Playing to Get it Done

In a major departure from my usual gaming habits, I’ve been putting major hours into Elden Ring over the past couple of weeks. Seriously, I went from playing maybe 10 hours per week at most to nearly 30+! As it stands, my character is level 165 with just over 136 hours logged on it, and the game is still going! I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed that time thoroughly, but I feel as though I’ve moved into a new phase with Elden Ring: the “I’d really like to wrap things up now” phase.

I think there is a point at which every game, no matter how great it may otherwise be, starts to overstay its welcome. It’s inevitable. You put enough time into anything and it’ll start to wear on you. As I’ve discussed a couple of time already, I really do love Elden Ring. I love the combat mechanics, I love how there’re interesting things and locations everywhere in the world, and I love the metric ton of lore lurking in the background. It’s been an absolute blast, but I really want to finish and dial back my game time soon.

Of course, Elden Ring can be finished in much less time than 130+ hours. If you doggedly stick to the critical path, you could probably get it done in 25 or so (if you’re good enough). That’s not what I’ve been doing though. What I’ve been doing is playing this game alongside a buddy of mine, one whom I can’t hang out with in-person since we’re literally living on opposite sides of the world now. For us, Elden Ring has become something fun to share despite that, so when we set out to play it, we were determined to do everything we could. See, what we were expecting was a game akin to Dark Souls III in length, but what we got was something that’s easily double the size.

Again this isn’t really a gripe against the game. I’m kind of glad that it’s so big and that we can keep discovering things together. It’s just that my attitude has shifted somewhat. Discoveries are tainted by feelings of “really? more?” in addition to the normal excitement. Mechanics like invasions are becoming more tiresome, and I find myself thinking more and more about when we’ll have finally seen all there is to see. If this game had come out at any other time, I’d never have finished it. Now though, I just happened to have a whole lot of time on my hands.

There was one other game in recent memory that reached this state, and that was Persona 5: Royal. That one is also an absolutely fantastic game, one that I really don’t have any legitimate gripes against. It’s just that it too requires a stupendous amount of time to get through, so much that the final chapter loses some of the impact that it should have. Its twists and turns are intriguing, and it even has moments that can shock the player. It’s just that it’s all stunted somewhat by fatigue. It takes 90 to 100 hours to get there, and by that point you’re almost more interested in just seeing everything be finished than actually staying immersed in the story.

With all this said, I don’t think games should have something like a time limit to aim for. Every game is different, and some simply take longer to complete than others. In fact, I’d say more content is almost always a good thing when it’s crafted with the kind of loving care seen with Elden Ring and Persona 5: Royal. It’s just that it can indeed get old, and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way to mitigate that.

(Especially when players feel like they’re racing against the update clock; nerfs are ever-coming and hard games tend to only get harder.)

Do you ever reach this point with your games? Which games had you kinda wishing they’d wrap up already?

Image from the Elden Ring Steam page