Last month, Nathan from Gaming Omnivore nominated Later Levels for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I loved the questions he posed to his nominees because they encouraged us to think about the current state of gaming and could each inspire an individual post all on their own. That’s why I’ve chosen to focus on one today and give a full response.
What would it take for you to refuse to play a video game? Would it be a multitude of bugs that caused you to frequently lose progress and keep having to repeat the same sections? Or perhaps it would be a storyline which simply doesn’t make sense, featuring leaps in logic which actually aren’t very logical at all. Maybe it’s bad characters that would put you off and there’s no way you’d play a title if it contained a protagonist you couldn’t warm to. Or it could be a mechanic that you just can’t seem to get to grips with.
It’s always been the latter for me. Give me a release which makes use of turn-based combat or strategy and you’ll be lucky if I even click on the start button. My aversion to this type of gameplay means I have very limited experience of certain famous franchises; I’ve never completed a Pokémon game for example, and not even played any of the Civilisation or Fire Emblem entries. They’re not the series that’s likely to draw the biggest gasps of shock from readers however; that one is Final Fantasy.
I can see the stunned look on your face right now. Final Fantasy is adored by so many people here in the blogging community so I’m in the minority. Norton from The Well-Red Mage coordinated an entire collaboration around the franchise last year in which plenty of writers took part. The awesome Ellen from Livid Lightning is possibly the biggest fan of Lightning Farron ever. And one of the highlights at gamescom 2019 for my Blaugust partner-in-crime Phil was getting to play the Final Fantasy VII remake.
It’s not that I’ve never played a title from the series – but I certainly haven’t finished one. I can remember watching a group of male friends play during the evenings after school when we were teenagers, although I couldn’t tell you which Final Fantasy game it actually was. I also tried to play Final Fantasy X over a decade ago but didn’t get more than a few hours in before it ended up being put to one side. Not only did most of the characters start to grate on me, I found the gameplay repetitive, dull and unrealistic.
That’s probably the biggest reason why turn-based combat is a complete turn-off for me. I mean, it’s hardly representative of what’s going to happen in a fight, is it? When you come face-to-face with a huge monster, you’re not going to politely wait while it takes its turn to strike; you’re going to get stuck in and hit it with everything you’ve got to prevent it from doing damage to you first. Can you really see yourself saying, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly attack, that would be far too selfish! After you, good sir.”
This probably says a lot about my personality. In her post about video games for each star-sign back in July, Michelle from A Geek Girl’s Guide wrote that people born under Aries were ‘ambitious’ and our ‘determination is unmatched when it comes to getting what we want’. While I don’t believe in astrology, I can’t deny this is a pretty accurate description of me if you forget the fact that Aries are supposed to be competitive. I can take control, jump in with both feet impulsively and be downright stubborn.
As such, I just don’t have patience for turn-based combat or strategy. I want to get stuck into the action, run in screaming at the top of my lungs and brandishing a sword. This probably explains why I don’t ever play ranged characters in RPGs, and why I’ve taken so well to being the tank in The Elder Scrolls Online after the role being suggested by Tim over at GeekOut UK. I want to feel as though I’m part of the battle and helping to turn it in my team’s favour, not standing metres away from it or waiting for my turn to strike.
In some ways it’s a shame, because I’ve heard so many good things about the Final Fantasy storylines and I think I’d probably enjoy them. I just don’t want to have to sit through rounds of turn-based matches to get to the narrative. Pete from MoeGamer suggested I give XII or XV a go as their use of a different type of combat may mean I enjoy them more than X. Perhaps one day I will; but right now, there are so many other series calling for my attention that I don’t feel as though I’m missing out.
The weirdest thing about this whole situation isn’t the fact I’ve never completed a Final Fantasy title. It’s just how many Twitter conversations I get tagged in about the franchise, when I’m probably the worst person to include! Thanks once again to Nathan for the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination – it’s been great to get my turn-based turn-off off my chest.