I have a minor habit of buying games during Steam sales in anticipation of when I get a new computer that can run them. Then I noticed that surprisingly, Stalker (I am not going to bother with all caps and periods, they irritate me), runs on my computer. And pretty well. Settings are turned down of course, but it still looks good.
I only started recently, but already I am very jumpy and frightened. I learned to get inside by 1800 and not come out until at least 4, when the sun starts coming up. After a brief foray into a giant hole in the group to get a box, I actually had to load a save from before I jumped in, because I was too damn jumpy to keep going further through the narrow, narrow caves filled with the not-especially-deadly but startling snorks. What is a snork? It's a Russian soldier in a gas mask who was driven insane by a massive dose of radiation and who now enjoys hiding in holes and jumping out at me. At least they're not invisible and able to sneak up literally unseen and grab my head and drain all my blood, killing me while I struggle helplessly like the aptly-named bloodsucker can.
Earlier I talked about how Oblivion handles location, using teleports to discovered map areas, but within dungeons being essentially trapped, with limited bag space, consumables, and even item durability. Stalker follows this in a similar fashion, with the closest thing to teleports being the ability to hire a fellow Stalker to guide you to a location, without needing discovery, and getting you there with no running needed, though I haven't checked on whether time passes.
The world itself is 'bigger' than Oblivion, not due to land area (I think they're on the same scale of magnitude, but Oblivion is slighter larger), but because of non-instant travel and non-trivial travel. You can't sprint the whole way, needing rest, especially with over-full bags, and there are scattered packs of mutated dogs, pigs, and fully human but still not very nice hostile bandits. This leads to a strange behavior: planning. I fix up my bags as best I can, I check the clock, and then I pick a route, making my way along and watching carefully for enemies. Even at the lowest difficulty running into a few bad guys with guns will lead to a quick death.
To add to it, there is a tactical level to exploration: nearly invisible 'anomalies' which in short form: are small spots which can kill or injure you if you get too close. These are a minefield to navigate even once you reach a general location. They are usually fixed/move in a set pattern, but emissions can change their location, so good luck looking up a map online! Oh emissions? Those are the infrequent events which very quickly kill you if you are outside, with some warning, but not enough that you can loiter. This makes location pretty important, with some profitable areas being far away from decent shelter, you're going to have to keep your bags light to be able to run fast enough.
As with some many other things I like, I'm not sure this would work well in WoW. With the high value placed on goals, whether xp, loot, or reputation, anything which gets in the way, however interesting it is, will inevitably be perceived as irritation rather than challenge or immersion. I like a bit of "oh shit oh shit oh shit run run run shit shit shit run" when the world is meant to be explored rather than looted, but I don't think I'd like my random heroics or dailies being interrupted by the equivalent of random Sapphiron ice block-style mechanics. After all, those aren't meant to be fun an exciting; they're meant to give sweet epics. Alas, I am again left to sadly suggest that a loot-oriented game must sacrifice fun and immersion if they conflict, or even appear to conflict, with the acquisition of more loot.
P.S. The misuse of worldly is intentional.
Guest post: The mind of a tank
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