Strategy Guides: Are they essential?

Given the complexity and depth of modern games, particularly RPGs, are strategy guides–either commercial or amateur “walkthroughs”–essential to the full enjoyment of a game?

I’ve been playing Fallout 3, and seem to be doing just fine without reference material–but I almost certainly would’ve screwed up the Museum of Technology terminal puzzle had I not made an off-hand remark to a friend.

That, however, is something that can be figured out purely in-game, if you’re actually paying attention to the original terminal message. Other games have had puzzles or problems that, so far as I can tell, would’ve been impossible to solve without an outside reference. Two examples:

[li]In FF 12, there were four(?) special chests. You had to leave these chests unopened to get the best weapon in the game. There was nothing in the game to clue you in to this. [/li][li]Star Ocean 3: The game included a rather complicated item creation system. Naturally, the best weapons and armor were only available through this system. To the best of my recollection, there was no way (other than trial and error) to know how to make these items in game. [/li][/ul]

Games should be designed so that everything can be figured out or discovered without resorting to a guide, but it seems that fewer and fewer are. What are your thoughts?

I disagree with you wording of “resorting to” a guide. You don’t play games in an isolated bubble. I don’t see why the clues have to be in-game. It’s fun to log on to gaming community sites and chat about all these easter eggs, strategies, and bonus material.

Depends entirely on what type of gamer you are. If you’re content to miss out on a few things here and there, no guide should be necessary the vast majority of the time. It seems pretty rare that you can really shoot yourself in the foot too badly in games anymore. If, however, you’re on the obsessive side of things and just can’ STAND to miss out on things, especially those only-one-chance-ever for a unique reward bits(Like these), then you’re going to need a guide. Those rewards are often pretty stupidly arbitrary.

Unfortunately, I tend to be on the more obsessive side, so I’ll often go through an area, then go and check a guide to see if I missed anything important. If I find out I missed something permanently, it will gnaw at me such that I will sometimes abandon an otherwise fun game.

I always try to play as much as I can without any kind of guide. I enjoy exploring in my games which a guide removes.

At the same time I feel no shame in going to gamefaqs when I get stuck. Game designers aren’t perfect and even beside incredibly bad design decisions like FFXII (whoever did that needs to be beaten with a rusty tire iron) sometimes things aren’t as intuitive as they could be.

A game that lacks the information required to complete it within the game itself is broken (or using 1980’s style copy protection but let’s not go there :slight_smile: ), but I can’t think of an example of that recently. Being able to acquire everything in the game is not the same thing.

I’m not fond of designers who place collectible powerups hidden so that you not only have to be an obsessive explorer but you must be walked through them to acquire anything more than a small fraction of them (see GTA: San Andreas where the photo sites were so non obvious that a guide had to tell me they existed). That’s not enough to turn me off from a game, however.

Theres better info on the internet about any game weeks before launch than there will ever be in any strategy guide. Biggest waste of money ever, never ever buy one.

I remember finding all that shit out when I was a kid. I had time to burn. If you keep pounding away at things, you’ll come up with the answer. I remember having brute force ways to break passwords in games that I wasn’t supposed to get to yet.

This is my attitude as well. Much of the fun is in checking out every nook and cranny, and working out the puzzles. A guide robs me of some of that fun, as I tend to just… well, stick to the guide. But when I’m well and truly stuck, or when there’s a choice I need to make that I can’t really evaluate, I go to Gamefaqs. Just used it last night to decide whether I should take the Ranger Armor or Eugene.

That’s something else entirely–that’s basically just the electronic equivalent of talking about a game with your buddies, who’ve maybe figured out things that you haven’t. I’m not sure what you mean by easter eggs and bonus material–if you mean ‘cool stuff that doesn’t have in-game value,’ then there’s really no harm in making it arbitrary. (I personally consider Xbox live “achievements” to fall into this category.) But if it’s something important in-game, like a powerful weapon or armor or whatever, or even a side quest, you ought to be able to find it with no more than the basic skills of gaming and your own wits.

This was absolute bullshit. To get the most powerful weapon in the game, you had to *not *open chests.

This is so counter-intuitive to RPGs, where exploration and examining everything (including opening “chests”) is the norm.

I can see if perhaps you could talk to an NPC to get clues about not opening certain chests, but seriously, there was absolutely no mention of this other than strategy guides or online third-party resources.

And this item was the freakin’ STRONGEST WEAPON IN THE GAME. Weak.

As do I, but some maps are so huge (e.g.: Morrowind) that a guide is an invaluable resource to know in which direction one should explore.

The World of Warcraft Battlechest comes with strategy guides for WoW and the Burning Crusade expansion. The concept of a print strategy guide for an MMO, a constantly evolving game, is just so very wrong. Give me a fan-made wiki any day. (Interesting note: buying WoW + BC online costs $50, while the Battlechest is $40. It’s my belief that Brady Games is paying Blizzard to include their guides, or at least subsidizing the cost.)

See the page on this phenomenon.