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Name's Josh. I'm 26, play pretty much any kind of game, and have since I was old enough to hold a controller.
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Well friends, tomorrow is my 26th birthday. I'm getting old! I've been doing this gaming thing for a while now, and like many of you I have a ton of great memories from that time. Often it's easy to let those good memories cloud out the less than great memories, which can have a bit of a negative effect. We don't always want to remember the bad or disappointing times, but I feel that it's important to nonetheless. With that in mind I want to take today to talk about nostalgia.

I'm sure all of us who have been gaming for a while are guilty of letting nostalgia cloud what we think or say at some points. It's hard not to! By default most people don't want to remember things that don't make them happy. Being too drenched in nostalgia can have negative effects though. It can cause you to look at a game too harshly, forgetting that it's pitfalls are shared by things you enjoy, or to look at another game too nicely, overlooking the flaws in it solely because of it's association to something you love.

It's not rare to see people saying things like “gaming gets worse every year” or “this year was terrible for games.” People tend to have a time in their gaming life that they consider a sort of “golden age” of gaming. Once that is established it's easy to fall into a state of remembering all of the great things from that age while you eagerly point out all the flaws of the generations of those that came after.

For instance; the most memorable generation of gaming for me was the SNES era. A lot of people share that sentiment as there were some damn good games that came out during that period; some of my all time favorites! Is it really a “golden age” though? Didn't it have many of the pitfalls that so many other generations have had as well?

“Console wars?” We had 'em. Sega vs Nintendo was huge in those days! “How about disappointing sequels?” Son, did you play Act Raiser 2? The game that took a unique idea and stripped all of the unique parts out, leaving you with a slow, poorly designed side-scrolling hack and slash with bad controls? “But you didn't have to worry about DLC back then!” True enough, but the idea of DLC isn't bad in itself, it's just constantly poorly implemented and used to nickel and dime people. There's good DLC, but there will always be bad DLC just like there will always be bad games.

Sometimes nostalgia brings old games to new heights long after their prime. Earthbound has a HUGE following these days and is fondly remembered by many more people now than it ever was while it was relevant. Why is that? Well, for a few reasons I suppose. Earthbound was something new; it was a fresh take on a genre that had fallen into a comfortable place. When you look back at JRPG's prior to Earthbound you're likely to find a whole lot of generic fantasy. You'll find Dragon Warrior/Quest and you'll find the older Final Fantasy titles, games that are great but also had a very “knights and magic and dragons” kind of theme.

Granted FF6 really started that series' move towards a more Sci-Fi/Fantasy mix, but that came out the same year as Earthbound for Japan, and even then Earthbound stood out for its unique theme. This is a game that took a very fantasy heavy genre and put it in the real world, or at least one close enough for us. Here in America we never got Earthbound's predecessor (or it's sequel for that matter), so seeing this game that brought JRPG mechanics into a strangely American setting was bizarre to say the least.

New things like that can often keep people away rather than draw them in however, and thus was the case with Earthbound, which sold pretty poorly over here. So why do we hold it in such high regard now? Because now we go looking for that unique-ness. Now we've learned to appreciate something that goes in directions that many would never think to. So we look past the flaws in it because we've decided that we love it now.

You'll see people go so far as to regard Earthbound as perfection, but why? What of it's INCREDIBLY grindy nature? What of how easy it is to find yourself unsure of where to go and what to do? (I mean the game came with a walkthrough when it launched, if that doesn't tell you they knew you'd need help then what does?) What of the characters who are lauded as charming and memorable today who actually show little to no emotion (on the rare occasion that they speak at all) over the course of the fairly lengthy game?

It's so easy to look at everything that Earthbound does right with it's fantastic setting, it's bizarre themes and aesthetics, and it's unique take on the genre as a whole, that we're willing to look past those things, and that is fascinating to me. How could anyone NOT find it amazing that such an incredibly critical group of people like gamers are willing to look at a game like this and praise it for it's amazing unique bits and set aside it's noticeable flaws?

Think of something more recent, like a lot of the arguments against DmC: Devil May Cry. Personally I have loved DMC since it's original release and also loved the recent DmC, but a lot of others didn't. Don't get me wrong, that's perfectly okay. People will always disagree on things, especially when it comes to something as subjective as “Which is more fun?” That aside you can clearly point out the people whose nostalgia get in the way of their judgment.

