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Sabotaging The Level

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Completing missions or objectives in a certain way make future missions easier.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
AnonymousMaterials on Apr 26th 2012 at 8:00:37 PM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Jun 13th 2018 at 9:25:21 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Do We Have This One??

You're about ready to start the next stage in a video game, but you're already beginning to dread it. It's got fire pits, Demonic Spiders and all sorts of nasty surprises waiting for you. Even if you could get stronger, it wouldn't make what's coming that much more bearable. What's a lone hero to do?

Lucky for you, it turns out there's a side mission that involves flooding those dangerous fire pits. Plus by completing a certain quest you end up cutting off their supplies, making the most powerful enemy little more than a beefy mook.

Congratulations, you just sabotaged the next level!

This trope is invoked whenever a player is given an option of making the next level in a game easier by completing other objectives before hand. But rather than making yourself stronger, you're making the stage itself easier by compromising it in some way. Your actions disable traps, weaken the enemies or put you in a better position than before.

Compare Golden Path, that trope refers to a path that yields the best results in the entire game.

Also, if failing certain objectives will make later levels easier, this overlaps with Do Well, but Not Perfect.


Examples:

Eastern RPG

  • In Final Fantasy VIII, when exploring the Centra Excavation Site, Laguna is forced to fight five battles on the cliff, but tampering with the middle trap door, blowing the two detonators in the correct order, and pushing the boulder when in the tunnels will each prevent one fight.
  • Golden Sun
    • Downplayed. The Force Orb is an entirely optional item that makes getting through the Lost Woods easier by showing you the path to take. If the player doesn't take it, a later cutscene where it would be used to knock down a log holding up a giant boulder is replaced with your teammate kicking the log instead. Not taking it even after this prevents you from entering the Bonus Dungeon in the sequel, however.
    • During the Colosso Tournament Arc, only Isaac gets to fight. His teammates get to cheer from the stands, and use their Invisible to Normals Psynergy to modify the terrain, making the obstacle course much easier for Isaac.
    • In the sequel, the Serpent's Boss Battle requires this. The Serpent is a giant dragon holding a town hostage unless maidens are sacrificed to it. A local boy is emptying barrels of sake in front of the dragon to weaken it, but doesn't know it's weak to light. The player then goes around letting light into the cavern until the Serpent is weak enough to be beaten, though it can be fought at any time (as an example, fighting it with all four beams of light makes it regenerate 30 HP per turn, as opposed to 200. Only the Bonus Boss has that kind of regeneration).

First-Person Shooter

  • Some speedrunners use these tactics through exploits of the game. For instance, in RC Master's Mythic speedrun of Halo: Reach, in one level he knocks a bunch of crates into a hallway before initiating the encounter, crates that would ordinarily never be in there. This causes all the incoming enemies to be unable to retreat via said hallway, letting him pick them off with ease.

Platform Game

  • If you complete stages in a certain order in Mega Man X, you make other stages easier. You could end up cutting the electricity in one stage, melting the ice in another, etc.
    • Mega Man X
      • If you completed Storm Eagle's stage, his airship Death Rogumer will fall onto Spark Mandrill's stage, causing Blackout Basement.
      • If you completed Launch Octopus' stage, the waters will flood down to Flame Mammoth's stage, dispersing off the lava within.
    • Inverted in Mega Man X6: The gimmick of the game is "Nightmare Phenomenon", where completing a stage will cause phenomena in certain other stages; e.g defeating Blizzard Wolfang will cause ice to cover parts of Metal Shark Player's stage, while defeating Commander Yammark will cause robot dragonflies to appear in Blaze Heatnix's stage.

Real-Time Strategy

  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun will have optional missions along with the "main" mission. Completing the optional missions will often sabotage the capabilities of your foe in the "main" mission.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has a "Risk"-Style Map, where conquering a region will give you an extra starting honor guard unit or some other benefit (attacking twice in a turn, starting with an entire base, etc). But since this works for the opponent too, taking a region from one means they'll have one less unit to Zerg Rush you with on starting. Since they get normal units instead of the watered-down honor guard units, it makes a big difference.
  • In Warzone 2100 's campaign mode, your base, army, and fortifications are persistent between missions; you can spend extra time and power building up defenses solely in anticipation of the next base mission.
  • "Wanderers of Sorceria" (a custom campaign using the Warcraft III engine) has an interesting take on this: Since you play as characters working for different sides, deliberately failing one sidequest can make a future level easier, and vice versa (for example, if you fail to destroy teleporters allowing the enemy to attack your base from behind in one mission, a later mission where you play as that enemy gives you powerful siege weapons that are otherwise unavailable).

