I’m having a few review issues lately. How long does one have to play a game before deciding they like it? Is it hours put in, or percentage complete? Does it depend on the type of game, ie. linear vs open world; action game with unlockable skills vs party game where RNG is king? Some games start great, and I end up hating them (Mass Effect 3). Some games start slow, and I end up loving them (Remnant: From the Ashes). More commonly, games start bad and never improve, or start great and only get better.
I am currently a decent chunk (hours and percentage) into Ghost of Tsushima, and I can’t imagine anything will make me hate it going forward. I was about the same length of time into Red Dead Redemption II when I decided I couldn’t stand it and put it down, so far for good. So the question is simple: how long does one have to play a game before they can form a realistic thought on it?
Take for example these six games: Ghost of Tsushima, Mass Effect 3, Red Dead Redemption II, Remnant: From the Ashes, Rocket League and Terraria.
If I reviewed these six games at the 30 per cent mark, it would be an under appreciation; most seemed to get better towards the middle (except for Red Dead Redemption II, which I was simply not enjoying at all but will go back to eventually, I promise) or were great once coming back to them after various patches and updates, such as was the case for Remnant: From the Ashes.
However, if I reviewed these games at the 60 per cent mark, most were approximately what I thought towards the end, give or take a bit of burnout from repetition or a lacklustre story resolution.
Conversely, reviewing these games at the finishing point it is the only true reflection of what I thought (for example, Mass Effect 3‘s ending retroactively ruined not just itself, but the preceding two games as well). It’s not a surprise that as a general rule you should withhold your opinion on a movie, book, TV series or game until you have ‘completed’ the whole thing, but that simply takes me too much time. So…
Ubisoft games and games like them (including Ghost of Tsushima) are huge, and take such a long time to to finish that by the time I complete something like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, notorious for it’s arguably too-large world, fans of the series will have played it and non-fans would have already dismissed it. Ghost Recon Wildlands was the first time I considered doing a review for something earlier, simply because that game was just huge.
Something like Rocket League is easy to play, and I play it at minimum every second day even if just for a round or two. But with no new ‘unlockable’ abilities, and enjoyability depending entirely on your own practice, how many hours in until you are able to make an informed decision on the quality of a game like that? I look back at one of my earlier reviews, and I can freely admit that Terraria was the first game I completely jumped the gun and missed the mark on, and if I were to review it again now (many hundreds of hours later, and on PC instead) it would be an entirely different story.
This is all a very long winded way of saying I might introduce some sort of ‘Early Thoughts‘ posts, which are not quite reviews, but they are ways to let you all know if I am enjoying something in the first few hours, and what I like, dislike and expect/dread going forward. Let me know if you’re interested, or if you prefer just waiting for reviews, but either way stay tuned for much more from your favourite MoshFish.
Interesting question. It is something that plagues any type of appraisal or review submission. The old primacy versus recently affect – are first impression accurate? I’d say that as long as you clearly identified where you were in the game (via time played or percentage complete) then you have informed the reader as to the likelihood that your opinion and assessment may change. The game developer’s studio also plays a big part. As does the community posts that come from the studio (I’m looking at you Bungie). So happy to see “snapshot” reviews if you want to publish them.
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