I have a confession to make. I have committed a grave sin. That sin is having no plans to buy the recent God of War for the PlayStation 4. I know, blasphemy, right? I do understand that it’s an amazing game with a great story and crisp visuals, however, those are still not enough to pull me in. That’s because single-player action and adventure games no longer interest me.
A lapsed fan of God of War and single-player games
Keep in mind, I’ve been playing God of War games since the first one came out in the mid-2000s. Kratos and his brutality, as well as raunchy scenes, made me a fan. I still vividly remember myself along with a group of friends screaming our lungs out whenever one of our troop was in the middle of a boss fight or were cringing at the viciousness of certain scenes. The fate of the Sun God, Helios, comes to mind of just how bloodthirsty we were when cheering for video game fatality scenes.
Well to find the root of the problem, we have to rewind the clock to a few years ago. I had just put down Watch Dogs midway during a play-through and picked up Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. For both games, I progressed through the story and collected a bunch of stuff on the side. For both games, I also got bored of the formula before I could even finish them.
When I finally took the plunge and bought Dishonored during a sale, I thought I could still finish the game since it was fairly straightforward. I couldn’t — I also stopped halfway through. The same thing happened with Bioshock Infinite, I played for around four hours before dropping the game.
By the time I got Horizon Zero Dawn as a gift last Christmas, I knew I was already burned out. I played only two hours before I got bored and decided to give it to a friend. So when everyone was raving about God of War, I internalized first whether it was worth the price tag. I had to consider whether God of War was something I can fully maximize my play time in. It wasn’t at least from my predisposition.
Not so much bang for your buck
Don’t get me wrong. I fully admit that those games are well-made, and I know they deserve a lot of the praise that they’ve received from fans. It’s just that they no longer have any appeal for me. Maybe it’s because of how formulaic some of those games have been? You’d do missions, and then find collectibles on the side. It’s kind of why I spent countless hours on GTA games only to forget about them for months on end.
Maybe it’s because they have low replayability, or that you know you’d be done in 8-10 hours? I’m from a third-world country with a family of my own. That means I need to ensure that I’m getting the most bang for my buck in the games I purchase. Why buy a $60 game if I know it’s only going to give me a dozen hours of gaming time? Yes, that game might be a masterpiece, but there’s also an ancient saying that says: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And, for me, beauty is knowing that I’m getting a huge return-on-investment in my purchases.
Then again, maybe it’s just a phase? Or maybe I’ve outgrown these types of games? Who knows.
Checking out the competition
I do know that most of my gaming time is occupied by online games such as Destiny. I’ve devoted hundreds of hours in that game and its much-maligned sequel. This means that I got a good return-on-investment in terms of hours played and gaming interactions. For any single-player titles, I’d go for the RPG and RTS genre. I have around 400 hours on Total War: Warhammer and 500 hours on Civilization V. Meanwhile, Civilization VI is catching up with 280 hours. I have the Final Fantasy XII remake which is getting a lot of play time as well.
There are also the WWE 2K games which I can devote hundreds of hours to just making CAWs (create-a-wrestler) or crafting my own Universe Mode. In WWE 2K18, which I bought during a sale, I didn’t realize how much time had passed while I was downloading logos and crafting superstars. I barely even started Universe Mode and I already pulled a lot of hours just making creations.
In the case of massive RPGs such as Fallout 4 and Skyrim, I devoted multiple playthroughs for those games. My first run would be a purely “vanilla” experience — no mods, straightforward run, neutral or good-guy choices. The next run would see me join different factions, or try meaner dialogue choices, and add a few mods. My third and fourth playthroughs would have an abundance of mods.
Bringing back that loving feeling
Some gamers and pundits may throw around the belief that “single-player is dead.” I do not believe that for one second. However, I do feel that now is not the right time for me, personally, when it comes to single-player games in the action and adventure genres. I also feel that as those types of games become more formulaic, then the more consumers will be driven to try out other things that aren’t the norm. A developer may create a masterpiece every now and then, but that wonderfully-crafted vision will be just one amongst a sea of carbon copies in the same genre.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve gotten burned out of action/adventure games without any multiplayer aspect. I honestly cannot find or do anything new. I cannot find an additional social interaction, nor something worth passing the time on other than collectibles. Other games provide that extra twist and something new in every multiplayer or online interaction, no matter how monotonous the activities are.
Will I come back to God of War and other single-player action/adventure games eventually? I do believe so. There’s another ancient saying: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So even though I’m not interested in God of War now, I’ll probably find that inclination to grab it in the future. Maybe when it’s on sale or if I get it as a gift. As a near full-price purchase? Probably not, and that’s totally fine.