I’m still taking advantage of Game Pass here and there, playing bits and bobs of various titles when the mood strikes.
No, seriously, I’ve started and stopped a whole bunch of different games. And it feels …. great?
It’s been happening a lot to me over the last year or so. I’ve gotten so much better at putting down a game once I’m no longer enjoying it, or when I feel like I’ve seen enough.
It’s not necessarily something I do consciously. Sometimes I stop playing a game for a week or so, and rather than add it to the mental checklist of “games you need to go back to and finish,” I eventually realize that I’m just done with it, and proceed to uninstall. This is very much a good thing – that mental checklist used to cause me more stress than I care to admit, and that’s just not something I need anymore.
In other cases I get to a point where I find myself immediately uninterested in proceeding forward, and so I proactively uninstall and move on.
I think – or at least I hope – this is a sign that I’m finally moving into the next chapter of my gaming life with some amount of grace.
But before we explore that any further, I want to talk about some of the stuff I played (and dropped):
Forza Horizon 5
I played the intro to Forza Horizon 5 before I dropped it. The intro itself is pretty great, serving as a preview of what the rest of the game has in store. You get to race a bunch of different cars for a few minutes each in some of the game’s extremely varied ecosystems. It’s fun, looks pretty, and gets you hyped up for what’s to come.
So why did I drop it? The main reason is that once you get into the open world of the main game, it’s not very fun with its default settings. Between traction control and the racing guideline (which tells you where to move and exactly when to brake), it’s not very challenging. And when I tried to tweak some of the settings, I discovered that there are an overwhelming number of driving “Assists.” I didn’t feel like experimenting with them to find a combination that worked for me. There are simply better uses of my time.
Side note – the game has a very good character creator that allows you to pick different body types, genders, pronouns, and even prosthetic limbs. It’s a great step toward offering the kind of representation that modern gamers crave, and I love to see it.
That being said, I have zero interest in creating a custom character in a racing game, so I picked a default and moved on. Still, perhaps we’ll see more of this stuff in games where your avatar matters more.
I actually owned this game already, but it was nice to just play it on Cloud Streaming without having to install. Especially since I was done with it so quickly.
Specifically, I played through the game’s two training levels before dropping out. The game is perfectly fine – it looks gorgeous, and it offers all the depth I expect from a Hitman game.
But that’s the thing – I’ve played all the previous Hitman games, and aside from the fancy visuals, there was nothing in this one that was demonstrably different from all of its predecessors. It’s great that newer generations have a modern version of this series to dive into, and I had fun playing in its sandbox again for a few hours, but I felt like I had my fill.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge
This beat ‘em up does a great job of recreating the look and feel of the old Turtles arcade games, but that means that it doesn’t feel very fresh. Yes, there is some extra depth you can choose to mine, but it wasn’t enough to motivate me. It’s a great accomplishment for the dev team, but as someone who played some of these games more times than I can count, there isn’t much appeal once the nostalgia wears off.
What does it MEAN?
None of these games are bad. Far from it. They’re just not for me.
I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I’m largely out of the main demographics that most games are targeted towards. And I’m becoming comfortable with the fact that this likely means fewer and fewer games will directly appeal to my sensibilities.
I’m also coming to terms with the fact that for all that has changed in the gaming landscape, there are certain things that remain the same. I’ve played a lot of games in my life, and that means there are certain things that I’ve seen and played many, many times over. And those same ideas, tropes, concepts, features, twists, etc. continue to be mined in brand new games. I can absolutely see how newer, younger gamers are going to be blown away by them, just like I once was. But it’s hard for me to get excited about them anymore.
I’m finally (hopefully) getting comfortable with the idea that one’s reception of a game may or may not say anything about that game’s quality. A person may very easily get no enjoyment out of a well made and/or popular game, just as they may have a ton of fun with a game that’s janky and broken.
Most importantly, I think I’m finally comfortable with the idea that my time with this hobby probably has a shelf life. There may come a time where I find no new games interesting, and if so, I think I’ll be okay with it.
To be fair, if that does happen, I won’t necessarily give up on gaming entirely. Assuming my kids take it up as a hobby, I’ll still be buying new games and hardware. But it will be for them, rather than me, and if I’m being honest, I’m actually looking forward to when that time comes. It will be richly rewarding to watch them delight in the joy that comes from experiencing something new (to them) that only this medium can provide.
In the meantime, I’ll keep playing bits and pieces of things. Maybe I’ll finish something too! Or maybe not. I’m really okay either way.