“The acting is shit!” “The story is garbage!” “New Dante only appeals to 14 year olds!” All as they continue to praise the previous DMC games, literally none of which were ever known for being anything above mediocre in any of those departments. You're telling me the white haired, red trenchcoat wearing, pizza eating, rock and roll enjoying Dante wasn't designed to appeal specifically to late 90's / early 2000's teenagers?

Again I'll point out that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for disliking or arguing against DmC. Just because I enjoy it doesn't mean I won't give you that much. You loved the style system, you loved the difficulty, you loved the campy Japanese nature of it. I get that! I loved it too! If it wasn't for the original DMC I wouldn't have discovered my love for action games! At the end of the day though DmC isn't bringing ruin to your favorite franchise. If that series was able to survive DMC2, a game whose only interesting feature was being able to customize your devil trigger (a feature that I'm honestly surprised hasn't really returned), then it can survive ANYTHING.

We as gamers are a very strange bunch. We rarely agree, we're quick to judge, and we are so fucking passionate in one form or another. Even if you find someone who takes the exact opposite stance as you on a game to such a degree that neither of you can break through to the other, can you tell me that at least a little part of you doesn't appreciate that in such a fantastically varied medium there are people matching you in devotion to the hobby that you both love? As long as I'm a part of that kind of community I don't think I will ever lack something to write about. So here I am, a day away from being 26 years old, both thinking back and looking forward. I don't know what's in store, but I bet it'll be interesting. Thanks for reading.


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So the whole “Badger” thing left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Not necessarily because of the core of what he was trying to say (I can appreciate someone having a differing opinion) but because of how it was said. Also I'd like to throw in my own two cents about the whole “unethical journalism” shtick, because I feel that there's a fundamental factor that's being overlooked. Let's start with the “Badger,” not just in this particular rendition, but as a Destructoid idea in general.

I can somewhat appreciate the idea of the Badger. Getting people who know a bit about the industry who otherwise couldn't really tell you what they think and giving them a place to do that has its benefits. Someone in that situation could really shed some light on subjects and provide for interesting conversation. In the way it has currently been implemented though it comes off as a platform for people frustrated with their own industry (and the community that follows it) to let out their anger and frustrations in a borderline childish manner without repercussion.

If you have some kind of knowledge that gives you a point of view that others likely don't and you want to take that opportunity to share it in a place that will guarantee you attention then, in my mind, the least you could do is treat that attention with some kind of respect. If you are just going to use it to rant and call people idiots and belittle ideas then you could easily create a false internet persona in a community and bitch about it there like everyone else who doesn't want their real name associated with their words. If you are going to take Destructoid's offer for a platform that will sit and listen to you and what you have to say then I feel you're doing a disservice by using it as the equivalent of a pissy gamefaqs poster. If someone won't listen to reason and your first course of action is to be unreasonable right back, then how are you different from them?

You don't take this kind of opportunity and use it to call people idiots and shame them for the things they enjoy, regardless of how silly the things they enjoy may seem. Taking the time out to even bring up the idea that people may enjoy Game Grumps more than Mel Brooks is irrelevant at best and stupid at worst, as they share barely any common qualities. One of them is a famed comedic director, the other is two guys who play video games on youtube. It's like giving someone shit for enjoying Dr. Seuss more than Ernest Hemmingway and thinking that your bitching is justified because they're both authors. I realize that this particular point wasn't the focus of the article, but it shows how the writer looks at certain people regardless. The idea of every “nerd” being some poor deluded kid who desperately wants to be understood and thus are weak to being swayed by publishers who offer them things is also silly to me.

Moving away from the Badger as an idea and onto the subject matter of unethical game journalism, here is the basis of how I feel on the situation: if you feel that you can't trust a particular journalist or online publication then I feel that there is a very simple solution: don't visit them. Should journalists be held responsible for keeping up a certain standard? Absolutely. Should publishers stop trying to bribe them every chance they get? Obviously. Does that mean that, given the failure of those two to change, you should just continue reading everything they post and commenting on it and sitting on your high horse? God, no.

