How Are We Supposed To Play All These Enormous Video Games?

How Are We Supposed to Play All These Enormous Video Games?

I played the opening few hours of Batman: Arkham Knight in August. You know what I did after that? I opened up the map, saw that it was forested with icons, and then turned the game off forever.

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK.

This has started happening quite frequently. Here are some huge games that I would love to have played, but did not manage to even touch over the past year or two: Pillars of Eternity, Shadow of Mordor, Assassin's Creed Unity or Rogue, Wasteland 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Many more I played for somewhere between 10 and 30 hours and then had to move on from: Far Cry 4, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Dark Souls 2 (and I'm such a big Souls fan that I'm literally writing the book on the original), Divinity: Original Sin.

How Are We Supposed to Play All These Enormous Video Games?

Ain't nobody got time for this

Meanwhile, this year, I've greatly enjoyed Bloodborne, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and The Witcher 3, all of which I've played for 50 hours or more. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if I'd played Rocket League for 50 hours too. (That game is insidious. You don't know you're addicted until it's much too late.) But half of them still aren't completed, and meanwhile the Metal Gear Solid V disc languishes unplayed in my PS4 whilst other enormous games like Fallout 4, Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Just Cause 3 sit just over the horizon.

I know that I am far from the only person with this "problem" (I use the quote marks because seriously, in no world is having too many video games to play an actual problem, but it is a little concerning when it's my job to know about them.) Keeping up with video games, even just the biggest ones, is becoming impossible for anyone with a job, a family, a social life or indeed other interests and passions. And it's not just open-world games that have become extremely demanding of our time. The MMO-style rhythm and updates of games like Destiny and GTA Online means that you're never really "done" with them; you just have to decide to stop. Then there are things like Elite: Dangerous, which are basically alternate lives at this point.

Oh, and then there are the MOBAs. I ain't even touched the MOBAs. I've seen what they have done to some of my friends.

How Are We Supposed to Play All These Enormous Video Games?

Welcome to Boston! You will not be leaving for probably 80 hours, so I hope you like it!

Not every one of these games is worth so many hours. But this year especially, a great many of them are. I was actually quite relieved to learn that we won't be seeing Persona 5 until next summer (in Japan at least, and probably not until the end of the year for Europe), because I really want to be able to devote proper time to it. What do you do when there are seven 50-hour-plus games out in a single year that you're really, really keen to play?

It's been the case for quite some time that offering hours and hours of "content" is not enough to make a game worth playing. In a world with this many enormous games, the onus is on developers to make them worth all that time. I think this is a large part of what's behind the pretty tepid critical reception of games like Mad Max and (to a lesser extent) Watch Dogs. When you're presented with a game that needs that much time from you, especially if you're a critic who has to play the whole thing (or certainly most of it) before being able to offer a considered verdict, you quickly start to resent it if it wastes your time.

The only solution I can see is just to stop worrying about it. Everyone over about the age of 25 grew up in a world where you could feasibly play all of the worthwhile games that came out in a year, but that's not the case anymore and hasn't been for a while. As the audience for video games as a whole continues to grow, more and more of those people are not generalists, but specialists: people who play maybe one or two games predominantly, but might spend hundreds of hours on them nonetheless. Some ruthlessness is in order: instead of thinking "what am I getting for my money?", I think "what am I getting for my time?".

How Are We Supposed to Play All These Enormous Video Games?

Don't look so sad, Snake, I WILL play you eventually

So, I want to know: how do you cope? Does it bother you that there's a pile of unplayed games sitting beneath your TV? Have you become more selective, or narrowed your gaming taste? And if you do manage to play all these enormous games, how the hell do you manage it?

How Are We Supposed to Play All These Enormous Video Games?

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


    I feel like developers have somehow decided that making their game longer provides a perception of higher value, and so they arbitrarily pad the game out with filler content. Assassin's Creed is probably the worst of them at this but basically all the big AAA developers are doing it.

    I'm a big RPG player but increasingly I find it difficult to get through anything because of how long the games are. I'm not averse to spending 30-40 hours on a good RPG, but if I'm expected to be spending 60-80+, I need it to be worth my while. The Witcher 3 is the only recent example of that I can think of. It's enormous and long, but the thing is that every hour spent in it feels worthwhile. The content is all substantial. You never know if the quest you're on is just a small fetch quest or going to turn out to be several hours long with multiple steps and everything. Everything feels dense and you feel like you could start anywhere on the map and head in a random direction and find stuff to do. It stands in stark contrast to Dragon Age Inquisition, which had a similarly-sized world but aside from the main plotline and the companion quests the stuff you were spending most of the time doing was bland and featureless like something out of a mediocre MMO.

    I feel like 30-40 hours is really the 'sweet spot' for an RPG-style game for me, and I'm happier if I can spend even less than that. That genre tends to have an enormous amount of fat on it that could do with being trimmed. One of the game series I gravitated toward over the last couple of years was Ys. With those games (especially the two most recent, Seven and Memories of Celceta), you get a pretty substantial JRPG-like experience in the 25-35 hour range. The fat is trimmed. There's very few RPGs out there that are 60-80 hours that couldn't have removed some of the fluff, concentrated down to a 30-40 hour experience, and be better off as a result.

      my sweet spot for me is 100-200 hours personally.

        You must have an enormous amount of spare time. Still in school / university?

