every person who lives here wants me dead
Last weekend I finished Fallout 4. I’ll have more to say on that soon, but it left me trying to figure out what I wanted to play next, other than just restarting Fallout 4. The remastered version of Grim Fandango was free, and I grabbed it because of how many people went on about how good it was, but it turns out none of them really liked it, because it’s one of those adventure games with inscrutable puzzles. I got Metro/Last Light Redux for Christmas, but that’s pretty much the same as replaying Fallout 4. Sony had a sale recently and people recommended Assassin’s Creed IV. I bought it, even though I haven’t played any of the Assassin’s Creed games (I was told that, story-wise, this would not be a problem.)
I started it up and was doing okay, but soon got overwhelmed. They threw me into Havana, where everyone wanted to kill me always. I couldn’t take five steps without 40 guards tackling me. It didn’t help that my character can’t keep his mouth shut and is an asshole. Frustrated, I turned it off.
For some time I’ve “joked” that I only seem to like a handful of videogames. It’s frustrating to me and to anyone who’s tried to help me figure out what I want to play. I’ve had to take a “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it” attitude that doesn’t really help me find things I might like. Finally, Pal Andrew suggested Destiny as a sort of palate cleanser until I figured out what I wanted to do next, and that seemed like a good idea.
Subsequently, I played Destiny last night for the first time in months (it got thrown aside for Fallout 4). Now, Destiny isn’t my favorite game. There’s a lot of blandness and by-the-numbers to it. But it helped me focus my thoughts on it versus, say ,Assassin’s Creed IV.
Destiny is super easy to learn. Everything you need to know to mechanically play Destiny you can learn in, like, five minutes. There are only so many guns, and their differences are fairly obvious. You have only a handful of attacks: shoot, melee, grenade. You run, jump, and crouch. That’s pretty much it. Now, there’s a lot more to the game beyond that, but it all has to do with reacting to your environment and the different enemies (which could stand to be a little more different, but that’s another story.) It doesn’t make me learn a million different things to do, all of which can be employed in new and exciting combos to finesse into devastating attacks and counters and whatever. It is, and I also find myself using this term with regards to boardgames lately, very straightforward. Streamlined. That’s what I want, that’s what I like.
Look, I’m old, and I could drop dead at any moment. I don’t have time for three different buttons for swimming. Regular swim, fast swim, stealth swim…really? Within the first few minutes of Assassin’s Creed 4 I have three different swims to know. I have all this different junk to do when fighting: I can hold, I can throw, I can block, I can counter, I can parry — look, I just want to put this other guy down and get on with my life. I’m not here to learn how to dance, I’m here to drop this poor bastard and rescue that merchant. Ain’t no one giving me points for style. I realize there are people who enjoy chaining attacks and timing moves and all that stuff and they are okay because they have plenty of games to play. When I play for three hours, I want three hours of game, not three hours of this one boss fight. Remember, I’m married; I could be having sex instead.
As with boardgames, there seems to be this “more is more” attitude that you need to throw as much stuff into a game as it will fit. Can you craft? You need to craft! Can you sex up NPCs? Yes to sexing up NPCs! Can we have a sword, even though we have sniper rifles and shotguns? Get that goddamn sword in there with great speed!
I’m not saying everything has to be Pac-Man. And I realize that I’m unfairly picking on AC4 because it’s the fourth — or maybe ninth, I don’t know the series — game and they assume they’re just reminding you of all this stuff and not throwing it at you all at once. And I’m not saying every game needs to cater to me. I’m just getting more of a handle on what sorts of things I like and what sorts of things I don’t and why.
Also: I don’t like games where my guy is an asshole. That really bugs me.