In this weekend’s PCG Q&A, we’re talking about the details that make a game, whether it’s a reload animation, the way trees move in the wind, or whether it’s finding a location in-game that you once threw up on in real life, in the case of one PC Gamer editor.
Join us in answering the following, then: what’s your favorite detail in a game you love? Doesn’t matter how tiny it is. We’d love to read your answers in the comments below.
Samuel Roberts: Shooting the lake in Resident Evil 4
“Don’t shoot the lake,” my friend Andrew told me when I first started playing Resident Evil 4 years ago.
It was one of the first games I installed on my new PC a couple of weeks ago. Part of me is curious to try out the HD Project mod that’s been available since the summer, but I’m mostly excited to be reminded of its little details. How you can shoot the locks off doors with your gun. How Leon poses on a throne for a moment. The diving knife fight QTE Leon has with Krauser. But the standout detail? The lake. Don’t shoot it.
When Andrew warned me of this, the first thing I did was shoot the lake. Doing so activates this fairly famous instance where the ensuing boss monster arrives early to eat Leon. I scared the crap out of my little brother with this thing. I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me.
Tom Senior: rustling trees in The Witcher 3 or Crysis
A nice rustling tree is a beautiful thing in a game. The Witcher 3’s foliage was a bit too wobbly in hindsight, but I appreciated the sense of movement in a storm and the combination of some foley rustling and organic movement seem novel in a virtual world. A game earns bonus points if grass and bushes deform as the player character moves past, a feature I think I remember seeing in a Crysis trailer ages ago. How bushes have moved forwards since then.
Fraser Brown: Edinburgh in Forza Horizon 4
I like that I can point at an insignificant corner of Forza Horizon 4’s facsimile of Edinburgh and say “I threw up all over those stairs ten years ago”.
John Strike: Animations for idle infantry in the original C&C games
Picture a herd of Nod flame tanks and rocket-firing motorbikes thundering towards your base. On the other side of your pointless wall of sandbags are your light infantry, a couple of grenadiers and an engineer, casually chatting, polishing their guns and spontaneously doing press ups without a care in the world. The idle soldier animations are a great example of an attention to detail that made the early C&C games so good. Of course, the game still worked without them, and given time you barely noticed the animations, but giving units personality became a distinctive part of the C&C games that followed. By the time Red Alert 2 arrived all different unit types had their own unique check-in voices, Tanya could throw her guns in the air, and even the German Shepherds were grooming themselves, though the less said about that the better.
Wes Fenlon: The animations in Vanquish
When Shinji Mikami’s shooter Vanquish first came to PC, I put together a whole article of GIFs showing off the bombast and little touches that made that game so awesome. I’m struggling to pick a favorite. I love that there’s a button you can press to chill out in battle and have a quick smoke. Look at that animation as the power suit helmet slides back! So good. But I think I need to give the nod to Vanquish’s gun transformations. Because of nanomachines or whatever, you don’t pick up different weapons in this game, but instead your gun reconfigures itself as you swap between your loadout. And the animation of the gun reforming itself is very cool. Vanquish rules.