        EDIT: Or based on below, are one of the rare people that has the patience to stick with one game for hundreds of hours rather than wanting to jump from experience to experience every few weeks, in which case I salute you, you're getting far more value out of your purchases than a lot of us.

        Last edited 22/09/15 6:35 pm

          I study but i can't get a job because i'm disabled and have meltdowns due to my disability so i am unemployable all i can do is study and hope to make my own income without getting a job.

          So between studying i have like a whole week free when im not volunteering or studying.

          So yup a ton of spare time which is why i love big videogames without them i would never have gotten through life so far and stayed sane

          Last edited 22/09/15 6:36 pm

    "100+ hours in a game is a sure sign that this player is addicted to the game."

    Well if 100+ hours is a sign of addiction every game i can recommend i have been addicted to.

    100 hours is a bare minimum i expect an rpg to have if the content is under 100 hours worth it better be damn good.

    386 hours on skyrim and not addicted to that
    384 hours on Terraria and same
    285 on the binding of isaac
    and 281 hours on ffxiv (will be 1000 in a year or so)
    200 hours on Garrys mod
    143 on the binding of isaac rebirth and 132 hours on gta v.

    100+ hours isn't addicted imo.

    I wish some games were bigger like i got 386 hours out of skyrim ..good game.

    Wish i could have gotten a few hundred more hours out of it though :)

    Sweet spot for the time to play and RPG is

    1-80 hours - to short
    80-300 - Great
    300-450+ AMAZING.

    That being said i hate filler content that isn't fun.

    Last edited 22/09/15 6:03 pm

    I've become so tired of massive open world games with endless side quests that take you forever to get anywhere. I prefer games with some kind of narrative structure these days.

    I totally agree. This is something I have been saying a bit over the past couple of years. There is a reason why Bloodborne is my game of the year so far this year. It was all killer and no filler. Even the great Witcher 3 started to outstay its welcome with me by the time I was about 3/4s of the way through, and I am starting to get the same feeling from MGSV (also great).

    Then you get the really cookie cutter open world games (Mad Max, anything by Ubisoft) and i just lose interest almost immediately.

    Expansive maps with filler aren't just the problem. It is also endless amounts of cutscenes and pointless talkie dialogue. I like games which just respect the need to get the game on, Nintendo still largely adheres to this rule.

    Double Dragon Neon was a fine example, just like the original. Woman is standing outside, gets socked in the breadbasket and hauled away by thugs. That's all I need to know to take the fight to the streets. I don't need Christopher Nolan length justifiers as to what is happening.

    I like rpgs but I can just never get into them and not through lack of time. I told myself I would get into Witcher 3 but I played it for a couple of hours and havent been back. I played Skyrim for like 30 minutes and didnt go back. I dont know how I ever passed Mass Effect (not rly an rpg), didnt play the sequals. Spent lots of time on Kotor 1 and 2 when I was younger but never passed.

    On the flipside I have so many days playtime of Wow from back in the day, Rift, swtor, swg, Guild wars. I dont play mmos anymore because they dont offer me what they used to. Especially wow, back in highschool a bunch of my friends we would all play together after school as soon as we got home and it was great being able to play with friends all the time. I quit after icecrown came out and some of them kept playing in patches. Then I got Draenor and so did 10~ other friends and they all played steadily for a month or so but then less and less people ket playing and I was like... I have been the only person online for days. It was quite sad, so much expectation and it resulted in nothing, I rly wish I hadnt gotten Draenor at all.

    I dont consider myself a casual gamer but I mainly play mobas, fps, sport games etc because they are accessible and quick to start. I just prefer being able to go into HOTS and get right into a game quicker than having to load up a heavy game like Witcher 3 and having figure out my bearings and what I have to do next.

    Oh well time for rpgs when I am retired i guess.

    Eh. I've said on posts before that I love long games. Especially RPGs. I work full time but don't really have any other hobbies. Used to play on a band but that's about it. Even then I still managed to rack up a lot hours.

    I enjoy tighter, narrative driven games as well. Why can't we have both?

    I just pick a game, usually I'll play through the stories and that's it, if I like it, I'll stick around. I'm really liking Final Fantasy Type-0 and I think I'm going to be on it for a while, until Battlefront comes out.

    I thought Witcher was kind of boring actually, I enjoyed it but I haven't been wanting to play it for a while now, I didn't even finish the story.

    One quest at a time. I guess it would be tough for completionists, but I got over not 100%ing a game when I was a child. I didn't have the time then and I don't have the drive now.

    Last edited 23/09/15 7:43 am

    Turn map icons off. Having every point of interest pre-marked is stupid and immersion breaking. So are quest markers but games these days are built around them as the sole means of completing quests, urgh.

    The problem is real. I only -really- started playing Witcher 3 about a month after it came out, and now I'm obsessed, and have been hooked for about a month, but I don't even feel like I'm a third of the way to completing the game. I want to play Mad Max but at this rate by the time I finish The Witcher 3 Mad Max will be in bargain bins (which is an advantage for me).

    Still, as far as problems go, this is a great one to have.

    Oh the pain! I am so tempted to get The Taken King but I know I'll become seriously addicted to Destiny again if I do. I want to get through some Digital Only games on my PS4 plus finish a few others, so it looks like I won't be buying it after all. The problem with online game is that you can't go back to them in a few months to play during quiet periods because either no one is playing them any more or you're too low level compared to everyone else.

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