Extra Punctuation: Why Regenerating Health Sucks

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I couldn't agree more. It's a nonsensical system of survival. I don't care if it's unrealistic, but what fun is it to actually not have to worry about your health.

This element combined with a ridiculously easy penalty for death has ruined modern FPS'. The main thing that adds to the excitement of the newest Painkiller game is when I have 6 points of health and I see a wave of guys coming at me. Then each one of those kills will only net you one point of health, it's rather glorious.

My problem with regenerating health is when it regenerates mid-fight.
I like the idea of regenerating health, but think it's just overused.

Imagine in ME2 if you had a longer health bar, but it only recovered when all enemies were dead (like when team mates revived), you'd have the tense moments where you have low health, but they'd also know how much health you have at each section.

I agree - having just finished Spec Ops on MW2, I noticed that I was using my the regenerating health to step out and get shot just so I could see where the bullets came from...this is not good practice.

I liked the mixed health system in Mass Effect 1, and I was really dissapointed when it wasn't carried over to the sequel. Your first 'health' bar was your shields, which were pretty weak, but could regenerate. If you lost that, you started taking health damage, which could only me fixed by med-pack (well, medi-gel).

I completely disagree. For one thing, backtracking for 15 minutes only to find that health-pack you thought you is gone is an absolutely soul-crushing experience. Health Packs also seem to be an arbitrary "fun limit", where when I ran out of them, I might as well give the fuck up. With regen, you'll be fighting until your last breath, because it'll never be completely impossible.

Regeneration also allows for more complex level design, because developers no exactly how much health you have before each encounter.

The Jedi Knight series had a great system for health.

If Lightsaber: face your opponent and things won't hit you

If Gun: Switch to the lightsaber you suicidal moron

Ironic Pirate:
Regeneration also allows for more complex level design, because developers no exactly how much health you have before each encounter.

And yet they've never tried that yet...

We're mainly dealing with multiplayer shooters here, amirite?

A buncha people mentioned Far Cry 2(and Riddick, which I haven't played), wherein your health will regenerate up to a certain notch, but you gotta stop and use a healy if you want the whole thing back. That seems like a pretty good standard, but why have a standard?

Thing is, couldn't the devs just put multiple systems in the game, and whoever sets up the match chooses one?

"We're playing TDM on Charnel House with random-spawning Medkits-only, no regen."

"We're playing Infected Flaming Zombie Bubble Bath on Shitler's Sanctum with no life regen whatsoever, and no shotguns except the shitty one."

"We're playing Capture The Junk on Hooptie Palace with Farcry-2-Style-Regen, and up to 3 medikits per team in play at once (they respawn 10 seconds after use on a table in your team's base, but nowhere else.)"

..it wouldn't take that much extra effort, would it? Just configure each map to work with a variety of options/settings, like they already do. I haven't played Modern Warfare or any of the "big boys" of modern shootin', but Smash Brothers on Gamecube had a bajillion options you could configure before the match, and I know I've played shooters that did similar things (I think it mighta been Timesplitters or Metal Gear Online?)

I liked how in old FPS and TPS games your penalty for death was based on how long you went without quick-saving.

Right as usual, Yahtzee.

Half Life changed my view on regenerating health. I now think it's a good thing.

The problem with HL is that it has 90s health mechanics and 00s damage. It's not like Doom, where you can reasonably expect to take a fair number of hits before you go down. Most of the enemies in HL can chop of half your health bar in a second or two, and that just forces you into trial and error gameplay and quicksaving after every fight. I find the gunfights in STALKER: SoC less frustrating than those in HL.

Trying to get to the next health station on low health is fun, occassionally. Struggling through the entire bloody game on half health because ridiculous damage can (and will) be done by a single burst of enemy gunfire - not fun.

The first time I played Fallout 3, I felt like it did a really good job of making health matter, at least in the early hours of the game. I found myself relying heavily on irradiated water to heal myself, knowing that there would be hell to pay down the line from the radiation sickness, but needing to stay alive in the interim.

