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Dear video games: please stop forcing skill trees into everything

Dear video games: please stop forcing skill trees into everything

I'm so tired

Earlier this week I decided to reinstall Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with the intention of finally finishing it. Reader, I took one look at the half-finished skill tree, fought the urge to vomit, and uninstalled the game. I just… couldn’t. 

It’s not that I hate skill trees, at all. I think they’re entirely necessary in plenty of games - Assassin’s Creed included. I like earning new abilities and having a steady stream of new toys to play with as I progress through my adventures. But I firmly believe that it’s getting out of hand. Not only are skill trees becoming completely unwieldy, overwhelming beasts (see Assassin’s Creed Valhalla), they’re also popping up in games where they have no right to be.

If you’ve picked up a game like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Dragon Quest XI, odds are you know that you’re going to spend a good amount of time in menus tweaking stats and obsessing over your chosen path along the skill tree. These are RPGs, and part of the fun is tweaking your character until they feel just right for you. Maybe that’s part of why you play these games in the first place? But I’m willing to bet you aren’t rushing out to buy the latest Sonic and Batman games because you want to make the most of their skill trees. 

Yes, Sonic Frontiers and Gotham Knights have skill trees. I want to stress that I’ve yet to play these games so I can’t be too harsh on them. Maybe their existence is entirely justified? Or maybe we’ve gotten to the point where forcing a skill tree into a game has become as arbitrary as Ubisoft towers and pre-order DLC. All I know is that skill trees in the vast majority of games I’ve played over the last year or so have stopped feeling like something like add any real value to my experience, and instead have turned into a disruptive break from the action where I unthinkingly spend my points without any real planning - because I’ve just stopped caring.

Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft

Topics: Assassins Creed, Ubisoft