Is there anything better than a game so long you need to forgo sleep for several weeks to complete it? For some, apparently not. When it comes to long games, they’re definitely something I gravitate towards, but I can completely see why for many it might not be the case.
For one, a lot of people like to play more casually, and when they do binge a game, they like it to be more around the length of, say, the most recent Spider-Man game – fantastic, contained, and a quick one to get under your belt.
Completionists will have a hard time with a longer game, unless they’re willing to grind 200+ hours to complete all the side quests. Though, if I were being honest, I’ve spent longer on games without ever completing everything. Still, I do believe that is to my advantage.
I am not a completionist however, and long games are my absolute saviour when it comes to gaming. I like to chase the main plot line, whilst still being able to pick and choose what side quests and missions to do. I am a sucker for good world-building, and a wide array of gameplay options. I want to spend so much time with my characters that they actually mean something to me by the time the game is finished, so that I can look back on it fondly, feeling like I actually gained something from the game that is more than just: “I shot people with lasers and had fun.” Despite this, I know plenty of gamers who are completionists and who love long games for the same reasons. I suppose it all depends on what kind of person you are, and whether or not you have the attention span, or the drive, to devote yourself to the long haul.
I can think of games that could benefit being smaller, of course. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was a very big game, and one you couldn’t really just power through at your own leisure. With the strange levelling system, you had to do a bunch of inane side quests to jump the three levels you needed to progress, and it really broke the immersion from the main plotline. It was a shame, considering how beautiful and wonderfully set the game is. In an attempt to really nail down a full and open setting, I feel like it went a little too far. It’s fine for me as the main quests are always my goal, but it is a completionist’s nightmare and, I imagine, quite overwhelming. Exploring every inch of the entire Grecian world is a tall price to pay for wanting to Sparta kick the odd guy off a cliff.
However, if I then compare it to The Witcher 3, I spent a good 200 hours or so without completing every quest – because I didn’t need to. I chased the side quests and contracts that I did because they were interesting, and full of life, but even so, the game itself was just long when you took into account the DLCs. And whether you destroyed your entire life because you decided to binge it, or whether you took your time with it, you came out the other side feeling like you’d spent years fighting those battles. Who knows, maybe you did spend years completing it. It was a completionist’s daydream in comparison to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – there isn’t a bad quest in that game, and there aren’t too many of them, either.
An example of long games being better is the fact that one of the most common things I’ve heard my friends say at the moment is that they wish The Outer Worlds was longer – that it ended too soon. It’s human nature to commit things to memory, and their hearts, over long periods of time. Just as you grow to love people more, the same can be said of games. The human brain pops real and imagined memories into the same basket, so when you’re playing an RPG, the way your heart recalls it is as if you did those things. You were the one pouring hours and skill into pressing those buttons and crafting those items, were you not? You saved the world, well done! As such, in theory, the longer you spend playing that game, the stronger your bond with it will be.
When I put it like that, I suppose the real cinch is the difference between a really long game, and a really big game. On both accounts, if it’s actual substance and not just fluff, the developers should be commended for it, especially a good story driven RPG, but that is not always the case. It is definitely a game by game situation for most people. Maybe The Outer Worlds was perfect for you because it wasn’t 300 hours long. And maybe big, long games overwhelm you. All I’ll say is that you should conquer those fears – the reward is often unparalleled. In this day and age, if you’re going to pay £70 for a game, let it be a saga to remember.