Win or die
With season five of Game Of Thrones upon us, we're once again whisked away to Westeros. The show has - in many ways - shaken up the world of TV. So why hasn't it had more of an impact on gaming? After all, the two usually go hand in bloody hand.
Sure, we've had a lacklustre RPG, some crappy Facebook games, and the obligatory Telltale series, but there's definitely an appetite for a full-blown, AAA game that celebrates all things 'Thrones. If it's ever made, these are the things that should be in it. In the meantime, well, there's always Skyrim!
A great deal of Game of Thrones allure comes from the incredible amount of political intrigue at play at any given moment. Sure, the violence and the sex are cool, too, but even those situations typically come about because someones trying to gain some leverage. Allowing players to forge fragile alliances with others, while manipulating co-conspirators to achieve total control over the Iron Throne, would make a compelling addition to any game set in the Song of Ice and Fire saga.
Civilization, Settlers of Cataan, and Risk work on similar principals, and incorporating some of those mechanics into a Game of Thrones game makes a lot of sense. There are plenty of kings vying for the crown, but putting players into the shoes of one of the four major families (the Lannisters, Starks, Targaryens/Dothraki and Baratheons) makes the most sense. Each major house would have some distinct advantages (Lannisters have tons of money, for example) and disadvantages (the nomadic Dothraki have no navy), which would help even the playing field. Of course, gaining the loyalty of lesser houses and making tough decisions to bolster your odds to gain control of Kings Landing plays right into our next element.
Mass Effect 3s alliance-building
One of Mass Effect 3s key concepts is rallying as many species as you can to your cause in the fight against the Reapers. Each of the various aliens in the galaxy has their own demands before joining up with Shepard, and often, choosing to help one race will cause another to abandon you completely. Alliances in Westeros are similar, and BioWares gameplay concept would lend itself wonderfully to a Game of Thrones game.
With so many houses present in the realm, there are plenty of ways each game could change depending on whom you get to help you claim the Iron Throne. You might want the brute strength and ruthlessness of House Cleganes Sandor and Gregor at your side, though that would mean you wouldnt be able to rely on the calculating House Martell and its champion spear-fighter, Prince Oberyn. There are plenty of long-standing feuds in Westeros that would make your decisions carry some weight. Unlike in Mass Effect, though, if people arent with you in Game of Thrones, theyre against you. Not only will you lose out on potential allies, but those lesser houses might just side with one of your enemies, based on who youve teamed with.
Characters and locations from the books
This seems simple enough, but its a crucial aspect necessary to give any Game of Thrones adaption some credence. Developer Cyanides action-RPG will introduce some new houses and characters into the fold so as not to upset the delicate balance already established by Martins novels. Though Martin is helping shape Cyanides narrative, its a shame fans wont be able to play as their favorite characters from the books or show.
Weve grown attached to these characters over the years, and nothing would give us more pleasure than stepping into Robbs shoes, and leading the men from the north during the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Well, maybe stepping into Tyrions shoes to slap Joffrey a few dozen times would be as satisfying as capturing Jaime Lannister, but its too close to call.
Aside from familiar faces, wed also want the chance to set foot in Winterfell or ride through the Dothraki Sea ourselves. Were glad Cyanide will let us visit the Wall and Kings Landing, but there are already so many places we want to see in Westeros, were a little baffled by the decision to create the entirely new hold of Castlewood. That said, the locations we visit wont mean much if theyre not recreated with care.
Assassins Creed-style locations
Ubisofts Assassins Creed series is known for its vast cityscapes, and thats exactly what we want to see in a Game of Thrones title. Most of the action from the books takes place in the same few locations, though many of those locales are pretty huge. Rather than creating endless miles and miles of forests and plains, wed like to see a few fully realized locales brought to life with the same scale, scope, and attention to detail Ubisoft uses when recreating historic cities for Assassins Creed.
Imagine approaching the Gate of the Gods as you enter Kings Landing. The Red Keep is but a distant peak, towering over all in the distance. On your way through the densely populated streets, you pass the Great Sept of Baelor in all its opulence. You could stop over in Flea Bottom to see how the lower-class citizens are doing, or perhaps youd make time to visit Chatayas brothel.
We dont necessarily want the world to be as open as Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto (and we don't really need to climb buildings, like in Assassin's Creed), but having a handful of major locations fully rendered to fast-travel between would more than suffice. New locations from later books, like Braavos, could be added as well, in turn giving players access to unique assets like the Faceless Men.
Although there are plenty of battles in Game of Thrones, we dont get to see many of them actually unfold. With the exception of a few key instances, most of the combat in Game of Thrones happens off screen (so to speak). We want the chance to be on the field alongside the King in the North. We want to be on the front lines making a difference, not just hearing about how the fight turned out after the fact.
The only issue with the actual battles of Game of Thrones is the amount of soldiers involved. A possible workaround (if the game takes a multiplayer approach, anyway) is to employ a tactic similar to that used by Star Wars: Battlefront players have a finite amount of troop lives, and can earn the ability to play as iconic characters like Robb Stark or Renly Baratheon based on their performance. Each king character could have a specific special ability that would make them stand out.
