While playing The Last of Us recently, I asked Naughty Dog Community Strategist, Arne Meyer, how many hours a player could expect from this game, clarifying that I was specifically talking about the “main story” and not all the side mission hoopla that most games are packed with these days. That is when things got interesting.
Arne faced his manly black beard in my direction and said that The Last of Us is “all about the story.” While the game will have its fair share of achievements for those who care to chase them, it doesn’t get bogged down with all of that stuff. He then cited Uncharted as an example of the type of product they are aiming to put out from a story perspective. Considering the fact that The Last of Us felt far more open than Uncharted and heavily rooted in exploration (based on the hour or so I spent playing it), this was pleasant news.
The current trend of ‘percent complete’ open ended gaming that floods the market today can be off-putting to say the least. I recently spent a good chunk of time Detective Mode clicking my way through Batman Arkham City only to finish it with a 29% completion rate. I sat there staring at the screen feeling as if I “did it all wrong” when I should have been excited to reach the game’s climax. Robbed of that moment, I instead was left wondering how much more fulfilling the experience could have been had the “side missions” been worked in as mandatory parts of the overarching story. In other words, the approach that Naughty Dog is taking with The Last of Us.
I understand the perceived appeal behind creating added value content, but is it accurate? Do most gamers want twenty hours worth of side missions or would they prefer that extra play time be added to main story in the form additional depth and plot development? I know where I stand. What about yourself?