We know the game is heavily designed around being replayed over and over. Replayability is a good thing, and I don’t have anything against that. What I don’t seem to particularly like, are the systems the games have implemented to encourage it.
In the older games, getting different ratings on how you perform on a mission was the replay value. The first runs are where you discover the possibilities in a level and consequent runs are to optimize the run and get a higher rating. You could replay to try different approaches and mess around, and each run deepened your understanding the level. Being able to get a silent assassin rating should be the culmination of all your effort spent studying the level, it’s an indication you have mastered the location. As such, the games reward you once you attain that rating.
Now, the silent assassin rating has zero value. It’s been demoted to a generic checklist item and has the same value as any other item on that checklist. You could complete a level silent assassin suit only and the game would still deem you as haven’t yet “mastered” a level because you haven’t done a bunch of super specific actions. The worst of all is that this checklist is tied to a progression meter that gives you unlockable items. If you want those items, you have no choice but grind for it. The game even acknowledges the grindy-ness of it, that’s why they gave you alternate starting points, to speed up your runs.
The limited loadout slots also adds to this. Limiting iconic items that have always been part of 47’s inventory just unnecessarily restricts what players can do in a run. It lends itself to planning ahead and strategizing, and on paper that’s not a bad thing, but in practice it only leads to more restarts of a level than there should be. It’s also counter-intuitive because the player always goes into a level blind for their first run, so they’re forced to pick the most versatile equipment like the lockpick and coins.
So, not only does the replay value of the games feel forced because of the grindy location mastery system, the devs are actively nerfing the enjoyment of your first run by imposing limited inventory slots. This is some shoddy game design right there, and I’m calling it out.