‘What Needs What’ is a feature on Leviathyn.com detailing one author’s take on improving a continuing series in video games. We take unannounced sequels that are taking just a bit too long to release and strike up conversation about it with some points on story, gameplay, and features that could make the upcoming experience even better.
I am a sucker for Norse mythology. That may have led to me being really excited for Too Human’s release back in 2008. I didn’t quite follow the saga that was Too Human, though. I was all about playing games rather then reading blogs and news when it was originally announced back at E3 1999. The trip this game took from the PlayStation 1 to the GameCube and finally to Microsoft’s Xbox 360. I remember Too Human being one of the ground breaking new series we heard about when the 360 was first announced. That picture of a Gears of War Locust right alongside the fabled Too Human made the new console from Redmond something to be excited about.
Finally, Silicon Knights released the game in August of 2008, almost a full nine years since the original reveal. The hype for this game was too much and in the end, it killed it. I guess people were expecting a godsend in video games with Too Human. They were also probably expecting that with Duke Nukem Forever. Still, I picked up Too Human on launch day despite the initial and terrifying reviews. I sort of knew what I was getting myself into thanks to the Xbox Live demo that had released beforehand. You didn’t hear too much gloom and doom with that, though. Everything seemes hunkie-dory with the demo. I know I had a blast with it.
The thing is, I enjoy a good story. I especially get excited when I see something that takes known history, or in this case mythology, and spins it with something incredible. It’s the reason why I am so excited for Assassin’s Creed 3. Seeing a trained master assassin screwing around with the Revolutionary War and talking to George Washington is just so cool to me. I mentioned above that I’m a sucker for Norse mythology. Well, this was just a combination that screamed, “you’re going to play this game a lot.”
The way Too Human melds the Norse gods with machinery and tech is just fantastic. The world that Silicon Knights has created is spectacular. From the Ymir and their stranglehold on humanity to the Æsir being revered like gods due to their advanced strength and powers. To add to all of that, you don’t play as Thor! Everything just clicks.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Everyone likes the God of Thunder. However, as a comic fan and someone who has been reading about Thor and Thor knockoffs (sorry Beta Ray!) it is nice to see someone else in the driver’s seat. Too Human focuses on Baldur. Even with this change of pace, the story remains the same. Loki is causing mischief and Baldur isn’t too happy about that. Everything here screams Norse mythology but with tech, machines, and cybernetics. I can’t think of a reason of why I wouldn’t want to just sink my teeth into that story.
Too Human wasn’t perfect, however. The game had identity problems during development, which is not surprising at all due to the massive changes that occurred from console to console. There is no denying that the game could have been better. The technical issues were boundless as the framerate was choppy and some of the gameplay elements just didn’t do the concept justice. The death system did not take its taxes and the Valkyrie, while awesome, got old really fast. It took them way too long to get that update out that let you skip that animation. Some of the menus were cumbersome, as well. The leveling system was stymied due to enemies scaling which also made you feel like every level had the same difficulty. There was just not enough that made you want to work towards something. Too Human didn’t survive long in the hands of most gamers and sales were pretty paltry.
I had a blast with Too Human. I played the crap out of that and then some. The technical issues were there, yes. I did get killed a few times thanks to the framerate. I kept chugging on though and you know what? I really enjoyed Too Human. It left me wanting more, the story was exciting, combat was really engaging, and it played on an addiction that I have: loot. It is easy to compare Too Human to games like Diablo and Torchlight. As a 3D lootfest, Too Human provided me with as much loot in a cybernetic Norse future world than I could handle. That’s just the way I like it.
With all that said, let’s delve into the things that Too Human 2 (if it ever comes out) needs to have or do to be a better game.
10. Randomly Generated Maps
Playing through Too Human most than once was pretty boring. Every map stayed the same and you kind of knew what to expect. We need to be surprised at time. Give us different maps so each play through or double back isn’t the same experience. I really enjoyed how you could travel back to points in the game to use new powers to unlock things. That made me think back to Brave Fencer Musashi, which is a good thing. However, if I’m headed back to find a well that I couldn’t unlock an obelisk for earlier, I don’t want to head down a corridor and take two lefts because I know it is there. It might be there but with randomly generated maps, it could be anywhere.