Unfortunately, once you get some money and enough stimpacks (and access to a bed), it ceases to be an issue. I keep meaning to play through New Vegas on hardcore mode to see if it can manage to sustain the same feel.

I thought of another system, though it could really only work for a ninja-ish game. When mr. Ninja gets hit, he has to make a button command to see if he lands on his feet. It's sort of like the sonic system because the amount of health you lose is based on your environment (ex. weather you have to land on astroturf, or the ends of chopsticks) and how good you are at the game.

While you would also have to implement some other system to decide how you actually gain health, It does allow the charecter to take a realistic amount of health when he lands incorrectly. Also, when mr. ninja gets hit in a vital area, that body part (ex. skull and brain) would fly in chunks and you would have to actually reassemble it using ninja magic or something, making it very hard, but possible to avoid death if you say, get sniped in the head.

I know I'll be a little late to the party, and the informed brigade will have been and gone, but to anyone who is ragging on Halo for having introduced the health regeneration mechanic.

This is not true. Firstly, Halo 1 didn't feature it, but had a quite interesting dual system with a regenerating shield and health bar. It's probably my favourite system I've found, because it provides a gameplay justification for why you have regenerating health, and you still have to scout for med packs in the hairier sections. Although I think it could have been improved by some sort of counting method that if your shields get knocked to zero too often then the generator overcharges or something and you don't get any more shields until you finish. (or something)

I liked health meters in games, and I wish they could come back. Not quite as 'run over a med kit and boom you're all healed' as they used to be, but maybe something like the Left 4 Dead system, where you had to actually take a minute to heal.

I think I like the Luck system. It makes sense. However I don't think all regeneration is bad. I enjoy and evening of NWN2 and have spent a lot of time searching for a Ring of Power which regenerates health. This kind of regen is earned. and I think it enriches the game by making you really want it.




You mean like Brothers in Arms:HH ?

Yeah I stand corrected by 2 people. I never played the BiA games so I wasn't aware of that. Was it done well?

The screen went red at the edges the more you exposed yourself and the more people were shooting at you. Then you'd get hit, your controller would vibrate a bit and you'd die.
It's nothing special, really. Just adds a pinch of realism.
You can check it out on YouTube if you're interested.

I have had a thought for a system which may improve Health in games.

Instead of a health bar or regen health, you could have a little graphic in the corner of the screen displaying your 'vitals'. This would literally be a heart monitor that glows green and pulses steadily when you are in good health. When you are wounded badly the graphic could turn red (as a substitute for 'bloody screen'), your movements and aiming may become more sluggish, and you could see your heart rate become more erratic, (if you die you could even see yourself flatline before the screen blacks out.) Once you've killed all enemies in the area your vitals will stabilize (you return to full movement and heart rate steadies), but the graphic will remain red untill you fully heal yourself via a medkit or whatever (also, instead of just walking over a medkit you could actually see your character give themselves a shot of adrenaline in the leg).

I know this still wouldn't be completely realistic, but it would be a hell of a lot more immersive than health bars/regen at least.

Ironic Pirate:

Regeneration also allows for more complex level design, because developers no exactly how much health you have before each encounter.

Granted thats not entirely fair. Occasionally there's a box-shaped room with a maze of crates, but not usually.

I agree with Yahtzee with this. I just played Bulletstorm with hardest difficulty and only time I had problems were when I was riding that train thingy and I couldn't get to cover to recover my health. Other part was when I was on helicopter and the helicopter didn't have healt renegation system, only health bar so I needed to come up with a plan how I'm going to pull off that event.

What I am saying is regenerating health is easy mode for every game that has it, just 2 seconds on open and go hide again. Sure that tactic takes time to complete level but it's easy in any game to do so. Like Yahtzee said, when you have health that doesn't regenerate until you find health pack you need to collect, it makes you think how to proceed with next encounter. Thought like Doom 2, the game I grew up with, you had quick save that made it bit easier but still.

