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Sonic Forces has some of the worst level design I've ever seen.


TargetWatch

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3 hours ago, TheOcelot said:

Good level design: Sonic Mania

Bad level design: Sonic Forces

If we're talking strictly 2D it's a no brainer that Mania has way better level design than Forces. It's more complex and the structure does not break flow nor is it automated. There's a constant sense of eb and flow despite the levels being respectably complex. The plat-forming is diverse as much as it is creative. I'm just failing to you see any of that with Sonic Forces. The levels they've shown thus far whilst having some good back-drops is simply too flat basic and none imaginative. There's nothing worse than a plat-forming game that has none imaginative or completely predictable level design. 

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9 minutes ago, Meta77 said:

Weve literally seem one level with some boxes and people flip. What is it exactly that makes a level great. In a 3d stage

 MORE slope and walls to break pace more?

Well in Sonic's case complex level design that allows for creative movement via a consistent eb n' flow and isn't mainly dictated via the automation set by the developers. That's the epitome of level design for this franchise whether in the 2D or the 3D perspective. That should be the standard for level design. Not long stretches of featureless empty race-tracks where the back-drops look way more interesting with harmless enemies you can simply knock over like a bunch of skittles or where most of the: 'platforming' consists of spamming the homing attack with constant enemy chains. 

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Simply having open spaces to run is also what makes sonic so fun. Cityscape is one of my fab stages simply for the rush at the end running from G.U.N.T. It was exciting. Same for final rush. Just speeding. You can honestly skip a lot of the platforming if good enough. Sonic is about speed or as some say only in segments. The rest we need to jump over pits or walls so it can get that platformers stamp of approval.

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7 minutes ago, Meta77 said:

Simply having open spaces to run is also what makes sonic so fun. Cityscape is one of my fab stages simply for the rush at the end running from G.U.N.T. It was exciting. Same for final rush. Just speeding. You can honestly skip a lot of the platforming if good enough. Sonic is about speed or as some say only in segments. The rest we need to jump over pits or walls so it can get that platformers stamp of approval.

Aye, I get that and I agree, but speed in Sonic Forces case isn't organic. It's not player determined, it's CPU determined. The boost only has one speed and that's max speed. The only control the player has is simply dodging, all the complexity and nuance of Classics when it came down to building up or maintaining speed organically? Gone. I've nothing against the set-pieces of the Adventure games cause they're usually short and epic, the automation in the boost games however is the direct opposite to that being as most of the automation now occurs with basic game-play elements like slopes. Though I'd kill for an Adventure game with significantly reduced automation whilst having some light, but epic moments of spectacle. 

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2 hours ago, McGroose said:

 

I like and dislike different parts of the level design. I'm slightly forgiving when it comes to level design, but what we've seen for Shadow's DLC is testing my acceptance of Forces 

Yeah, that broke me... 

2 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I agree wholeheartedly. But I still think it's important to go into why it's bad, so it doesn't come across as spammy nonsense.

For me, I think Forces has overly linear, blocky design. Sections of the level are automated, deciding when you'll jump and sometimes even when you'll move. Enemies aren't real challenges, and just exist for you to mindlessly boost through without a second thought. Everything about the footage in Forces so far has looked drab and boring, and it amazes me that a company with the gall to call themselves Sonic Team would turn out such a lackluster product.

Aye. 

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OK, an OP like what this topic has is indeed pretty unacceptable.

That being said, the subject matter itself (Sonic Forces' level design being bad) is worthy fodder for discussion and it looks like we're beginning to go in a direction in this topic where we're discussing that in a relatively in-depth way. So, as long as you all keep doing that and make sure this continues to be a real discussion, this topic need not be locked. Just make sure to actually give a good, detailed OP with reasons as opposed to just your own brief and glib "hot take" next time you start a topic, @TargetWatch and anyone else! For example, if you had put something like this...

1 hour ago, TargetWatch said:

If we're talking strictly 2D it's a no brainer that Mania has way better level design than Forces. It's more complex and the structure does not break flow nor is it automated. There's a constant sense of eb and flow despite the levels being respectably complex. The plat-forming is diverse as much as it is creative. I'm just failing to you see any of that with Sonic Forces. The levels they've shown thus far whilst having some good back-drops is simply too flat basic and none imaginative. There's nothing worse than a plat-forming game that has none imaginative or completely predictable level design. 

...in your OP, it would've been a lot better. And you wouldn't have a bunch of people commenting on the low quality of the OP and distracting from the topic at hand at the beginning of the topic!

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 Yup. We've seen what 4, 5 levels now? Every single level has been super simplistic in level design. Straight lines, no memorable set pieces, short mini feel to the levels.

In comparison the first levels from SU, SC, SG, and SLW were infinitely more interesting in not only level design and gimmicks but also in visuals imo.

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4 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I agree wholeheartedly. But I still think it's important to go into why it's bad, so it doesn't come across as spammy nonsense.

For me, I think Forces has overly linear, blocky design. Sections of the level are automated, deciding when you'll jump and sometimes even when you'll move. Enemies aren't real challenges, and just exist for you to mindlessly boost through without a second thought. Everything about the footage in Forces so far has looked drab and boring, and it amazes me that a company with the gall to call themselves Sonic Team would turn out such a lackluster product.

