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What's better: mantling or cool swearing?

Vote now as we continue deciding the single best thing in games

Last time, you decided that dakka is better than overwatch (not Overwatch). It wasn't the most overwhelming victory of this scientific process so far, but it certainly was the loudest. More dakka indeed. This week, I ask you to pick between a cool form of human movement and some cool human speech. What's better: mantling or cool swearing?

Mantling

The second-most common phrase shouted at a video game is, science doubtless says, "You can get up that!" You could get up that. It's, like, three feet high. You'd scramble a little, sure. Might be tricky when carrying eight giant guns or 300 mud bricks, but I'm sure you could do it. I like that in a medium rife with godlike heroes, aliens, gods, and alien gods, the greatest challenge to our suspension of disbelief is bumping into a tiny obstacle that oh ABSOLUTELY you know your character could get up. So thank you, mantling.

What a relief to discover the game I've just started has mantling! Simply run up to an obstacle you know your character could haul themself up, and away they go! It's convenient, it's easy, it's fun, and it's exciting exploration. My virtuabody feels so clumsy and fake in games without mantling. It's no coincidence that immmersive sims are rife with mantling, from classics like Thief and System Shock 2 through to the present day.

Mantling also makes me more accepting of hard boundaries in the world. It lets me feel a little like I'm exploring with a real body, and makes that body certainly far stronger and more agile than most humans, so when I do encounter an obstacle too great to mantle, oh yep, that checks out, definitely no way you can get up that. I trust the boundaries as legitimate rather than obvious game design (ugh! game design! in a video game! can you believe it?).

Cool swearing

As I'm sure you know, swearing is neither big, nor funny, nor clever. Swearing in video games is often clumsy, aiming for edgy or rebellious or gritty but coming off posturing and embarrassing. But sometimes, sometimes swearing can be cool.

When I think cool swearing, the games of Grasshopper Manufacture jump to mind. In No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown opens the first mission by ramming his motorbike through a mansion's gate, decapitating two guards with a single stroke of his laser sword, and landing with a cry of "Fuckhead!" That idiot has many cool cusses. And I adore Killer7's squad of edgy supernatural assassins continually growling "You're fucked!" and "Fuck you!" and "Fuck it!" as they murder cultists. These games, and others, have such overwhelmingly rude 'tude that the swearing makes me beam like a child who just learned their first rude word from an older cousin on Christmas Day and is about to make grandad laugh so hard he almost chokes on his turkey.

I like how The Witcher 3 demonstrates the richness of swearing. For many characters, it's a natural and common part of their vocabulary. I don't think this is tryhard edginess, it's like swearing in the real world: neither cool nor failed cool, just everyday chat. But against a backdrop of mundane swearing, you do have some cool swearing. The scene of cockney spymaster Thaler trying to teach trolls swears so they can avoid violence by simply getting up in someone's face and telling them "Fuck off, you miserable cunt" is a delight.

Look, if I say any more oaths, my mum will hear and give me a skelping, so I'm stopping now. But if you gave more examples of cool swearing, reader dear, my crime would merely be keeping bad company. Go on, tell me more cool swears (and particulary uncool swears too).

But which is better?

I love swearing as much as the next person who thinks they're just a little bit cooler than they actually are, but mantling changed my life. It must be mantling. What do you think?

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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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice is likely in the sea.

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