Last year, I put myself through a bit of a challenge. A Five Game Challenge. You might’ve already gathered that though from the title, even if you weren’t here at the time. Though if you weren’t, possibly the finer points of detail might still elude you.
Not to worry! Let’s play catch-up and relive the glory days of when I felt mentally much younger and full of vim and vigour. ;)
It all started on a dark and stormy night… Well, I suppose I don’t know if it did. It might have though. It was suspiciously timed with Halloween after all. This post. That one, right there. The idea was to consider what five games you would choose if you could only play those five games and nothing else for an entire year.
The idea for the five games for a year came to my attention via a post on Gaming Diaries but it tracks its roots back an earlier tweet, albeit even here very little was outlined in the way of ‘rules’, so I made up some of my own.
Beyond the simple version of ‘Five games — one year’ when making your picks, the rules from last year have become essentially my head-canon for this thing now, so here they are:
- The consequence of playing a 6th title?
Playing anything outside of your pre-selected five titles within the year will result in any gaming device you touch spontaneously combusting.
- Selections aren’t limited to a single platform
So if you wish to select some Switch titles, some PC, some PS4, etc — this is OK.
- All DLC and expansions for a given game are fine and included within a pick
As the original tweet, all DLC for a game is included. I will further specify, that this could be unreleased DLC at the time of making your selection.
- Mods (even Total Conversions) are also OK
But they can’t rely on the assets of a game you haven’t selected to work. (e.g., The Skyrim TCs for Morrowind and Oblivion require the original assets and so could only be picked if you actually made Morrowind / Oblivion part of your five picks.)
- For a series of games, each entry is an individual selection.
If you want Dark Souls I, II, and III — that’s three of your five picks.
Last year (2019), I chose:
- XCOM 2
- Skyrim: Special Edition
- The Elder Scrolls Online
You can take a look into the original post for the reasoning behind those picks, but the big question on my mind is…
Just one year later, would I change any of those picks? I’ve spent a lot of time with Cities: Skylines since I made that list. Dropping it off now could be rather unpleasant. Then there are the runner-ups I noted last time around, would any of those rise to the top now?
Heck, while it might seemingly be in dire straits right now — Shadowlands is coming for WoW. Do I really want to miss that?
X4 is getting an expansion soon… Cyberpunk 2077 in November too…
All of which to say, it is at least worth considering the list again.
As noted last year, my five picks need to cover quite an array of gaming styles if they’re to have any hope of lasting me a year. I like a lot of genres — more than can possibly be covered in just five titles, so sacrifices will have to be made.
With all this in mind, my 2020 list?
Well, right off the bat — I’m not willing to change:
- XCOM 2
- Skyrim: Special Edition
They all remain.
To my mind, nothing has yet risen to the level of XCOM 2. Certainly not Phoenix Point. Even more certainly not the spin-off XCOM: Chimera Squad (but then, nor was this one trying to). Even the vanilla game is amazing, but add to that its expansion and the untold ability to be modded…
Skyrim: SE is perhaps on slightly less solid ground than XCOM 2, but not enough so that it gets displaced for 2020’s picks. Last year I said the runner up was Fallout 4 — but for whatever reason, despite being the newer game it has aged far less gracefully. You can certainly get quite a slew of mods for FO4, but I think the biggest single killer of consideration for it is a lack of a good super ultra widescreen option. You can get it to render in 32:9, but the hud goes all wonky in a way that doesn’t occur in Skyrim’s equivalent.
The Witcher 3 or even yet-to-be released Cyberpunk 2077 had the potential to unseat Skyrim, but for TW3 the modding potential of Skyrim edged it out. As for Cyberpunk 2077- while I have a fair degree of faith in CD Projekt Red as developers I think it’d be quite a risky proposition to commit a year-long slot to it sight-unseen.
RimWorld… You might’ve noticed a bit of a theme here, but the strong base game combined with the ability to extensively mod keeps it on the list. Oh, plus the fact I love the whole colony builder genre above many others. If I was to put Cities: Skylines in anywhere in my list… It’d probably be here. And honestly? That’s a pretty tough call. Because Cities: Skylines is also incredibly moddable.
So the choice really comes down to city builder/mayor simulator vs. colony builder — and on those grounds, RimWorld edges out.
The Two to Change
Interestingly the two titles I’m going to consider changing are both the multiplayer-focused ones. Really, The Elder Scrolls Online could stay here. I picked it as I still had so much of its content to see — and that’s true. I haven’t even touched the latest expansion yet.
But to an extent, when it comes to the titles meeting my multiplayer needs they do move at least a little with the crowd. In reality, they move almost entirely with the crowd (where ‘crowd’ is defined as my online friend-group at least). But in the scope of planning this out for a year I think there has to be a little more self-interest to it, too.
Final Fantasy XIV — last year’s runner up against ESO — could fit the bill pretty well here too, honestly.
But no — I’ll go with World of Warcraft in anticipation of the Shadowlands expansion, booting out ESO.
Warframe is the slightly more difficult case and not one I have a clear answer to as I start to type this. I have no appetite for Warframe right now. I’ve hardly touched it since last November. But then… That was true going into the challenge that year too and it consumed the vast majority of my gaming time for the month.
Still… Just not feeling it. The runner ups I proposed: War Thunder and Path of Exile don’t quite feel right either.
But without any doubt in my mind, this last pick still needs to fulfill a multiplayer role. I’m half wondering whether I might take another second MMO — Final Fantasy XIV, likely.
As I recall, this last slot was the most difficult for me last year too.
Taking another MMO has a certain appeal but I do worry about the lack of something-other.
…I… Think… I’ll just keep it with Warframe. There has been another world-area released with quite an interesting story relating to the Orokin that I haven’t yet explored, plus one of my friend group has played heavily since… well, last year — so I know would always have someone willing to play it with me.
Eesh, that was harder than I expected!
The Final 2020 Five Game Challenge List:
- XCOM 2
- Skyrim: Special Edition
- World of Warcraft
Just one change after all that. But perhaps that isn’t too surprising given if I could only play a few things over the course of a whole year I’d want them to be amongst my all-time favourites and those don’t really change terribly often.
Now, if I was tailoring things to what I did last November with a month-long challenge that list would look significantly different. Planning for a month is easy, planning for a year and then sticking to that even for just a month, for me at least — somewhat more difficult!
But that’s jumping ahead. I’ll talk more about the November plans soon, I think. :)