A journalist only has as much pull as they have people who will pay attention to them. And yes, they are journalists. That's just what journalism is. The idea that so many people seem to have of journalism as being some kind of higher calling that carries a certain weight with it is silly. If you are in a profession in which you relay news from a source to the public then you are, in some form, a journalist.

This idea that you should refuse to buy a product if someone in the industry was given it for free seems ridiculous to me. Surely you should carry some of the responsibility of what you purchase. There are so many places on the internet that you can go to learn people's opinions on a game or piece of hardware that, in my mind, you can't read one person's review and then blame them when you buy the product and your enjoyment of it doesn't line up with theirs.

You COULD say: “Bronathan Folmes reviewed the New 3DS and said it was the best handheld that Nintendo had ever put out, but it I bought it and think it's mediocre at best. He got his for free from Nintendo and so he's biased and can't be trusted and we should boycott.” OR you could just do proper research, find people whose values and opinions line up with your own somewhat regularly, and be somewhat responsible with your purchases. Even if Bronathan Folmes gave the New 3DS a more friendly review because he got it for free, then yes he has failed to live up to the standard expected of him, but that hardly excuses your complete lack of thinking for yourself.

So much of what gets reviewed on any big online publication is done so through review copies sent by publishers. Should we stop reading all of those reviews solely because the writers haven't paid for what they're reviewing? Should we only trust people who have spent their own money to give us an honest view? Or should we assume that someone who has been hired into this profession has some kind of integrity that they seek to adhere to and that those who pay him or her also keeps that integrity in mind? Why would we place any faith into the gaming press at all if we're just gonna view them all as untrustworthy and lacking integrity? In a weird and yet completely obvious way everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Publishers shouldn't get away with attempting to bribe journalists, journalists should be held accountable for themselves, and you should be responsible for what you spend your own money on. There is no one singular problem.

So why should you listen to me? Literally no reason what so ever. I'm NOT some respected member of any community or industry, I'm NOT someone with inside knowledge of the inner workings of a profession. What I am is some guy on the internet who enjoys games. My name is Josh Barnes, I write about video games for fun, and this is the end of my rant. Thanks for reading.


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When playing a game, one of the things that tends to really stand out to me is its setting. We have such great variation in the games on offer to us at any given time so it comes as no surprise that there have been many unique settings along the way. It's easy to just have a game set in a world that doesn't stand out. Putting an rpg in a generic fantasy world or having your shooter set in a modern day city doesn't make it bad, but there are so many games that go that extra mile and take you to worlds that you never thought you'd see. Let's talk about a few of them!

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

All too often we get games that take place in some sort of post apocalyptic setting that feel the need to go the usual route of brown wastelands devoid of life. Thankfully Ninja Theory chose to go a different route with this unique take on the old Chinese fable. As Monkey you'll escort the lovely Trip through a world that no longer belongs to humans. You'll venture through a city that has taken the phrase “urban jungle” to a new extreme with it's large plants and strange wildlife. Enslaved shows that just because a world after the downfall of humanity is deadly and depressing doesn't mean it can't be beautiful in its own way.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Here is a game that really created a unique and intriguing setting for people to explore. Xenoblade Chronicles is a world that, in a way, is a world within a world. Long before the events of XC there were two gigantic beings fighting each other in what seemed to be a never ending duel. One day they each struck a blow that left the other unable to fight back, but connected to each other. Over time life began to sprout on these enormous beings. You get to explore a beautiful and unique world that takes you along the enormous bodies of the Mechonis and Bionis and it's a fascinating trip the whole way through. The idea that the characters you control in XC are actually life forms that exist on other, larger life forms is amazing, and it's one that I won't be forgetting about anytime soon.


I could talk about this game for longer than anyone would ever care to sit and listen. Transistor has many stand out features and its setting is no exception. Probably the most intriguing thing about Transistor's Cloudbank is that there is no way of know exactly what it is. This strange cyber world where the weather is controlled by computers and all the environments have the most fascinating color schemes is such a wonderful mystery, especially since you're introduced to it just as it has begun its downfall. It's such a shame that you're never allowed to explore the city in its full glory. Such a beautiful shame.


