Dear Video Games – Tutorials and Soul Calibur VI

Dear Tutorials,

I have to admit, I was going to address this letter to Soul Calibur VI. I only bought the game on release because I’m a huge sucker for The Witcher, and it was parading Geralt around as a guest character. But I also had some good times a while back with Soul Calibur II, so I figured the purchase was justified. Ready to create my own Witcher character, who may or may not resembled myself if I was a ripped monster slayer, I was excited to jump into the fast paced weapons fighter that is Soul Calibur. Before I could do anything else, you came along, Tutorials.

You didn’t wait for me to choose training mode or, fuck it, even any mode at all. You jumped at me out of nowhere as soon as I entered the menu screen.

A tutorial.

For the menu.

I know it’s been ages since Soul Calibur’s last installment, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t played any other video game or lost my common sense. I don’t need you to tell me that I can change the settings in the “settings” section. When I start up a new game, I like to explore the menu, see what options I have, and go through the settings to see if I want to change something off the bat. Then I dive into the game and if there is anything I don’t understand yet, I’d figure it out sooner or later. For example, Soul Calibur VI has two different story modes. I knew that beforehand because of the 742 trailers and announcements I’ve seen prior to its release. Guess what, I’m into video games, and I like to find out as much as I can before I commit to spending a week’s worth of groceries on a single game. However, even if I didn’t research everything about a game that hasn’t had a new release in 6 years, I’d figure out what the two story modes meant pretty fucking quickly. One of them is for an original character I have to create myself, the other is the main story starring the already existing fighters. Do you think I would have selected “Libra of Souls” and got all confused about what was going on or what I had to do when, right after creating my own person, I’d get thrown into a story with JRPG style dialogue, an over-world map, and objectives to complete? Do you really fucking think that when I buy a video game for a specific video game console, wait for said video game to install and update, start up that video game, and choose the first option the video game provides, I’d still be confused about how a video game works?

And how about keeping it consistent, at least then, huh? You hold my hand through the god damn menu as if it was the most revolutionary idea since the dawn of time, but then you brush aside the actual gameplay instructions. If anything it’s the mechanics unique to this particular game that deserve a proper tutorial! But no, this is what you do instead: In the character creation story mode of Soul Calibur VI, a side quest pops up right of the bat to practice in a Dojo before heading out into the world. I figured it’s been over a decade since I last played a Soul Calibur game, I’d refresh my memory with the old and get acquainted with the new mechanics by training in the Dojo. You had my attention, Tutorial, for once I was willing to let you teach me, and then you blew it. Normally, you would jump out in the middle of an action-packed scene, pause the whole thing, and tear me out of the immersion by telling me about this new thing that I should try. Like I mentioned before, you wouldn’t even let me select anything in the menu screen before I read and accepted your guide through it. But when I’m in the training section of the story mode, you slap a paragraph of instructions on the screen and expect me to skim through it while my sparring dummy attacks me! Are you fucking serious? Whose idea was it to make me carefully read and understand the specific requirement to pass this current objective, while simultaneously trying to avoid being waxed off by Mister Miyagi? What makes you think that you “teaching” me how to change the brightness of my screen requires more time to apprehend than performing a time sensitive counter attack with distinct button inputs?

I’ve seen games that handle tutorials wrong. Some hold your hand through every second no matter how obvious the solution, while others brush off important instructions like it’s no big deal, even though you can’t advance if you don’t perform them exactly the way they’re intended to. Never have I seen both versions in the same game, let alone mere minutes apart.

This letter was supposed to be about Soul Calibur VI; about how much I love the creation mode where I made cool fighters like Darth Maul or Daenerys Targaryen.

Darth Maul Soul Calibur VI Creation ModeDaenerys Soul Calibur VI Creation Mode

I wanted to talk about the ease of playing by not having to study a specific character for ages before you can perform a single move; and about how I like the RPG elements in the story modes except the story itself which is just mystic babble that I don’t care about and is only in the way of me playing the game; but no, you ruined it, Tutorials. Just like you ruin all other games.

Stand aside, go in the corner and don’t come back until I ask you a question. Leave me alone, let me figure things out, let me explore the game. If I’m stuck, I’ll turn to you. If I want to learn something that is so in-depth I could have never found out myself, I’ll see what you got. Until then, stay the fuck away from my video games.

Sincerely,

Alex

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2 Comments »

  1. Oh, the “enforced pointless tutorials” thing drives me nuts, and it’s very much an end-of-last-generation, mostly-this-generation thing. I played through the Project Zero series recently, and it wasn’t until the fifth game on Wii U that it felt the need to explicitly inform me that I can use the left stick to move and the right stick to control the camera. WELL GOLLY GEE, HOW ABOUT THAT.

    At least it did then go on to explain some of the game’s more esoteric, idiosyncratic mechanics and provide the opportunity to practice in a safe area, so I can’t be too mad at it.

    Far Cry: Blood Dragon does a fun spoof on tutorial messages towards its opening if you haven’t played it.

    Liked by 1 person

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