Stealth-Based Game

  • In Metal Gear Solid 3, you can shoot The End with your sniper rifle during the brief time during which he is unprotected after a cutscene. If you do that, in the forest where you are supposed to face him later, you will instead be tracked by a few of Ocelot's minions. If you're careful enough, you can go through the forest without even fighting them, and it's a hell of a lot easier than having a sniping duel with The End. And more generally, you can blow up food and weapon supplies to handicap the enemy in the few later areas (they will be hungry or short on ammunition).
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, you can sabotage enemy installations while playing a story mission such as taking out anti-aircraft radars and radar dishes. If you do so, you can do things that would be normally be dangerous such as landing via chopper near the outskirts of enemy installations or halt enemy reinforcement from other enemy outposts in case players would want to replay the mission to get any objectives that they may have missed or improve their mission rank.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Freedom Fighters will occasionally throw multiple missions at you. Completing some will make the other missions easier, such as providing you with backup, or decreasing the number of enemies you have to fight.

Western RPG

  • Dantooine in Knights of the Old Republic II features an incipient war between the Republic-loyal interim government and a mercenary army intent on a coup. Part of the corresponding quest involves preparing or sabotaging the government house's defenses depending on the side you choose. You can also boost or sabotage the morale of the government's troops.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, many boss battles can be made a lot easier if you place a bunch of traps around the boss before they become hostile and attack, triggering all traps at once.
  • Ditto Pillars of Eternity, a Spiritual Successor to BG, although its mechanics prevent trap abuse by limiting how many you can place at once.
  • Ditto Dragon Age: Origins. Notably defied on one occasion, namely, during the nighttime defense of Redcliffe against the undead: since the game doesn't have a day-night cycle, the battle itself actually takes place in a different game level sharing most of the architecture with the main Redcliffe village level, so any traps you've placed beforehand in the latter naturally won't show up in the former. This trope can also be inverted by a high-enough level rogue by sneaking into the enemy's bulwark and disabling their traps right under their noses, letting the warriors charge right through their defenses and making an upcoming fight a lot easier.
  • The Mass Effect series will give the player ways of making their immediate tasks easier. As an example, Shepard needs to save a potential party member who's being held down by several gangs. Before proceeding with the main assault, Shepard could hack a relatively strong robot to turn on its handlers, and also prevent much needed repairs on a gunship they would need to fight eventually. The series as a whole has some of this in a meta sense, as your ability to gather allies to help retake Earth from the Reapers in Mass Effect 3 can be drastically affected by your choices in the previous games.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • An early mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has you assassinating someone on a golf course. If you push all the golf carts into a nearby water hazard before initiating the encounter, your target won't be able to use them to escape.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in the mission "Vertical Bird", where Toreno has CJ steal a Hydra (a fighter jet) off a aircraft carrier, if you destroy two of the jets on the carrier before stealing one of them, then the player will only have to fight one Hydra after the player takes off with one of them.

Non Video Game Examples

Literature

  • In the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Night Dragon, a number of factors affect the difficulty of the climactic fight, such as having all three of the major Swords of Plot Advancement (and, in the case of the magic armour, having it in its best condition). Most directly, however, there are side-encounters like the Juggernaut or the Pyramidal Cell, the destruction of which explicitly reduces the statistics of the titular dragon.

Professional Wrestling

  • Junkyard Dog once won a best two out of three falls match while working as a Heel by attacking his opponent with a chair, earning himself a disqualification for the first fall but making his opponent very weak so that he could easily win the next two.


Feedback: 51 replies

Apr 27th 2012 at 4:18:09 AM

Dawn Of War: Dark Crusade has a Risk Style Map, where conquering a region will give you an extra starting honor guard unit or some other benefit (attacking twice in a turn, starting with an entire base, etc). But since this works for the opponent too, taking a region from one means they'll have one less unit to Zerg Rush you with on starting. Since they get normal units instead of the watered-down honor guard units, it makes a big difference.

Nov 11th 2012 at 7:39:30 AM

Prepare For Later Side Quest? Clunky but this may be difficult to title well.

