Do you like the look of a game? Then it would be best if you played it. That simple.
Gaming is a very, very broad term. For a lot of people, it generally refers to video game players. Personally, if you play games, you are a gamer. That’s it. Mobile, Console, Board, Wargames, Tabletop RPGs – it doesn’t matter. You enjoy playing games, you are a gamer.
The other day, I talked about my gaming goals for 2020. I had picked a few Board Games that I specifically wanted to play in 2020 for different reasons. But I didn’t do that for Video Games. Not because I was trying to be vague, but because picking Video Games to finish is a lot harder.
Decide to play a Board Game and decide you don’t like it? Walk away. You might have devoted two to three hours, but that’s it. You have played the game and decided you don’t like it. Video Games can be even quicker. I put down Detroit: Become Human about an hour into playing because the controls were driving me nuts. It was 2018 – movement changing with camera angles outside of your control should not be a thing!
But I played it. With patches, these issues are apparently resolved. Harls recently got the Platinum for Detroit and has mostly convinced me to give it another shot.
So I should play everything?
If you like the look of a game, you should play it. Yes, reviews and opinions can help you decide if you think you would like a game, but you are the only one that can ultimately make that choice. I gave away Destiny 2 for example because the extra grinding being introduced just made the game not fun for me anymore.
Harls still actively plays Destiny 2, and I don’t think he is ‘wrong’ for enjoying it. The fact he has fun with it makes it a good game, just not for me.
All forms of art are like this. If someone doesn’t share your tastes in music, movies, television, books, comics or art very rarely do we miss a beat. We might be surprised someone doesn’t like a particular genre, but we write it off as “Oh well, it’s not your thing”.
Gaming, for some reason, is still somewhat elitist. Don’t like the new hotness? What’s wrong with you! That is what a lot of the media I watch and read all seem to shout out. It’s not exclusive to gaming, true, but if I don’t enjoy a popular movie (or enjoy a not popular one) that is usually the end of it.
I buy a lot of games on the strength of designers and publishers. It’s the same as movies – there are actors, writers and directors that I will go out of my way to watch anything they are in. We all do to some degree.
So yes – if you think a game looks good to you, if you get the chance, play it. This doesn’t necessarily mean buy it though. With Video Games, if you wait you can get them much cheaper down the line. Or even free with various programs like Game Pass and PlayStation Plus.
So what is Finishing games?
Everything else I am talking about today is more Video Game related. It’s not that a lot of the same things don’t apply to Board Games, it’s merely that the majority of Board Games are quick one-off experiences. A game of Gloomhaven is not ‘finishing’ Gloomhaven – you need to make it through the campaign to do that.
So when do I consider a game finished? The short version is when you hit the credits. When you clear the main objectives, you tend to reach a narrative end. Some games have branching storylines or post-game content, but finishing those are more achievement/trophy hunting or completion runs.
But how do you know if you want to finish a game? It’s because you are enjoying it and want to continue playing. It’s easier to see when you don’t want to finish a game. If you don’t have the patience for the same fetch quest over and over again, probably RPGs aren’t for you. Going to collect x items/kill y creatures are a staple quest line for many adventure games.
Sometimes you can be as pumped for a game as you can be, but the game just isn’t going to let you enjoy it. Again, I bring up Detroit: Become Human. This sort of game from David Cage isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy the quieter narrative-driven games now and then. I was ready for a quick time heavy, strange movement experience. I wasn’t prepared for frustrating walking controls. So while I was prepared to put a lot of hours into Detroit, I just couldn’t.
It’s experiences like this that stop me from saying “I want to finish this game” challenge goals. While I might want to finish them, until I am actually playing it, I can’t say definitively if I will put in the hours to finish it.
How do you know how long it will take to finish it without spoiling it?
There is a website that I think more people should know about. Google “How long to beat” and the game you are curious about, and you should be taken to https://howlongtobeat.com/.
You need to know how to read the results, but How Long To Beat takes an average of different players times and play styles. When I look at the times, I always look at the Leisure column. This is usually a good indication of how long it takes players to finish the game while exploring and generally having fun.
Then I add about 25%. Why? Because that’s how I tend to play. Like any game, it all depends on how you play. I tend to go side quest exploring a lot, and especially games with a lot of twitch reactions required I add a lot of retries. I’m an old man, I don’t have the same reaction time I used to 🙂
But where do you go from finishing a game? Well depending on your platform, you decide if you are going Trophy/Achievement hunting.
