Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Games you hated at first, then loved
GameCentral readers name their favourite games that they never got on with at first, from Destiny to Red Dead Redemption 2.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader ‘Daley’ Thompson, who asked what game that you like now did you not initially enjoy? How long did it take to change your mind and what finally brought you around?
A high difficulty or lack of explanation was the most common reason, with SoulsBorne games being mentioned a lot, but not liking the main character or story also put off a lot of people at first.
Making the effort
I would imagine the most popular answer for this is going to be Dark Souls/Blooborne/Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. These have got to be the least accessible games ever, with the absolute opposite of a gradual introduction to the game’s painfully difficult gameplay and obscure story and items. When I played the first Dark Souls I thought it was some kind of joke and hated it, feeling like I’d been tricked into it by the positive reviews.
I put it away after an unhappy afternoon trying to get anywhere and was all ready to sell it on (this was back in the day when games came on discs). Then I saw all the rave reviews start to appear on the Inbox, of people that had clearly been getting a lot further than me. But it wasn’t that they said it was good that made me go back, but that they’d had just as much trouble at first.
That was enough to get me to buck my ideas up and after a whole weekend of getting virtually nowhere it all started to click and I gradually became a fan. So much that I’ve played everything FromSoftware have done since and love them all. Fantastic games that almost wouldn’t seem as magical if they didn’t put you off so much at first.
I was like this with Destiny. After all the hype I was completely underwhelmed at first, with the complete lack of story and the simplistic missions with no kind of puzzles or complication. The shooting was fun, of course, but it all seemed very note. It still is I suppose. But then I started to get into upgrading my characters and trying to get the right loop.
I understand Bungie used psychologists to design the game and it kind of shows. On paper it’s really boring and repetitive but once you get into it it’s really hard to get out again. The clever thing is that even once you know you’re being manipulated you don’t really care as long as it carries on being fun. I don’t play it or the sequel anymore but it still lasted me about as long as any other game I’ve ever played.
I get the feeling I’m a bit backwards on this compared to most people but I didn’t really like Red Dead Redemption 2 at first but after forcing myself to play it for a few days in a row I gave it a rest for bet then came back with a more dedicated attitude.
I started playing it ‘properly’, instead of just running around killing everyone and really started getting into the Western atmos and the story and characters. It is a slow burn and I can see why some people say it’s too slow, but for me I like the way it takes it time. Especially considering the start was what put me off.
That often happens with me and open world games though, where I’m always desperate to be left alone and do things at my own pace. Once I did is when I fell in love with being a cowboy again.
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Love at second sight
Hated NieR:Automata when I first got it and felt I’d basically been tricked into playing it. I always prefer role-playing games to action games and I hated the action and shooting and that there wasn’t really any sign of traditional role-playing bits at the start of the game. I don’t like to be beaten though, so a couple of weeks later I sat down and tried to get into it.
I think that helped actually, because I was better at the action the second time round, once I’d got the gist of it, and was able to get through to the open world area and get a feel for what the game was really about.
Now I’d say it was one of my favourite games, ever with an amazing story that really does shame the vast majority of others in terms of themes and emotions. It simultaneously feels more mature than other games and has a childish silliness to it that is both charming and very honest. I love it, even if it was a rocky start to our relationship.
Thrice more into the breach
After all the talk about Into The Breach on the Inbox I gave it a go because although strategy games aren’t usually my thing it was pretty cheap and everyone seemed to agree it was great. I absolutely hated it. The graphics were terrible, the instructions didn’t explain anything, and I kept dying almost instantly.
I gave up after less than half an hour and didn’t go near again for days. Tried it again for 10 minutes, still hated it and gave up again. Only after talking to a friend, who explained the best way to get started and that you have to play defensively, did I play it a third time and start to get the hang of it.
I’ve now put so many hours into it I couldn’t even tell you. 100%ed every achievement and unlocked every mech. A fantastic game that is completely different to everything I’ve understood and enjoyed about games up until now. Can’t wait to see what the same dev does next.
I must’ve tried Overwatch at least three or four times before I got into it. I’d heard so much about it, and managed to get a copy cheap, but I just thought it was a bog standard first person shooter. I think it’s the lack of story campaign that put me, it just felt like there was no way to get into it and it felt weird playing random multiplayer battles to learn the characters.
I finally pushed past that when I started to main Soldier: 76 and then moved onto some of the more complicated ones. Great game but I hope the sequel does have a story because it still seems weird not knowing what it’s all about.
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Window of opportunity
I think the two biggest examples for me are Bayonetta and Mass Effect (the first one). I think I owned both for well over a year before they clicked with me.
In Bayonetta’s case I found it hard to understand the appeal of the game and it all felt very ‘arcadey’ and disposable at first. I think I attempted about four restarts before I actually finished what’s easily a sub-15 hour game.
But it turns out the satisfaction wasn’t about progressing through the game as you normally would. Once I understood how to properly utilise the moves and combos and how satisfying these were to get right, I coupled it with the compulsion to get platinum trophies for every sub chapter and it all suddenly made sense.
The fact it took so long is what put me off getting Bayonetta 2 and Astral Chain right away, but they’re both still on my shopping list.
With Mass Effect, I think it was the various dry and slightly overwhelming role-playing elements. I’d find myself with a ton of gear and ended up bored with the menus and inventories. Once I got used to just disposing of 80% of my loot in exchange for ‘omni-gel’ things became a bit more streamlined and I started to enjoy going through the codex and getting into the excellent lore.
Going forward, the biggest wall I’ve hit this gen is with The Witcher 3 but I’m hoping if I try it on Switch at some point it’ll work out better than the last three attempts, as I’m more inclined to give it a chance playing portably.
I think part of the difficulty with some games nowadays is to do with looking at what else is on your plate and feeling like what you’re playing only has a small window of opportunity to keep you on board. Back when there was less choice, often for financial reasons, there was way less chance I’d just chip off any of the above games.
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