Welcome to the 12th installment of the Game Design Spotlight, a weekly piece where I examine the design elements in multiplayer titles, such as uncompromising combat systems and the overall world design mixing real life and fiction. Last week, we went through Warhammer 40K: Darktide and its hybrid combat that has a fulfilling hook while forcing players to adapt to its brutal encounters. Today, I will guide us through my experiences with Naraka: Bladepoint and how its grappling hook item made newbie me into an unpredictable hassle to other players.
I’ll admit that starting my first quick match of trios in Naraka: Bladepoint was daunting. I’m not a big battle royale guy, and Naraka’s onboarding tutorial gave an alright explanation of mechanics, battle flow, and items that I didn’t understand right away. Though, one of the things I knew very well immediately was how to use the grappling hook.
I grew up on The Legend of Zelda games and fondly recalled using the many iterations throughout the series, so I felt at home utilizing the grappling hook. How its principal use translates into a battle royale setting would be interesting. Little did I know how significant it would be for traversal across Naraka’s multi-leveled maps, picking off other players in a crowd of chaotic battles, and not understanding a thing about the game while doing it.
As a newcomer (I literally started last night, guys), I felt like an unpredictable threat to players of all shapes and sizes (even allies) that excelled in melee, ranged encounters, and other areas. It was the right amount of edge to even the playing field for the uninitiated because of how effective the grappling hook can be. The item gives newbies a chance to rise to the occasion while balancing the opposition.
Get Dunked On
The biggest highlight from my first play session was using the grappling hook to fly over a railing and dunk on a lone player with my greatsword. They never saw it coming. Soon, they were flipping through crying and angry emote bubbles faster than I could count. Later, in a 1v2 situation, I zipped away to a nearby home and baited the couple to come after me. One pulled out a cannon and bombed off half of my health as the other slipped in to finish the job. Fitting the random nature of battle royale games, my usage of the grappling hook was hit or miss. It was a reliable tool, but I was an impulsive mess of a player trying to get my feet wet.
Despite the ups and downs, the grappling hook shaved off my starting nerves. The tool helped me learn proactively, whether through failure or success, and allowed me to make quick decisions. The strength of the grappling hook is its simplicity, functioning as a potent game verb that players should use in whatever way for their survival. In fact, it’s easy not using it at all; it’s a resource you can pick up and use as an option.
But because it’s an uncomplicated and powerful tool in Naraka, beginners should and will rely on it when they can. Turning the tables on a close fight with someone more skilled by using the grappling hook is one of many reasons. Naturally, I believe people will get the hang of simple mechanics before braving the complexities of other areas in games, and the grappling hook fits that belief. It’s the newbie’s best friend for stirring up the confusion of team strategies with reckless charges and unexpectedly catching an unaware player surveying the zone.
Scaling the Environment
There will also be scenarios where new players use the grappling hook without much thought. While I flung my character across a dense town during a match, I attracted an enemy team to my location. Thankfully, my teammates managed to ambush them from the rear to bail me out of a terrible scenario. Scaling foggy dilapidated villages and levitating rocks had other “happy occasions” like this and many situations where I stumbled across the wrong players at an unfortunate time.
Someone familiar with Naraka would probably save their grappling hooks when traversing the terrain. In my case, I was popping them left and right – sometimes whimsically into a wall or wasting them because I fell back down to where I was before. How does being bad at using the item make that a threat to players?
Well, I found that my ineptness culminated in learning the lay of the land of several maps and discovering ways of using my weapons with the grappling hooks effectively. New players like myself and those aiming to master an area of the game through trial and error can become crucial threats once everything clicks for them, especially in a battle royale title where anything goes.
I thoroughly believe the grappling hook helps balance out Naraka: Bladepoint and evens the playing field. Many skillful players will counter and outplay you if it comes down to weapons, so the grappling hook dials things back enough to keep you in the ring. Coming across your betters is part of the game, but you also have an opportunity to get out of dodge and take a breather. Or, go wild for a change and test yourself against someone who visually (good luck) looks like they can run circles around you.
Ultimately, the grappling hook makes the game fun and lowers the experience barrier. For veterans, a new player with the right weapons and hooking know-how will be a rude awakening for them. Whether players accept the reliance some fans might have on them is debatable. But can you deny the thrill of one-upping someone with a finely-aimed shot leading to a satisfying kill? For beginners, that kill is enough to get us hooked.
That concludes another week of the Game Design Spotlight! Do you have any shining moments using the grappling hook? Got any issues with how players use it in-game? Let us know below! Also, feel free to comment on games or features you would like me to cover for future stories if you have any suggestions!
About the Author
Anthony Jones is a gaming journalist and late 90s kid in love with retro games and the evolution of modern gaming. He started at Mega Visions as a news reporter covering the latest announcements, rumors, and fan-made projects. FFXIV has his heart in the MMORPGs scene, but he's always excited to analyze and lose hours to ambitious and ambiguous MMOs that gamers follow.
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