This is the path for a game you can’t get enough of. You get a virtual reward for completing certain things in-game. When these were first announced, I thought to myself “Why would anyone do this?” but then I started earning them. The good thing is that these requirements tend to be the same on any platform you play that game on. Even Steam has gotten in on the act. Steam achievements are a thing, but I have ignored these for years. Trophies are for PlayStation, and Achievements are for Xbox.
The most significant difference is that PlayStation has a Platinum trophy for some games. This is earned by collecting all of the other trophies in the game. So I tend to lump Trophies and Achievements in the same class, and if you receive all of the achievements on Xbox, you still Platinum it in my mind. You don’t get a unique reward for doing so.
Now, some gamers that proudly call themselves Trophy or Achievement hunters. I bow to the dedication and skill required to these players. The countless hours needed to do all of these tasks is staggering.
Until 2017, I would never have called myself a Trophy Hunter. I didn’t own an Xbox until 2019, so I have just started earning Gamerscore. But I found another site in 2016 that put my PlayStation gaming into perspective – PSN Profiles.
Now I didn’t take a screenshot at the time, but the shot shows my standing after getting the Platinum in Final Fantasy XV. Today, even after barely playing my PS4 last year, I am still in the top 5% of trophy collectors in the world. A lot of this is because of the number of games I managed to Complete on my PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. Another part is because I have tried a lot of games on the PlayStation.
OK, So why is all this important?
Earning trophies has changed over the years. Getting the Platinum has been made easier for a lot of games that I love. Take Kingdom Hearts 3. I got that Platinum in about 4 weeks. If I was to try to Platinum the original Kingdom Hearts, it would probably take me the better part 6 months. You used to need to basically finish a Completion Run to earn a Platinum. Now a lot of games just need you to do most of it, for example, find 80% of the collectables.
This isn’t universally true. Earning the Platinum for the Resident Evil 2 remake requires me doing speedruns of tough levels. I will also pretty instantly ditch any game that has multiplayer trophies. The closest I have ever gotten is Destiny 2, where I need to do a raid on the hardest difficulty setting. I can probably do it, but I don’t want to hunt for a fire team just to do this.
And that is where the difference between finishing a game and getting the Platinum. You need to love the game enough to go above and beyond just the basic game. When I finished Final Fantasy XV, I only had to get 4 more trophies. Two of them I was just going to get. Fish until I got to Level 10, and walk around so that Gladiolus got his survival skill to Level 10.
That left just two more trophies. Fly the Regalia, and defeat the adamantine.
So why did you choose to get the Platinum?
Simple – I really enjoy Final Fantasy XV. From a trophy hunter perspective, I did it the long way. I played New Game+, meaning I had to play all of the main story again. But this wasn’t a chore – I was looking forward to doing it. Once I discovered this, I loaded my last game save and unlocked the flying regalia. Easy done. Then went back to my levelled up New Game+ and did the adamantoise hunt.
It didn’t take me very long, especially as I was flying through the main quests, leaving the side quests until I could just enjoy the open world.
But it did take me another 20 levels to get to the point I could take on the level 99 creature. I chose not to play the episodic DLC specifically to get this trophy. Well, at least I decided not to play the other stories at that time.
This is why I respect full-time Trophy hunters. They choose to do this for basically every game just to get more trophies than other players. That is a fantastic amount of dedication that must be recognised.
But do I want to do this for every game? Nope. If I have finished a game, I don’t always want to keep playing it. Think of how many other games I could play in 20 hours! OK, probably only one other video game, but at least 10 board games!
When you make a Platinum run, you choose to forgo other gaming to keep playing that one game. Just like finishing a game, I might decide not to invest that extra time. And how do I know how long this will take? How Long To Beat! It’s an excellent site for helping weigh up these kinds of decisions 🙂
And finally, the Completionist run
The final type of run is a Completion run, and it deserves that capitalisation. To Complete a game, you discover every secret, do every quest, find every character – it changes from game to game. Still, it always involves seeing every last thing a game has to offer.
I could talk in more detail on completion runs, but this is already a pretty long article. Instead, I will point you to one of my favourite YouTubers – Jirard Khalil aka The Completionist. His YouTube videos review a game and document the journey as he Completes different games each week.
There have been many games I was aware of that watching his passion as he talks about his experiences made me by the game. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the latest such game. I knew it was a Star Wars game, and many had raved about it. But watching and listening to his video about it made me fire up my PS4 and buy it then and there. Check out the channel, even if you don’t want to Complete games, he has a great take on game reviews.
The last series I tried a completionist run on was The Witcher 2. I haven’t started the Witcher 3 yet, because I know how many hours I am going to spend on it. This was partially due to time constraints in the last couple of years, but it is also because games are just getting so massive!
