I was reading a preview of XCOM 2 recently, and although I can’t find it now, a mention came up that it wasn’t running in 60fps on the hardware in question. The comments were largely focused on that fact, and how awful it is.
My reaction was mostly surprise that people care so much about a turn based strategy game running at 60fps vs 42fps, or whatever you happen to get.
60fps? I Just Don’t Care
Maybe it’s a function of the type of games I play, or my set up, or my eyesight, but this just isn’t something I care about. If a game is running over 30fps, I tend to not even notice if the numbers go higher. At one point I played WoW on a computer so old that shortly after launch (when the zones were insanely crowded), 20fps was a good day. It didn’t detract from the fun I was having.
Movies run at 24fps, and people flipped out when The Hobbit increased that number. TV runs at 30. So I find the idea that a game is broken if it can’t run at 60 to be pretty odd.
Resolution Support? I Do Care
On the other hand, there’s resolution. Games will pull tricks to get 60fps locked by lowering the resolution they actually run at, such that my 1080p PS4 output is actually 900p. They’re trading resolution for framerate, and since I don’t care about the extra framerate, I don’t find that a very good trade. (Here’s a list of games that do that.)
An even bigger issue is with my 4k monitor. Some games don’t support it at all, and I have to play them at 1080p or 1440p instead. Those tend to work fine, in that case. The worst offenders are games like Civilization: Beyond Earth, which claims it can run at 4k but doesn’t have a UI built to deal with it. The result is illegibly small text and icons, which make the game unplayable. It’s too bad in a strategy game, because the extra pixels should let me see more of the world at once, which is something I really want.
“Open World”? Don’t Care
This one is a function of me being old, and needing to spend more time doing responsible adult things. I have less time to game than I used to. One of the side effects is that I want the gaming time I do have to be as good as possible. Thus, my loathing of filler content and mindless grinding.
This also expands to “open world” games. Yes, it’s lovely if you can have 2000 square km of area for me to explore in game… but I’m not going to do that. I don’t have that kind of time. I’m going to go where the story takes me, and wander off a bit occasionally if I see something interesting. I’m not going to clear out all that area, because lets be honest: a lot of it is either empty or filler content. I don’t have time for that stuff anymore.
This isn’t to say that I want a fully linear game. There’s a fairly significant happy gap between a Bethesda game like Skyrim, and the corridor simulator shitshow that was Final Fantasy XIII.
“300 hours of gameplay!” Ugh…
How good is it?
That’s all that matters to me here. If you can actually deliver 300 hours of top notch gameplay, great! That rarely happens, though, with story driven games. You get a number that high with padding, filler, and grinding.
If you only have 10 hours of great content, that’s fine. Give me that. Don’t give me that interspersed in 90 hours of filler. Please, respect my time. I’m older now, and I’m paying you to be entertained.
“Immersive Dialogue choices!” Yay!
One of the things I like in Pillars of Eternity is that people react differently to you based on your reputation, and this opens up dialogue choices. As in a lot of other games, some of those are just fluff, in that they’ll say something different but the plot doesn’t really change.
Other ones? Not so much. Occasionally my reputation lets me actually complete a quest differently than if I didn’t have it. Or, an option that I could use to easily solve something becomes difficult for me to use, entirely because I don’t want to ruin my reputation. My character has been so honest that it’s a defining trait, which makes those “Lie” dialogue options much harder for me to choose. It gets especially painful when lying would save someone from bad news, which is a kind thing to do sometimes.
The game does this really well. Even in cases where the dialogue option or reaction is fluffy rather than substantial, it’s good fluff. It’s set things up such that immersing myself and becoming my character is really easy.
If you compare to a game like Borderlands 2, where there is character dialogue but you have no influence over it, the impact is readily apparent. I know lots of people don’t care about this stuff at all, but it adds a lot to a game for me.
“Addictive!” Oh Hell No…
I do care about this one, negatively. Games that are advertised as “addictive” tend to be mostly F2P treadmill games, where the “game” is a thinly veiled skinner box designed to extract cash from people with personalities susceptible to it. I find that both boring and repulsive, and it’s an automatic turn off.