Crafting Is a Crutch and Should Be in Far Fewer Games

Now that Halo Infinite is out, the entire fanbase is throwing their wishlist of updates at 343. While I have lost all interest in the repetitive nature of the multiplayer, I am always interested to see what people say should be added to the campaign. 

Well, a Reddit post and my own brother shook me to my core because I can’t take it anymore. After finishing the campaign, my brother said they should really add crafting to the game to make it more replayable. I had to disagree but not because it wouldn’t be “Halo.”

Crafting has been a tried and true staple of games for decades. From Ultima to ARK, there has been a wide range of games that have released with a mechanic where you go around the world collecting materials to make better things. 

And I’m sick of it. 

Look I was in my mid-teens when Minecraft blew up and made survival games mainstream, I am very familiar with its purpose and I have enjoyed games with crafting in them. 

However, it was after those years that things began to take a turn. As more indie games found success in the survival genre, more AAA studios wanted a piece of the pie. They wanted their games to have similar mechanics whether they fit the traditional gameplay style or not. Now, it’s often expected that any open-world adventure should have crafting and I’m not really convinced that should be the case. 

Fallout: New Vegas

Crafting a Frustration

I didn’t always have an aversion to crafting. I used to think it was really cool to collect everything in the world and make stronger and cooler things with them. It made me go out into the world and look under every rock for materials. 

That was until more and more games began to do it. For a crafting system to work, a game’s world needs to be built in a particular way so that items can be harvested, seen, collected, and used naturally. 

The problem is it can often feel more like filler in some of these bigger games rather than anything that adds anything substantial. Oh, I need to go collect 3 silvers that are somewhere in the world because it’s the only way I can make the rare item I need. However, I need to look all over the world for these items and then bring them back to my hut to make the item.

The problem? It’s boring.

Do you know what’s more entertaining? Building a world that is fun to explore and find things within without those items simply being a type of currency you need to find for your item. Because that’s all crafting is. You are looking for change scattered around the world to give to a robot cashier who will give you your shiny item. 

Fallout: New Vegas understood this. It had legendary weapons that you earned by exploring a lore-rich world. Most locations had one of these items and they often were wrapped up with the story of the environment. That’s how you inspire me to wander the world and check every corner. That’s how you get me to care about the items I am discovering. 

There was crafting in this game but it was limited to making existing lower-level items more viable for the most part, and honestly, you could ignore it and never know it really existed. New Vegas didn’t make a large part of its sandbox useless unless you crafted materials.

Fallout 4

Make Crafting Make Sense

It makes sense to use crafting in survival games and other games where living off the land might be a part of the gameplay. However, there are times when it’s reaching a little too far. Dead Space 3 changed its entire gameplay philosophy and introduced crafting as one of the new additions. 

There was only one ammo type that could be used for any weapon because each weapon could be a complete mishmash of other weapons. I assume this was two-fold: it was meant to ease frustration and streamline the game for coop parties, and it was to ease the tension of the player as they collected other things. 

The player already had to collect supplies to craft health packs and weapons, so by giving the player fewer ammo types to manage, the developer could have the player focus more on their crafting system of collecting and trying new weapon types. 

Again, this system bored me tremendously and actually had me exploring the world less since I only needed a few materials to keep me going. In the other Dead Space games, I would investigate every dark room no matter how terrifying because there could be a great suit upgrade or a new weapon blueprint, or just plasma cutter ammo. There just wasn’t that need in Dead Space 3.

Of course, that can come down to developer choice in how they implemented the mechanic however when the series hadn’t had something like it before and the world feels more shallow somehow, it can feel more like the mechanic shouldn’t have been implemented. 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Crafting a Less Shallow World

It might seem like adding random bits of metal or wood to your game and asking the player to collect them in order to create a better circumstances for themselves would be a great way to shape the world and gameplay. But when every game does it the same, it really can feel more like filler. Running around Fallout 4 is enjoyable but with their increased focus on crafting in that game, it became much less exciting to find items. 

In New Vegas, there are only a handful of things you can do with the junk in the game but Fallout 4 introduced so much you essentially become a garbage collector for most of the game. You set out to collect a few hundred pounds of metal, toy trucks, glass bottles, and you are on your way back to create a new home for Preston Garvey.

And some people really get behind that, which is great. My main point is how it made the world feel. Ironically, it felt less like I was surviving a nuclear apocalypse like it had in other games and more like an easter egg hunt in a building simulator. It’s so easy to make a game feel bloated and not worth the time of the player to really look around. 

There are rare weapons in Fallout 4 but honestly, there isn’t too much reason to seek them out because you’ll probably find one or two weapons that will suit you for the next 20 hours. I never felt that way in Fallout 3 or New Vegas. I was focused on finding everything to aid in my survival.

Just the way I look at these worlds changes. Crafting breaks my immersion (what little I can accumulate nowadays) and makes it feel way too much like a game with fetch quests on repeat 24/7. 

Crafting is fine in some games but it doesn’t need to be every open-world game. And if a publisher is pushing for crafting, then something along the lines of what Breath of the Wild did would be tolerable. 

Breath of the Wild has the least intrusive crafting system that I have seen from a modern AAA title. Crafting is only really involved in the cooking aspect of the game so what it’s doing is giving bonuses to the food that you can already use. You also can combine any food you want and get some sort of recipe going as long as you aren’t throwing monster guts into your soup.

Collecting fruits, meats, and fish felt natural in this world, each item works by itself, and crafting just made each better without being a pain in the neck. This is the system I like because it never made the items in the world feel out of place, useless, or bloated. 

I was still encouraged to explore the world to find new and better weapons as mine kept breaking. There were Koroks to find, shrines to find, and vistas to see. I was never torn from Hyrule and it never felt like I was being made to do pointless stuff just to continue to thrive within the world. If I did pointless things, it was because I wanted to. Don’t put more things in your games than you need to, please. Crafting is more akin to busywork than any actual fun.


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