Dying Light 2 raises the question “Are video games too long?” question

Pictured: The Dying Light 2 devs letting me know I'm going to be reviewing a 500 hour game.

Pictured: The Dying Light 2 devs letting me know I’m going to be reviewing a 500 hour game.
Picture: Techland

Of the big, terrible talk that plagues modern gaming, few are as gruesome and all-consuming as “Are video games too long these days?” (Only its eldritch siblings, “Are Video Games Too Hard These Days?” and “Are Video Games Too Expensive These Days?” can really compare.)

The Game Length Thing had its latest endless dispute a few days ago, when developer Techland announced that its new zombie parkour game, Dying Light 2, would take about 500 hours to complete completely. (That’s just under three weeks, for those of you who have an aversion to math or the calendar.) Techland later clarified that players would only need 20 hours to complete the game’s main story, but by then the sharp knives were in line and the cries of “It’s murder!” and “No, that’s ideal!” had already started.

Rhythm in video games is a weird thing; as I have pointed out more than once to my colleagues – often despairingly and from the depths of a days-long fugue – there really is no form of modern media that can match the length of a modern video game. Twenty hours of play ain’t even, like, one parcel for a medium that produces stuff like Atlus Personage series or The Witcher 3. Comparatively, if one of my colleagues in our film section was given something that required 20 hours of active engagement, it would usually come with adjectives like “experimental” or “out of the ordinary” or “extremely inconsiderate towards me. everyday life. »

The issues raised by the Dying Light 2 announces, then, trawls a wide swath of undercurrents currently lurking in the veins of body play. There’s the perception, for example, that anyone complaining that games are too long is just an annoyed game journalist that it’s more work for them. (See, uh, most of the paragraph above.)

But that bit of anger rests on the mistaken assumption that reviewers are in no way required to “finish” a game in order to review it. Make a good faith effort, yes. Clarify what part of the game you experienced and any major shortcomings you may have encountered, of course. But games, especially modern games, are almost never designed for regular, even unpaid, players to complete. And one insistence at the end of the reviewer’s part ignores the fact that the experience of the first 10 hours of a game is just as, if not more, important to its overall impression than the last 10.

the real The problem with a game promising 500 hours of content is that it’s virtually impossible for much of that content to not be repetitive, padded, or auto-generated. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – if just playing a game is joyful enough, you don’t necessarily need a series of crafting quests to make it sing. (The game matters! As much as the writing and the individual quest or level design, the game matters. ‘little tower to climb’, then you are a more dedicated gamer than I am.

Most of those 500 hours of little map icons are, of course, optional; games, more so than most other media, are pretty much “done” when we say we’re done, and it sounds like dying light requires little 80 hours to get all of its side quest and story content. But the decision by Techland, or other developers, to create 500 hours of content in the first place can have all sorts of ripple effects on the design of the game that hosts it. At best, an overabundance of optional hardware can keep players engaged long after they may have laid down the title. (An interesting counterpoint to the current trend of continually adding more material to a game in the weeks and months after release.) At worst, however, this gameplay bolus can have a thinning effect: the high parts of the game are drowned in a hundred procedurally generated fetch quests, development resources have been directed to increasing the large numbers instead of tweaking systems or existing quest design.

(All of this also completely sidesteps crisis and other labor issues in the industry; “500 hours” of content, even simple or repetitive content, doesn’t happen on its own.)

Regardless of all this debate, Dying Light 2 will probably be quite fun. (The the first game was; it’s very hard to beat a good video game grabber, zombies or not.) The question, then, is whether it will be exhausting-or potentially stretched far too thin.

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