Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #14: What I Look For In A Video Game

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Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

So I’ve previously discussed what I look for in a book on the blog, but how about what I look for in a video game? These various factors can have a huge effect on whether I buy the game or not – and I’d love to know what your video game criteria are!

  • An open world: Sure, sometimes a linear story is good, but most of the time I absolutely love being able to do what I want, when I want in a video game. Sometimes all I want to do is just run around the video game world, not actually playing anything but just exploring. Games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are perfect for this.
  • A detailed character creator: I want my character to be personalised! If I can’t make a character, or I have to choose from a couple of pre-sets then I immediately feel more detached from my character. Some games have insane systems where you can customise absolutely EVERYTHING – which I simultaneously love and dread. It means I can make the perfect character – but that I’ll probably also spend 12 hours doing so.
  • A fantasy or science fiction setting: Yep, just like my fiction. Although I play games with other settings, I can’t resist a sci-fi or fantasy game set in an open world. All of those places to explore!
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  • Decent 3D graphics: I know, I know. There are loads of awesome 2D retro games out there. But I just don’t seem to concentrate quite as well on 2D games, I find 3D to be much more immersive.
  • The ability to play as a female character: Not 100% essential, sometimes the character is completely unchangeable, but I always like to have the option to play as a female character.
  • Some element of co-op: Always a bonus – being able to play an awesome game with friends.

What do you look for when buying a new video game?

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8 thoughts on “Prose & Pixels #14: What I Look For In A Video Game”

  1. Yes these are all great! I have similar needs, but there are some games like tomb raider and the witcher that I can’t customize the character but the story is good so I don’t care. I think for me the main story arc is what draws me in. I’m definitely drawn to games that have a female option. If a game lets me play as female I almost always choose that option.

    1. Ah yes! I finished Tomb Raider a few weeks ago – I finished it in about 3 days and basically just played it in every spare moment because it was so much fun, and I obsessively collected everything afterwards for the achievements. It was quite nice to explore the world post-game, where there were no enemies, and just look at the gorgeous environment.

      I’m playing Witcher 3 at the moment, and it is truly beautiful. My only frustration with it is that my controller will just randomly stop working… normally in the middle of combat, and then Geralt will just keep walking forward. No idea what’s going on. I can play fine with keyboard and mouse but I prefer the controller.

  2. I agree with everything you’ve stated here, especially the open world thing. If there is one thing I love in games it’s side quests, the more, the better. Being able to play as a female character is also important to me, even though I don’t usually play as a female. It’s important because I game a lot with my 12 year old niece, and it makes me happy that she has that option.

    There are a couple of other things I look for as well. If a game is going to have combat, I like it to be challenging so you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you beat your enemies, but I don’t want it to be so brutal that you feel like you’re beating your head against a wall like I felt playing Dark Souls. The other thing I like is RPG-style character development. I love leveling up and getting new and better abilities. Games that have all these I will happily lose myself in for weeks and weeks.

    1. Yes to side quests, as long as they are not repetitive ‘collect x of y’! If they give you a sense of the world you’re in, and tell you more about its people, then they are great.

      That’s really cute about your niece! Gaming can really bring people together – which is why it makes me so angry when you hear all those stories about gaming making people ‘violent’…

      Definitely not. If the combat is too difficult, I get very frustrated – I hate having to repeat the same section of a game again and again. There was one bit of Assassin’s Creed 3, basically the penultimate section, that I had to redo at LEAST ten times. I was so close to dropping the game entirely, but I kept going as I knew that I’d nearly finished. It was so frustrating though…

  3. I agree with everything said so far, I will actually play a female character about 50% time because J like the role playing elements. One of my male friends almost always will choose a female lead. Totally agreed on rpg level progressions and being able to allocate skills to where you want and build the character you want. It adds so much to the immersion and role playing. I don’t have an issue so much with 2D since I grew up with NES and SNES. One thing I would like to add is loot. I like being able to find new loot and gear to add to the excitement (like in divinity: Original Sin that I’m playing now) this can also backfire though when the sole purpose of games becomes an unnecessary loot grind (like Destiny when it first came out). I like uncovering new exciting gear as I progress, not spend four hours grinding for a single piece just so I can progress.

    1. I have plenty of male friends who will always play female characters too, for a variety of reasons. I rarely choose a male character when I have the option though – I just like to create badass ladies 😀 I grew up with 2D games too… but they just don’t draw me in so much. I guess I like flashy tech 😉

  4. Hahahah I take all of these into account as well! I really like how I can customize my character sometimes, but I really focus more on how good the story is, and also how the gameplay is. This is kind of why I love open worlds (the exception is Uncharted here), although I do admit sometimes, it gets a little too much for me! I feel like video games just keep expanding, with a million side quests and such hahaha.

    1. Yes, story is SO important. And gameplay that actually works… although I like the Assassin’s Creed games, the controls drive me INSANE sometimes.

      I know what you mean about open world games – I decided I was going to do EVERYTHING on Dragon Age: Inquisition and then basically gave up on that idea because there were way too many little side quests, and they didn’t feel very rewarding.

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