Another route to take is to always have players play as a factions respective leader. Battles could then play out in a more chaotic manner, but there could be certain objectives or marks to take out to help turn the tide for your side. We dont want Game of Thrones to turn into Dynasty Warriors, but the frenzy of a massive battle is crucial to recreating a true-to-the-book experience. Playing as one particular person the whole time would also open the door for our next concept
Skyrims leveling and perks
What was great about Skyrims leveling system is the way it really allowed you to focus your skills in whatever areas you chose, and let you add perks to bolster that particular skill set. A similarly styled process could work beautifully in a Game of Thrones RPG.
Game of Thrones has a pretty solid grasp on reality when it comes to weaponry, and theres very little magic in the series. Dragons do exist, but nobody is out there throwing fireballs at another person. Much of the weaponry is akin to that seen in our medieval ages, and is also pretty similar to that found in Skyrim. While weapons like swords, axes, maces, and spears can come in all shapes and sizes, players would be able to level up their proficiency with a given weapon the more they used it.
Perks could include abilities that would give you additional boosts in your armor ratings, or the damage you deal to certain types of opponents. There arent really rare weapons in the world of Game of Thrones, though there are legendary swords handed down through the generations. These could be unlocked once a player reached a certain level. Those in control of the Starks would gain access to Ice, while a person playing as the Baratheons could earn Roberts warhammer. Speaking of Robert
Like many of Game of Thrones battles, the legendary conflicts in its backstory are often discussed and seldom seen. Its a real shame, too, because those moments are among the few times we get a glimpse at Ned, Robert, and people like Rhaegar Targaryen in their primes. Though its not likely well ever get a closer look at these situations in the books, a potential Game of Thrones game is the perfect place to let fans relive these memorable engagements.
Incorporating a series of battles like Roberts Rebellion wouldnt be all that difficult. As players learn the history of the Iron Throne, they could be transported to various encounters, like the Battle of Summerhall and the Battle of the Trident. Instead of a character explaining what happened, players would be able to act out the events. There cant really be a different outcome in this scenario, but that wont matter to most fans. Just being there as Robert smashed his hammer into Rhaegars chest would be satisfying enough.
Alan Wakes storytelling style
The split narratives of Game of Thrones are both a blessing and a hindrance. On one hand, you get to see the story unfold through the eyes of protagonists and antagonists alike, giving people an unprecedented look into every side of the war for the Iron Throne. On the other hand, it can be a bit daunting to try and remember everything thats going on, particularly if its been a while since a character has had a chapter of his own. Thats why we think Alan Wakes storytelling method would work wonders in our version of Game of Thrones.
Alan Wake does a great job telling its story. The game is broken down into chapters, which are then recapped before the start of the next installment, thus allowing players to have constant stream of the storys events (and reminding those who havent played in a while exactly where they left off). This would make following the twisting plots and quickly switching narratives of Game of Thrones a breeze. With the books, you can just flip back a few pages to refresh your memory. In a game, you cant do that. Recapping previous events would not only keep events fresh in players minds, but it will also keep them engaged and interested.
Jaime Lannister constantly boasts about his swordsmanship. Robert will tell anyone wholl listen about his prowess with his hammer. Brienne of Tarth more than holds her own against her male contemporaries. There are lots of skilled fighters in the world of Game of Thrones, and our ideal game version would come complete with a deep combat engine with realistic damage.
Getting total analog control of whatever weapon we choose to wield would be optimal. Mapping swordplay to the analog stick opens a world of combat possibilities for both offense and defense. To keep things fresh, new maneuvers could be trained over time from allies. From the swordplay of the Braavosi and Dothraki to the two-handed spear skills of the Dorne, theres no shortage of combat schools to train in.
Wed also like to see the combat be as brutal as possible. Martin pulls no punches when it comes to his throwdowns. Severed limbs and fountains of blood are constant in the books. Why not incorporate a strategic dismemberment aspect, like in Dead Space? Cutting off a foes arm may end the fight, or it might cause him to rush you in a blind fury. Working the weak points in someones armor may slow them down, and make their blows weaker. There are plenty of horribly scarred characters in Westeros. Let us add a few more during our quest for the crown.
Weve barely spoken about multiplayer at all in this list, but now weve arrived at the perfect example of how to bring competitive multiplayer in our ideal Game of Thrones. Incorporating tournaments not only gives you a way to test a litany of skills against your friends, but in our game, it would give you all sorts of bonuses to carry over into your single-player campaign.
Think of SSXs online multiplayer. You earn all this money during events, and you can use it to enter more moneymaking events. The same could work for Game of Thrones tournaments. Any money you make in the main game could be used to buy valuable resources, or you could take a small amount to enter into a tournament. With five different events, you could choose to send a representative to any number, provided youve got the coin. If you win, you gain a sizeable purse to spread amongst your army and kingdom. Players could create their own tournaments, and make them public or invite only, or participate in built-in events at iconic locations like Harrenhal and Lannisport. Theres plenty of flexibility involved, and its a great way for players to scratch that competitive itch.