Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: What’s your new game ritual?

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Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: What’s your new game ritual?
Do you check the Trophies before you start?

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…

A lost art

I’d say the only ritual I have when buying a new game these days is to always check the Trophies. I wouldn’t even consider myself to be a serious Trophy hunter, as I only go after them in games I really like. But I always like to have a look to see if the platinum Trophy would be attainable should, I enjoy the game enough to do so.

In previous generations, when we used to get thick manuals, I would take a quick look through them, but that’s not really the case anymore. Another thing I do still do though is check out the back of the box, however even the back of the cases seem to have gone downhill compared to previous generations as there is mainly just screenshots and very little text.

I remember some boxes would have a brief synopsis of the plot or world you are about to enter, whereas now it’ll just saying something like ‘Thrilling Adventure’ which is a shame.
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)/trukkurt (Steam ID)/Angry_Kurt (Twitter)

Let it stew

When I get a new game I take it out of the envelope/cardboard package and put it on the kitchen table, and leave it there for three to four months. After this time I will either start playing it or place it, still sealed on the shelf with all my other games.

I currently have unplayed physical copies of two VR games that I got with my bundle when I bought it, Homefront Revolution, and Battlefield which I even pre-ordered. On my hard drive I have Far Cry Primal, Resident Evil 7 and god knows how many more AAA titles and indie games that I have downloaded. I never used to be this bad, I think the problem this year was buying that damned VR headset , it has taken up a huge chunk of my gaming time.
captainbloodsnot (PSN ID)

Default position

The one thing I always do is turn off the subtitles. I always think I’m going to be silly doing this, because surely the default must be off, and yet I’m often surprised to find out they are on. I just cannot understand this. It looks so… amateurish and uncinematic having subtitles on screen. I can understand if you’ve got the sound down for some reason but surely that’s going to be very rare. Surely the majority of people are able to hear what the people in the game are saying?

Apart from anything subtitles often spoil surprises in the dialogue. You can see a plot twist coming up and it’s a good few seconds before the voiceover actually gets to it. I just don’t understand any game that would have it on by default.

The other thing I do is have a quick shufti around the menus and check to see if there’s any unlockable galleries or that type of thing. I always look in the extras menu in particular for that sort of thing. But of course nowadays most of that stuff is usually DLC now.

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One first time

I don’t do this for every game. But for ones I’m really looking forward to I do try and make sure there’s no one else around, that everything is quiet, and I’m not going to be distracted by anything for a least an hour or so. It sounds a bit anal, I know, but I do get a bit obsessed with the idea of my first time with a game. That first half hour or so can be very magical and I always remember things like the beginning of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time being one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

But if I’d started it in a loud room with people getting in the way of the TV and my attention not wholly on it it wouldn’t have been the same. Maybe I wouldn’t have even appreciated that game, and not ended up playing it!

As you can imagine my ‘quiet room’ policy was very much in place for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and it worked perfect because that beginning was just as good and memorable. A good game will shine through whatever, of course, but you still only get one first time.

Miss nothing

This isn’t going to make much sense, and I don’t know why I do it ever, but I cannot bring myself to skip anything. Once a game I let the game run a bit to see if it has an attract sequence, then I sit through the intro (I hate cut scenes, so this really makes no sense for me), and always take part in the tutorial no matter how obvious it all is. I also try to ask all dialogue options that are available if it’s a role-playing type game.

Like I said, I don’t know why I do this but I think it’s from not having that many games as a kid (I know, small violin) and so always trying to make the most out of the ones I do have. I’m just glad I never overcompensated for that by having a backlog. That would drive me up the wall.

For that reason I never (or almost never) look at sales either, which I guess is all part of the gaming method for me.

Quality time

I don’t know whether this is odd or not but I always plan a bit for when I’m going to play a game. I don’t see the point of doing it if it’s not for at least half an hour. So I always make sure I’ve had a bite to eat, go to the toilet, and, if I can, make sure I’m not going to get disturbed.

Sometimes my girlfriend watches (she really like Life is Strange) but she’s not interested in most games and so they tend to be my alone time. So I try to make the most of that, not only to get the most out of the game but to get the need for a bit of gaming out of my system. That can be tricky when it’s a game you’re really into, but I think it’s like sleep (and first party games): quality is more important than quantity.

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Standard behaviour

The basic ritual is to put the game in the centre of chalk symbols representing iconic Greek alphabet radiation symbols in a candle lit room and sit with my legs crossed with palms and wrists exposed pointing up and praying to the gaming gods that ‘What I am about to experience is not just hype built, but a game of which immersion feels genuine and I was not hoodwinked by my own mind into buying it’. I then thank the gaming gods for what I have received and to then play this sacred item.

Either the above or just take the cellophane wrapper off and install the thing and hopefully I’ll like the 40-odd quid thing. Settings is the first place I go to though, which is a definite ritual and always invert the Y-axis straight away as that is how I always have played games, due to my muscle memory which finds the other way too weird. I cycle through all the other colour, sound and control options and make sure it’s off film grain as that’s just dirty to look at and I want clarity.

I usually play, like GC, on the neutral difficulty (normal) as easy feels like immersion lost and too hard will just make me angry. Except for games like Deus Ex, which I put on the hardest due to the love of using the full range of the augmented technologies to feel better when using them. In other words, to increase fun as opposed to taking from it.

I then just take it easy and just get use to the game’s surroundings and figure out the gameplay as I progress without rushing, just to get use to the new experience. I play for about four to five hours or more depending on how much I am enjoying the game and when finished, I reflect on it and think about what was good about it and was there anything which was ‘meh’ in the game. I hope to be thinking about the excitement of what’s to come and to get back to my characters and locations as if I have made some new friends.

One other ritual I do before powering down the console for the day and putting the game back on my gaming altar (shelf)! is to save at a proper save place, like a nice house with a bedroom or where no enemies are nearby. And I can imagine my character resting off screen, relaxing, just like I am in the real world. Something I have always done as that makes me feel at ease.

I am sure most of the above is what many gamers do and I am definitely not adverse to multiple games on the go – heck with a little backlog like mine, you want to make sure you have a variety of other worlds to choose from. ‘Should I go sci-fi or should I go fantasy today or historic?’ Just to match the current mood I am in that day basically. Good times.

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