As you probably know, I’ve tried a couple of single-player titles during the Summer and Autumn lull, both set in my favorite universes: Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order appeared to be the best Star Wars game I’ve ever played. It provided a simple, straightforward yet strong plot, a protagonist (and his droid sidekick) much like in the movies, a comprehensible combat system and parkour system, character development and excellent customization, and was very forgiving to mistakes. I was chewing the game in small chapters, not more than 2-3 hours per sit. And yet it went by in a flash, maybe 20-24 hours as a whole and left only good memories. I’m definitely playing its sequel – if and when it comes live.
Middle-Earth: Shadows of War, on the other hand, finally appeared to be not my piece of cake. It captures you on minute 1, providing an exciting plot in famous locations, brutal executions you perform on orcs, excellent and beautiful terrain and fortresses, the variety of enemies (every orc that kills you will be promoted to a unique model of orc captain and becomes a boss with a name and special perks) – and later an ability to dominate orcs and orc captains and performing full-scale sieges with a possessed orc army of your own. Parkour, brutal combat, total freedom, visuals, most inventive gameplay ideas and mechanics – this all screams for a hit game in my opinion. And yet I find myself in a situation where I just can’t make myself launch the game.
The thing is, it’s challenging enough not to be a relaxing game. As simple as a standard gameplay combat may be, you have to be extremely careful not to be overrun by myriads of orcs. Your stealth and exquisite parkour makes it easy to pick on camps and individuals on your own terms.
And yet when you’re engaging in a fight, you often find yourself overrun by extras and patrols – and it’s not a rare situation when an orc captain boss will ambush you and kick your ass along with the other orcs you’re already fighting – queue a unique “You suck!” speech as he kills you.
I reflected a bit about my feelings after yet another game session – and I realized that whenever I want to play Shadows of War, I have to launch the game completely sober, well-rested, hydrated and with full concentration if I want any progress to be made. There are no cooldown moments – of course, you could pause the game or easily climb a safe wall or a tower anytime to have some rest, but it’s exactly a rest before you go back to pursue your goals.
Could I beat the game to the end? By all means I could, it’s not that hard. But is it the game experience I seek nowadays? I’d say not. That is why, although I had some fun with this game, I’m deleting it from my hard drive as we speak.
WoW, among many things, is super relaxing. You’re picking whatever you want to do, you can switch off and switch on whenever you like, and there’s absolutely no pressure in this wonderful sandbox. Apart from high concentration in the first months of expansions and patches when you need to carefully chew and digest new lore, embrace the ambience, or certain endgame activities (yes, I take my LFRs seriously!) the rest is – well, a rest. Basically everything you do in the open world is relaxing – and that’s the bulk of the gameplay.
I’ve never been a competitive player in my life – beating a game always meant to me seeing the plot and beating the Big Bad with a challenge just enough to be interesting. I’ve always picked Easy/Normal modes whenever I could – and saw the Hard/Mythic experiences as a masturbation while squat dancing with a boiling kettle on your head: technically possible, but why? :) I like to take my time – that’s why I didn’t like the process of Starcraft II very much, as its campaigns just demand of you to play very aggressively and don’t let you to build your base and develop as you please.
37 is not a specifically exquisite age, yet I feel the previously described tendencies going up. I like my WoW sandbox, and now I learned that even if single-player titles are not totally out of equation, very few would be friendly enough to yours truly. One thing is definite: my games are definitely a relaxing activity – and if they’re not, well, they’re probably not my games.