Over the years, As video games – especially big AAA titles – have evolved into spectacular open-world shows, their duration has grown as well. What used to take 20 or 30 hours to complete now takes five times as much. The question is no longer “Do I want to play this game?” but rather “Do I want to dive into it 100 hours of my life?” Because once you start it can be very, very hard to stop, even when you want to.
Of course, in some ways longer games are good. You get more for your money. (One hundred hours of play for $ 70? Not bad at all!) And sometimes it’s easier to return to a familiar world than to start an entirely new one. But huge games are also often bug-infested nightmares, requiring fixes that were incredibly grueling for the developers who created them. Not to mention, once you get the game and spend about 50 hours completing it, it’s really hard to walk away without feeling like a failure, even if you hate it.
Yet this is where I am, dear reader.
I played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla since November. We are now in March. I am at 100 hours and I have lost all sense of purpose. I actively avoid this game; as I haven’t touched my PlayStation 5 controller in a week avoiding it. (Hello, Switch!) When I think of playing Valhalla in the little free time I have, it arouses very little enthusiasm. It’s not because it’s not a great game; I had a fantastic time for the first 60 hours or so. But things have gotten more and more repetitive, and when I record myself and play for a while, I barely pay attention to the story or the dialogue. I stopped doing side quests, and while I love Eivor, I’m not sure even that carries me through.
In the end, I know I only play this game because I have played it for 100 hours already and giving up at this point is equivalent to wasting 4,167 days of my life. It’s like avoiding breaking up with someone just because you’ve been dating for a year and they’ve met your family and … Ugh. I can’t wait to see this game anymore, but if I quit now, what sense of accomplishment will I have?
It gets even more complicated when you think about the concept of ‘game tasks’ that everyone who has played Animal Crossing: New horizons for the past year will tell you it’s a whole thing. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve opened this game just to check in at the stores, talk to my villagers, get my NookMiles for the day, and log out. For weeks, this was the only interaction I had with the game – I wasn’t playing or having fun, I was just doing household chores in my video game. I forgot to log in one day, I broke my NookMiles streak, and this is the very boring story of how I quit playing Animal crossing.
Games these days make us check in once every 24 hours. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla does this in several ways, including new quests and inventory items from Reda, a character from a previous game. The quests aren’t that great (actually it’s basically the same over and over again), and the inventory items are fine, but I’m not an in-game collector so I can’t say that I care about all of this a lot. And yet, for a while, I kept logging in just to see what new stuff was on offer.
I want to stop. I need to stop. But I also feel like I should get things done, even in my entertainment, and if I give up on a game before I’m done with the story, it’s wasted time, a failure. What do I have to show during the hundred hours of my life that I have already invested in all of this?