Last thing that I had notice with Call of Duty games, atleast MW2 and Black Ops, You can't just camp and kill dudes or they come forever. You need to move foward all the time to stop them coming, so they kind of balanced it out with eternal spawn of enemies if you don't move on, I mean balanced regenerating healing thing, but in the end it got boring. There weren't really tactics in it when I played those games, just killed few dudes, rushed to next cover and hoped for autosave or that the enemys stoped to respawn at that place.

So I would like to see games with 100% health system that doesn't regenrate automatically, you need to work for your health and survival. It's hard game but I like challenge in my games.

Old Call of Duty - cook a fool, he drops a small health kit (20% regen).

New Call of Duty - shoot someone, they hide behind cover for five seconds (full health! Yay!) then they jump out and kill the fuck out of you.

One of the best combinations of the Regen/meter systems I've ever sen has got to be either Halo 1 or Metroid Other M.

Before you I get torn apart by that (hardly seems likely since we're on page 4) Other M's system would probably only work for a high-powered space marine in power armour, but this is the BEST application of a "Saftey net" (so to speak) in terms of player health.

For those that don't know. Other M would allow you to recharge 99 units of health if your energy was at 0 (the same way you recharge missiles). It does force you to run and hide, but it A) doesn't bring you back to full health. B) makes sense from a technical standpoint. If the armour malfunctions, you're still alive, your armour is just toast. Don't get hit again! C) still gives you a fighting chance when the going gets tough or it gets the that point where you're killed by "the last baddie in the room" and have to start from your last save/encounter/whatever.

Anyways this is a couple examples of many. I don't have THAT big of problem regenerative health per-se, but I do believe that it's kind of a plague in the industry right now, and I do believe that it is in many ways inferior to meters.

A game where regen health works 100% brilliantly, Portal.

I liked the Just Cause 2 approach--you take permanent damage if you get hit by powerful weapons, and you take temporary damage if it's light weapons that you can run away from. Yeah, it cheats a bit, but if you've taken permanent damage, then you're SOL until you can chance across a health kit, which are one-time use per life, and they are only in so many places.

And glad to see Infamous and Prototype got a word in edgewise on this one--they come to mind when he discussed the problems with regenerating health. And, if memory serves, the first Halo had a separate shield and health system, where your shield would regenerate, but health required a pickup to recover.


it isn't good tension when you're at the tail end of Half-Life 1 and you only have 1 FUCKING HEALTH and you fall just little bit and you lose that 1 FUCKING HEALTH. Did that the first time, I hate the last little bit of HL1.

you know there are little pools of sparkly water everywhere that heal you forever without running out all through the end of half life, right? because i can imagine how that would have really sucked if those didn't exist, or, you know, you didn't know they were there.

Yes, I know that now. At the time, I was young and too busy trying to get to the end of the game fast so I didn't notice, I found that out on the second playthrough. Yeah, it made it hard. I still hate the ending of that game though. The rest of it is fucking awesome, don't get me wrong, I love the rest of it, but the last little bit is just a big shitspot on an otherwise awesome car.

What about if your ability to heal was inversely linked to your ability to fight?

So you have a fixed amount of health, and 'fatigue'. You lose some health, and the only way to heal is to sacrifice fighting effectiveness (and thereby gain fatigue), until you become weak and need to rest so you'll be fighting fit again (and replenish your fatigue).

This system worked best when I was thinking of a game where you use food-based weapons, like a burger bar or a kebab-bomb (ke-bomb) or a fish stick and so on...

Far Cry 2 had the best healing system: get shot, pull that motherfuckin bullet out. You only had to do it when you're health was really low too.

Your guy was such a bad ass. If he ever got low on health, you could get him to just jam a knife right into his arm and pull the bullet out with it, or if his arm got dislocated, forcefully relocate it with your other arm.

I disagree, and I unfortunately do not have time at the moment to go in depth but I think your complaint is not about the re-genning health, but about how it's most often used (much like any concept). Considering in half your examples you only fight 1-4 Enemies at a time, usually dispatched in what, a shot or two? And anytime there's a boss fight or large number of baddies coming up you conveniently find a big pile of health and armor. Thus achieving the very thing you don't apparently like. Go play DOOM or HL again and see how easy it is now.


