Just a little quickie here. No big deal.
I've been playing Shadowrun Returns for the better part of the last day or so, plunking in around five hours or so. I pre-ordered the game about an hour before it became available on Steam after finally hearing about it, and realizing what it was; a set of modular tools catering towards the pen and paper crowd which allow for the full realization of campaigns and scenarios within the Shadowrun world using the same editor and professional assets utilized by the games creators to make the single scenario packed in with the game.
Running about 12 hours or so, there have been a lot of complained about Shadowrun's default scenario; it's too linear, there is no exploration to speak of, it's short, it has no voice acting or cutscenes, repeat ad nauseum until you are blue in the face and sick of the whining. Personally, I can understand from a certain point of view why this bothers people. The current mold of the modern computer RPG is one where free-roaming, massive, hundred hour "immersive" affairs are valued far and beyond the more strict story oriented games of the past. If you are a fan of those games, fine; no one should fault you for it. While I personally prefer a more linear experience with a more focused storyline, that is just not what the current climate promotes, and that makes Shadowrun look archaic by todays standard. But that isn't the major complaint that bugs the absolute SHIT out of me.
For every well rounded argument that says "eh, the game just really isn't my thing." there is at least one that simply says "the game is no good because you can't loot corpses." and simply leaves it at that.
Apparently, games like Diablo, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls have played upon the compulsive complex of many gamers to the point where picking up endless piles of arbitrary garbage has become the SOLE DEFINING REASON why the play RPG's. Not story, not "immersion", not a refined combat system. No. Picking up rolls of cheese and little pots and scraps of paper and other literal trash, and hoarding it all like a compulsive intervention-in-waiting is why people love to play RPG's, and is one of the main reasons being thrown around for why "Shadowrun Returns is fukin garbidge."
The first time I played Fallout 2, it was really exciting to be able to pick the locks of cabinets and doors, and find the juicy, precious, hard to come by loot within. There was a sense of necessity there since the game was so scant with ammo and other provisions, so such exploration was necessary. The first time I played Diablo, it was pretty fun to see what enemies would drop after killing them by the thousand, but after awhile, I started to get tired of it.
And I never stopped being fucking tired of it. When Fallout 3 and Skyrim eventually rolled around and packed my inventory with so much arbitrary useless crap that I had to find nooks and crannies throughout the game world to store it all in, I started to get really annoyed with the idea of looting. Do I really give a shit about killing another random bandit and seeing all the borderline useless crap he wears on his body? Sure, the first time I take his wolf skin had its a laugh; but it gets a bit old after the hundredth.
Now I understand that, being the type of sandbox experience Skyrim is, along with many other games in the genre, looting corpses is one essential element to preserving the realism of the game. In fact, it also annoys me sometimes, in a game with lots of looting, where I am picking up shit the baddie in question either didn't visibly have on his body, or that I am not being given everything such as that badass weapon he was using. I can't tell you how pissed I was in Dark Souls when a certain non-respawning mini boss in a tower, he smashes your face in with a giant dragons tooth wielded like a hammer, didn't drop his badass armor or weapons. Or when the many Black Knights in the game simply gave a random chance to do so rather than it being a sure thing. So I suppose it's a tough system to manage, since it can sway the balance heavily in the favor of the player when it maybe shouldn't be; but how is omitting it altogether such a big problem to the point where people won't even touch a game solely based on the fact that they can't salvage equipment they probably already have anyways, or will be otherwise useless for them apart from earning money, which the game already provides in other ways?
Shadowrun Returns is very largely based on the pen and paper game of the same name, which is why you don't get experience for slaughter, and which is why the initial scenario is so linear; most people don't run sandbox campaigns for the sole reason that they are not up to the caliber of ones which are set from the get go, and Shadowrun is very much a game of investigation and espionage, where combat is not always the preferable option. A lot of misconceptions as to what the game is supposed to be are to be expected, but its a real shame in my opinion. However, not liking a game because you didn't research it and determine what it was going to do for you before hand and not liking it because "der ain't no bodies to loot lol" are two very different things.
I am so far very impressed by the storyline the scenario has presented up to this point. It is engaging and compelling, and all done without a lick of voice acting or CG cutscenes interrupting the flow of the game. It is focused like the tip of a knife; you are a runner. You go on runs. In between them, you unravel more of the story through conversation at your HQ, purchase new weapons and upgrades, and outfit yourself with a team of fresh mercenaries before heading onto the next area. Lather rinse repeat with a major narrative thread running through, and you have one of the most concise and to the point RPG experiences in recent history.
The problem isn't Shadowrun Returns. The problem is the current perception of what RPG means. RPG's are now split into two categories by the common rabble; the JRPG (for as redundant and dumb as that term is, it does descibe a particular kind of game) and the Western RPG, the latter translating roughly into "big giant mess of exploration-masturbation and an arbitrary 'moral choice' system of some kind." add "LOOTING" onto the end of that, and you have a pretty accurate representation of what many modern gamers feel the RPG is SUPPOSED to be. And anything stepping outside of that realm, and in Shadowruns case, moving much closer to the source material than many other games could ever hope to achieve by providing a strong campaign with a good story, along with the tools for prospective programmers and gamemasters to create many, many more, all distributed for free to the community, and it is instantly classifed as a "light" RPG by cynical forum dwellers who manage to categorically miss the point every step of the way.
It's an unfortunate start for a game with oodles of potential, despite a few apparent imperfections. And it is also the first time I have been really encouraged to make my own scenarios, just because it's a game worth getting excited about, and one I want to see survive for years as a legitimate community supporting lots of original content; content that will eventually surpass the quality of the default scenario offered. And the lack of "loot" does very little to convince me it's a "bad game". In fact, in the vast morass of games specifically focused on gear, loot, and drops, Shadowrun Returns comes off as bold, brave, and original in comparison; and that is really indicative of just how face-punchingly repetitious a lot of this shitty industry has become.
LOOK WHO CAME: