Lately I’ve noticed that I like to treat my big story games like a long movie or television series. This is based on the last few big story games that I really enjoyed playing through: Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Ghost of Tsushima and currently Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
These games are all built with the same bones: There’s always the main storyline that you’re trying to complete. There are also optional side missions, collectibles, achievements and quests. Sometimes there’s even more than that. Both Ghost of Tsushima and the Spider-Man games have random crimes/battles as you traverse through the great lands of Tsushima and Manhattan.
In most of these games the main story is done in a particular order or there are a few missions to choose from at any given time. The side missions may reveal themselves as you uncover them (either by talking NPCs, game progress or just passing through). The same usually goes for the extra stuff (collectibles, locations, unlocks, achievements).
When I play these games I enjoy spacing everything out. After a main mission I like to bounce around between the smaller stuff. In both Spider-Man games I’ve gone from one main mission to a side mission, find some collectibles, solve some crimes and a few other things before moving onto the next main story mission. I’m playing through the story as the real Spider-Man would. He would also bounce around, taking breaks in between his main quest to complete other smaller quests.
I know there’s this big goal of completing the main story, but sometimes you have to take a break to find a fox den (Ghost of Tsushima), or help someone find their lost cat (Miles Morales), or take out a Valkyrie (God of War). Sometimes you’re just trying to discover some new Star Wars lore (Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order).
One reason I play games this way is because I know that once I reach the end of the main story — if I’m not done with everything I want to do — I will most likely never come back to it. Once I reached the credits in God of War, I told myself I would take out all the valkyries and complete the rest of the side quests, but I never did. I just moved on to the next game. However, now that God of War has been upgraded for the PS5 I plan to jump back in or try out New Game+ for the first time.
Now, there are some games with too much side stuff (Assassin’s Creed). And some games don’t have a great way to track side vs important quests. For example, Borderlands 3 just shows you this overwhelming long list of missions — some important and some not so important.
I enjoy a game with some side missions and collectibles, but I like also having the choice to complete the main story only (or the main story with a few extra things I want to do). Some games have way too much going on and it keeps you from achieving your goal. Some side quests can get very boring and annoying. At times it feels like someone just said “We need something — anything — here,” so the team built some pointless content to fill in the gap.
In the original Spider-man game I was going for the platinum, so I had to do all of the Screwball challenges and the Taskmaster challenges too. I knew I was going for the platinum since early on so I just planned to tackle these in between missions. I spaced out my main story with completing combat missions, finding collectibles, solving crimes, taking down hideouts and everything else in between. This game had so many different types of side content that it was easy not to get bored, even by the not so great ones (science puzzles).
I’m currently playing through Miles Morales, which I know has a shorter story, but has the same style of side quests, with some new and some repeats. I haven’t found any that really annoy me yet, but I also want to get the platinum (and my first PS5 platinum in this game).
As gamers we can all choose to enjoy the games we love the way we want. There’s no wrong way. If you want to complete every single goal in a game that’s ok. If you just want a few hours to explore a little bit of the world, that’s also ok. You want to play on super easy? Super hard? Normal mode? It doesn’t matter, as long as you have fun, right?
How do you play your games? Let us know in the comments below.