The user testing of Far Cry 3 was critical in identifying a serious design problem. One of the player’s tasks is to gather resources in order to craft better equipment. At one point in the game, the player is asked to hunt for sharks to obtain their skin which is needed to craft upgraded versions of the weapon holster and the wallet. The upgrades would let the player carry more weapons and more money. The problem highlighted during user testing was that the game world map was missing the icon showing where the sharks were – unlike every other type of animal and resource. This is a straightforward example of the help user testing can provide to the QA department.
Another design intent was about weaponry: in order to have the best gaming experience possible, players were supposed to try several different weapons and find which one was better suited to the different missions in the game. The total number of weapons was in fact 39, excluding custom models. In the original design, the player had to pay to obtain each model of handgun, knife, shotgun, etc. However, playtesting highlighted a common practice: players would buy the popular assault rifle AK-47 and use it for the entire game. This issue was solved by the designers by making every weapon free after having completed a certain task in the game (i.e., activating a certain number of radio towers). Subsequent testing showed that players behavior changed dramatically in the intended direction: they rushed into trying every new unlocked weapon.
Livingstone, I. (2014). Where are the Sharks? User Research in the Far Cry Production Pipeline. Proceedings of the Game Developer Conference 2014. Retrieved here: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020363/Where-are-the-Sharks-User (GDC Vault free content)