Nov 11th 2012 at 7:47:30 AM

This sounds like the Golden Path, though that trope refers to a path that yields the best results in the entire game.

Also, if failing certain objectives will make later levels easier, this overlaps with Do Well But Not Perfect.

Nov 11th 2012 at 11:58:29 AM

  • In Metal Gear Solid 3, you can shoot The End with your sniper riffle during the brief time during which he is unprotected after a cutscene. If you do that, in the forest where you are supposed to face him later, you will instead be tracked by a few of Ocelot's minions. If you're careful enough, you can go through the forest without even fighting them, and it's a hell of a lot easier than having a sniping duel with The End. And more generally, you can blow up food and weapon supplies to handicap the enemy in the few later areas (they will be hungry or short on ammunition).

Nov 11th 2012 at 2:53:38 PM

Role Playing Game

  • Dantooine in Knights Of The Old Republic II features an incipient war between the Republic-loyal interim government and a mercenary army intent on a coup. Part of the corresponding quest involves preparing or sabotaging the government house's defenses depending on the side you choose. You can also boost or sabotage the morale of the government's troops.

Also, second example for Mass Effect:

  • The series as a whole has some of this in a meta sense, as your ability to gather allies to help retake Earth from the Reapers in Mass Effect 3 can be drastically affected by your choices in the previous games.

Nov 11th 2012 at 5:51:29 PM

  • In Warzone 2100's campaign mode, your base, army, and fortifications are persistent between missions; you can spend extra time and power building up defenses solely in anticipation of the next base mission.

Oct 6th 2015 at 1:33:24 AM

  • In Final Fantasy VIII, when exploring the Centra Excavation Site, Laguna is forced to fight five battles on the cliff, but tampering with the middle trap door, blowing the two detonators in the correct order, and pushing the boulder when in the tunnels will each prevent one fight.

Oct 6th 2015 at 2:37:34 AM

Fixed the link to Kot OR 2. Also:

  • In the Baldurs Gate series, many boss battles can be made a lot easier if you place a bunch of traps around the boss before they become hostile and attack, triggering all traps at once.
  • Ditto Pillars Of Eternity, a Spiritual Successor to BG, although its mechanics prevent trap abuse by limiting how many you can place at once.
  • Ditto Dragon Age Origins. Also, a high-enough level rogue can invert it and make an upcoming fight a lot easier by sneaking into the enemy's bulwark and disabling their traps right under their noses, letting the warriors charge right through their defenses.

Oct 6th 2015 at 3:16:06 PM

Does this count?

  • Mega Man X 1
    • If you completed Storm Eagle's stage, his airship Death Rogumer will fall onto Spark Mandrill's stage, causing Blackout Basement.
    • If you completed Launch Octopus' stage, the waters will flood down to Flame Mammoth's stage, dispersing off the lava within.
  • Mega Man X 6: The gimmick of the game is "Nightmare Phenomenon", where completing a stage will cause phenomena in certain other stages; e.g defeating Blizzard Wolfang will cause ice to cover parts of Metal Shark Player's stage, while defeating Commander Yammark will cause robot dragonflies to appear in Blaze Heatnix's stage.

Oct 7th 2015 at 12:34:26 PM

^ Do they actually make the next levels easier, or it's just an aesthetic difference?

Oct 7th 2015 at 1:52:52 PM

Agree that it needs a better name; sabotaging makes it sound like it would make the level harder.

Mission Prep Side Quest?

Oct 7th 2015 at 5:14:16 PM

^^ X6 is an inversion of this, then.

Oct 7th 2015 at 5:36:39 PM

Will write up something on Phantom Pain. This clearly plays this trope up.

Oct 8th 2015 at 4:54:46 PM

Some speedrunners use these tactics through exploits of the game. For instance, in RC Master's Mythic speedrun of Halo Reach, in one level he knocks a bunch of crates into a hallway before initiating the encounter, crates that would ordinarily never be in there. This causes all the incoming enemies to be unable to retreat via said hallway, letting him pick them off with ease.

Oct 8th 2015 at 5:13:15 PM

An early mission in Grand Theft Auto Vice City has you assassinating someone on a golf course. If you push all the golf carts into a nearby water hazard before initiating the encounter, your target won't be able to use them to escape.

