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Thread: What makes a game replayable for you?

  1. #1
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland

    What makes a game replayable for you?

    I'm currently replaying Hollow Knight, and when finishing a new game I often find it difficult to decide whether to play something I haven't played yet off my backlog or whether I should revisit an old favourite. At the same time, while many people seem to link replayability to being able to do things differently, make different choices, pick a different character, be violent instead of stealthy or vice versa, that's not it for me at all. I enjoy replaying games pretty much the way I enjoy rereading books or watching films again: to enter that particular world again, to meet up with characters I like, to re-experience the atmosphere and moments I remember. It's rare that I make vastly different choices from the first time or pick entirely different paths (though I appreciate the freedom being there in theory).

    What about the other people at TTLG? Do you replay games - and if so, what makes a game replayable for you?

  2. #2
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    great topic, there is heaps of ways games can be replayable. Like a book, as you mentioned, for me a good example would be the Blackwell Chronicles series, I have replayed those, just because I liked the characters and setting.
    Another is for the challenge, just to be able to beat a game. Landstalker would be that game, have finished it numerous times and I swear it never seems to get easier.
    Also, tradition. Me and the family would definitely be Zelda on this one. And as my kids grow they each get to play zelda for the first time which leads me to getting back into it each time.

  3. #3
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    This may be different than what you're asking, but the games I technically replay are more like rituals than games at this point.
    They're short levels, often just one level, or often sandbox -- something I can just get into its space and do the thing for a little bit.

    There's one particular & short IL-2 map (take off and immediately take out some bombers), Mirror's Edge time trials, GTAV (and the GTAs before it) basically just driving the full highway loop, Adventure (Atari 2600), Shattered Pixel (Android), a C64 game called Rags to Riches, Little Inferno, Within a Deep Forest, Super Mario 64, 1080...

    Things with short fan made levels -- a dungeon crawl puzzle kind of game called DROD, Thief & Darkmod FMs, Knytt Stories levels, TripleA maps...

    Then some grand strat games or mega-sims, where I'll just pop in and noodle around ... Vicky 2, Avorion, Subnautica, Minecraft, Hardwar, Civ3...

    Some games I outright replay in I think the way you mean, the full game as a full game, like Skyrim, Stalker COP, Deus Ex, Mirror's Edge (the proper game), Crimson Skies, Thief2 & System Shock2, Dishonored... These are just great games.

    I think there's something ritualistic about it like you say. It's not really to do things vastly different, but more to be in a familiar space, and go through scenes, to which I have a some strong emotional connection. I think it's the same reason I rewatch certain movies & tv shows that have that quality about them.

  4. #4
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    There's different types of replayability for me.

    There's the fond familiarity type, where I want to experience the same game over again. This doesn't happen with too many games, with the last probably being Witcher 3 for me. It's just a feeling of being comfortable in a game's world and narrative, and wanting to experience it again, thereby squeezing as much enjoyment out of it as possible. This can unfortunately lead to a prolonged period of gaming funk after you've tired of replaying said game, where you flounder around listlessly trying to fill the void it's left in your soul with its absence.

    There's the instant replay / iterative improvement type, games such as Spelunky, Dead Cells, N+, Super Meatboy, things that have short play session times but a high skill ceiling. They sometimes have a procedural component so that your skills are constantly being tested and improved in unexpected ways, but not always. Racing games often fall in to this category too, with my all-time favourite racing game being F-Zero X, where there was always room to improve times on tracks, as well as Joker Cup featuring procedurally generated races.
    Other genres sit quite comfortably in this category too, such as classic multiplayer FPS games and fighting games, where there's always room to improve. Of course, in these scenarios, other players are the reason to return.

    Then there's the ones I'm trying to stay away from, the ones that I regard as most harmful. The MMO or MMO-lite, where the game involves playing the same content over and over again, whilst offering very gradual improvements to power level, but not necessarily skill. These often rely on competitive pressure to keep you playing, and I don't mean PvP (although this can act as a hook itself). They constantly drip-feed little dopamine spikes and create tensions by allowing you to see what playing just a little bit longer will get you by having your more "devoted" friends get stuff you don't have yet.
    These leave me uncomfortable with myself, and I inevitably end up going "Cold turkey", as they begin to feel like an addiction. My last big relapse was Destiny 2, and before that The Division. Before that though, it was Guild Wars 2, and I staved off of playing that and games like it back in 2012.
    Let's call these habit-formers.

