I tuned into one of these “Show of the Week” features that gaming YouTube channels like to do, and one of the hosts was talking about Far Cry 5. He wasn’t finding it very fun. He said he felt like he had a good handle on the game as he’d been playing for 5 or 6 hours and had cleared the first area.
I’ve been playing Far Cry 5 as well, and I’m having a lot of fun. I have also cleared the first area. The difference is, I’ve put 25 hours into the game so far. Clearly this YouTuber and I approach the game in very different ways, which got me thinking.
When I play an open world game, I just kind of let events sweep me along. I tend to avoid shortcuts like fast travel and so as often as not when I’m heading from point A to point B to do a quest, I’ll get distracted four or five times along the way. To me, that’s where the fun in these games lies. This is probably also why I’m not too fussed about if the story is any good. I know the micro-stories that come with side missions have made me laugh out loud at times, and moved me at others. But the ‘big story’ is almost incidental to me.
Other times I’ll jump in a car to go somewhere and a good song will be playing on the car’s radio so I’ll just joyride around for a while, listening to the music and watching the world whiz by.
I’m not claiming to be playing these games the “right” way and accusing this YouTuber of playing them wrong. I’m just playing them my way. I almost always ‘roleplay’ to some extent when I’m gaming. I just like to imagine I’m in some real world as much as possible.
So while I was pondering all this, my mind went back to my MMO days. I remember having heated discussions about fast travel in MMOs. I was against it, most people were for it. Most people felt like fast travel was a real convenience and not having it was disrespectful of a player’s time. I thought that forcing players to travel through the world was a good way to keep them immersed in the world, as well as keeping the scale of the world large.
History has shown that my opinion was the less popular one but deep down inside I still think I was right and one of the reasons MMOs don’t seem to be as ‘sticky’ any more is that they have so many convenience features that they no longer feel like virtual worlds. That said, as I’ve more or less abandoned MMOs I no longer care very much. These big open worlds that the game press loves to hate on are my bread and butter these days and have replaced MMOs for me.
Anyway, I feel bad for this YouTube fellow who is apparently plowing through Far Cry 5 as quickly as he can. I think he is missing out. For me, all the best times I’ve had have come from side quests, exploring and random encounters and for him to have taken down the first lieutenant inside of 5 or 6 hours, he must be ignoring all that good stuff. I dunno, maybe he has a review due. Nothing can ruin a game more than playing it with a deadline looming over your head.