Just to chime in here, what bothers me the most is that I've seen nothing that really attempts to differentiate stages from each other. Sonic Mania did this perfectly by filling the already very diverse platforming sections within the game with unique level gimmicks that really made each level feel unique in its own right. I haven't even seen them attempt to make any stage unique. It's still the same boosting into enemies shit or completing enemy chains and hopping on springs that act as the game's primary form of platforming. It's annoying because beyond different enemy/object placement, the levels feel and play relatively similar which makes Forces look embarrassingly repetitive.

 

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I'm also in the camp that's not digging the level design, at least what they've showed of it. Classic Sonic's stages seem so flat and lifeless, if I didn't know any better I would assume it was procedurally generated. Even what few slopes there are happen to be sharp and jaggy. The aesthetics don't help either. Generations and Mania had interesting takes on Green Hill from a visual standpoint, and even if the former was at times a bit too busy, I can't help but feel that GH in Forces looks like a step backwards.

Modern Sonic we've seen more of and frankly his levels just lack intricacy or interesting gimmicks. The city level is just a straight line with a bunch of enemies, none of which seem particularly dangerous. Just run into them, literally. I looks like bland boring braindead gameplay, hold boost to win and call it a day. The pyramid level seems like it has a bit more going on, but there's no hook unifying everything. Sure you got the buddy system but so far that seems to amount to "use your buddy for combat rooms and then run ahead."

In Forces defense, these mostly seem to be early levels, so I can understand they probably aren't trying to overwhelm the player right away. But Generations did a good job of giving every level its own hook right away, and comparing Forces to Generations it just looks like Sonic Team collectively got hit in the head with coconuts and forgot how to design levels.

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My anticipation for this game has been a rollercoaster.

At one moment, I'm excited that Shadow's back.

Then I see his level, albeit a small part of it, at it looks like lazy shit.

But then I remember it's both free and optional.

But then I think about the Tag Team stage and Classic Green Hill and how short Park Avenue is for Modern Sonic.

But then I remember we haven't seen a fourth of the game yet. 

But then I remember mechanics like the wispons and enemies that will likely stay unimproved throughout the whole game. 

But then I remember fleeting moments in what we've seen where the levels are plot-driven and allow a little freedom.

Following Sonic Forces is like following a promising politician in a mediocre party. I'm excited for it, but only when I sit on the bright side and just hope for the best. 

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This is basically the same crappy level design the boost games have all suffered from. The platforming is basic and the level gimmicks are thin or nonexistent. Sand levels could have sandstorms, rising pools of sand and the like. Flaming city levels could have collapsing buildings or firespouts. Ice levels could have icicles to jump on or cannons shooting ice blasts at you. But no, apparently Sonic Team's current idea of level design is just taking the same platforms, balloons, and railings, throwing them together in different orders. Boom, new level. It's sad, because I know Sonic Team is so much more creative than this. I know they are.

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Honestly, I'll be shocked if anything after Park Avenue and Green Hill is drastically different gameplay and level design wise. I think we've seen enough of it now to gauge that it's simply put uninspired, 2D blocky platforming with uninspired 3D sections and an unnecessary Classic Sonic who has a DIRECT comparison in Sonic Mania. That game being the most fun I've had playing Sonic in years, with Sonic playing like a dream and level design that makes you want to go back and discover the various alternate routes each stage offers. 

Ive played through Sonic Mania THREE times already. I can't imagine doing the same with Sonic Forces! 

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2 hours ago, Gabz Girl said:

an unnecessary Classic Sonic who has a DIRECT comparison in Sonic Mania. That game being the most fun I've had playing Sonic in years

This right here is one of the biggest things working against Forces. You have a game out right now that nails 2D Sonic gameplay, has genuinely well designed levels, and a very pleasing aesthetic. Forces looks uninspired and quite a bit messy regardless, but when you have Mania to compare it to, it looks substantially worse.

 

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I mean take city escape. Simple right. But by final chase that's a entire new field. No sonic I know of stays the same from start to finish. Usually if anything the ends are much harder.  while I'm more excited for this than mania I do hope stages get bigger and offer great replay value. I played through mania 4 times with each character and already grew bored( it was a good game no doubt bit even for a 90s kid it grew dull. Yatzee summed it up decently) and it's already dropped my main menu on ps4 from other games eclipsing it. 

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For a game like forces I'd agree that set pieces are indeed important at times, taking the first levels as an example where there's always something happening in the background, with the Death Egg Robots attacking and what not. Thinking back to Generations City Escape Classic, I really appreciated the use of the GUN truck in that stage. It didn't just appear at the end for a final rush, it actually ended up being used in the level design it's self, appearing menacingly in the background, chasing you in the foreground, and quite literally smashing alternate paths out of existence if you aren't quick enough. Yet it doesn't punish you with instant death if you aren't quick enough, your just forced to use a lower path, in good keeping with Sonic's traditional approach to skill based paths. Additionally, not every stage used this approach, nor should it have in my opinion.

Same with Adventure 2, if every stage had nothing but scripted action sequences, not only would it lessen the appeal of the sequences that are in the game today, but it would entirely change what made SA2 such a popular game in the fandom in the first place.

Personally, I would argue that this more interactive style of set piece is far more effective then having a camera zoom in on the truck preventing you from seeing where your going, forcing the level design for that segment to have no challenge so you can at least get to the end without having to memorize every ramp by trial and error. At any rate, pre-animated & scripted set pieces, however interactive, are not (imo) viable for use as a replacement for proper engaging level design. An exciting end doesn't excuse the tedium of what comes before it.

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