    Then there's the ones that sit somewhere between fond familiarity and iterative improvement. Stuff like Civ and Dwarf Fortress, where I know what I'm getting into, I know that a game will take a substantial amount of time to play, but that it offers something different every time thanks to a degree of procedural generation. Of course, Hitman now also falls into this category, even though it doesn't have the procedural element, thanks to it's ongoing "Games as a service" idea. Having player-created contracts and regular drip-fed Elusive Targets gives me plenty of reasons to regularly head back in to the world of assassination. Just one more turn... seems like a good way to label these.

    And of course, mods can massively expand a game's replayability. It's no surprise that the best games are often mod-friendly. Our very own Thief, Doom, Quake and while I often resent them, the Bethesda games, can provide a never-ending parade of ongoing gaming goodness thanks to modability.

    Oh, maybe one more category too; the good old "Blimey, I haven't played that in years!" category. This one can be dangerous, as returning to a previously fondly remembered "Classic" can often lead to disappointment thanks to modern advances in gameplay and usability. But the occasional gem shines through, and then becomes a fond familiarity.
    Last edited by Malf; 5th Feb 2019 at 12:42.

  5. #5
    Registered: Aug 2004

    Seriously, good post Malf.

  6. #6
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I replay games yearly. I used to do it far more often as games used to be far shorter, and so easier to get in and through quickly. With that in mind, I often return to games I really enjoyed years earlier. Sometimes I find that the experience is different, that the games have aged bad. Other times, their just as great as I remembered.

    * Fallout New Vegas is one I love coming back to. I play this one the same way every time, and that's fine. I often find that I make small differences, like react differently to a situation or event, but largely I follow the same path. I've not once sided with Caesar's Legion, as they are just polar opposites to what I stand for. One major difference from my first play through (where I sided with NCR) and have done on all since play through's is more to only side with NCR to a degree, but ultimately to go against all of them. I love that the game lets you do that. And I've since always looked out for the Great Khans, as I whilst they may deal in drugs, that doesn't make them bad people at all + I've known many who use drugs in real life. Many of which were fine people.

    * Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System I return every few years to, as it was my first JRPG experience. Still a great joy to play.

    * The Command and Conquer games I return to often, as they to me are the pinnacle of RTS games. So many great games to choose from. RTS games of it's kind, you barely ever see anymore. I grew up playing RTS's in the 90s / 00's so it's a natural fit for me.

    * XCOM is another I love to return to. For this there is new and old that I really enjoy. Terror From The Deep is hardcore difficult on anything but the easiest setting, and unlike the other games (new and old) is challenging to reach the end of.

    * Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo I return to often. I just think it's an awesome game + was my first cyberpunk gaming experience.

    * Full Throttle I like to return to on the odd occasion. I'd played point and click games before it, but this was the first one that really clicked with me.

    * Doom 1 & 2 - I've never really left this one since first getting into the Doom scene on it's release. Mods have kept me playing yearly ever since.

    * System Shock 1 & 2 - I'd not be here on these forums, if not for these 2 great games. SS2 I play more often, but I really love the cyberpunk filled first game.

    So for me it's a mix of nostalgia, the wanting to play genre's that in present day don't exist anymore and just games that for me are great games. To truly enjoy games, I like to look forward to new excellent games, and get some fun retro gaming. A healthy mix of both I really enjoy.

  7. #7
    Registered: Dec 2006
    Location: Washington DC
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    * Fallout New Vegas is one I love coming back to. I play this one the same way every time, and that's fine. I often find that I make small differences, like react differently to a situation or event, but largely I follow the same path.
    I find I most often replay games that offer those sorts of choices, and then I defeat the point by following the same path each time. Not just story choices, but gameplay, too.

    I just finished replaying Dead Space 2, and couldn't stop myself from buying and upgrading the assault rifle like I always do in the Dead Space games, simply because of how incredibly satisfying it is to use. I think I've played through the entirety of DS1 twice, and DS2 three times, and only once was I able to force myself to use just the plasma cutter for the entire game. I've done System Shock 2 three or four times, and never touched psi powers.

