As My Time Becomes Constricted, Committing To Longer Games Gets Harder

With my free time growing ever shorter, even thinking of starting a new Far Cry or Fallout has me sweating.

Story Highlights

  • With AAA titles like Diablo 4 and Final Fantasy 16 requiring dozens of hours just to complete their main story, it seems very daunting to even start the game.
  • With the cost of games rising, investing in a longer game is stressful because I’m not sure if I want to follow the entire game through or not.
  • In recent times, shorter titles with better quality have been enticing me much more than the ones that require more grinding and repetitive practices.

With the growing passage of time, a person starts to understand how important every second of free time that they receive is a blessing. And what better way to spend it than to grind for hours on end to get the best armor in Fallout 76, but jokes aside, with my free time lessening every week, I can’t bring myself to start a long game because I know committing to it, is the one thing I won’t be able to do.

At this point in the world, there is no possible way that I will buy a game without reading a few reviews, watching some gameplay, and asking what my friends think about it. The ability to randomly spend 70 Dollars on a game without even reading its description is something that I alongside many other gamers can’t casually do. This leads me to start scouring the web, to find hidden gems, ones with a flurry of great reviews and an active community.

The Incentive To Play Longer Games, Just Isn’t There

One diminishing factor of playing longer titles is the fact that in most of them, the story moves so slowly that if I decide to play once a week, then I will have no incentive to do any of the available missions because I won’t even know the background for the mission or the area I’m in. This is readily apparent in the Far Cry and Fallout series. These games are built for the grind, for your character to go from a level 1 street thug to a Lovecraftian entity after about three hundred hours of gameplay.

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Regarding the problem of a slow story, AAA titles have two possible ways of battling this, but it is not used as often as I would want. The first one is to incept the purpose of the game into the player’s head at the absolute beginning of the title, making them remember the ultimate goal. The best example of this type is Far Cry.

The other one and the riskier one, lets the story unravel slowly, essentially keeping the players in the dark, making them reveal each detail and plot twist. The greatest examples here include Bloodborne and Shadow of The Colossus with their extremely silent protagonist and the story told through the scenery. It is less focused on sudden developments, rather on the player’s pace of playing the game.

Every time I start playing the same mission again and again for some item or currency to buy another item or currency, I’m filled with this empty feeling of, “Is this really what I want to do with my precious free time?” And yet I end up doing it anyway. The factor of grinding is highly hellish. There are so many games that have dumb and uneventful grinding techniques that make me question the overall integrity of the game.

The Grind Can Be Fun, Sometimes

What is the solution? What is the one thing that developers can do to make this grind more rewarding in the sense that I could receive something worth my time? Well many roguelike-based indie games, have more or less mastered this aspect, so much so that this system swept into significant AAA games like Returnal. Returnal is a roguelike game in the sense that you play against a shifting planet, and with every run you get stronger, discover new items and parasites, and the story unravels beautifully, indeed an underrated game.

Games
Returnal

Games like Dead Cells, Enter The Gungeon, and The Binding of Isaac are all top-tier roguelike games where grinding is the path to victory, but not in the bland sense you may be expecting, but in the way that you unlock unique items that can be found on newer runs resulting in the proper incentive to play the game longer, mostly because I want to see the new items in action.

Rather than the upgrades being more damage, it’s new items molding into new playstyles. This is the better way to introduce grinding. Whenever I try to play a Fallout or Battlefield game, the grind is awful and it usually just makes me want to turn it off and play something with a more meaningful drive.

My time is precious, and the faster these studios understand this aspect, the faster they will make necessary changes to make their games progress faster resulting in a more dynamic experience. Games like Ghostrunner did this perfectly, they introduced new mechanics and new enemies every few hours into the game, making it all seem like I was progressing as the game went on.

The Price Tags Keep Rising, Unlike The Quality

With the new generation of major consoles, publishers will have a harder time creating games for these machines, and with the occurring wrath of inflation, a price change was inevitable. To battle this, they increased almost every major AAA game from $60 to $70. Now when it comes to buying something like God of War Ragnarök, spending $70 isn’t that big of an amount, but when I see something like The Lord of the Rings: Gollum being sold for the same price, that’s when I realize how important my money is to me.

When we talk about quality, it depends on the aspect of the game. I would happily buy a game that can instantly connect me back into its world the second I reopen it. But titles like these are hard to come by, and instead, we see the return of RPGs and revivals everywhere, for the same price as game of the year nominees.

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The idea is simple if a good game drops, I’ll buy it, if a bad one drops, I won’t. But when 7 out of 10 releases with the quality of Redfall, and the other 2 are just your average shooter, then waiting for that one really good game to release feels like an eternity. Even if the newer titles are a little below par, I still want to play them, but with a price tag like the ones we see now, it is rarely ever worth it.

Shorter Games Sometimes Leave A Longer Impact

One argument players might make on the topic of long games is that the player can play an hour of it a day and then when he’s free again he could hop back on the game. Even if someone were to do this, the impact and drive of the game would barely resonate with the player, making even a great title feel sluggish and at times a chore to play.

For this reason, shorter games will end up being much more plausible to start, and due to the fast-paced nature of the titles, it would make for a much more dynamic and thrilling experience, even if you play it for an hour per day. Some great examples of these types of games are The Shadow of The Colossus, Furi, Inscryption, The Pedestrian, Return To Obra Dinn, and many more taking advantage of their short cycle to introduce new mechanics and styles to keep players entertained for every second.

Return Of The Obra Dinn
Return Of The Obra Dinn

As the next generation of games gets revealed, titles like Starfield show off a lot of on-release content, but until release, we can’t decipher how much this will impact my time towards the game. One thing to note is that only 10 percent of Starfield’s planets will contain life, which might make it feel like an early version of No Man’s Sky, very long and unfulfilling.

With all said and done, there might be a few players going against my way of playing games, of course, some players may be able to grind a 200-hour game over the course of six months, or be able to enjoy longer experiences with others in the mix, for me, that just isn’t it. 

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Ahmed Shayan is a News Writer on eXputer with decent experience writing about games. He’s a machine learning enthusiast with a passion for a plethora of gaming genres. Ahmed is fond of Soulsborne games in which he has invested more than 3,000 hours! You can follow Ahmed's gaming activity on his PSN Profile.

Experience: 1.5+ Years || Mainly Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Data Science.

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