Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of the last decade or so. In fact, there’s a strong possibility it has a place on my all-time top 10. So when, after years of waiting, they finally announce its sequel and I find myself completely ambivalent about it, I have to wonder if something is going on with me. Hell, I haven’t even so much as clicked on a single link about Fallout 4 or looked at any screenshots beyond what I’ve happened to scroll past in people’s social media feeds. Again, this is the follow-up to a game I absolutely adored. And this complete detachment in Fallout 4 is just the latest in a long string of feelings I’ve been having about video games the past few years or so.
I have yet to buy an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4, and currently have no plans to do so. Some of it is for financial reasons, but honestly, I really don’t know how big of a rush I’d be in to grab either one of those systems even if I had 3-to-5 hundred bucks sitting around that I could spend in absolutely any way that I saw fit. I do have a Wii U, so I’m not completely disconnected from the “current” console generation, but as we all know most of the big titles that have come out in the last couple of years and are in the pipeline to be released haven’t come to/aren’t coming to the Wii U. So for all intents and purposes, other than first-party Nintendo games I am basically not a part of the so-called eighth console generation at this point. Does that bother me? Not at all. Even as less and less games are still being given bottom line-padding ports for 360 and PS3 and more and more games are completely unavailable to me, I find myself feeling fairly indifferent about all of these games that I can’t have.
It definitely didn’t used to be that way for me. I’ve only been at the forefront of a new console race once, and that was when I got a PS2 at launch. Beyond that, for various reasons I’ve typically had to wait a bit to join the newest round of consoles, and it was always an absolutely excruciating wait as I tortured myself by digesting every bit of information about all of the games I wanted to be playing but couldn’t, counting the days when I could finally get that new console and the games that called it home. I look at games that I can’t currently play, stuff I’d normally be really into like Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, the Mad Max game, Uncharted 4, Arkham Knight, and so on, and I just don’t really care that I can’t play them or likely won’t be able to play them by the time they come out.
On top of this, most of what I hear about PS4 and XB1 and even current PC gaming just irritates me more than it excites me. When I think about the current game industry, most of what I think about are the negatives: unfinished and glitchy games, ridiculously large installs, endless firmware updates, the touting of features that are of no interest to me like capturing and sharing gameplay videos, DLC pretty much in general, and all of the tech terms and numbers being thrown around about which what a game’s framerate is and which system’s version has the higher resolution. All of that just seems to sum up how games are these days. Couple that with the fact that most of my favorite franchises are either long dead or have spent years being horribly mistreated, with the entire industry seeming to have all of its eggs in the baskets of just a half dozen or so reliable annual franchises – most of which I either don’t care about or I’m just sick of – and I really don’t feel all that much excitement for what’s currently out there or what’s coming. I know what a lot of you are thinking right now: “But…but…the indies! Will somebody please think of the indies??” Yes, I understand that much of what I’m saying focuses on big budget, AAA games and completely ignores the indie space. But I’ll get to those in a bit.
It may sound like I’ve just become disenchanted with video games period, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. I can honestly say I love games as much as I ever have, and still play video games just about daily. It’s just that, lately, I find myself skewing more towards older games. Like most gamers, I have a backlog that is downright embarrassing, both of games I already own that I either haven’t finished or haven’t touched, and of games I’ve always wanted to pick up. There are a lot of all-time classic games that I flat-out haven’t played, and that really bugs me. In fact, it bugs me way more than it bugs me that I haven’t played any of the Witcher games or Skyrim or any Call of Duty beyond part 4 or any Assassin’s Creeds beyond the first few hours of part 2. Once upon a time, not having played so many “current” games would’ve really gotten to me. Now, I really just don’t care. It bothers me so much more that I haven’t played Final Fantasy 5, 6 or 9, or that I’ve never finished A Link to the Past, or that there are still Castlevania games I haven’t played, or that the only adventure games I’ve ever finished are King’s Quest 1, Broken Sword 1, The Secret of Monkey Island, and a single episode Sam & Max Season 1, and on and on. I’ve reached a point where I’m much more concerned with and interested in digging into the large swaths of gaming history I’ve missed than trying to stay current with all the hottest new releases.
It’s interesting to me that so many people think nothing of only watching classic movies and not bothering with the latest Hollywood dreck, or only listening to older music and avoiding current pop music altogether, but there seems to be this feeling among many gamers that they absolutely have to stay on top of current game releases lest they be left behind, or deemed uncool, or whatever else the reason may be. They complain about how long their backlogs are while they pound away on side missions in GTA or Call of Duty multiplayer instead of using that time to address the backlogs they are so worried about. Well I’m not doing that anymore. I haven’t ruled out or sworn off new games, but I’m not going to force myself to play games I’m only moderately interested in just to prove a point (mostly to myself) when I could spend that time playing old classics, which I know I would ultimately find more rewarding. And what about those indies? Well honestly, so many indie games these days are built as tributes to classic games anyways, and I’d rather just play the originals that they are based on. Should I play the latest tribute to the Metroidvania genre, or one of the actual classic Metroidvanias I missed? Should I play those games that are love letters to the JRPGs of the SNES and PS1 era, or one of the literally dozens of SNES and PS1 JRPGs I haven’t played? Should I play games that are made to look like NES games, or should I just play actual NES games? For me, anyway, that choice is obvious.
So I’ll let you get back to The Witcher 3. I’ve got real games to play.
…was that crotchety-sounding enough? I’ll have to work on it. In the meantime, pull up your pants, cut your hair, get off my lawn, turn that music down, and so on.