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What could have been? A belated RLL5 'wishlist'
#1
Unless Ross was wrong when he said this, it's safe to say that there isn't another Big Ant Rugby game coming.  But I wanted to pretend in this thread that a sequel was coming, as it would be interesting to discuss RLL4's shortcomings, and how a fifth game could nonetheless have been amazing if the right improvements were made.  Feel free to add to my list, as I do not have enough experience with the game to cover every issue myself.

User Interface
Player ratings are very important, but in Casual/Competition mode, you can't even view the overall ratings of your players on the line-up screen.  This was possible in RLL3, making it strange that 4 took the feature away.  Career at least lets you view overalls when selecting your line-up, as well as height/weight/age/physicals if it's not the Nines, but it still should've been easier to view a players full ratings, rather than have to click on each player on the roster page one at a time.  Height/Weight/Age isn't always easily accessed in Career either.  The next game (whoever makes it) has to make all of this more visible across all modes.  Speaking of ratings...

Player Attributes
I would've suggested merging the various kicking skills down to 5.  Skills in italics would be the ones 'removed' in the merger;
- Grubber Kick/Toe Poke
- Punt Kick/Kick For Touch
- Bomb Kick/Chip Kick
- Drop Kick/Field Goal Kick
- Place Kick

This would keep the idea of different players excelling at different kicks intact, whilst removing redundancies, making things easier for Fanhub creators, and making a kicking specialist more viable in player career.  I would also be in favour of adding a Ball Security skill for big hits, diving tries and loose balls.  The idea being that by adding another technical skill, you can better replicate players who are considered top level talents, without having to give them better physical attributes than their real life selves have.  Speaking of, physcials should be slightly reduced in importance, by taking away skill boosts that make no sense (like Sprint Speed boosting punt and bomb kicking).

In Game
I'm sure others can offer better suggestions for gameplay, but I'll try anyway.  With the new scrum rules, expanding on the scrum would've made sense.  In addition to letting players pick where to pack it, I would've suggested some set plays from the scrum, as well as the option to choose whether the Half Back or the Lock takes the loose ball.  Set plays could also be improved upon in open field; I'm thinking something like what Rugby 20 did, where the player gets to pick out their plays from an expanded playbook, rather than being stuck with just 5 plays.  Speaking of tactics, more options could also be added to defence.  For example, the usage of fullbacks could be more flexible, rather than being limited to either having 3 (with the wingers dropping back) or 1, with no inbetween.  Real life teams in the Nines this year even played without a fullback at all quite often, which sometimes came back to bite them but would be another nice option to have.

One aspect of the gameplay that is objectively bugged is how wingers field kicks that are near the sideline.  If their momentum is taking them out of bounds, they'll often fail to correct this momentum even when they're not under pressure from the chasing team.  Any future Rugby game needs to have AI that handles these kicks near the touch lines a lot more gracefully, stopping on top of the ball before collecting if they have to.  Whilst this is far from the only annoying aspect of RLL4's gameplay, a lot of the other issues are more subjective and I would have to wait for others to pitch in regarding the gameplay.

Otherwise, something that the game is sorely lacking in is animations.  A larger pool of animations for tackles and other actions would've made the game feel better to play and watch.  A lot of video referee moments in game lack suspense once you've seen certain animations a few times.  Finding a way to at the very least, add all of RLL3's tackle animations back in, whilst keeping the gang tackle improvements from 4 intact, would've been a great start.

Player Regression in Career
Coming back to career mode, the lack of regression in the mode creates a fair few issues after a couple of seasons.  Realism issues aside, a lot of the top players will end up maxing out in several attributes and/or skills if they don't retire first.  And since there's a hard cap on just how good the best player in the world can be, the superstars end up losing value as the game becomes increasingly populated by 90+ players.  Someone else will have to fill in what kind of havoc this wreaks on salary cap management...

Even something as simple as halting a players progress once they hit a certain age would've helped mitigate this issue, though a full regression model would've been more realistic.  And with that, I think that's everything I can contribute to the discussion for now.  Maybe this thread was nothing but some pointless rambling on my end, but I won't know for sure until I put my thoughts out there.
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