Oct 9th 2015 at 1:52:27 AM

  • "Wanderers of Sorceria" (a custom campaign using the Warcraft III engine) has an interesting take on this: Since you play as characters working for different sides, deliberately failing one sidequest can make a future level easier, and vice versa (for example, if you fail to destroy teleporters allowing the enemy to attack your base from behind in one mission, a later mission where you play as that enemy gives you powerful siege weapons that are otherwise unavailable).
  • Downplayed in Golden Sun: The Force Orb is an entirely optional item that makes getting through the Lost Woods easier by showing you the path to take. If the player doesn't take it, a later cutscene where it would be used to knock down a log holding up a giant boulder is replaced with your teammate kicking the log instead. Not taking it even after this prevents you from entering the Bonus Dungeon in the sequel, however.
    • In the sequel, the Serpent bossfight requires this. The Serpent is a giant dragon holding a town hostage unless maidens are sacrificed to it. A local boy is emptying barrels of sake in front of the dragon to weaken it, but doesn't know it's weak to light. The player then goes around letting light into the cavern until the Serpent is weak enough to be beaten, though it can be fought at any time (as an example, fighting it with all four beams of light makes it regenerate 30 HP per turn, as opposed to 200. Only the Bonus Boss has that kind of regeneration).

Oct 9th 2015 at 7:30:02 AM

Lumped together three separate categories covering Western RPG examples.

Oct 9th 2015 at 8:44:43 AM

  • In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, in the mission "Vertical Bird", where Toreno has CJ steal a Hyrda (a fighter jet) off a aircraft carrier, if you destroy two of the jets on the carrier before stealing one of them, then the player will only have to fight one Hydra after the player takes off with one of them.

Oct 9th 2015 at 4:58:09 PM

Does it have to be video games?

  • Professional Wrestling: Junkyard Dog once won a best two out of three falls match while working as a Heel by attacking his opponent with a chair, earning himself a disqualification for the first fall but making his opponent very weak so that he could easily win the next two.

Oct 10th 2015 at 12:48:56 AM

Oct 10th 2015 at 6:00:05 AM

  • In Phantom Pain, you can sabotage enemy installations while playing a story mission such as taking out anti-aircraft radars and radar dishes. If you do so, you can do things that would be normally be dangerous such as landing via chopper near the outskirts of enemy installations or halt enemy reinforcement from other enemy outposts in case players would want to replay the mission to get any objectives that they may have missed or improve their mission rank.

Oct 10th 2015 at 6:40:09 AM

Gamebook example:

  • In the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Night Dragon, a number of factors affect the difficulty of the climactic fight, such as having all three of the major Swords of Plot Advancement (and, in the case of the magic armour, having it in its best condition). Most directly, however, there are side-encounters like the Juggernaut or the Pyramidal Cell, the destruction of which explicitly reduces the statistics of the titular dragon.

Mar 14th 2016 at 10:32:17 AM

I've expanded the DAO example.

Mar 14th 2016 at 6:31:03 PM

I believe this could happen in war stories, as a means for making the next battle tipped in one's favor. I especially expect one stratagem from The Thirty Six Stratagems to be this.

Mar 14th 2016 at 11:16:00 PM

Another one for Golden Sun: During the Colosso Tournament Arc, only Isaac gets to fight. His teammates get to cheer from the stands, and use their Invisible To Normals Psynergy to modify the terrain, making the obstacle course much easier for Isaac.

Sep 15th 2016 at 9:49:04 PM

Sorry, for Mega Man X example, Flame Mammoth's stage is sabotaged after you play Chill Penguin's stage, not Launch Octopus'.

Jan 25th 2017 at 10:14:48 AM

  • Inverted in Dishonored, if Corvos keeps killing people in the game, it will raise Corvo's chaos level too high which will result in the rat and weeper populations to increase and increases the number of guards in the area.

Mar 20th 2018 at 8:38:30 AM

Another example for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas :

  • In the mission "High Noon", CJ has to kill Officer Pulaski by chasing him through the desert while he drives a muscle car and CJ drives a sand baggy. You can shoot the tires on his car with a sniper rifle before he enters it to make it easy to catch up to him during the chase.

Jun 20th 2017 at 3:09:30 PM

Who's in charge of this draft?

Jun 20th 2017 at 3:22:07 PM

^ It hasn't been edited since March 2016.

