Why Am I So Weird (When It Comes To Games)

Sailing the dhow into the sunset

I’ve been thinking about my taste in games recently, mostly spurred on by Skull & Crossbones. The general vibe on the Internet is a negative one, and yet I really enjoy it. If this was a one-off I wouldn’t think much about it but it seems to happen fairly regularly with me. I loved No Man’s Sky when it first launched and was getting pilloried online. I loved Anthem when it seemed to get nothing but hate. Snowrunner is another example to a lesser extent. While it does have a dedicated fanbase it isn’t a widely popular game. In general when “open world” is starting to become a dirty word (or phrase) I still love open world games. All those towers that Ubisoft gets mocked for? I f’ing LOVE climbing those and getting that panorama fed to my eye holes!

I just started to wonder if I just like things to be contrary. Y’know? Like back in high school when you were too cool to like the popular stuff so you liked the other stuff.

But no, I think there’s a more practical reason. I think I just like to travel & explore in games. I loved No Man’s Sky because I enjoyed flying to different planets and seeing the sights, and the fact that I could lift off, fly to another planet and land without any loading screens. I didn’t let a single planet go Unexplored (which is part of why I never made much progress). Anthem I loved because flying around in those suits felt so damned good, and the more you played the better you got at it. Snowrunner is all about driving around, albeit slowly. And Skull & Crossbones? I just ADORE sailing around that world. Some nights I hardly do any fighting. I love trimming the sails way back and gliding silently through a strait between two islands, listening to the sounds of the surrounding jungle and watching the sun set and the moon rise.

The more I think about it, the more this makes sense. I tend NOT to use fast travel options (which is a big part of why it takes me so long to finish a game). I spent like 200 hours in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just traveling back and forth across the map seeing new things and exploring. It’s almost like actual gameplay is just an excuse for me to travel around these virtual worlds. I am never particularly interested in being challenged by games (as long as they’re not so easy as to feel trivial, I’m fine). If combat is serviceable, that’s OK for me. I do want to be able to take my time. Really fast paced games, like Warframe for example, never last with me. I want to be able to smell the roses and poke around. Back when I played MMOs what drove me was getting strong enough to move into the next zone to see what was there.

I won’t deny I don’t also enjoy seeing numbers go up, but really it is just important to have a new vista to explore over the next hill.

I guess I’ll need to keep this in mind going forward, and before I recommend a game to anyone I’ll have to stop to decide if it is actually a good game, or if it is just an interesting/pretty world that weirdo me enjoys exploring. Because I know many, maybe most, gamers are much more gameplay and goal driven than I am.

4 thoughts on “Why Am I So Weird (When It Comes To Games)

  1. That’s very close to how I like to play and how I evaluate whether a game is “good” or not. I’d also add building, which I find almost dangerously addictive – I can lose whole evenings just trying to get a roof put up. It hardly counts as dynamic gameplay but I find it both compulsive and relaxing, which is a great combination.

    I think you’re going to find Nightingale pretty enjoyable. It’s an excellent exploring game although I suspect the re-use of assets might come into play after a while. Early Access though, so if it’s successful they’ll no doubt add more biomes and architecture. Palworld is decent to explore as well but the draw there is more seeing the various weird life-forms than the scenery, which is nice enough but hardly thrilling to discover.

    1. I always think I like building and when it comes to throwing together a basic structure I do but when it comes time to make it look nice and stuff, my imagination always deserts me! Which is really disappointing. I have a vivid imagination when I was younger but somehow managed to lose it. I should probably commit to noodling around with things that take imagination just to try to build it back up!

  2. In terms of some of those games you liked despite the general sentiment, might it have something to do with staying apart from the wider discourse about those games, particularly in the lead up to their launch?

    Possibly not, as clearly you’re aware that the overwhelming (in some cases) negative sentiment is there, but still I wonder.

    While making no statement on whether I think Skull & Bones is any good or not for the moment, I do think a lot of hate bandwagoning happened after the Ubisoft CEO made the very ill-advised comment that he considered S&B to be an ‘AAAA’ (Quadruple-A) game, and generally stuck the game’s neck out higher than the crowd.

    Nature then took it’s course with everyone being awl, ‘We’re not having a bar of that’ and going out to chop it off.

    That said; my own impressions have been less than stellar. I don’t think it’s… bad… exactly. But it is extremely, aggressively, average. So if you then combine that fact with the CEO commentary, and it *does* leave a bit of a sour taste.

    Similar sorts of stories exist for the other games too, save maybe for Anthem — but then on that one, I’m with you. I was very sad when EA finally came down with the decision *not* to go ahead with Anthem NEXT/2.0. There is no question the game had some pretty serious faults, but for all that, the foundation of the gameplay that dev team managed to whip together in the last 12 or so months of development was just… FUN…


    1. Sorry, I don’t know why wordpress is so bad about notifying me of new comments. I got a notification of your “like” but not of your comment.

      Anyway, belated response:

      “I do think a lot of hate bandwagoning happened after the Ubisoft CEO made the very ill-advised comment that he considered S&B to be an ‘AAAA’ (Quadruple-A) game, and generally stuck the game’s neck out higher than the crowd.”

      So that’s like another whole post. I don’t know where these gamers work, but I know the CEO of my company has zero to do with any of the actual work being done. So if I design a website and the CEO says “We have a website that is the best site that has ever been created!” and then people start shitting on my design in response to the audacity of his bone-headed comment, even though I never said a thing about it… that feels pretty rotten. Yes, Ubisoft’s CEO says a lot of idiotic things but I don’t hold his comments against the work of the game designers/developers. I honestly don’t understand how what some person says about a game impacts how enjoyable a game is or isn’t.

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