As the year of 2015 comes to a close I, like many others, am sitting on a stack of unplayed or unfinished games, wishing there was more time. Gamers have certainly been spoiled this year with the amount of quality games that are being released at a steady rate. Not only are games being released quickly, but they are all gigantic. Many feature a lengthy main quest, tons of sidequests, environments to explore, and DLC content. As someone who likes to thoroughly complete games, this can be a huge time commitment. Of course this is a wonderful thing. It’s great to see that many new games are worth more than their $60 price tag. However, as an avid gamer with real-life priorities this can be quite overwhelming. Objectively it is good that so many games are vast and have dozens of hours of gameplay packed into them. Replay value is always important. Subjectively it feels like too much for me to handle – clearly a personal problem.
Part of my problem is that I am the type of gamer who wants to play everything. This year’s library of games was amazing and I want to experience as many of them as I can. I want to be in touch with the gaming community. I want to be included in the analyses and conversations about all the significant releases throughout the year. AAA retail games are only getting bigger and most of them are open-world or feature an open-hub element. Dreadfully, open-world fatigue has hit me and I grow tired of so many big games. The impending release of Fallout 4 didn’t feel as exciting to me. Of course I was looking forward to it, but there was a voice in my head telling me “I need to finish all these other games before I can even think about touching Fallout 4”. If it had been delayed, I would not have minded. Instead everything hit me at once. I wanted to get through The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V, and Rise of the Tomb Raider and give them each my undivided attention. So much effort and detail have gone into the making of these games and I am over here trying to blast through them as quickly as possible to get to the next game.
A couple of console generations ago, I would have cherished the vast expanses and options in open-world games and tried to squeeze as much time out of them as I possibly could. Now I look forward to 3-20 hour games which I can play through and be done with, so that I can move onto the next one. It is sad to say, but I no longer look forward to putting in 60+ hours into games like I did during the PS2/Xbox generation. I remember the days when I would spend as much time in Kingdom Hearts and Morrowind as I could. Even during the PS3/Xbox 360 generation I would try to do everything there was to do in the Mass Effect games and Fallout 3. This is not to say I am not excited for big games; I am simply so overwhelmed by them at this point that the excitement dies fast. With huge games like The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V and the massive Fallout 4, I often find myself questioning when I will have time to finish all of these amazing games. Or if I even find it fun.
I feel that linear gameplay experiences are under-appreciated. For me, there’s nothing quite like marathoning a game from start to finish in a day or two. I have found a recent love for Redbox and Gamefly, which allow me to complete a game for a small amount of money. They’re very useful for the short games that I wouldn’t want to spend $60 on. Perhaps the linear experience is becoming outdated. The open-world market has become quite competitive. It seems like developers feel the need to create huge game experiences in order to compete with the rest of the market. Even Metal Gear Solid, which I feel is one of the great linear single player experiences, has become a massive open-world game.
I have found that my recent favorite games have all been straight-forward, with a definitive beginning and end. For example, I continue to push aside the aforementioned games for small indie games because I know that I can complete them in a timely manner. One of my favorite gaming experiences this year was playing through Until Dawn in two days. It was the perfect game for the amount of time I had put aside and an engaging single-player experience. I am also grateful for Undertale and Child of Light, which scratch the JRPG itch without the 50+ hour time commitment.
I haven’t touched The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V in months. It should be noted that I have every intention of completing them. However, when I think about going back to them, I feel intimidated and overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the fear of the huge time investment or maybe it’s because I know I will have trouble balancing my time. If I start one of those games, it will give me less time to play a new game. It is such an exciting time to be a gamer, with so much to play currently and so much on the horizon. My “gamer entitlement” has kicked in and I’ve started complaining about too much content in a single game. My mentality at this point is that I need to balance my time between a diverse catalog of games because there’s too many great titles to play. Massive open-world games are holding me back.
In the gaming community, we are all driven by our love of things. One of the great perks of playing video games as a hobby is the endless variety of new games to play. I can’t see a time in my life where I don’t have a stockpile of unplayed or unfinished games – there’s just too many at this point. That’s a glorious thing. Video game culture is unique and exciting because it largely thrives through pure enjoyment. I want to keep playing games seriously because so many of them are good or interesting. Creativity knows no bounds in this industry. It’s inspiring and it propels me to keep playing. 2015 was an amazing year for gaming and 2016 is looking to be just as good if not better. The need to prioritize a gaming playlist has never been more apparent to me than in 2015. Choose wisely.