ops are all organic, and sometimes it isn't obvious you have a choice at all (like shooting into the air to disperse an angry crowd instead of shooting into it to slaughter them). The Stanley Parable also has fun organic choices, though some of them are pretty artificial (choose the read door or the blue door).

Note: When I speak of "Organic choices" I mean choices you make through gameplay, without any additional hud elements. I don't know why I call them "organic".

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Shindig

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How Football Manager / Championship manager handles repopulating players after retirements. In short, when a player retires, they return as a younger player (with a different name) and the only stats that remain the same are:

  • Their potential
  • Their mental attributes
  • Nationality

It means new talent has to be discovered and developed. They become players in their own right rather than a clone of the retired player. Pro Evolution Soccer does this poorly by just having the retired player come back as a spritely teenager. You know largely what you're getting.

Even things like Nationality can get obscured due to players that end up with a second nationality.

The final thing about this is how player nicknames are wiped. This results in a lot of Brazilians with very Brazilian names. When they turn up, I like to think of new nicknames for them instead of the Juan Carlos Enrique do Santos the name generator spits out. You're Carlitos now.

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whitegreyblack

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This is almost purely specific to bigger AAA action/adventure games like Uncharted and the newer Tomb Raider entries:

I like it when characters reach out to surfaces when passing them, properly step up/down on to uneven surfaces, and do other things that make them more rooted and present in the game world. Also, when the character's clothing and hair actually interact with teh model vs. simply being static, clipping through them, etc. The mention above of an evolving character model throughout the game also plays into this.

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sweep

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#36 sweep  Moderator

When fast travel is actually fast.

I feel like this vindicates the PS5 alone. I love it. Teleport my shit around. Get all up in there.

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mylifeforAiur

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Adventure games when they let you see interactive elements by holding a shift/tab/space-bar, etc. Also, Shout out to the Black Mirror games for also removing interactive elements once you've used them/used up their unique dialogue.

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#38  Edited By digishack

Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines. Every facial expression NPC's make after saying something snarky....or anything really. First source engine game right before HL2 was released and so cool in '04. They added an attitude among every NPC that if missing, it would not even remotely be the same game IMO. This little thing (yet so big) would make me laugh or at least smile every time I would see this.

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Nodima

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#39  Edited By Nodima

I always loved the message board dialogue re: hot dogs in FF VIII. Revived a bit by one of the characters' obsession with yakisoba pan in 13 Sentinels.

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AzureGale

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I love game music that segues between different parts depending on what's happening. Things like FTL, where the music changes from a passive tune while exploring to a more intense one while in battle, or Griftlands, where the music changes when you're close to winning or losing.

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Justin258

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#41  Edited By Justin258

OK, you know when it's raining in a game? Or snowing? Or precipitating in some way? And you walk under something, an overhang or a bit of rock or... anything that's supposed to be shelter from the rain? And the rain isn't clipping through whatever's above you? When you are instead sheltered from the rain at least a little bit?

That.

I dislike clipping in general. I always notice when the weapon on your back is clipping through the cool cape you just put on. I felt like this happened a lot in Remnant: From The Ashes. I also really don't like it when you put on the cool armor you just got but it's too big for the character model and parts of the arm pieces clip into your chest piece. That's irritating, and I'm always pleased when developers figure out ways to avoid objects clipping into other objects. I should also note that I understand that making cloth deform dynamically, around shapes that you may not expect to be there, can be computationally expensive when it's unnecessary - but also we live in an age where horse bollocks will, apparently, shrivel realistically when in the cold in a certain extremely good-looking cowboy simulator, as pointed out by a poster above.

And dedicated quicksave buttons, especially on controllers. Most mouse-and-keyboard driven games have one of these, but the shortcut for controllers has become "push start and then click the menu item that says quicksave". That's an OK compromise, I guess, but is it really necessary to have separate pause, rest, and menu buttons? Couldn't you make the map come up by default when tapping pause and then make one of those other buttons do a quicksave?

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Panfoot

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#42 Panfoot  Online

@justin258: Oblivion was the first game that really made me recognize when rain effects would just go through solid structures, ever since I always pay close attention to that.