Friday, May 22, 2009

The Q.T.E.'s Advocate

So we're finally getting some more details on David Cage's upcoming title, "Heavy Rain," and already we're hearing the predictable complaint. Like Indigo Prophecy before it, Heavy Rain will feature a very familiar gameplay mechanic that has become dreadfully unpopular over the last year or two.

Ah, the Quick Time Event.

I never have figured out exactly when we began to hate the QTE so much. I know that it can certainly be a frustrating feature when not implemented properly. The "cool factor" of certain Resident Evil 4 cutscenes is diminished somewhat after seeing the first half of the scene eight times because you suck that much. Some titles (Tomb Raider: Legend, for example) only throw a few QTEs in the entire game, so they pop out of nowhere and you're never expecting them. Some games make the "PRESS THIS" cues too quick or too difficult to see.

Suffice it to say that Quick Time Events have been done poorly in quite a few games.

But it frustrates me that some gamers would dismiss an entire game over this feature. It's become another one of those words that gamers hear and immediately roll their eyes: "Quick Time Events", "Linear", "Motion Controls." I think we get so caught up in our bandwagon of cynicism that we begin to forget the potential these features have when used properly.

Think back to the game that started the QTE craze: God of War. The boss battles in this game were already epic set pieces, but it was the inclusion of Quick Time Events that took the fights to the next level. These sequences took the battle beyond the stock set of fighting animations and static cameras and gave the fight a brutal, cinematic flair. I don't see any way those battles could have been nearly so engaging, brutal or satisfying without using the Quick Time Event.

This feature does have potential. Rather than demanding that developers STOP including this feature, I suggest we start asking that they use it BETTER.


  1. It seems that the QTE is best as a conclusion to a fight. Something that GOW has done perfectly. Not overdoing it is the key, and given a choice, a QTE can be skipped (GOW rarely forces to go QTE)

  2. Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) was at least going in the right direction with them - often its experiments worked and at least they were trying. From the footage of Heavy Rain I've seen so far, however, the developers don't appear to have learned their lessons from the first time around.

    I don't think I've heard anyone voice that last paragraph before but you're absolutely right - QTEs have potential.

  3. I recently played Fahrenheit, and I love it, but the QTEs are just too many and too much much of the same without any variation at all. The drive it way too far, just sitting and watching a cool cutscene while you are hitting the analog sticks in one of four different directions. The thing is, you don't really get any response of your actions, whether you fail or not, the scene is almost the same.

    In Heavy Rain, however, David Cage has said that you will always immediately get a response. If you didn't hit the right button, you'll see the enemy hit you. But if you did it right, you can avoid the attack, etc.

    I agree with you that the potential of QTEs isn't used to its fullest yet, and I hope to see more of it in the future. But I also think that you have to use it in the right way and not just have it because it is easy to make.

  4. Agreed. GoW wouldn't have been as viscerally satisfying without QTE. That said, even GoW didn't use QTE's as well as it could have IMO. I personally found it frustrating many times, especially at higher difficulty levels.