Jun 21st 2017 at 4:08:48 AM

Dragon Age: Origins. Also invoked, in the optional fight with Flemeth (spoiler?). A rogue can place traps all around the ground where she'll eventually show up before starting the fight, then watch as she sets them all off the moment the battle begins.

Easter RP Gs: Pokemon Yellow Version. If you lose against your rival in the first battle with him and then lose or pass up the second, optional battle on Victory Road, his Eevee later evolves into a Vaporeon, by far the easiest evolution to beat for your electric-type starter later in the game.

Nov 15th 2017 at 9:49:26 PM

For Mega Man X, in order to freeze Flame Mammoth's stage, you need to defeat Chill Penguin, not Launch Octopus.

Also, in Dark Souls II:

  • Mytha, The Baneful Queen is constantly being healed by a pool of poison while you receive damage from it. Should you burn down a windmill outside her boss room, it drains away the poison pool from her boss room.
  • The Fume Knight is constantly healed by Nadalia's Ashen Idols, and you will need Smelter Wedge to destroy the idols, preventing the Fume Knight from being healed.

Nov 15th 2017 at 9:32:14 AM

Adventure Game

  • Life Is Strange is designed to have player decisions affect the plot later along the line, but there are also a few cases where this can make the game easier:
    • Talking Kate Marsh down from her suicide attempt at the end of the second episode takes the form of 6 dialogue choices (which each offer 4 options, only one of which is correct), of which you must get 5 right — and because Max's powers are malfunctioning, you only get one chance to avoid a Downer Ending to the chapter. The first 3 choices (which specifically pertain to how good of a friend Kate considers you) can be bypassed depending on the player's actions in the episodenote .
    • In the third episode you have a choice of siding with either Chloe or her step-father David when they get into yet another argument. Siding with Chloe and calling out David for putting cameras in the house leads to Joyce kicking him out, this makes a section in the next episode much easier, since David won't get in your way while you're looking for his notes.
    • In the fourth episode, Chloe and Max try to convince Frank to hand over his client list for their investigation. While you can rewind this if things turn violent and Chloe kills Frank in self defence, it becomes much easier to avoid this if you chose not to try and shoot Frank back in Episode 2, stole some money from the principal's office to pay off Chloe's debt to him in Episode 3, and the worst case scenario is automatically avoided if you lured his dog into getting hit by a car in episode 3 (although it becomes harder to end things amicably).

Mar 21st 2018 at 11:53:09 AM

  • Encouraged in Horizon Zero Dawn:
    • Some weapons allow you to set up tripwires, mines and other traps. You can scatter them around to lure larger enemies into mid battle. In particular, the Final Boss of a cauldron is usually shown in a stasis field, allowing you to set up various traps around the arena before starting the fight.
    • Hostile machines which tend to run away (and appear in herds) are intended to be "harvested" by placing traps near choke points to catch them.
    • When clearing out bandit camps, it's possible to sneak around without being noticed. While it's possible to slowly stealth kill every single bandit, it's also possible to do things like disable the alarm, release captives to fight alongside you, or set traps to make the fight easier if you prefer the direct approach (or expect to get caught).

Jun 12th 2018 at 5:46:02 AM

  • In Vampyr, making the game easier by being able to drain any NPC of their blood is one of the main selling points (to the point where the title screen explains there's no "hard mode"; just a Pacifist Run).

Jun 12th 2018 at 12:35:38 PM

  • Overlord 2012: As he approaches the brainwashed Shalltear, Ainz tentatively casts a spell on himself. He quickly figures out that as long as he doesn't attack directly, he's in no danger, and spends two minutes buffing himself and laying traps before delivering a Curb Stomp Battle.

Jun 12th 2018 at 12:57:45 PM

Throwing in a bomb because the name is absolutely garbage.

EDIT: Also, the description's pretty bad and the examples are so wide they seem to be "something is done to have an advantage."

Jun 12th 2018 at 5:55:15 PM

^ "something is done to have an advantage."

I see nothing wrong with this.

Jun 12th 2018 at 10:25:46 PM

^ it's not always a "loophole".

Jun 13th 2018 at 1:09:19 AM

  • Examples section

Jun 13th 2018 at 7:11:58 AM

^^^^ One of the examples is straight up "having better equipment makes a fight easier." Do you really not see a problem with that?

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