No-one seems to be reporting it, but Valve have now released stats for how players behaved in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. This time they’re more in-depth, and my favourite part is the Death Maps. They’re heat-map visualisations of where most player deaths occured in each level. This is the Death Map for the huge freeform Strider battle near the end of the game:
Loads of people died trying to defend the Sawmill, and the place to the East with the antiques, but very few near the Westernmost building. Whether that’s because it’s easy to defend or because no-one bothered to save it isn’t clear to me, but I remember it being one of the easier ones. I never managed to save the Sawmill – I’m always busy with the Hunters when the Strider takes his shot. But it’s always worth losing it just to hear the rebel shout “Oh God, not the Sawmill! Is nothing sacred?”
Soberingly the stats again reveal that less than half of all players completed the episode – 44%. That’s a slight improvement over the shorter Episode One, which confirms my feeling that Valve were much more wary of difficulty spikes here than in previous games – perhaps because of the Ep1 stats.
Because Valve are the only guys making their stats public, we may never know how this compares to the number of people who completed, say, BioShock. But you’ve got to figure games so short, so propulsively scripted and balanced for new and casual players have better completion ratios than almost anything else. So you can see why a lot of major games last less than ten hours these days.
This is my other favourite Death Map. It’s the place where you get the car – the car itself is on the upper right there. Looks like lots and lots and lots of people didn’t make the jump.
Update: just noticed there’s also an ‘Achievements’ tab. 1.1% of us got the Gnome one, making it officially the second hardest. Top is, of course, Get Some Grub – the 0.4% of players who actually earned that one probably see phosphorescent maggots when they close their eyes now.