Both the original Bioshock and Infinite have incredibly fascinating settings. From an underwater city of people too smart for their own good to a floating city of holier than thou citizens following a less than sincere prophet. Each are presented in unique ways as well, with Rapture left for you to explore after it has fallen to its own selfishness and Columbia you get to see in its faux utopia state before and while it's plunged into chaos. People will have their preferences, but there's no doubt that each of these settings are intriguing in their own way.


A futuristic world where magic has manifested within people and evolution has brought orcs and elves into a strangely familiar and yet alien setting? What's not to like! If you already liked cyber punk and fantasy settings before you found out about Shadowrun then you must have been intrigued by the idea of having them mashed together when you learned about this. The fusion of tech and guns with swords and magic is an idea that I've always found fascinating, (It's one of the reasons that I've always been so into Final Fantasy!) but no one mixes it together in quite the way that Shadowrun does.

Majora's Mask

The fascinating thing about the world of Termina is how it compares to what you expected it to be going into the game for the first time. Zelda games almost always take place in the land of Hyrule, and while that setting changes with each iteration no game quite manages to throw you for a loop like Majora's Mask. Termina is essentially a strange and twisted version of Hyrule. I don't mean that in the way that the Dark World or Lorule were mirrors of Hyrule; Termina comes off as more of a manipulation of someone's dreams. The people and locations are familiar to you and yet somehow feel worlds apart from how they should be. And let's not forget about the moon falling from the sky! “You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?” This quote from the mask salesman is one that sticks with you through this game, because the whole experience can feel as strangely haunting as his words.

Dark Souls

The Souls game never lack for an interesting world for you to explore, but this entry was probably home to the best realized one. To say that Lordran is on it's last leg would be giving it too much credit. The haunting country side is barely hanging by a thread. A place once inhabited by Lords and their loyal subjects is left in ruin. A lord of light hidden away underground trying desperately to keep his kingdom whole, a once powerful witch and her daughters left to suffer from the results of their own pride, a dragon who betrayed his own kind gone mad from seeking what eluded him... Melancholy is something the world of Dark Souls is all too familiar with, and it makes for a fascinating place to explore.


There are so many amazing worlds that I've gotten to explore in the many years that I've been gaming. With enough time I could keep you here for ages listing off fantastic settings like those of Oddworld, Dishonored, Shadow of the Colossus, Remember Me, and so many more. But since I don't want to keep you here all day, how about helping fill in the blanks by telling me some of your favorite settings. You guys never fail to bring up great examples that I overlook, so don't let me down this time either! Oh, and thanks for reading.


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For thousands of years one question has plagued mankind. I can't answer that question, but there is a question I can and will answer: just who are the sexiest people in the Destructoid Community?! I have developed a foolproof system to determine the answer to this question using a combination of science, math, and a little bit of witchcraft. No staffers or part timers here, just good old community members. Let's get down to business!


5: Its About To Get Gay In Here

IATGGIH is like a one man video game version of the Onion. No one else brings you breaking news stories like the kid who was able to fake happiness after receiving Duck Dynasty for Christmas, or gives you the purchasing info that you really need such as the smaller New 3DS shipping to America with its buttons sold separately. If you dig that kind of info then you'll also want to jump on the DLC that the mysteriously gendered writer recently announced for his/her blogs; you're gonna want the full experience! Dtoid as a whole could stand to learn from this dedicated reporter of the gaming news that really matters.


4: SeymourDuncan17

The manly mustached Seymour comes along to grab the number 4 spot, and rightly so! Last year he gave us a lovely look at his experience at the Alamo City Comic-Con, where he met many interesting people both famous and otherwise. The friendly fella also posted other well written pieces on interesting topics, such as why it's okay for games to do things that “aren't okay,” and how he learned to take it easy in 2014. He's also constantly in the comments ready to give folks a sensible chuckle. As entries on this list go, Mr. SeymourDuncan17 is probably the most reasonable.


3: JawshButturBawls

If you hung out in the news articles on Dtoid last year then you know this guy, or rather the feminine pokemon he represented every chance he got. The Era of Gardevoir on Destructoid was one of highs and lows, of love and loss. It came to an abrupt end when Jawsh shocked the world a few weeks ago by posting what amounted to heresy for many: his true love was not Gardevoir at all, but rather the inferior Persona waifu Chie Satonaka! They say that there's no accounting for taste, but in reality your choice in Persona waifu actually accounts for 36.2% of your ranking in my patent pending sexy calculation system. Lucky for Jawsh he has been remembered for so much more than this one revelation. Everyone makes mistakes, and the number 3 spot is proof that he can be forgiven of this particular one.


