2017 Is Filled with Amazing Games. So Why Can't I Finish Any Of Them?
From 'Assassin's Creed Origins' to 'Nioh,' I keep bouncing off of games that on paper are totally solid.
Image courtesy of Ubisoft
What I'm about to say isn't going to surprise you: 2017 has been filled with incredible games, and while, strangely, I think the first few months of the year were a little stronger than the normally dominant fall, one thing that's been consistent throughout the year is that many of these games aren't just great, they're long.
Obviously The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on the furthest end of this spectrum—I'm currently over 120 hours, and have no intention of stopping. In the time it took me to wrap them up, I spent over 40 hours with Nier: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, Prey, and Destiny 2. And then there are all those games that I didn't finish specifically because they were so long— Persona 5, Yakuza 0, Nioh, Assassin's Creed Origins, and Shadow of War just to name a handful. ( Need for Speed: Payback might just fit into this category too).
It's that final category that I'm interested in right now: the games I bounce off of due more to their length than their quality. I definitely think that in each case, a stronger game may have kept me on board—and hey, I obviously have some issues with Shadow of War—but at the end of the day, these are games that basically work and that I've mostly enjoyed my time with. And yet, I pull the ejection lever.
What I'm trying to work through right now are all the reasons why and when that happens. My position as a games journalist definitely means that I bounce from game to game more quickly than most players, but that definitely isn't the only basis for dropping a game.
Article continues after the break.
Sometimes I'm just flatly intimidated: I probably could've found the time for Nioh or Persona 5 this year, but knowingly setting aside 80+ hours for a single game is a scary decision to make in such a packed year.
For other games, like Yakuza 0, I know that what I mostly wanna do is see the game's story, which I can do by watching a let's play or trawling through YouTube. It's absolutely not the same—and if it was more like last year, I probably would've pushed through to complete Kazuma and Majima's adventure myself just for the experience. But not in 2017.
But in other cases—for games like Shadow of War and Assassin's Creed Origins (and again, maybe Need for Speed: Payback)—it's just about a base level of satisfaction. Not in the sense that I don't enjoy these games, but in the sense that they actually satisfy my curiosity sometimes dozens of hours before they reach their conclusions.
The game development collective Arcane Kids—the team behind Zenith, Bubsy 3d: Bubsy visits the James Turrell Retrospective, and Sonic Dreams Collection—writes that "the purpose of gameplay is to hide secrets." To the degree that this is true, it's referring to secrets both narrative ( who was the killer?) and mechanical ( how does the green potion work?) secrets. You might even call those "large" and "small" secrets, but there's a case to be made that fully understanding how and when to use consumable items in an RPG is more intriguing than whatever story it's telling.
Of course, sometimes a game will have a twist or turn I don't see coming, or a moment of sharp characterization, or some other "hook" that makes the story the primary factor for my continued play (Nier: Automata definitely falls into this category). But for the vast majority of games, that isn't what happens. I'm sorry Bayek, Egypt seems cool and I'm sure it's really dope when you say the titular Assassin's Creed outloud for the first time, but I'm not gonna stick around just for that reason.
And unfortunately for ACO and many of this year's other big releases, I "get" what the game has to offer way before the credits start rolling. By hour 10 or 15 of tackling enemy encampments, figuring out a platforming puzzles, finding hidden collectibles, or simply stringing together hundreds of attacks, I'm ready to move on. Which isn't to say any of those tasks weren't fun, but in 2017 there are just so many other games I could be dipping my toes into, so many other fantastic games I could be wrapping my head around.
So, I'm curious, what makes you drop a game? For me, it's this sense of completion—I "know when I am satisfied." But what about you? Do you get distracted by new releases? Fed up with frustrating boss battles? Disappointed by the direction a story takes? Let me know over in the forums!