Another year means not only more games, but also more life responsibilities. Getting older is rough, and it takes a lot of effort to balance out your favorite hobby along with the rest of what life throws at you.
It’s good to set certain goals and restrictions to how to approach gaming. There simply is too much out there, and taking it all in is enough to drive one crazy. Aim smaller and take them one step at a time.
With that in mind, here is how I plan to approach gaming this year.
Find the Center of No Man’s Sky
I don’t think there is any game coming out in 2015 that I am looking forward too more than Hello Game’s No Man’s Sky. It looks like an absolute marvel of a video game and one of the very first this console cycle that can truly be called “next-gen.” This is something entirely new, something that’s never been done before. Jumping from planet to planet in a “just shy of infinite” universe, maybe meeting other people, maybe not. I am going to approach this with my mind clear of everything I know about games.
Readers might know I am an “all or nothing” when it comes to gaming freedom. Put me in a world where I have total freedom to progress at my own pace without the nagging of missions or storyline – i.e. Skyrim, Fallout 3, Just Cause 2, Crackdown – and let me be rewarded for just plain curiosity. This is the main premise behind No Man’s Sky, but taken to the ultimate extreme. You have one goal, to reach the middle, but there is so much to see and do that a direct path defies the purpose.
My New Year’s Resolution is the find the center because I know it is going to take an entire year to find it with the snail’s pace progress I make though open games like these.
Completely reconcile With Final Fantasy
My old gaming friend and I haven’t been on the best of terms lately. There is no franchise out there that has carved and shaped my gaming habits like Final Fantasy has, but I haven’t necessarily agreed with many of the decisions it has made over the past decade. My time with Final Fantasy XIII never connected with me in ways that the older games in the franchise did and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was great and all, but I’ve sworn off MMORPGs.
That being said, despite the overly frequent release of mobile free-to-play games, I like what Square Enix has done with the franchise over the last year. The staunchly traditional company has done a lot of soul searching of what it takes to make a franchise succeed in the modern day, and they have applied it to Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns aren’t the best games, but they prove that Square Enix has learned how to efficiently work with a shorter development cycle.
With these new ideas being applied to Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and Final Fantasy XV, as well as leaning away from elitism within the company, I think the timing is right to give Final Fantasy a rebirth worthy of its legacy, one free of Square Enix’s fading “big-headedness.” I want to play through Final Fantasy X-2 on my PS Vita again, and who knows, maybe I’ll give Final Fantasy XIII a second try.
Too bad my JRPG line-up is already full of games I’ve missed over the years.
Play The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Dragon Quest VII and Suikoden V
I have a backlog that can be stretched along the entirety of I-95 from Maine to Florida, and possibly halfway back. When I think about it, I get a little sick. However, for three special games, the timing is just right to finally give them the attention they deserve.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a fan-favorite JRPG from developer Nihon Falcom that is universally loved by all who have played it. JRPGs have worked their way back into my life in a big way, and I have a ton of downtime on the train I can dedicate to playing them on a handheld gaming console. I also have a PS TV, so the option to play from the couch is also there. It’s time! I need to crank this one out.
The same goes for Dragon Quest VII. I complain and complain about how Square Enix is sitting on this game like Smaug the Dragon over here in Japan, but I sometimes forget that I can both speak and read Japanese. If Dragon Quest VII can be enjoyed by an elementary school kid, then it can be enjoyed by me. Also, the release of the New Nintendo 3DS has created a huge influx of original Nintendo 3DS’ on the secondhand market, meaning they are cheaper than ever. Picking one up means region locking is almost a fear of the past. It’s time. No more excuses!
As for Suikoden V, well, this one might be a little tougher to play “legally.” I own the game, but the problem lies with the PlayStation 2 itself. The console wasn’t known for being a lasting device, and buying one used these days gives you a few months at best. At least, that’s how it worked for me with the last two I picked up on the used market. Suikoden though has found its way back into my life with Konami finally putting the masterpiece second chapter on PSN, and I desperately need to see if Suikoden V is the return to form that everyone says it is.
Who has the time for all of these games? Well, notice how my resolution says “play” and not “beat. No promises of playing them to completion. Doing so is just an added bonus.
Keep Spending under $500
I’ve a grown man with a lot of responsibilities these days. I have rent, health insurance, a national pension program, a retirement plan, phone and Internet bills, and other utilities I have to pay for every month. I also have vacations I’d like to go on, family I’d like to see in America, potential kids coming in a few years, and a Hawaiian wedding I need to be saving money for. With all this, who has the money for video games?
Gaming is still my favorite hobby, but with grown-up burdens piling on my shoulders, I can’t be dropping $60 a week on games anymore like I used to be able to. Luckily, I’ve already gotten pretty good at shying away from buying video games at launch and waiting for sales, so the blueprint for success is there! However, weekly sales from the PlayStation Store get a little too tempting to resist.
I set a goal of $600 last year, and I didn’t quite make it. That being said, I only see myself paying full price for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, No Man’s Sky and The Legend of Zelda in 2015 (maybe Bloodborne, Resident Evil HD Remaster, and Metal Gear Solid V… crap), and a majority of the cheap games I’ve wanted to buy from PSN are already in my collection. My backlog alone could last me throughout 2015!
$500 is a very achievable goal, as long as I avoid the PlayStation Blog every Tuesday.
Be Happier With New Releases, Resist Romanticizing the Past
I love old video games. To me, a good video game is one that touches me so deeply that I know I’ll be able to pick it up and play it decades from now and still enjoy it. Playing through Suikoden II over my winter vacation has only emboldened this belief as yes, it is just as good now as it was back in 1999.
By this logic, I am about as anti-“games as a service” as they come. The modern day video game scene empowers plenty of trends that destroy a game’s value after its year in the spotlight is over, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find these future classics. Is the problem with video gaming diluting itself to the masses, or is the problem with me for holding so dearly to my beliefs from the way gaming used to be?
Well, even if this isn’t my fault, I agree that I can do a better job opening my mind to the AAA gaming scene because it does have a lot more to offer than I give it credit for. I look to the past or the future for great ideas in games, but the present, where the AAA gaming mostly aims its focus, still has plenty of good times to be had. In 2014, I dismissed critical hits like Far Cry 4 because of frustration with the publisher, the AAA gaming scene in general, and most of all, the lack of a desire or breeze through “yet another open world shooter,” when for all I know, it could be one of those future nostalgic favorites.
I don’t doubt that these frustrations also had something to do with my problems I had with games I would normally like, Dark Souls II and Dragon Age: Inquisition for example.
I have biases about modern games that I need to overcome, and I think I am ready to give it a try. That being said, gaming could help a lot by not being so corporate these days. My attraction to the past is an emotional one, and I think it took such a strong hold this year because more than ever, the video game scene lacks emotion of any kind anymore. E3 could be more honest without the looming doubt that annually hangs over it. Executives could stop speaking like politicians on stage, apologizing for mistakes made over the previous year out one side of their mouths and making promises they can’t keep from the other side.
Let’s just all have fun and play video games.