Mournful Meandering: Press E To

If you’re jacked into the ludosphere, you’ll probably have seen folks tittering about a funeral scene in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare with the button prompt “Press F to Pay Respects”. Yes, it’s an absurd prompt from a daft story with the emotional depth of a bedpan, but is the idea entirely unworkable? Starting with a similar prompt, Leo Burke has created a sad and wonderful little game trying to recreate actual feelings of mourning. It’s named Press E To, and it’s awfully pleasant.

Burke was originally working on a forest scene for another game of his when Call of Duty arrived with that scene, he explains:

And, I’m not sure. I’m not sure if this game is a critique of this scene (does Call of Duty really need a critique?) or what. I guess, I had a death in the family a few months ago, and I guess the scene in Call of Duty really didn’t feel like what mourning feels like, and I wanted to try and re-create that somehow.

The initial view, with the monument glimpsed through endless trees, is beautiful. The monologue sparked by that interaction is achingly familiar. Even the awkward camera controls recreate that feeling of drifting and wandering without real purpose or control.

You can download Press E To free for Windows and Mac. Ta to Warp Door for spotting this one.

36 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Can you also jump over the grave, Watch_Dogs-esque?

  2. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Quick, someone make one wherein the player presses D to defenstrate various objects with no emotion.

  3. c-Row says:

    Even the awkward camera controls recreate that feeling of drifting and wandering without real purpose or control.

    Also, being a rabbit.

  4. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    Advanced Welfare

  5. unimural says:

    What a lovely, sad experience.

  6. Monggerel says:

    Zero Alt-text is probably the strongest Alt-text.

  7. JB says:

    Wait, that’s a real scene from the game? Bloody hell.

    I’d seen pictures but assumed they were lampooning the general lead-you-by-the-nose-ness of CoD.

    My gast is well and truly flabbered.

    • Bull0 says:

      You press the button, the player character puts a hand on the coffin, he looks down and you see his stump arm in a sling, that’s it. Takes about four seconds, serves as a narrative beat in the campaign. All the obsessing over it is pretty flabbergasting in my opinion. Pretty much the exact same prompt appeared in one of the Batman Arkham games and none of you gave a shit.

      • Orija says:

        Oh, come on. In Batman, it was an easter egg that you had to go out of your way to find and could quite as easily miss. In Cowabunga, you can’t progress further in the game until you pay your respects.

        • Kamestos says:

          I also thought about Batman playing this scene. But in Batman, there was a moving music and a speech from the villain, and I feel it further developed the character. It was also a secret in an open world, so it cant really compare with COD.

          • Bull0 says:

            Obviously it’s more effective in Batman, the story is generally deeper – but people aren’t complaining because it wasn’t effective enough in COD, people are complaining that it’s tasteless, complaining that it irresponsibly trivializes loss to make it a button prompt, etc. Which is hypocritical, because Batman did it and nobody cared. In the right context, it’s fine, it just fell a bit flat in COD, which is to be expected – nothing inherently wrong or “flabbergasting” there, etc. The really frustrating thing for me is the new COD has real issues – they promised dedi servers and didn’t deliver them, the campaign has a completion bug so you don’t get credit, etc – but all the journos will talk about is Press X to pay your respects lolol cod

        • Bull0 says:

          That isn’t why people are complaining, and it’s not what I responded to. In the independent for example it’s the tastelessness of the wording they’re unhappy about. link to independent.co.uk

          • Reapy says:

            I just watched the scene, I have no clue what is tasteless about it? How should it have been worded? Its an interactive cut scene and the button to do actions in the game is X, how should it have been phrased? “Pay your respects by pressing X” ?

            That’s what CoD does, quick time events to try to bring interactivity to cut scenes. I could argue they tried to make it more impactful a scene by requiring a button press rather than letting it play on its own.

            *shrug*

          • Philomelle says:

            That’s nice and all, but “Press O to pay your respects.” is the exact wording used by Arkham City when you approach the Wayne family’s murder scene.

            It still works very well because of various circumstances surrounding the scene. Crime Alley, despite its name, is the only space in the game that criminals actively avoid, plus pressing O triggers an unskippable moment of relative silence in an otherwise very noisy world. It plays heavily into the various Batman mythos and hints toward how the death of Waynes is what truly triggered the city’s transformation into the Lovecraftian monstrosity we see in the story.

            But all that aside, it’s still triggered by a prompt that says you should “press O to pay your respects”.

      • jonahcutter says:

        There does seem to be a bit of group hysteria over it. If I remember correctly, a similar action happens in Brothers where you press a single button to take an emotionally charged, and purely scripted, action. And many people found the scene very affecting. I don’t remember a lot of hooting and pointing at the simple mechanic of it anyway.

        I don’t doubt the CoD scene may not work well, or that Brothers may have handled its scene better. But mechanically, it is the same thing.

        Although I do admit I haven’t played the game in a while, so my memory of it may be imperfect. But the scene in Brothers is what I thought of when I heard of the reaction to the CoD scene.

      • KevinLew says:

        Here’s the difference between Arkham City and Call of Duty. In the former, it’s Batman visiting an abandoned, quiet alley in the middle of Gotham City. In the latter, we’re talking a full military funeral, complete with an honor guard. The point is that Call of Duty “gamified” something extremely formal and serious. By doing that, they removed all of the gravitas that it was supposed to have. So yes, they are very different situations.

