As a gamer gets older, it gets harder to find the time to truly get to grips with epic games such as Fallout 4. What can be done to try and get this extra time to play?
Nothing can make a grown-up feel like a kid again as much as the holiday season. The instant that festive songs appear on the radio, there’s a fire that gets lit in the belly. The pulse starts racing, and the irrational desire to wear awkward, ugly Christmas jumpers, bake cinnamon-spiced cookies, and relive those excited moments of childhood takes hold.
It’s also the only time of the year where a large portion of the population suddenly loses any sense of time. The gap between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of the periods where plenty of workplaces close or allow their employees to take leave from their jobs. It’s like being on school holidays again, and one of the side effects of this is having an extended free amount of time, away from any routines or pressures.
This is the situation I found myself in over Christmas, with an extended break from work. Apart from some excellent time with the family, I found plenty of spare hours to play video games, much like when I was a kid. My game of choice was Fallout 4, where I had plenty of unfinished business (and side quests) to take care of.
Exploring the dangerous wasteland of post-nuclear war Boston has been one of the highlights of video gaming this year, and having such a large portion of time proved incredibly satisfying. There was time to work through the ruins of the city, hunting for valuable items and new weaponry, completing missions for some of the other denizens of the Commonwealth. For once, there was time to get immersed in the game.
However, this has personally been a rare occurrence. Getting an extended period of time with the game, even more than half an hour, has proved to be a challenge. As such, any moments with Fallout 4 have felt rushed, perhaps leading to some of the struggles between the game’s story and the open-world desire to explore.
It’s not just Fallout 4 that has fallen by the wayside, either. Mad Max sits barely played on the desk, an unfortunate runner-up to both non-video game activities and Super Mario Maker. That’s without even mentioning Metal Gear Solid 5. These epic experiences sit, gathering dust on the side, constantly replaced by the next release.
It’s something that has been a bugbear over recent years, and a side-effect over one inescapable truth: I’m getting older. At one point, video games were one of the be all and end all, and the ideal way to relax after a day of school. However, other responsibilities get in the way: first university, then high-pressure work, and commitments such as playing music and getting the rare chance to see friends.
As such, that extra time to spend playing games with huge, extensive storylines and side quests has become more difficult to find. In recent years, getting even an hour to play a game without the nagging concern that something else is looming and needs immediate attention has been a stroke of luck. That doesn’t exactly leave much time for games such as The Witcher 3.
Instead, short bursts of video gaming have become much more appealing. The aforementioned Super Mario Maker has proved ideal, with it taking no time at all to download a new course and take on a fresh challenge. Meanwhile, FIFA 16 has taken on a life of its own, and being able to casually work through Career Mode provides small doses of gaming between other responsibilities.
Of course, this is in many ways a fantastic problem to have. There isn’t a single activity that I would want to drop, and I’m still able to keep my favorite hobby on my agenda. Unfortunately, there’s one aspect that I find increasingly annoying, and that’s the incomplete games.
Other gamers can no doubt attest to how compelling it is to be on top of the most recent video game releases. Unfortunately, when the time comes for a fresh new title to launch, this means that whichever big release was being played at that moment in time is immediately discarded. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sits forlorn and rejected, and it’s a problem that goes all the way back to Far Cry 4.
So the question is what to do next. Personally, I’m sick of quitting, and I suspect I’m not the only one. I’m going to find the time to stick with a game, even when faced with the temptation of another release. Fallout 4 may take several months more to fully explore the world, but if that means I miss some other titles, then so be it. Think of it as a New Year’s resolution.
There’s also another strategy that has already proved fruitful, and that’s picking up expansive, sprawling games that also allow the player to have easy resting points. Pillars of Eternity proved ideal in this regard. The Obsidian-developed title, which was one of the best RPGs of the year, not only provides the player with a huge storyline, but also with relatively small individual areas. It feels like the player is making progress, even if only little by little – far detached from Fallout 4’s long journey through the Glowing Sea.
Hopefully, this way a little more time can be spent playing the games I love. There’s always going to be something that demands immediate play, but until that point Fallout 4 will get my undivided attention. Here’s hoping it still keeps the same appeal.