When The Dark Knight was first released, I probably went to the cinema about 5 times to go and see it. No doubt, I wasn’t the only one. To this day, I will still watch it over and over again. It’s 2 and a half hours long. Does it need to be any longer? No. It’s funny how completely satisfied we are with films that are 2 hours long but we throw ridiculous tantrums if a game only lasts for the same amount of time.
Publishers and developers are cramming in countless hours, with sometimes pointless side missions, ‘bonus content’ and billions of collectables that aren’t even all that special. Can you honestly remember the last time you fully completed a game?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lengthy game. I squeezed out everything I could from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. For many years, I spent an unhealthy amount of time absorbed in the vast and unique worlds that games have to offer. But once you’re subjected to ‘adult life’ it becomes difficult to commit yourself to long, drawn out games.
Now I’m caring less and less about the “extra 50 hours of game play” and “new bonus additional content.” I want to be engaged and entertained, but quickly. Yes, games are expensive and additional hours can make us we feel like we’re getting our money’s worth. But what about replay value?
Space Invaders. Tetris. Super Mario World. Games that are still immensely popular today. They’re simple and can be played again and again. Standing the test of time without being diluted with pointless extras. VR is literally around the corner and there’s no way we can spend hours upon hours playing games through an Oculus Rift without needing to throw up. Hopefully VR will take us back to shorter and more rewarding gaming.
The Order: 1886, released early this year is visually stunning but critics and players could only concentrate on how short the game is, completely missing the point. The Order: 1886 is a cinematic and immersive experience. If it was 40 hours long, it wouldn’t have worked at all. Until Dawn. Just as short. Just as immersive. Supermassive Games took replay value to a whole new level by giving us a game that can be revisited over and over again, with a new story line each time.
It pains me to fault any of this year’s releases. It’s been an incredible year for gaming, but I have to be honest – I’ve spent a lot of time doing things in game that I don’t want to do. Let me give you a quick breakdown on how little I’ve progressed on the titles I am currently playing:
Fall Out 4 – Yeah… I can’t even get past building my sanctuary. I’ve been treating this game like The Sims when I should be out in the nuclear wilderness taking down Mole Rats and Super Mutants.
Assassins Creed: Syndicate – There’s only so many ‘vintage beer bottles’ and ‘pressed flowers’ I can collect before I wonder what I’m doing with my life.
The Witcher 3 – It takes me about a week to level up once.
Mad Max – I’ve barely touched the main quests. I’m repeating the same side quest over and over again but in a slightly different location.
It’s always the same pattern. I boot up the console. Enter the game. I look at the world map or mission log. I find myself staring at waaaay too many icons thinking “Okay. It’ll only take me half an hour to get those 35 items in this area and then I can do those 7 side missions over there before continuing on with the main story.” Sadly, this is never the case. Instead I’ve played for 1 hour and after only collecting 5 items and completing one side mission, I realise that fun is not being had.
This doesn’t mean I want to see the end of long games. What seems to be getting missed is how these hours are being used. It’s all very well telling us that there’s a ton of game play, but it has to be interesting. I don’t want to roam around a huge map, grinding for useless items that don’t add to my experience. I don’t want an optional 1-hour-long quest with a storyline that makes me want to fall asleep. If you’re going to boast about additional content and extra hours, then you better make it worth boasting about.
It’s probably my own problem if I obsess over completing every tiny inch of a game until I implode. But the thing is… developers are putting this stuff in for us to complete. It’s pointless telling me to just ignore the optional missions, collectables and whatever else they’ve decided to throw in there. I want to complete games. What’s the point of adding these things in to be ignored? Frankly, all this extra ‘stuff’ is unnecessary. It’s tedious and measured, making gaming feel like a chore. I should simply be happy with the overall journey and experience but instead I’m just playing it because I’ve paid for it. I’m squeezing that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.
– Adele Iddison, Mi Creative Studio Manager and resident game blogger
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