        • Bull0 says:

          …so a child’s parents being murdered in front of them, we’re filing that under “not serious”

          • TechnicalBen says:

            No. In COD it’s a movie playing, that pretends you can interact.
            In Batman (presumably as you described it) the player decides if they wish to visit, decides if they wish to see that scene in the story.

            In COD it could have been a “press to pay respects” and if you did not, it skipped the scene. It would be player interaction as they could decide what part of the story to concentrate on. Or it could have been part of the gameplay.

            In COD it’s neither part of the narrative or part of the gameplay. It’s a “press to play scene” button that is not even required (it’s a cut scene, what are they expecting, players to stand there for hours on end?).

          • Bull0 says:

            Well, you can take your time over it before you press the button, I guess, kind of roleplay the moment a little bit. I’m not sure what this has to do with anything!

          • gwathdring says:

            I think TecnicalBen makes an excellent point. That you aren’t forced through the section as Batman is actually quite important.

            I haven’t played the CoD sequences but it sounds to me like it might be much better suited to a traditional cut-scene.

            Even in Batman, I still think that having it be a button prompt in the first place is a little odd. Why not a cutscene? What does the moment gain from being explicitly interactive? One the one hand I don’t find it laughable the way some people seem to. On the other hand I don’t think it adds a poignancy to the scene in Batman.

          • Captain Two-Slice says:

            I think the difference is that in Arkham City you had to go out of your way to find the location, and then the prompt was to indicate that yes, you did want to pay respects, whereas in CoD, you press the button because you have to, and you just want to move forward with the game. Liken it to being forced to apologize for something, you know you don’t mean it, they know you don’t mean it, but doing it of your own volition actually has meaning.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        I had come to say that yes it can be done very well, just as in batman arkham city. It was very moving and touching, mostly because you found it on your own without being forced there “by the nose” as people are rightly saying here, and because you know the HUGE backstory of batman and “crime alley” and what happened there all those years ago.
        As someone else stated, there is also a monologue from the main villain of the piece, and bats actually kneels and lowers his head in a way that you can literally feel his pain and anger at the events that have brought him to that point, facing one of his toughest challenges of his life.
        It can hardly be compared to “press E to pay respects”, just to stick a hand on a coffin for a couple of seconds, and see the maimed soldier reflected in it. For one thing, bats is a well known character with an extremely well known backstory about his parents. For another, you can take as long as you like. For yet another, you aren’t forced to do it at all. And again, it’s just perfectly well done there.
        Nothing in call of doody has been well done for years. That’s why player numbers are so low on steam right now for the garbage new release.
        Less than 30,000 players on release day, and all of the first week, is unheard of for call of doody. Even ghosts had something like 100,000 the whole first week. Blops 2 had over 120,000.
        That’s why people are laughing at cod; because it’s laughable

      • Viroso says:

        There’s a great article on Gamasutra that explains the different. I won’t link it because RPS moderation is sorta shoddy and I don’t know if it’ll come through.

        But basically, here are the key differences:
        In Batman it’s a choice, it’s how the game shows you it’s the famous alley, by doing that it also reminds you that you’re not in a prison but in a real part of Gotham, and it is worded in a way that isn’t crazy. [A] Pay Respects. Lastly, while both games are about fictional stuff, the scene in Batman continues to be very fictional, while a military funeral not so much.

        In CoD, it isn’t a choice, but an objective. It’s something you need to to move on, making the mourning seem like an objective. It is worded Press F to Pay Respects, making it like paying respect is a consequence of paying F, which it is, but it makes it so obvious it removes all weight from it.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Oh it gets better. It’s narrowed down interaction and player “choice” to deciding if to undo the left or right shoulder harness first. Literally, it asks you which you wish to undo first, and even asks you to press the other button to continue with the second.

      Now, if it was an in depth simulation of strapping up and unstrapping, a kind of car seat simulation version of Receiver’s gun handling, then that would be special. But no, it’s QTEs for things that would happen in normal cut scenes.

      Soon it will be “press Q to breath” and “press X to give a…”

      • gwathdring says:

        See this is a more valid criticism to me; press E to pay your respects makes more sense than pressing buttons for individual straps

    • gwathdring says:

      Games are an explicitly interactive medium. That they explicitly request our complicity does not flabber my ghast in the slightest.

      I would argue that misdirection is always the preferred mode; make if feel as much a part of the broader systems of the game as possible. But I don’t see how it becomes somehow offensive when the game explicitly acknowledges that it is a game asking you to perform a task before you proceed.

      That doesn’t absolve it from all criticism … but I really don’t see what’s so bad about it.

      • unimural says:

        But I don’t see how it becomes somehow offensive when the game explicitly acknowledges that it is a game asking you to perform a task before you proceed.

        I think at the heart of the matter is that the way Advanced Warfare does it indeed reduces it into a task, and that is what offends many. There was a very reasonable piece on the failures of the scene at gamastura:

        link to gamasutra.com

  8. GameCat says:

    But can I press space to vault over this grave?

  9. ceponatia says:

    I can’t find any of the guns in this game!

    I don’t think people are “obsessing” over the CoD scene… I think everyone was taken aback by how cheap and hilarious it is to press a button to pay respects. CoD to me has always been a cheap game marketed to meatheads who glorify the most cliched things about the military.

  10. alms says:

    It’s a skip for me, I’ll keep my monnies for Press UNBOUND to Pay Respects.

  11. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    Snark snark, defense of this game, comparison to that other game, smug assertion of correctness.

    This is a lovely statement in interactive form – thank you for passing it along to us. I hope it helped the developer process what they’re going through.