I think that consequences within games are so vital. If you don’t have any consequences, it almost feels like there’s no reason to play the game. You want to make mistakes and have there to be repercussions because you want to learn. You want to adapt to the obstacle you’re facing and defeat it. It’s one of the best moments a gamer can experience.
Skyrim has a huge lack of consequence, with quests that are tedious and lacklustre. They don’t provide the player with any satisfaction because most of them are just fetch quests. When speaking with an NPC, I want to feel some urgency. I want to feel like if I don’t do this quest they are giving me there’s going to be a chain reaction that will affect the story. Players need purpose to complete quests, and Skyrim lacks that. If there’s no consequence, why am I playing?
Okay, so your character can die and that’s one example of consequence. However, that’s not enough for a game like this. If I die, I want to be reminded that I’ve made a mistake. In Skyrim’s defense, there aren’t many games that actually do this. I suppose an example of this is Grand Theft Auto Online, where if you die with cash in your pockets, you’ll lose it to the other player. It’s a simple mechanic that makes you second guess if you’re really taking the right route or using the right weapons. GTA Online isn’t the best example (*cough* kill spammers *cough*), but it has the foundations there.
Shadow of Mordor is a brilliant example of how death can have consequences. In that game, death changes the world’s landscape. The enemy that killed you now has increased power and rises up in the ranks. You have allowed an enemy to become stronger because of your mistakes. This is so powerful because it makes you think about the enemies you come up against. Are you strong enough to take them on? If you lose, you’re only going to make him stronger—do you want that? You might benefit more from going to kill another enemy, then coming back and dealing with the foe who was too strong for you. These reactions to your actions make the characters and world feel alive.
I feel like Skyrim could have been a better experience if there were consequences. As a player, I thrive when I’m put in a position where I have to adapt to a problem, where I have to challenge myself and try something new. It’s something I try to look for in games, as I feel it’s key to keeping the player engaged.
Consequences bring the player deeper into the story because you are having an impact on the world around you. You are changing the environment of the game and you are changing how NPCs react to you. That kind of feedback is necessary to make your playtime feel like it’s valuable.
Now, there are many players out there who might not enjoy this level of engagement so much, and I can totally understand that. However, I love being a part of the world that developers create. As I see it, if you’re going to bring me into this world, grant me all these quests, items, and NPCs to encounter, then make it so I know I’m changing the world around me. Otherwise, I become disengaged. No game developer wants that. They want you to enjoy their game and feel a part of it but how are you meant to if there are no consequences to your actions?