As I am fond of saying, ‘Inspiration Drives Innovation’ and nowhere is this truer than in video games. Almost every single thing takes inspiration from something else and applies tweaks to it to make it their own. If you take an even cursory look at anywhere on the internet, you will see countless remarks of individuals saying that due to similarities in character design, it is clear that they ripped off the idea. Not true at all.
Whether it was inspired by another character from games past, from historic figures or events or even generic character tropes, pretty much every single thing idea or concept comes from something that has already existed. But this is very much my point, it is not ripping off a character if they take the basic mould and give it some originality that is key to their vision.
Let us consider talk about Overwatch and Paladins and the abundance of critiques commenters on both sides of the argument have about certain character designs. I am going to reference a popular comparison, Roadhog and Makoa. There are claims on sides of this admittedly pointless argument that one ripped off the other but they are only skin deep. The hooking ability and the ability to deal heavy damage with a close range weapon is what the similarities are drawn on. A character’s uniqueness and speciality are lost when it comes to shallow assertions such as that. I have played both these characters quite often and when it comes down to it, Roadhog is a tank with a hook and a gas-inhaling self-heal. He is a post-apocalyptic survivor and that is awesome. Makoa takes a different spin, being an ancient power imbued turtle with a salvaged cannon and a powerful energy based shield. If we think about it, having the ability to drag someone in and deal heavy damage is a logical one with a character perspective in mind.
But these shallow character comparisons are pointless, and it does not get anyone anywhere by stating them, other than driving people away from games they may have really enjoyed. Games like Battleborn, Paladins and Overwatch all place their own spin on the MOBA archetype, adding their own flairs and personality to their characters, modes and maps. Let us consider yet another popular comparison, which concerns the archer types of the above games. First of all, the Archer character type is a popular one, seen throughout gaming history as well as actual history.
Each of the above characters has their own backstories, abilities and techniques. Sha Lin specialises in deception and taking out targets quickly when he is invisible to their eye, Hanzo is great at dealing damage to single targets (except that Ultimate of his) and Thorn is an angry Russian elf, quite capable of dealing large damage to multiple targets at a time. It is getting irritating seeing comparisons between all sorts of characters, based on the most cursory of examinations. It devalues the characters themselves and the interesting things they bring to the gaming table. Now, this is not to say that you should like all of them, I am not saying that if you are a Reinhardt player you automatically must love Fernando because he also is a knight with a shield. Each game has its own strengths, its own weaknesses and obviously, you are free to like one more than the other, it is your own prerogative, but please try and avoid the shallow accusations.
Moving on to a rather recent comparison, made between the worlds of Destiny and Anthem. This one is quite interesting as there has only been one short gameplay reveal and some screenshots released for the latter. The similarities have emerged stating that it is shaping up to be a ripoff of Destiny because there are heavily armoured beings that fight against malicious forces to protect humanity, who coincidentally are holed up in one last stronghold.
Stating that the cursory look at Anthem marks it as a ripoff to Destiny genuinely bothers me, they are shaping up to be completely separate games with their own arcs and struggles. If we take a look at games that have powersuits and fight against malicious forces, then we can include; Titanfall, Halo, and Crysis as ripoffs too. But if you have played any of those games, you will know that the similarities stop relatively quickly. They all shaped up to be amazing games in their own right.
This proves my point, do not allow shallow observations of apparent similarities cloud you from enjoying a game or even trying it out. Games and generally everything in life is inspired from other sources, especially those sources that have proven to be successful. Without gaming companies adding their own spin onto a base mould of a character, genre or game, we wouldn’t have the large variety of playable content we have to this day. Inspiration Drives Innovation and that brings forth some interesting content.