    I had to really force myself to try a high-chaos, combat-oriented playthrough of Dishonored, because playing it like Thief was just my natural reaction. It felt strange, downright unnatural, even though I still had fun with it and appreciated seeing a different side to the story.

    Maybe I like the idea of doing different routes, but it's the lizard-brain satisfaction of actually replaying the same familiar experience that's more compelling.

  8. #8
    Registered: May 2004
    Hitman (2016/18) is apparently the most replayable game I've ever encountered for me, as I very rarely ever replay levels in a game and now I've replayed every single level countless times and racked up 160hrs. I think it's because the environments are so packed with details that taking a different approach will reveal some little detail that you missed. Even though the NPCs are basically clockwork machines, the level of detail makes every area feel very alive.

    Deus Ex for obvious reasons. I always like revisiting the old Doom and Quake engine games, or finding a new one - maybe that's just nostalgia? The Starcraft games - RTSs have pretty much infinite playability. Silent Hill 1-3, because the atmosphere is so engrossing and they're quick to play through and have multiple endings.

  9. #9
    Registered: May 2004
    I think that one aspect of games I regularly return to can only be described in terms of pure addictiveness. There's just something about the basic gameplay that makes the game incredibly satisfying to play, so you just want to keep playing it over and over. The 1997 PC game Magic: The Gathering by MicroProse is one such game for me. Also, The Binding of Isaac, Tetris, the first Dark Souls, Thief, Fantasy General, Panzer General, SMAC, Terraria, Nethack -- some very different games, but when I set down to play them, time just goes whoosh, and I keep coming back to them.

    Also, there are a few games I play again for the story, such as Silent Hill 2, but games with a good enough atmosphere or storytelling to warrant multiple replays are few and far between, unfortunately.

    And for games like Dark Souls, The Binding of Isaac, and Silent Hill 2, there's also that each playthrough usually adds something to the overall experience that expands my understanding of the story -- either there's some symbolism I didn't notice before or a lore/story snippet that gives me some new insight.
    Last edited by Starker; 5th Feb 2019 at 16:33.

  10. #10
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    What makes a game replayable for you?
    First signs of Alzheimer's.

    Actually it is the game's world.
    I don't care much about game mechanics. I don't care about the challenge. Most of the time the story isn't impressive enough to make an impact. I don't care about gamey things like points and levels and timed runs. I want to enjoy walking around in a make-believe world. Maybe exploring the world is the activity I enjoy most in games. But even if I already know what I'm gonna encounter when I play the same game again, I can still enjoy it.

    If that world is pretty or interesting, I can walk around for ages. I've spent 10k hours in WoW, just because WoW's world is huge. In the end it got boring, but that was after a loooong time. (And I'm proud to say, I've quit WoW cold turkey, and I am now clean for 4 years, 1 month and 23 days).
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 5th Feb 2019 at 20:31.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Gryzemuis View Post
    First signs of Alzheimer's.
    Ha! Best answer ever!

    As to the topic question: I replay games for the story, characters, nostalgia, etc., etc., as others have explained far more eloquently than I.

    I used to replay Resi 1, 2, and 3 daily when I was in middle school. I'm fairly confident I could've given speed runners a run for their money - at least for Resi 1; I was off the school bus and in front of the TV just after 3:30 and just before 5:00, when my dad got home from work, I was watching the ending credits. A couple times I made it through all three without getting hit. Now when I play, I'm constantly running(limping) around in the red trying to remember where to go next. :/

    Edit: Resi = Resident Evil
    Last edited by curseofnight; 5th Feb 2019 at 20:38. Reason: FYI and all...

  12. #12
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I used to play Double Dragon and Golden Axe on the Sega Master System on repeat weekly when I was a kid. Partially as I only had a few games for the system and no computer at that point.

  13. #13
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Like Malf said, there are multiple reasons. I used to replay favorite sims until I had mastered them, but I don't play a lot of sims anymore. I think the last time I replayed an old simulation game was Project Space Station for the C64 about 2-3 years ago. When I play old games, it's usually for nostalgia's sake, but there is always something that triggers it. Typically the release of a new or updated mod. If I play an RPG (or RPG-lite) and enjoy it, I will usually replay it pretty soon after with a different character build and play style. Games that offer character building, multiple ways to do things, and have a lot of mods get replayed a lot. That's why I've played Deus Ex so many times.

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