Ironic Pirate:
Regeneration also allows for more complex level design, because developers no exactly how much health you have before each encounter.

And yet they've never tried that yet...


Ironic Pirate:

Regeneration also allows for more complex level design, because developers no exactly how much health you have before each encounter.

Granted thats not entirely fair. Occasionally there's a box-shaped room with a maze of crates, but not usually.

Shit, when I said level design, I meant in terms of set-pieces and things of that nature. Also, most games back then had just as simple level design and you know it.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Why Regenerating Health Sucks

Yahtzee thinks waiting a few seconds to be at full health is bad.

Read Full Article

It's weird that this is the subject this week, because I was actually curious as to what you think would be better than Regen Health or the standard "This is a number that represents your health. It hit's 0, you die" kind of health.

A more pertinent question I have is what do you think of a combination of Standard Health + Regenerating Shield of some sort, as seen in Halo 1, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Halo Reach, both Gungrave games, and probably a few more I don't know.

I know that, personally, it actually made my gaming experience better (in Gungrave and X-Men), because it still made me weary of taking to many shots, as I could die easily enough, but it also made me willing to go tae a few hits, because, hey, my external shield will take it, and it recharges, but can only take a small amount of abuse, so be quick about it.

I dunno that regenerative health needs to be done away with. We need look at the game. Most Action/Adventure, Hack n' Slash, like God of War but, Assassins Creed, Riddick, games all have health bars that require, pots, medkits, fonts, magic etc to heal. Cool...The "problem" lies in FPS's (oh and Gears of War...odd) specifically (in my experience) and I think it's all about how the developer wants you to feel in the game.

Having a regenerating health system allows you to move from encounter to encounter full health. The idea is you get full immersed in the experience, because you arent worrying about where the health packs are, or how much space your inventory has. You take your 2 or 3 guns. Find a wall to hide behind, blow everything away...rest up and go to the next encounter. If that is the "design of the game" - meaning the developers want you to feel fast paced action and not worry about health, then i think the regenerative health system is great and the flaw isn't so much with the system but rather that the encounters suck, aren't action packed enough etc.

Games like Far Cry, old school DOOM, Dead Space 1 and 2, the use of med packs, reflecting on the current state of games, is now used as a atmospheric device....does that make sense?

What I mean is, hunting for and acquiring health packs, or purchasing them, managing inventory space is now more about creating a certain...feel, to the game. It can create tension, make you take your time through a level or encounter, learn strategies to beat your foes, (of course the "see that part thats flashing, stands out or the game is telling you to shoot" deprives us of that strategy but whatever) adds a little something to the game.

With the current games being released now I think we need to view the system not as a mechanic of all games, but how it's used in a specific game and does it pull it off well. Does the regenerating health system add more excitement to the gameplay? Do you get to the next encounter and feel like it mattered that you could regen health?

If you don't like games that use a health regeneration system, it might be time to start thinking about health regen as a bias instead of a fad. If it has health regen maybe not play the game?

It can be done really well...imo CoD:MW did it well, Resistance 2...not so well. Resistance with blocks of health that regenerated and health packs to fill up depleted blocks...personally, i thought was inspired.

Main point...I think it depends on what the dev's want you to "feel" while playing. Tension = inventory and med packs etc. "Easy" Play through but exciting encounters = health regen. Also i think Multiplayer benefits more from regen.

Oldschool health systems did add a lot more challenge to a game. Recently, my brother and I have been doing "classic game nights" where we break out some oldschool game and try to get through it. One of the latest ones we tried was Streets of Rage 2 for the Sega Genesis. It was so thrilling having those moments where a group of enemies would beat you down to a sliver of health and your partner would have to do everything in their power to defend you from harm until you could make it to a Turkey a la Garbage Can to fill your meter back up. Games like that trained you not to be so reckless since health wasn't always forthcoming.

