Will Rosenthall ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ever looked at the time you played a particular game and realized how much fun it was to spend, say, thirty hours? Ever check out your save files and realize even though you have ten different characters, you’ve never finished the main story once? Or maybe finished it so many times you’ve forgotten how many times it was but you have the uncanny ability of reciting the plot and character dialogue verbatim?
Some games are just that way with people. Highly addictive and consistently entertaining, the most replayable games have cemented themselves as time-drainers but fun as all get-out. (Although, this list excludes MMOs for their very nature of being notoriously replayable and would overtake it immediately).
So here, Emertainment presents its list of the 10 Most Replayable Games, in no particular order.
This 14 year old classic has maintained a dedicated fan base for its entire life span and even now with its recent sequel. Why? Diablo II offers the player several diverse classes, a lengthy single-player experience, and team based multiplayer that scales the difficulty with the players. The original loot drop adventure, Diablo II is an easy way to spend hours in this game and even more when spent with friends.
Dragon Age (Series)/ Mass Effect (Series)
These two Bioware RPGs are paired together for similar reasons: A) because they’re both expansive RPGs and B) the experience bridges multiple games. Both Dragon Age and Mass Effect allow the player to carry the choices made in one game to the next through a trilogy of epic RPGs. The high fantasy and science fiction settings do much to differentiate the overall feel of the two games, but the core experience comes from interacting with the characters in the players party and their appearances and actions in future games. Also, the player is given a lot of options as to how they are perceived in the game world. Good/bad alignments are emphasized and altered by how the player acts in combat and conversation. These alignments also carry over and effect options to progress. Finish the game as a good guy but your party died? Try again to see them make it, or try to by the biggest jerk the world has ever seen.
Surprisingly, the Borderlands series is very similar to Diablo in a lot of ways. They’re both RPGs with several player classes, and loot drops, but the most important difference is gameplay. Borderlands is a shooter at heart, and it reminds everyone. Classes affect how you shoot people, perks alter how well you shoot people, and quests direct you where to shoot people. This isn’t a complex game in terms of choice determining your “karmatic destiny,” but the sequel, Borderlands 2, offers many more memorable characters and plot that is exciting to see unfold, as well as a greater sense of humor. Borderlands 2 is also the “game of a zillion guns” because of its unique loot system. Every weapon dropped is randomly generated, making it nearly impossible to find the same gun twice. Even the weapons dropped by enemies can trump that of major boss drops just by luck. Different tools mean different experiences, meaning every playthrough is unique.
Liam Neeson is your dad. If that hasn’t convinced you of the massive replayability of this game, then there is the engaging atmosphere of this dark sci-fi RPG. Not the only of Bethesda’s RPGs to appear on this list, Fallout 3 is a vaguely directed post-apocalyptic game. ‘Vaguely’ because, even though the game has a main story quest, there are dozens of other quests that can send you across the wasteland of Washington D.C. These quests have the player interacting with characters they’d never meet if they kept to the main story. Every quest has several solutions which depend of the player’s choices, but unlike Mass Effect/Dragon Age, much more emphasis is put on the player’s karma. Good or bad karma allow new outcomes and questlines to open up. These can even eclipse the main story at times. Upon starting the game, the player could complete the story and uncover their father’s secret past and his reason for leaving the safety of the underground vault or just wonder off. Walk all the way to Tenpenny Tower, Paradise falls, or straight into the heart of D.C. The player is given infinite freedom and rewarded for exploring, allowing every playthrough to differ dramatically.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
One of the newer RPGs to come to Nintendo’s portable system, Fire Emblem: Awakening adds a unique element for replays. Besides the solid gameplay, the game actively emphasizes character relationships. The player can guide a set of unique characters into romantic relationships. Then, due to events in the story, the children of those pairings appear in the same time as the parents and those characters can then be paired. Shipping. It’s a game about shipping. There’s a complex replayability from the player’s investment with the characters and their children and also a deeply intricate, well-polished PGR somewhere in there.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Everytime you start up a game of FTL, you have a space ship – the same space ship – with a set crew that cannot be switched. Then, you’re off on intergalactic RTS adventure. Sound replayable? How about the levels with randomly generated locations and situations? The unlockable ships and variants through an in-game achievement system? A vast ship upgrade system that can dramatically change how your ship acts in combat? This is how it’s so easy in FTL to jump right into a new game immediately after a death. The game’s high difficulty, while unforgiving, never cheats the player from a win. Instead, it encourages a player to go back and reassess their strategy.
Minecraft is a game without any real objectives, so to say that it’s typically replayed isn’t usual. Although, it does have massive game worlds with randomly generated terrain and inhabitants. It’s up to the player to decide how they’ll make their way, do to figuring out how to craft tools and fortresses. Not only that, but the game has been updated with hidden bosses for adventurous players to go after by themselves or with friends. Minecraft is a game where exploration is its own reward and building up the resources to fight the monsters that come out at night is the icing on the geometric, Java-rendered cake.
Another randomly generated game, this platform doesn’t have one aspect that isn’t determined by chance. You are the next in a lineage of knights who must descend into the castle and defeat the four monsters inside. But if you die, you’re dead for good. You then choose your heir and try again. Although, each heir has their own kink. Attributes change the heir, from their spells to their ability to see color. Every time you re-enter the castle, the layout and treasure will have been completely rearranged or replaced. This is your family’s curse and defeating the monsters within is the only way you’ll avenge them. But with tight controls, humor, and gameplay that feels reminiscent of Castlevania, the game easily makes itself replayable.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls has established itself as one of the most expansive and replayable series to date. Its epic worlds have only grown since Morrowind, calling players back for dozens of hours of gameplay. The world of Tamriel, which heavily barrows from Tolkien’s brand of High Fantasy, allows for a plethora of unique adventures and treasures. While each of the series’ iterations has its own sentimental value, the series reached its pinnacle with the newest instalment, Skyrim. In one of the largest 3D environments to date from Bethesda, after more than three years, players still find themselves discovering new locations and quests. Not to mention that all of those quests can play out differently depending on character race and play style.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Similarly to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, The Walking Dead is all about choices that follow the player. The game’s story has the player collecting followers, fighting zombies, and solving puzzles. But just like the series that shares its name, the game focuses less or killing zombies, but the people you meet along the way. Allegiances, betrayals, and who lives or dies alter the ending significantly, making much of the replayability about who the player brings with them. Not only that, but events can significantly change depending on player choice. Heading back to see how one decision could turn out differently might lead to a series of events that change the fate of your favorite follower, who are really given depth with great writing and voice acting.