2: Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is a strange guy. I say that with love though! In a community of gamers talking about games this fine fellow put up his middle finger to the man (What man specifically is unclear. Probably Andy Dixon though.) and followed his passions. His weird, fucked up, amazing passions. He gave us interspecies erotica of a pokemon nature during the Era of Gardevoir, he gave us hentai manga that far too many of us fapped to, and he's recently graced the C-Blogs with a 3 part epic about the adventurous and romantic exploits of the Ice Climbers, aka that Smash Bros character that people like in public but really no one bothers with because Ness/Lucas are obviously cooler. This man is a visionary, and is highly deserving of the number 2 spot.


1: Gajknight

He's beauty. He's grace. He probably has a face. He also has many interesting fetishes, one of which apparently being learning other people's fetishes. In fact you might call him the originator of the fetish blogs around here, so you've probably got him to thank for what is likely your most popular piece you've ever written.

I mean let's face it, you know what gets you by in the C-blogs? Hilarity. Silliness. Hentai. I mean for fucks sake I've been writing about video games every week for half a year now and what do you people like the most out of all that? Terribly written fan fiction that's what! You know how painful it is to make that stuff purposefully bad and full of not very funny jokes? PAINFUL. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE WHY WON'T YOU JUST LIKE ME HAEDLKFAJDLKHFAO;DIKFJA;SDKL

...Ahem. He also is the strongest advocate for the spread of Naoto love on this website, which is something we could all strive to live up to. He's even an overall nice dude! I mean, I guess he is. I don't actually know the guy. I almost played video games with him one time though. But the Fenriff system's numbers don't lie, and Gajknight runs off with the number 1 spot.


Did you not manage to reach one of the highly sought after spots on this list? Then maybe you should try to be a little sexier in 2015. I mean if you're gonna make a new year's resolution then it should be something meaningful like putting these five people to shame. Is your name Occams or Bbain? Then you get a gold star sticker because you've moved on to bigger things at Dtoid and were unfortunately disqualified for this list as such. Congratulations to the winners of this very important event! Now go say something in the comments that may or may not actually relate to this and perhaps I will respond to it. Go on!


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Video games have always been something of an escape for me. The world is a frightful place and until recently video games have done a satisfactory job of drowning it out, of placing themselves between the world and myself. A shield of sorts, but I suppose that kind of thing works both ways, because while it shielded me from the world that I never felt a part of it also probably kept me from adapting to that same world.

As I'm sure you've guessed this is about depression; something I've struggled with for a long time but over the past couple of weeks has been really gnawing at me. I don't really know what the point of this piece is, but I felt that maybe writing this all out might do some tiny amount of good. I do not share my feelings easily so doing this at all is incredibly difficult for me, but after almost 26 years on this planet of keeping things bottled in...well, let's just call this an experiment in opening up.

I am incredibly introverted. If you're someone who feels that the word is simply synonymous with being shy and quiet then I regret to inform you that is incorrect. I wish shyness was the extent of my problems. It's the sort of thing that leaves me feeling alone in a room full of people, even when I know every one of them. Simply being close to someone is difficult because it's not a simple matter of someone being nice to me or having an interest in similar things, it becomes something deeper. I don't place myself in someone's hands easily and if I do it's a big deal in my mind.

Just having friends is one thing, but friends often feel like people I just have around. There's a step after that which is difficult to achieve, and that role becomes harder to fill the older I get as I become less and less interested in people's bullshit. A “friend” is essentially anyone that speaks to me whose company I don't find disagreeable, and just reaching that plateau is apparently difficult. Becoming close to me is something else entirely. It's something that really requires me to feel connected to you. Like you're the one person amongst the bullshit that I WANT to be around and to speak to; the one person that isn't just another distraction for me.

