Role Playing Games (RPGs) take up a lot of time, this isn’t something new. Single-player games such as the likes of The Witcher, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, Diablo, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, Fallout and even the Pokemon series’ can keep you going for days, if not weeks. I’m not talking about MMORPGs here, that’ll keep me rambling for an eternity! I’m just chatting about solo games for now.
In the wake of Final Fantasy XV’s release, I thought I’d have a think about the other RPG-type games that I’ve played over the years. Played, and played a lot, but rarely finished. Sadly, a fate that may well be shared with FF15, here.
I know it deserves more respect than that, but hear me out!
Nowadays, the average single-player campaign/story length in your run-of-the-mill game is around 10 hours at the most. So why on Earth do I have over 200+ gaming hours on my ugly, red-nosed Nord save on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? I’ll tell you why; it’s certainly not ‘run-of-the-mill’ and Bethesda make some bloody good games, that’s why. They’re often filled to the absolute brim with content and storylines to sink your Khajiit fangs into! Even their older Elder Scrolls titles like Morrowind and Oblivion are jam-packed full of adventures. It’s not Final Fantasy, no, but forget about that for the time-being.
It’s not just Bethesda’s array of games this applies to; there are always so many narratives and multiple quests to get involved with in an RPG, that you often lose track of what you really wanted (or needed) to do. It’s usually the case with me that if I’m meant to go to a certain location, to find a certain item that by the time I’ve finally arrived at said destination; I’ve levelled up by at least 9 levels and have completed 20 side-quests whilst en-route. I’m so easily distracted that I explore everything. I’ll loot every chest, kill every monster and speak to every NPC. I get caught up in the game’s lore too. I really enjoy learning about the key foundations that each little subplot is based upon, or the history or different species and races. In the Elder Scrolls series, more often than not, whenever I’m ‘over-encumbered; it’ll be because i’m lugging around half a library in my pocket from all of the books I’ve stolen. I hope you’re reading Todd Howard! Forget about realism, make books an in-game weight of 0.0, help a brother out! To be fair, it’s usually the first mod I install, so it’s not too drastic of an issue. Ignore me Todd, go focus on Elder Scrolls 6, would you?
What I’m trying to say is that modern RPG developers spoil us with the amount of content in their games. More often than not, there’s loads of it! It’s usually so intricate and detailed; from hundreds of textures, structures, forageable plants and huntable animals to life breathing NPCs, their motives and the missions they might offer. Most successful RPG games are open world too; plunging you into these huge environments right from the offset and although you’re advised what to do next, the decisions and paraphernalia that you use are entirely up to you. The amount of things to be cracking on with and the various ways of being able to accomplish different tasks removes a linear feel. Which, in turn, allows you to really immerse yourself into the game and the universe you’re exploring. I welcome additional excuses to further wander these often interesting and detailed realities, so I’ll take on plenty of side quests to discover the farthest reaches of the map. But I’ll also ignore half of these quests and plotlines too, simply to explore every nook and cranny available.
That’s the issue I’m currently having with Fallout 4. It’s a decent game, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve racked up around 80-90 hours thus far. But I haven’t even entered the Institute yet. That’s like what? 15% of the way into the story? This should have been done within at least 5 hours of starting out, right? Well, I’m not committed enough to make the decisions needed to progress through the game! I’ve been doing as much of a side stuff as possible before deciding the fate of The Commonwealth. I can’t even use the DLC as an excuse as I haven’t even bought it! I’ve been busy creating settlements, collecting unique weapons and armour and rubbing each of the factions up in all the right ways until it’s demanded of me to pledge my undying allegiance to one of them. Once I’ve eventually decided, I’ll then jump back into the story and grind through! Doing it this way around also means that once i’ve finally completed the game, I can reload from a previous save and help another faction out. Once I’ve restarted from this point it’s just the key story quests that will have to be done. I’ll already have a decent level and set of perks, I’ll have decent guns and all of the companions that are available before a certain point. Makes sense to do it this way, right? Please say “Yes”.
