There are bad games like EA and BioWare’s Anthem that start off slow, but then are also incredible games like Persona 5 that start off as a gruelling slog.
While actual fans have planned a boycott thanks to BioWare’s loot drop changes, I’ve entirely stopped playing EA’s Anthem due to perceiving it to be a mind-numbingly boring mess that would turn any saint into a foul-mouthed baby. The missions were pretty much all identical, the characters were uninteresting, the enemy variety was lacklustre, and it was just incredibly boring. Mind you, my harsh critique of the game could be deemed unfair and untrustworthy because I quit my job as a freelancer after only 6-7 hours. Although I highly doubt it based on my own experience and venom towards BioWare’s latest project, it’s possible Anthem could’ve gotten significantly better, so what is the right amount of time to endure a boring game before giving up and being able to pass educated judgement?
Unlike a boring movie that only lasts – at most – two-and-a-half-hours, most video games nowadays are in the excess of 30 hours or more. This makes it incredibly difficult to assess the proper amount of time you should devote to your newest £45 video game before throwing in the towel and trading it in for unfair store credit. If we were to say you should stop playing a video game after the first five hours if it doesn’t immediately hook you, then I’d have missed out on my favourite PlayStation 4 title Persona 5 as its “opening” is a gruelling slog. Same goes for the very first Kingdom Hearts as it only gets good once you pass the first few hours and meet up with Donald and Goofy to travel to Tarzan or Alice In Wonderland. You could also say the same about Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 as its opening in the snowy mountains is notoriously slow and longwinded, to the point where you’ll occasionally find people commenting that they gave up only after an hour.
Video games like God Of War, The Last Of Us, The Witcher 3, and Red Dead Redemption 2 have perfect pacing for my taste, but there are certain titles that demand way too much investment before they supposedly “get good”. If Anthem does improve after its first ten-hours, then that’s way too much time for me to endure, and the plethora of comments about Final Fantasy XIII getting better after about 8-hours is still a bad joke. The Xbox exclusive Sea Of Thieves was – at the time of its release – also a bore that quickly got old thanks to its shallow missions variety and lack of content, and No Man’s Sky was about as tedious as video games can possibly get.
It’s not just at the beginning where video games can be boring though, as you can thoroughly enjoy a title at the start before later becoming weary of its tiresome antics. This then causes the dilemma as to whether you continue playing in hope of it once again becoming a riveting experience, or whether you judge it to be “crap” and toss it in the bin. The latter act would result in fans complaining that you should’ve seen said hypothetical game through to the end, while the former would lead detractors to cry that it’s not a worthwhile or good game if there’s an unpleasant second act. Then there’s also the factor of your profession as gamers believe journalists should entirely complete video games before reviewing them (even if it’s a terrible title), and another variable is the amount of new games coming out in the same month, and how much time you want to spend on your couch rather than outside and with a loved one.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but for me journalists should be able to review a bad game without completing it (they should of course include a disclaimer stating so), and for gamers the amount of time they should blindly invest in a boring game should probably come down to how much they trust the developer/publisher, as well as how much they love the franchise. This of course isn’t a flawless statement as I hated every moment of Final Fantasy XV and Mass Effect: Andromeda despite completing them both thanks to my emotional investment in the series and sheer adoration for the developers, but my patience with studios I trust has more often rewarded me with excellent experiences including Uncharted 4, Kingdom Hearts, and Persona 5. I don’t think it’s fair to give up on a game after one or two hours as titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 don’t immediately show everything they have to offer, but voice acting, cinematics, music, and other features usually indicate whether something has the potential to be great, or if it’s dead from the get-go. But, then again, there’s Anthem.