Let Off Some Steam is a new section where we let you guys get something off your chest – it can be a vitriol laced rant, a sappy love letter to whatever, or anything inbetween. Send your ranty words in this direction, and try and keep it under 600 words. Today Shane Walsh-Smith gets wound up about the way video games end. Beware folks - there will be spoilers!
This is the End Dear game developers,
Your game stories are so often great. But your endings are playing second fiddle to endgame mechanics, and quite frankly they completely suck.
I have just finished Final Fantasy XIII. I know this is interesting information for you (don’t worry, this gets better in a minute). What is even more interesting is that there are some people out there who have finished it, but haven’t finished with it. They have completed the story, maxed out their characters, and now spend their days running around Gran Pulse ‘farming’ adamantoises, trying to get ultimate weapons for their characters, to collect every available item, to max out their gil collection. What I would like to know is: why?
If Final Fantasy XIII was real, the characters would go on with their lives after beating the final boss. In fact, we got a cutscene showing this exact thing. Why are gamers incapable of following their example? Why must they reload the game (which deposits you in a spot just prior to the final battle for some reason) and go on a big, story-free collection spree, maxing out their characters (using a new level of customisation ONLY AVAILABLE AFTER COMPLETING THE STORY)? Assuming there’s some endgame at play in the gamer’s mind, the only benefit would be an easier ‘final’ battle... which you managed to beat with lesser characters and equipment anyway... WHERE’S THE LOGIC?!
It’s a temporal nightmare. It’s like the characters are stuck in freaking Groundhog Day, destined to live in a time period before they saved the world (come on, it’s a FF game, that’s not a spoiler).
FFXIII isn’t the only culprit of course. Any game that lets you play in the world after completing the story is guilty of this. And you KNOW which games they are, even before you pick them up. This in effect generates a certain expectation for the conclusion of the story, an inbuilt spoiler – the characters survive, the world survives, and things will pretty much be as they were, so you can keep playing.
(As a side note, endings that contradict this expectation are particularly egregious, such as in FFXIII, which completely undermines the - SPOILER - wonderfully moving sacrifice at the end of the story by letting you continue to control your old team)
You know when you play the Saboteur that the Nazis will still be in Paris when the story ends, just so that you can keep killing them and whore your time for gamerscore. You know when you play just about any RPG that when you’ve worked through the story and saved the world, that your characters are still going to be stuck in monster-ridden environments, just so you can chase that extra-special sword that you really should no longer need. And why does Shepard need to complete side-quests after defeating the Collectors?
It makes even less sense in games like RDR where (spoiler) the after-game takes place something like 10 years later, BUT YOU RETAIN ALL THE COLLECTABLES THAT YOU HAD PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE STORYLINE. What gives? Did Marston Jr really do nothing for ten years but carry around Marston’s old crap in his swag?
So, developers, I know you have a fine line to tread between creating a game with little or no replay value, and a game so freaking addictive that when the sequel comes along, we’re still glued to the first one, drool drying on our emaciating chins. But give us endgames that make sense. I can live with bonuses attached to replays (MGS, Dead Space, etc) because the endings of those games weren’t sacrificed for this... but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t ruin your wonderful game’s ending just to give us a story-free environment with endless, monotonous (and now completely pointless) grinding.
If I wanted that, I would have played World of Warcraft.
And, gamers, stop encouraging them. It makes no sense to keep playing after the story ends, and you know it.
Sincerely, A story-loving gamer