Leaving Stones Unturned

I am, a full seven years after its release, diving into Arkham Knight, the sequel to the great Arkham Asylum and Arkham City Batman games. I enjoyed the other two a lot, the combat was snappy and the overall fantasy of “you get to be Batman” was executed excellently. The games stuck in my mind enough that the brightest spot of the Batman vs Superman movie for me was when Batman’s action scenes felt ripped from the game. 

Arkham Knight is more of the same. Combat and traversal feel snappy (though it does feel somewhat outclassed by 2018’s Spiderman) and the addition of the Batmobile is equal parts fun and frustrating (it feels a little loose sometimes) that also stretches some believability (Batman doesn’t kill, but he’s a gun on his Batmobile, but don’t worry, the live rounds are only on drones and it’s rubber bullets for bad guys [don’t mind the people you may or may not hit when speeding through Gotham]).

It’s a good thing there’s the Batmobile in it, though, because Gotham in the game is huge. As with many open-world game sequels, the world’s gotten bigger and there’s so much more to do. More side quests, more collectibles, more of all that. And I know how I am with open-world games: I wanna do everything. It’s how I played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey a few years ago, and I ended up a little tired of it by the end. Heck, it’s how I played Fallout 4 earlier this year, to much the same end. As I’m getting into Arkham Knight, I’m realizing that maybe it’ll be okay not to do everything, maybe it’ll be okay to leave some stones unturned. Maybe I don’t have to get three stars on all the challenges to finish the game.

There’s an odd line between video games and chores for me, one that’s mixed in with the idea of a smooth-brain game. Video games are a fun way for me to unwind and something I enjoy doing, but these days there are lots of stuff to do in games that start to make them feel like a checklist. I love playing Destiny, but with each new season of the game comes a new bunch of things to do to ‘finish’ it and a lot of the time it’s doing the same thing over and over again but slightly different. It’s fun, but sometimes it becomes that I’m doing something because I feel like I need to do it to do All The Things this season and less because I wanna do it ‘cuz it’d be fun.

Like I said, there’s a thin line. So far Arkham Knight’s various activities are turning out to be more fun than chore, the question is if that changes will I be okay with not finishing the game and being content with reaching the ending? I hope so, because the skinner box of video games starts becoming less fun after a while, and I’d like to keep things fun. There’s probably more to this thought here about a goal-orientated approach to games versus one that’s more focused on fun, but that’s probably a line of thought for another day.

In the meantime, though, I write all this right when a new season of Destiny is kicking off and there’s so much more stuff to do.

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