9. More Human Interaction With Baldur
Some people found it cheesy dialogue but for the situation, the way the world is, and emphasis on Norse mythology the way the humans talked was pretty spot on. “Today is a good day to die!” Lines like that and all the talk about battlefield glory and earning spots in Valhalla was just epic. It was fun to listen to and gave you a sense of the way the world works in Too Human. I especially enjoyed how the humans looked up to Baldur and followed him. I liked having them accompany me throughout the maps in the game. It made me feel like, yeah I could everything on the map, but it isn’t all about me. This isn’t just Baldur’s duty. You barely see that in games. Baldur may be an Æsir but he will gladly fight alongside humans and revel in the glory shared amongst them.
I liked finding blueprints for strong items but just having to pay money to make them took the fun out of it. Also, it killed a lot of potential. Let us roam around the game finding materials and put together grocery lists for blueprints. It is a bit more tedious but it adds to the achievement and accomplishment of making that rare set piece or epic item.
7. Random Events
The only event we got in Too Human was Arena areas where you fought waves of enemies to try and get a lot of loot. That’s cool and I’m not saying get rid of Arenas but add more events to the game’s maps. Make it so it is random as to what event you get it (or none at all) so that along with randomly generated maps, the entire game feels fresh every time you run through it.
6. Top Tier Gears & Sets
The sets were really cool but once you got yours, it was just like saying, “well, I’m done here.” Having multiple sets and tons more epic weapons will go a long way into making Too Human 2 have more longevity. With every rare drop, players just want to keep going thinking they’ll find more. If you have one set for each class that is the bee’s knees then you’re going to give players something I call a “loot ceiling”. That means you give players a way of knowing they hit the top and that will make them feel satisfied enough to stop playing.
5. Enemy Packs & Champions
Having random enemies with status effects is cool but they didn’t feel dangerous enough or even warrant a reaction out of me past “oh look, another red guy”. A lot of what I’m saying sounds like Diablo stuff but that is the nature of this game. A 3D Diablo wonderland of cybernetically enhanced Norse gods. I really like what Diablo 3 did with rare enemies and Champions. It used to be just minions and one tough dude. Group up two or more rare enemies with the same status impairment. Get more Champion enemies and surround them with tougher minions. Make these kinds of enemies a challenge and fun to fight. Make it so that whenever they drop onto the map, I take notice and change the way I’m playing for that fight.
4. Give Me More Cyberspace
I really enjoyed watching the game world change with everything I did in Cyberspace. I would like to see it expanded so I can unlock more areas, new events, mini-boss fights, and hidden enemies. You could even have sections of Cyberspace that unlock with DLC which can include new levels, enemy types, events, bosses, and items. Cyberspace has so much potential to grow and help the series give more to the player.
3. Difficulty Levels
I took issue with how enemies scaled with Baldur. If the game is doing to be linear in terms of sending you from level to level, each level should have a level range. Co-Op partners were able to join in at will and while there would be a bit of a challenge, it didn’t feel like I was in the middle of an area I should not be at. Level scaling works wonders for games like Skyrim and Fallout where you can travel anywhere at any given time. When you are brought from stage to stage to witness a story unfold, it hurts the experience when you can expect little to no increased challenge as you play. I like how with Diablo the normal difficulty can only take you to a certain level, then you head to Nightmare and test your luck and grow. Sure, there was New Game + for Too Human but what challenge did it add outside of different enemy spawns?
2. Bigger Co-Op
Playing with a friend was cool but it didn’t feel epic enough for Too Human. With Loki riding to war with the Ice Giants, the scope of the game is going to be bigger. Why not have up to four players with drop-in, drop-out and let them take on Loki’s forces. I’d reckon that they should also have instanced loot as to eliminate loot hogs, ninjas, and those guys that suck at the game and die all the time but end up picking up tons of loot. Also, an auction house or trading lobby would be nice. If that’s too much to ask for then a chat area where players can talk to each other, get together for games, or put up trade offers would be nice.
1. Loki’s War
We were dropped off watching Loki stand in front of a Frost Giant. He has his army and he has his target. All-out war is coming and the scope of the game should be huge. Epic battles all over the place. Giant enemies destroying soldiers. Loki’s lieutenants causing havoc and mischief everywhere. No realm is safe when the Frost Giants march. Too Human 2 should be the beginning of Loki’s invasion of Asgard. All of the Æsir will be on the battlefield. The humans are assisting their gods. It all sounds epic. A word that resonates well with the world of Too Human.