I also liked the Sonic the Hedgehog and classic Super Mario health handlings. Having to fetch back all your rings after taking a hit to the chin was insane--You'd almost never get them all back if you managed to get more than twenty. Then with Tiny Mario, you just felt the pressure to survive in hopes of seeing another mushroom somewhere down the road.

Of course, they were nothing like the Contra games that prettymuch said, "Screw health. If you get touched you die." Although I guess they fall under the category of games that use lives as health instead, since you started right back where you fell until you had no more lives left.

I'm gettin' those nostalgia pangs again...

I think it depends on the game design. E.g. the Last Stand mode in Dawn of War 2 has regenerating health but it's not based on staying out of trouble and it's not fast, you constantly regenerate and some builds boost their health regeneration to a level where it's hard for enemies to deal damage faster than it heals but it also means that when you're wounded you stay wounded for a while. Of course that mode doesn't allow you to just sit in place before moving to the next encounter so you don't get the usual full health reset other games give you.

The Jedi Knight series had a great system for health.

If Lightsaber: face your opponent and things won't hit you

If Gun: Switch to the lightsaber you suicidal moron

Heh, I remember that. Don't forget the level 3 heal power either. Or bacta tanks in JKII. For that matter, lightsaber+heal+grip+lighting=godhood. Fun times. Well, except for some of the more...erm...poorly thought out levels in JKII, but that's what noclip is for.

But on topic, I think regenerating health has it's uses, but the points Yahtzee brings up are valid. Then again, I don't like the healthpack system much either. I used to be a proponent of the luck idea, but it seems kind of contrived, or maybe that's just me not being used to it. Come to think of it, none of the systems work perfectly purely on their own; I think the best health systems are hybrids.

Here's a bad idea: if the applied phlebotinum that makes the healing system works is nanotechnology, and health regenerates at different rates based on the quality of the air/soil/whatever you're standing near. This could open the way to various denial of regeneration attacks and tactics, and give another tactical consideration to the player. Or it could fail miserably. Either way.

I like the health system in Sin Episodes. It has regular health pickups and stations, but you can refill empty health stations with special items. Certain health items also explode into a healing mist when shot or blown up. The mist hangs around for a limited period of time and regenerates your health when you're standing in it. Conversely, the mist does damage to certain types of enemies when they get in it. There's also a non-healing mist that makes enemies stronger while damaging you (it may have caused a bullet time effect rather than damaging you though, I can't remember). Again, it is created when certain items are destroyed, and it hangs around for a limited amount of time.

I've always thought it might be interesting to have an old-school shooter where there's a struggle between the player and the enemies for the same health/ammo resources in the environment or there are reactive heal/hurt materials like in Sin Episodes. But then of course we're stuck with the same "slowly walk down this linear, cluttered hallway and press the use button to put explosives on the scripted thing while noisy in-engine cinematics occur in the skybox outside the level" shooters over and over and over again. We can't have real level design or gameplay ideas anymore because people are shit eaters.

I wonder if a combination of a fighting games health regeneration system would work with a "Health Gathering" system in a different stle of game?

What if you took high damage at 100% health, health represented by a green bar, and it lowered you to 70%. However, there was still (on your little bar display of health, or however its done) a thin red line up to 80% that could be regenerated over time.

Essentially, you could regenerate up to 80%, but that's it. The remaining 20% after regenerating would have to be done with a health pack/station/etc. The idea being you maintain tension (and sine you're not sitting around waiting, pacing) between fights but don't punish the player too severely. You're forcing the player to be attentive to what they're doing instead of just running in guns blazing while not sacrificing the fun.

Please let me know if this has been done before, just crossed my mind on reading this.

EDIT: Just realized. Fallout 3 did kind of do this with the injury to certain body parts system as did MGS 3. Still like the idea though.

Also, the "Luck System" is something me and friends have passed around for years. I love the idea myself and there's a ton of creative ways to exploit it.

What about leaning on walls for health in The Getaway? :P

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