Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: What’s your new game ritual?

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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: What’s your new game ritual?
Fallout 3 – a difficult decision

Readers discuss the first thing they do when getting a new video game – from waiting till after dark to just adding it to the backlog.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Steve, who wanted to know if you have any kind of ritual for when you get a new game, in terms of when and how you play it. Are there certain options you always change before you start, and do you always start a new game as soon as you get it?

A lot of people admitted to wanting some quality time with their new purchase, especially the first time they put it on. While others had certain rules or preferences when it came to options and difficulty settings. An everybody seemed to miss the smell of manuals…

Variable difficulty

After starting a new game, as soon as I can access an in-game menu I check to see if I can change the difficulty mid-game. If this isn’t available I often restart and drop the game difficulty down to easy. I remember plenty of games during the PlayStation 1/PlayStation 2 era that I never finished or finally beat after dozens of frustrating deaths that ended up souring my experience of the game.

Although it’s becoming more common I wish this was a standard feature. If there is a difficulty spike and I can’t make any progress at least I have an option to continue instead of just abandoning the game. If I put in a number of hours I’d like to see the whole game through.

Sometime the reverse is true, where as the game continues it gets easier so I end up raising the difficulty as I progress. Fallout 3 comes to mind where I started on easy and by the end I had the game set at very hard and was still having fun. I just hope to tailor how hard the game is so I still enjoying playing it.
John Ryan

One or two

I do my best to only have a couple of games on the go at any one time. (I used to be terrible, having multiple games on the go and not getting around to finishing many of them!) I always play on easy on my first run of a game – I just want to enjoy the story and adventure. Unless a game is really frustrating or boring me I will complete the story.

I usually play another game after I have completed the story, returning to the previous game at a later point to try the harder difficulties, do all the side stuff and to mop up as many trophies as I can.
LastYearsModel09 (PSN ID)

Badge of honour

When I get a game I’m one of the ones who leaves the sticker that’s wrapped around the front of the Xbox game box, as it’s a reminder that I bought it new and not used.

I used to play on easy as a kid but now play on normal and sometimes hard first time, if the game isn’t renown for being difficult (e.g. Battlefield 4’s campaign).

I have too many games on the go with my Xbox One, as I get distracted and lose momentum with them. However, with my Switch I’ve decided to just buy one game at a time and really take it in and enjoy it rather than juggling games. So I’m hoping to complete Zelda by Christmas, in time for Super Mario Odyssey – my next Switch game.
Bailey Caine (BC FOX – gamertag)

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Cover of darkness

I don’t think this is too weird of me, because I have heard some other people on the Inbox say they do the same thing, but I always wait until it’s dark out before I start a new game. Particularly one I’m really looking forward too.
Obviously that’s not a problem at this time of the year but I remember feeling very agitated about waiting for games during the summer. Obviously I could just pull the curtains, but you know it’s sunny outside and it just doesn’t feel right to me.

I’m one of those that will only watch a movie (a decent movie that I want to watch properly) if it’s pitch black and silent, so I guess it’s kind of the same thing. You’ve got to get in the mood, give these things all your attention I feel. It increases the immersion and makes it all a lot better I think.

Never go back

I have a backlog of games, I assume everyone does, but I do not understand these people that say they have dozens, or even hundreds, of games they haven’t played. There hasn’t been a need to buy a game for fear of not being able to get it again since at least the last generation. The only thing that’s going to happen is that games you want are going to get cheaper and, thanks to patches and updates, they’re going to work better.

There are zero benefits to buying them early and many to buying them later. Not least knowing you haven’t wasted your money and not looking at a shelf stacked with cellophane-wrapped games.

Of course, at busy times of the year like this there are a multiple games you want to play, but I try to complete every game before I start a new one. I’m not usually worried about 100%ing it or anything, but I a few times I’ve thought I’ll beat the basic story and then go back later and do the rest. But I never do. Just typing all this I’m beginning to wonder how much of this is unusual and how much not, but that’s my routine.

Physical loss

I always invert the sticks, always. It weirds me out to even think anyone could prefer them the other way round. But other than that I don’t have a ritual as such. Unless you count pacing up and down the house waiting for the damn thing to download as a ritual.

Digital downloads are convenient in a lot of ways, and they can be very cheap if you get the right sale, but you miss the whole excitement of getting and owning a new object. There’s no box to open, no manual to smell, not disc to insert. The point between paying for the game and actually owning it is very vague, and usually covered over by another hour of downloading patches.

That’s no body’s fault and I guess it’s not even a problem. Or at least it certainly won’t be for anyone that grows up with digital gaming as standard. But you do lose a bit of the magic. I guess it’s always that way with something that’s all about convenience.

Not available digitally

I know it may seem weird but the first thing I do with a new game is breathe in that new game smell that comes from the box. Just like the smell you get in a new car!

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

The run around

I suppose technically the first thing I do with a new game now is install to the hard drive, then update it then load the game to play it. If it arrives as broken as Batman: Arkham Origins did I then wait for a patch to fix the fact that Batman can’t climb up a ledge.

First thing I do with open world games like Skyrim and Fallout is play the opening bit then run around the world opening as many map points as possible to make sure I can use fast travel for the rest of the game. Most people will roll their eyes at that, but I have done it since Oblivion came out on the Xbox 360. If they would include auto-walk like the PC has I might not have to use my open every location tactic.

As for options, I will usually turn on the subtitles and start the game in normal and turn the brightness up a bit.

Depending on the game I will either play it for one long session or if it’s not going well for a few minutes, I put it on my shelf for about two years. Enslaved, I am looking at you, even though you were not as terrible as I had remembered you were.

GC: Enslaved was seven years ago.

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