Is it just me or modern games are getting worse, bloated with useless content, and less focused on telling a great story? Here are my findings:
The point of buying a powerful gaming laptop this year was to play the latest AAA games with ultra details. My desktop graphics card is really old, so I’ve missed a ton of “great” games in the past couple of years. It was time to catch up.
Waiting for my gaming laptop to arrive I’ve been making lists of games, even buying them in advance, so I would be ready to play as quickly as possible. I was eager to see what I’ve missed in the past couple of years in terms of gaming.
Then came the massive disappointment.
I’ve quickly uninstalled Far Cry 6, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Deathloop after becoming bored with them in a couple of hours, at most. Resident Evil: Village was the only game that I really enjoyed and played until the end.
I’ve also played the new Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves, but no matter how you look at it, it’s a weak Tomb Raider alternative, where dialogs start to repeat and turn annoying really fast.
And this is how in a matter of weeks my laptop’s desktop was free of game shortcuts.
That’s when I turned to the Fallout series. After playing Fallout 4 at the beginning of the year on my old GPU, at 4K, by following this guide of optimizing graphics quality for higher FPS I’ve tried Fallout 76.
What a disappointment once again!
Forcing an online component in the single-player campaign is even worse than Wolfenstein: Youngblood, where you could still turn the feature off. In Fallout 76, you’re always online, thus you can’t pause the game when you’re looking at your PipBoy or when entering the V.A.T.S. targeting system. Terrible!
My personal experience when playing online is that it’s enough to encounter one idiot and you’re done. And they usually travel in packs, just like Fallout’s raiders. Instead of enjoying your games, you end up frustrated, so what’s the point of playing, right?
Anyway, I was not ready to give up, so I tried finding at older games that I didn’t play. That’s when I started looking at Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas.
I had my doubts that I could play them, for the simple reason that these two were really old games, released in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
I thought the graphics will make me cringe, and to some degree that’s true, but adding a few mods from the thriving Nexus Mods community made these games good-looking enough that I could focus on the single-player story.
And what a story these old games tell. Wow! The quest diversity, the way you’re choosing your own path in the world, how story turning points are revealed to you, all add up to a great game. Honestly, few AAA games today manage to keep you glued to the screen as these old games can.
I now understand the point of websites like GOG, which is trying to keep legacy games functional. I play games since the early ’90s and I’ve gone from graphics like this, from LHX Attach Chopper to amazing-looking visuals like those from the Uncharted: The Lost Legacy final cutscene.
I have a friend who’s playing a lot more than I do. We’re the same age, and both hate multiplayer games. Playing with other people ruins the fun for him and me.
We’re both into single player campaigns, and we love a good story. We both read a lot of Sci-Fi and watch a ton of movies. I’m telling you this because I want to be upfront about what I like when it comes to games.
I have played a ton of multiplayer games in college, game such as CounterStrike, StarCraft, Total Annihilation, Red Alert 2, and Heroes of Might and Magic 3. These are great games to play online with your friends.
So I don’t hate playing multiplayer games, but there’s a huge difference between playing with people you know and playing with a bunch of strangers on the Internet.
When I hear about a new “battle royale” game I couldn’t be less excited. Multiplayer doesn’t cut it of me. I’ve tried GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 online and both experiences such for me, while I enjoyed the single-player story a lot.
Other player’s behavior is to blame, mostly, for the modern multi-player experience, but also the fact there’s no story to follow, nothing to discover. There’s no other purpose than to make money, gather points, unlock achievements, customize your skin, which are all trivial endeavours for me.
There’s also a stark difference between what contents goes into a modern game compared to what was included in games like Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I know, I keep returning to these examples, but that’s because they opened my eyes about what’s wrong with modern games. So bear with me for a few more paragraphs.
Watching the Fallout games evolve is a painful experience. The story in Fallout 4 is still a nice one, with multiple endings, depending on how you play and what choices you make as the story progresses.
But, there’s tons of content that doesn’t really add much to the story. Why would you construct a base since there’s no benefit on doing so, other than pride that you’ve accumulated a ton of useless junk. You can play the entire game by skipping the base building part altogether. So, what’s the point of this “content” being added to the game.
Fast forward a couple more years to Fallout 76, and there are a ton more achievements to unlock, challenges to do, and a lot more of base building, now with the option to build underground bunkers. Again, no real benefit if you follow the story.
It’s just now harder to see what missions are part of the story, and what quests are just there so that the developer can say “we’ve added x% more content”.
More content is not better, clearly. That applies to other games as well, not just the Fallout series.
The only real advances I can see in the Fallout series, besides the graphics and character animations, which are still not AAA level, is the slightly better gun play, a slightly better inventory system and the keyboard shortcuts to select your favorite weapons. That’s it. I’m not kidding.
It’s painful to see the gaming industry following the movie industry. That’s the best analogy I can come up with. Game development budgets are spent on creating immersive worlds from visuals and physics point of view, but with a terrible effect on storytelling, which seems to come last. There are exceptions, of course, with RDR2 coming to mind recently, but these are just exceptions to the rule.
Better visuals don’t make a better game. Eventually people get bored of special effects and want more substance. Or at least that’s what I hope it will happen. Hope, but I wouldn’t bet my money on gaming returning to their past glory when it comes to story telling.
It’s like hoping Hollywood will stop making superhero movies and return to making great films, not just reboots and prequels.
Gaming has become a big industry, and there’s no real place for “niche” AAA games that only people like me will enjoy. If you’re a developer looking to make money (who isn’t, by the way) you’re better off if you build games for the masses.
While I understand the situation, I’m also saddened by it. Will I keep playing games in the future? Of course. But I suspect I’ll start looking more often at past titles I didn’t play during their time.
What are you playing right now? Can you recommend an old game with a great story?