Looking at How Long To Beat, a leisurely completion run of The Witcher 3 clocks in at 433 hours. That’s almost 3 months playing the Witcher as a full-time job!
I want to do it, though. It’s the reason why I haven’t started it yet. I know it sounds contradictory, but I want to play The Witcher 3 over and over again without interruption. I don’t want to play The Witcher overly tired and missing something. I want to enjoy every second of it. And now, I think I have found a way 🙂
So a Completion run is ‘better’ than a Trophy/Achievement run?
By now, you can see the difference between when I say I played a game, finished a game, Platinumed the game, or Completed the game.
Completion runs are for you more than trophies are. There isn’t really a way of showing off how many games you Complete like your PSN profile or Xbox Gamerscore.
If you love the game, your Trophy run is the beginning of your journey. Even with modern ‘easier’ trophy lists, they will help reveal secret mechanics you will need to do the Completion run.
Whether Completing a game is worth it is up to you. For me, because I see a Completion run as a step beyond a trophy run, it’s a mark of just how much I love the game.
As I have shown with my gaming goals, I include a Platinum run and a Completion run in the same group of challenges. It’s just a way to keep playing a game I love even after the public proof of that enjoyment has stopped coming.
Think of it like rewatching your favourite movies, or rereading your favourite books. You finish both a fair bit, but how many do you go back and repeat again and again?
So how do you plan a Trophy/Completion Run?
This is all really hard to decide before you have started playing though. So today, I look at the playtime on How Long To Beat. If a completion run takes more than say 60 hours, I will probably play it on Switch just so I can take it with me. Because most of these games are massive adventure and/or RPG type games, this really helps. But that means no trophies!
If you want to specifically go for the Platinum or increase your Gamerscore, you are locked into PlayStation or Xbox. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how it is. You won’t get a Platinum for Breath of the Wild, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think people should play it!
With the Switch, I can now take The Witcher 3 into work and finish a quest or 3 on my lunch break. This will be easier for me to try and Complete it, as I can take the Switch with me wherever I go! That means playing more Witcher. How is that bad?
Now, notice I am not saying The Witcher 3 is best on Switch. If I wanted the best game experience, I should be playing it on my highly specced desktop PC with its SSD load times and 1080Ti graphics. You know what I won’t get, though? A Platinum!
I can’t take my desktop to work with me. Not easily, anyway. I can play it on my gaming-grade laptop with lower graphical power. It’s still a lot to carry and setup. As good as the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X are, there are always compromises playing a game like The Witcher 3 compared to my desktop PC. The biggest one? My Witcher 1 and 2 saves are on PC, and I can’t transfer my saves to console. Yes, decisions in the previous games affect your story in The Witcher 3!
What I can do easily on the Switch is to pick it up for 10 minutes and play, then put it down. Yes, I still can’t transfer my previous game saves. There are graphical quality hits and framerate issues during larger battles, but I can do it. But if I am already making these compromises on a console, surely the portable trade-off is worth it?
And this is the most significant decider for my Platinum/Complete games goal. It’s why I have grouped them together. Yes, kicking back on the couch and playing PlayStation is incredible, but if I can only do that for say 5 hours a week, it’s limiting. I will happily sacrifice trophy counts if it means I can get another 3+ hours a week playing the game. A quick session on my lunch break, or just one more go as I lie in bed – portability is a significant consideration.
Last year, I finished The Outer Worlds on Xbox. I really like it. I want to finish the game more times, making different choices and seeing where it takes me in the story. Here’s a spanner in the works though – I haven’t played it since finishing it. Why? The Outer Worlds is coming to Switch. Just like the Witcher, I can take my Switch with me and squeeze in a quest or two on short notice. I don’t have to plan to be on the couch. I can still finish/Complete a game, I just don’t get trophies.
After all that, the final decision really is as simple as “What will I enjoy this more on?” Graphics and computational grunt do help with immersion, but it isn’t everything. For me, anyway. Enjoying it more comes down more to the easiest way to play a game I want to play.
And now we come back as to why we play games in the first place. We play the games we play because we enjoy them, and the medium you play it on shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Again, if you are a Trophy hunter/Achievement hunter, I am not trying to say you are doing it wrong. That is part of your enjoyment and is tied to a console.
But for me, the more I enjoy the game, the more time I want to put into it. And that is enough for me.
Hopefully, all this explains how I approach gaming. Now you can see why I didn’t want to go into it with my gaming challenges! What about you? How do you approach your gaming? Let me know in the comments, or shout on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!
Until next time,