I’ve had Fallout 4 now pretty much from day one. I didn’t preorder it, but I picked it up a few days after release. I’ve struggled to keep myself interested as much as I did in Fallout 3 or in New Vegas. Which is strange because all of the key features remain and in most cases; they have been improved upon. New features such as the settlement aspect has also spiked my interest but like I said, it hasn’t gripped me in the same way as the previous editions. I can’t help myself from loading up another game. My mind won’t focus solely on Fallout 4 and I’m struggling to put my finger quite on the reasoning. The closest I can get relates back to my commitment concerns. Maybe I’ve shot myself in the foot by playing it this awkward way around. Collecting all the followers i can, maxing their levels, improving all my gear, etc. I suppose that I should have just followed the story from the outset and then messed around afterwards, but then if i do decide to reload to see how other ending play out I’d have to start out as a low ever again with worthless gear. Perhaps if i just jump back into the game right now and plunge straight into the grittiness then the love for this title will quickly return. I’ve still go the decision to make though, who do I side with? I think I’ll do my first play through with the Brotherhood Of Steel… but then again, I really like the look of Maxson’s battle-coat, it really brings out the colour in my eyes! That’s certainly worth a mutiny over.
It’s a case with all RPG’s that I play, I get so easily sidetracked. When exploring, I’ll just keep running over to different places I can see on the horizon, I’ll then explore those places. Markers that appear on the HUD or minimap need to be explored too, I don’t know whether that’s the completionist inside me talking or the OCD pulling my strings.
I’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into loads of games over the years, but RPG games hit me hard, and I mean really hard. They ruin all sense of productivity, and nothing around the house ever gets done.
I’ve actually pulled up my saves for a ton of RPG games and totalled up the hours, it’s limited more to the later releases (post 2006) as these were easier to find:
ES: Skyrim – 236 hours
ES: Oblivion – 163 hours
Fallout 3 – 187 hours
Fallout: New Vegas – 96 hours
Fallout 4 – 88 hours
Borderlands 2 – 75 hours
The Witcher 3 – 142 hours
Fable 3 – 42 hours
Dragon Age: Origins – 54 hours
Pokemon (All games) – 192,720 hours
A lot of those games I never actually finished! I know you could argue that they never really do finish; what with all the side-quests, random encounters and collectibles to, well, collect. I mean the main quest line. For starters, I never got to the end of Borderlands 2, I’d finished some of the DLC quests but as for the main story? I just never got round to it, I actually forgot what the storyline was about in the end, and I just ended up following objectives without really knowing why I had to do these things or go to these places. Eventually, I just naturally moved on to a new game. Another RPG I never managed to climax (yeah, that sounds weird to me too) was Mass Effect 3. Now, now; it is an RPG, there’s no need to argue! It’s got plenty of great RPG elements: side quests, exploration, player levelling, decision-making and looting just to name a few. Unfortunately, I picked it up at an awkward time. I bought the game literally a few weeks before I got my Xbox One, in a time before backwards compatibility existed as well. So it’s been stuck on my parent’s DVD rack for the last 3 years, and didn’t even make it out with me when I flew the nest last year. I probably could have completed it in the time I had, but I could resist scanning irrelevant planets and discovering what secrets they hid. Not priority stuff, considering the galaxy is on the brink of collapse! But hey, give me free reign of a ship’s course and important jobs won’t get done! At least I returned with some decent loot, though!
This is my fear with Final Fantasy XV. I’m worried I’ll just end up cruising around in my car, exploring the edges of the map and everything in between. Then spending hours upon hours just riding a Chocobo and laughing at it’s little booty shake. Because it’s expected to take around 40-50 hours to complete the story alone, and considering my insatiable urge for side quests and other deviations; I might struggle to finish it. Not through a lack of trying and no doubt I’ll put the hours in, but whether they’ll be suitable hours doing the right things remains to be seen. Sounds like value for money though (which can be hard to come by nowadays)! I’ll hopefully get chance to grab it soon, it’s well and truly engraved on the top of my list.
So what games have consumed your lives, recently? And irrespective of your ties to life, what games would you love to get back into? Let me know!