Netrunner: Terminal Directive

I recently finished the Netrunner: Terminal Directive campaign expansion.  A the highest level, I enjoyed the expansion, but there were a number of things that seemed like they could have been improved and one thing that I wished would have been different.

First, before I get into anything spoilery, I want to mention that this game is closer to a legacy game than a campaign game.  I want to put this up-front to let people know what they’re getting into.  The game instructions involve destroying, modifying, and altering content that would make the game unplayable a second time unless you’re careful about how you do it.  This is something I wish they would have done differently, and while it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game, I felt like it was something I had to work around rather than enjoy.

Everything else involves spoilers.  You have been warned.

The most irritating part of the story (for me as the corp) was the fact that it lacked cohesion.  Each unlockable story bit involved different characters providing partial information (or offering two alternatives) without enough story context.  More than once I felt like the story card involved a completely new person telling me information that didn’t fit with any of the information I had and without saying what happened between it and the last story dump.  I would have preferred to see fewer characters (I think the story would have been significantly better if they had dropped everyone except Sloan, Delgado, and Todachine), and if each piece of information fit with the last, but left pieces of the puzzle open for further mystery.

The other thing about the story that was somewhat discouraging is that it did not customize itself at all to the identity that either of us chose, and it only barely customized itself to the choices we made along the way (namely, the ending and an occasional one-liner).  The lack of reference to the identity in particular seemed a poor oversight, since the game locks you into an identity – why would it do this unless the story acknowledged it?  The other significant oversight was that it never even mentioned that Inez Delgado was working for both the Corp and the Runner – what consequences does this have?  What happens when one or the other finds out?  Apparently none, and this was extremely unsatisfying from a story perspective.

Lastly, I was somewhat disappointed by the mixing of game and story.  The PAD idea was such a good one, but the only benefit that came with completing tasks was a one-time in-game benefit.  The in-game reward seemed particularly weak mostly due to timing (you got the reward immediately after completing the task, whether it was beneficial then or not), and, as a one-time benefit, it was only going to affect at most one game.  I would have much rather seen more tasks with story benefits – what does it mean for me to spend ten clicks drawing cards?  What does the reward mean?

All that being said, I did enjoy Terminal Directive, but I think it was more that I enjoyed regularly playing Netrunner with my friend Garrett.  In that sense, the expansion was a success – it got me out playing Netrunner casually, which is something I just needed an excuse for.

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