This way of looking at people probably seems selfish, and it most likely is. If someone who sees me as a friend were to read that and think “Wait, so I'm just a distraction to you?” I couldn't really fault them for that. In a way they'd be right. It's nothing personal though, it's just the way that my brain works. You would assume that the knowledge that I treat people this way would be the first step to working it out, and again I wish it were that easy. Over the years I've made many attempts to push through that curtain of constant loneliness that surrounds me; to reach out and force interactions with people I didn't know but seemed like people I could stand. For the most part these fail, though whether that is the fault of me not trying hard enough, my brain getting in the way, or simply the other person not wanting to deal with me is difficult to say.

You wanna know the absolute worst possible outcome for my situation though? Think of what I have described to you of how difficult it is to become close to people, of how someone wanting to be around me isn't enough. Think of the difficulty that comes with having a brain (or heart I suppose) that forces you to wait until it decides that it has connected with another person for you to feel for them. Now imagine your brain and your heart eventually, finally make that connection with someone...and that feeling is not returned.

I don't simply mean like when you like a girl or guy and that person doesn't want to date you, I'm talking about something deeper than friendship or romanticism. Something that is required in my brain for you to really become either of those things. Then to make that feeling worse, part of you knows that you can't blame that person. You KNOW that you're asking a lot of that person and that, placed in their shoes, the pressure of that role would probably not be so desirable to you either.

As I mentioned at the start, I spend a lot of time trying to drown out this part of my brain. I surround myself with friendly distractions and immerse myself in video games and write gaming related articles every week that feel more and more forced every time. Gaming is a true passion for me, as is writing. I connect with it and it's because it's so important to me that I'm able to drown everything else out with it. Unfortunately though I recently hit something of a brick wall. I found myself becoming disinterested in nearly everything.

I had no desire to play, I had no desire to watch. I found all the suppressed loneliness welling up inside of me, ready to burst out and plead with me to just fucking stop. Just please stop wasting my time and just be happy. Just for a bit, just long enough to feed me and keep me running. I had been running on fumes for too long and now I was broken down on the side of the road and needed to push myself to the gas station, with no idea which direction or how far away it was.

This was about two weeks ago. I am an almost 26 year old man living in a small town in Georgia and I will be damned if “getting out” isn't the most difficult goal I've ever set for myself. I live in a town where the extent of going out is heading to the movie theater or the local Wal-Mart. I'm currently jobless as well, and while I'm sure that does not help, fixing that problem is also difficult. Most of the jobs I've had have made me more depressed than I was to start with, leaving me feeling the need to be incredibly picky in my search for work.

My past couple weeks have consisted largely of sleeping irregular hours, drawing poorly, writing my weekly piece, and trying to watch random things online to take my attention away from the real problems. I binge watched the entire first season of Psycho Pass last night solely to get through the night. I enjoyed the show, and it distracted me from what I'd been feeling while it lasted, but as soon as it was over it just all sunk right back in.

Needless to say the whole situation is less than agreeable. I'm not sure what steps are necessary to work through this, or if maybe it's just something I need to soldier through until I can cheer back up and get back into a “getting by” state of mind, but I really wish that would come sooner rather than later.

I don't know what has really been gained in writing all of this out, and the fact that I'm posting this here at all is shocking to me. If you've somehow made it through all of that and reached this lackluster conclusion then thanks for at least taking some time out of your day to read my venting on strangers and sorry for the massive wall of text. I mentioned earlier that friends to me were distractions that I shared interests with; people who kept the loneliness just far enough at bay to keep me going. I guess in that way Destructoid as a whole is something of a friend to me.


Replayability is a quality that many of us look for in games that we are considering spending our money on. For a lot of people it's hard to justify spending money on a game if they're only going to play it once. Thinking about it though, just what constitutes good replayability in a game? I'm sure many of us have different ideas on that, as I myself seem to take a different stance on it than many others I've seen online, so let's talk about it!

By definition replayability is the ability of a game to be replayed, but it's obviously more than that because any game CAN be replayed, so what you're really looking at is the incentive a game gives you to play it more than once. For me personally it's more important that a game give a reasonably entertaining amount of content the first time through and if the game has added replayability then that's just a bonus. When it comes to actual replayability though there are a few different ways it is typically achieved.

