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What's better: glowing wings, or slipstreaming?

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Inarius descends on wings of light in a Diablo 4 cutscene screenshot.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Blizzard Entertainment

Last time, you decided that an enemy which can't see you but can sense you is better than one which only moves when you're not looking. I concede that the former opens so many possibilities in games but god, I hate the latter in a way I enjoy so much. Perfect terrible beings. But, science has decided and we must move on. This week, I ask you to pick between two forms of movement. What's better: glowing wings, or slipstreaming?

Glowing wings

Look, I'll not pretend that the appeal of glowing wings is anything other than they look cool. But isn't that enough? We're all beyond acting like visuals don't have an impact on the experience and feeling of a game, aren't we.

I first remember encountering glowing wings in Diablo II. In contrast to the grubby, gritting world, Tyrael's glowing wings or tendrils felt truly otherworldly. They made him a being so pristine in this demon-infested world, making everything around him feel even worse. Very good. I still think Diablo's angel wings are cool. I was mashing my screenshot key when a pair popped up in Diablo 4 this week too.

Cool glowing wings aren't always etheral. Plenty of cool robots have cool glowing mechanical wings, like the blood-powered robots of Ultrakill. Blizzard also went technowings for the Overwatch medic, Mercy. I feel just about every fantasy MMORPG has added glowing feathered wings as high-end fashion at some point. And surely some game or another has enjoyed borrowing Evangelion's sometimes-ethereal, sometimes-organic glowing wings.

I just think they're neat.


Slipstreaming is one of those things which feels like a made-up video game system, even though it's very real. So I carefully hang just behind someone driving/cycling/running/skiing and that makes me go fast, easier? Great idea. Even if slipstreaming weren't real, a game developer would invent it.

(Yes, I know the more common term is drafting, but if I label this thing as drafting then I need to tack on a load of words to explain I mean movement not planning or conscripting or picking cards or... slipstreaming, okay.)

Slipstreaming in video game is usually a bit unreal, of course. Leaving the slipstream often results in a dramatic turboboost, with a cool noise and a little special effect. Game designers did still invent the effect as we know it. I'm glad they not only decided to include this aspect of real-world physics but amplify it.

Slipstreaming is a nice little challenge. Reach the person ahead, carefully snuggle in close behind them, counter their attempts to shake you off, then pick your moment to rocket ahead. The reward for carefully following an unpredictable opponent with a mind of its own. It can be collaborative too, in team races. Or in cycling games, you'll often allow opponents to draft off you, working together and taking turns to pull your wee group so you can stay ahead of the pack (or catch up), ready to turn on each other when the time is right.

It's great when something real is a huge part of a video game genre yet feels made-up.

But which is better?

As much as I adore glowing wings, I never pick them for my own characters. Too ostentatious. A bit arrogant. And I adore the satisfaction of pulling ahead through slipstreaming, feeling like I've tricked the driver ahead into letting me win. Slipstreaming for me. But what do you think, reader dear?

Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

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