Naithin poked some of us on the Blaugust Discord to chime in on this: If you could only play five games in a year, what would they be?
It turns out this would not be a terribly big sacrifice for me. I don’t play a lot of games in a year to start with. I’ve already done some research for my 2019 year-end post, and the number of new games that I’ve purchased and started in 2019 is extremely small. (Three-Sekiro, The Division 2, Astellia Online.) The number of new games I’ve actually completed is even less. (One-Sekiro.)
Admittedly two of those are MMOs so they don’t really have an ending.
On an average day, I might only play a half hour to an hour of games. Some days I don’t play anything at all. So a (modest) thirty-hour game could take me two months to finish. For example, I started playing Sekiro on March 22, and completed my first playthrough on May 24.
I also typically only play one game at a time. Discounting MMOs, if I stop a game before it’s done, I almost never return to it later (because I usually stopped playing it for a reason-it wasn’t fun anymore).
Anyway, for this thought exercise, I’ll assume that I’m only allowed to play five games next year, in 2020. I’ll also assume I’m allowed to buy one game that’s coming out in 2020. :)
The Last Of Us 2 (PS4). Launching in February. After being recently re-enthralled by The Last Of Us, there’s no doubt I’ll be playing this one when it comes out, and I expect to play the entire game from start to finish with no other distractions, and I expect it will take at least a month.
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4). This one makes sense for me because it’s already on my list to finish in 2020 anyway. :) I’ve only barely started it, and I can tell I enjoy it enough that I’ll make it through the entire game eventually. I assume there’s still months of content left for me to get through. It’s basically a single-player MMORPG, so it’s perfect for me.
Dark Souls Remastered (PC). I mean, obviously, right? This game has nearly unlimited replayability. A bunch of different classes, each with radically different gameplay styles, a ton of different weapons available to use, each with radically different gameplay styles, not to mention about a hundred thousand different “challenge runs” to try. (Soul level 1! Magic only! Speed runs! The possibilities are endless.) I picked the first game instead of the third game because I’ve played it less, and I think it’s somewhat bigger. (I could possibly flip a coin here and substitute Bloodborne.)
Those first three are the easy choices, the last two I had to think about a lot. Do I go back to solidly proven old games and replay them? Most of the time, when I go back to older games, I don’t like them as much a second time. I loved BioShock when it came out, but I replayed it recently and found it a lot more meh. I loved BioShock Infinite (which I actually named the “game of the decade” in 2013-possibly somewhat prematurely) but I feel no need to replay it. I’ve had the same thoughts about Half-Life 1 and 2-fantastic seminal works in the shooter genre, clearly turning points in the state-of-the-art of gaming, that just aren’t as riveting the second time.
Or do I go for newer games that I think I’ll play for a long time but I’m not really sure yet? Or do I cop out completely and add Bloodborne and/or Dark Souls II and/or Dark Souls III, as I know they are all fantastic games with the same level of replayability as Dark Souls? I don’t really want to do that though because I like a little bit of variety in my games, although from the screenshots I’ve put in this post, I always seem to gravitate toward third-person camera RPG-style games.
In the end, I settled for more-or-less what I’m planning to keep playing anyway.
The Division 2 (PS4). This is my shakiest pick, included mainly because I just bought it, so it’s the newest “shiny” MMO(-ish) game I own. It’s not exactly a “lifestyle” game, in that you don’t pack up and move into the game world to play every night, it’s just something you pop into now and then. It’s a game I can turn to when I don’t really feel like playing something else. But it’s entirely possible that if I revisit this list a year from now, I’d pick something else.
Lord of the Rings Online. I had to put at least one mouse-and-keyboard game on this list somewhere, because if I only have controller games to play, I’m going to wreck my thumb very quickly, or else I’ll have to limit my play time even more drastically. It was a tossup between LotRO and ESO, but I picked LotRO because I still have so, so much content still to get through to catch up with the endgame. I could play a half hour every day for the entire year of 2020 and still not catch up. Even the people on the progression server have passed me already. Whereas with ESO I feel like it wouldn’t take that long to exhaust the content.
I actually can’t think of too many games I’d want to play a second time. Most times when I go back to play a game I’ve already finished, I notice it isn’t as good as I remembered it. This is why there aren’t more MMORPGs on the list… I still think Final Fantasy XIV is the best MMORPG on the market, but I’ve already played through most of it.
But there are a handful that I’m sure I would enjoy playing again if I had no choice about it. Here are a couple of alternates I might substitute in place of those last two above:
The Witcher 3. I only discarded this one because it has a very similar gameplay style to Dark Souls. Apparently I never wrote a post when I finished the game, this is the best one I’ve got, where I called it my game of the year in 2015.
RimWorld. I thought about including this one, but, while I played the heck out of it for months on end and loved every second of it, I haven’t yet felt any desire to return to it.