The first (and probably most sought after) form of replayability is when a game offers choices that change the way you experience the game on each playthrough. The first example that springs to mind of this type is The Witcher 2, in which the entire second act of the game changes (including the area it's set it) depending on a choice made in the first act. This scenario assures you that you will get to experience new things on subsequent playthroughs. The excitement that comes with the knowledge that you have shaped your playthrough with the choices you've made is part of what makes Bioware's games so popular.

People want to try extra playthroughs of games like Mass Effect and see what it's like to be a renegade female instead of a noble male or vice versa. This kind of expectation is also part of why people like myself were disappointed in Telltale's The Walking Dead series, because the game hammers home that your choices are important and then betrays your trust if you ever attempt to play through the game differently. Don't get me wrong; it's perfectly okay for a game to have choices that don't largely impact the game, but it's not okay to have choices like that while you're shoving it into the player's face at the beginning of every episode that their choices are a big deal.

Another form of replayability is when a game just has so much content that you can hardly get through it all on one playthrough. This type is one where in a way you're creating your own replayability, because you COULD try to get through everything on one playthrough, but a part of you wants to save it to enjoy later. For instance, you're not likely to have done everything on one playthrough of Skyrim, you probably saved cities or regions for another time. I myself intentionally didn't do everything available to me in Dragon Age: Inquisition because there are far more areas than necessary to reach the final mission, so I left like three entire zones untouched so that I could explore them as different characters.

The “loads of content” style tends to work best when in conjunction with another kind of replayability: having more than one way to play. This is one of the biggest ways to get me to play a game again, if not THE biggest. Having different styles of play that reasonably change your experience is always welcome in a game for me. This is the main reason that I've played DA:I three times. I've played as a dual wielding human rogue, a qunari mage, and an elf archer; and each playthrough has felt unique in such a way that I didn't mind that there were times I was doing the same content. The playstyles of each of those classes are sufficiently different and the game already has such an enjoyable combat system that I've thoroughly enjoyed each of those playthroughs.

The final major form of replayability that I want to talk about is probably my least favorite but it's one that many others seem very fond of: the “try to do better than you did last time” kind of replayability. This is essentially where a game grades you or times you or gives you score based on how well you did and expects you to play the game more to one up yourself. There are ways of implementing this that I find enjoyable, but they're relatively rare. For instance, in Devil May Cry I enjoy it because the game is constantly rating you while you're playing. You can see how you're doing as you're doing it. If you do a really good combo you will immediately see the ranking on the top of your screen and you can watch it climb or decline based on your performance in the moment. However if you look at a game like Bayonetta, which has a very similar style of play, the scoring is handled just differently enough to take away my interest.

In Bayonetta you fight off enemies and are shown the out of context score numbers but aren't shown a ranking for how well you did to match that score until after the battle is over, when you may see a gold medal for your combos and think “Well damn, what part of the fight was I slacking on? Where should I have improved?” You're also ranked again at the end of the level based on your rankings received and then you lose points for the battles you missed out on, which is a bummer considering that many encounters are hidden or require you to do backtracking halfway through a chapter to find them.

In general score based games make me want to perform really well when I play them initially, but they don't really convince me to play them again. Leaderboards aren't generally something I personally strive for. In fact the only time I can think of that I really strove to do really well on a leaderboard was a bit after the launch of DmC when I noticed that I had happened to rank like 15 or something in the world on the final mission on one difficulty and so I thought “Hell, I can do better than that” and replayed it a couple of times until I was number 1.

The most interesting thing about the idea of replayability to me is that it is so incredibly subjective that I enjoy seeing what others feel is reasonable. Rogue-like games (or rogue-lites) for example are games that I always find very interesting but are rarely able to hold my interest for longer than a day or two. The ones that have systems built in that make your subsequent playthroughs more interesting such as Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy, or DungeonMans certainly help me stick around longer, but in general the content feels incredibly repetitive in these types of games for me. However I have seen a lot of people who have racked up MANY hours on these kinds of games, so it's all just different strokes for different folks I suppose.

So how about you my lovely readers? What does a game need to do to convince you to come back to it? Does it need to appeal to your need to be the best? Does it need branching paths or loads of content? Or are you like me in that it just needs to be a really solid, enjoyable experience? Let me know, and thanks for reading!


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