Now, I’m not much of one to partake in Halloween generally. But I came across something truly terrifying that I had to share. No, terrifying isn’t enough. It’s horrifying. Any other time of year, I might’ve had a quiet shiver and let it pass.

But no. It’s Halloween season, and so I must share.

Over on The Gaming Diaries, they recently shared this awful thing from Twitter about… About… I’m not even sure I can get this out now that it comes to it. OK, let’s try it quickly… AboutOnlyPlayingFiveGamesForAnEntireYear!

I know.

I bet you’re as horrified by the idea as I was. Sometimes I play more games than that in a month. Sometimes even within a single weekend. Committing to just five games for an entire year just isn’t something I’m ready for. Still, as a thought experiment — what would I pick? The Gaming Diaries picked some pretty solid choices I thought, with more options in the comments. But I didn’t want to rush this decision. I needed time to think.

The Rules

The initial tweet didn’t really outline too much in the way of specifics around what was going on here to require such a life-altering course of action as limiting yourself to just five games for a year. There didn’t seem to be any sort of Internet drought or desert island with a single gaming device type thing going on. Rather the suggestion was that you might, ‘get decked or something’. Wait… Is that all? OK… I’m going to up the stakes a bit.

Rules for this exercise in my head are:

  1. The consequence for playing a 6th title?
    Playing anything outside of your pre-selected five titles will result in any gaming device you touch spontaneously combusting. (Ooooh, Spooky! Halloween ya’ll!)
  2. 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.
  3. All DLC for a given game is fine and included within your pick
    As the original tweet, all DLC for a game included. I will further specify, that this could be unreleased DLC at the time of making your selection.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.

Five rules for five picks sounds good, so I’ll leave it there. :)

My Five Games

Getting a broad spectrum of genre coverage is important to me. I would probably still consider RPGs to be my main love but I couldn’t live on an exclusive diet of them for an entire year.

I like city builders. Tycoon games. Shooters. Turn-based strategy titles. Space sims. Rogue-likes. Heck, even the odd collectable card-style game. Although that last one probably isn’t going to make the cut for representation in this list.

My list needs to cater to quite an array of genres and playstyles to cover me for a year. So with that in mind — let’s go!

XCOM 2

Honestly, even if I hadn’t just recently started playing again — XCOM 2 would have almost assuredly held a spot on this list. It has held a firm spot on my favourites list since shortly after it came out — superseding XCOM: Enemy Unknown which held a spot prior.

The mix of the strategic layer of the tactical in-mission play is fantastic. It’s a lengthy campaign even its base state. Add to that the War of the Chosen expansion with new factions and play systems it gets even better.

On top of that there are daily challenge maps and a legacy story mode which was added only recently(ish) which fills in some of the blanks between XCOM and XCOM 2.

Oh. And mods. Lots and lots of mods. Ranging from simple Quality of Life to adding whole new factions, tech levels, enemies and more.

Runner up for this slot: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Also possesses a lengthy campaign and could fill-in at least in part for an RPG entry. Possesses great replayability through being able to select a different House on subsequent playthroughs and/or focus your efforts on nabbing different recruits.

Skyrim: Special Edition

Kinda weird seeing a 16:9 screenshot again… This is from a Skyrim (original) 2015 modded playthrough I did.

I needed at least one giant open-world style RPG in this list.

For all Bethesda’s recent faults and mishaps, Skyrim remains an impressive piece of work. I have over 100 hours in the game and still haven’t actually finished the main storyline. Perhaps with a year to dedicate to such a limited set of games, I would.

But it isn’t a given! As with XCOM 2 — there is an insane degree of modding power behind this game. And despite the age — it just keeps on going and going.

From a new HD texture pack for Skyrim. (Although at time of writing, the author is fixing some issues with the archival of the pack. Link here though for the curious — issues hopefully sorted soon!)

Continued graphical upgrades are just the start though, with whole new quest lines, dungeons and even total conversion mods available. I would have liked to throw Skywind and Skyblivion into consideration too — but since they both rely on the assets from the original games, and I’m not willing to sacrifice two game slots for them — I can’t. Still, there is plenty else without!

Runner up for this slot: Fallout 4
For basically all the reasons I talked about for Skyrim. The decider in the end for me was the setting. I prefer the fantasy setting of Skyrim more.

Side note: Original Skyrim was also in consideration, but after (an admittedly cursory) investigation — it seems almost all mods of note have been ported over the newer SE edition now.

RimWorld

New Colony — Fording the River to set up in an abandoned building.

I haven’t much talked about RimWorld on this blog (yet), but I did acknowledge in the Kickstarter 10 Years Old post that it was by far the best project I’ve ever backed.

To my mind, it is the only Colony Simulator to come even close to the lofty heights of its great grandpappy — Dwarf Fortress. There are still some things I prefer about Dwarf Fortress (i.e., the fact that you can build over multiple z-levels (heights)) but… And here we go continuing a bit of a theme… The moddability of RimWorld ekes it out ahead in this context.

But even in the base game — there is still so much I haven’t done yet. I’ve never set out in a caravan on a journey across the map. I haven’t successfully taken a colony right through the tech tree to be able to blast off the planet.

You can customise the start conditions, set up story scenarios, and all sorts. :)

Runner up for this slot: Dwarf Fortress
Although this slot was perhaps less specific than the first two I noted. This could also have gone toward a more typical city builder (e.g., Cities: Skylines).

The Elder Scrolls Online

You might be surprised at my choice here not being Asheron’s Call. Or even Final Fantasy XIV.

Welp — it has an easy explanation. The Elder Scrolls Online is still basically new to me. I have played in the past, but only through to around level 15 or so. And only in the original continent.

I would still have all of Morrowind, Summerset and the most recent Elsweyr expansions to journey through plus the smaller DLCs to boot. Looking down the barrel of a whole year with a single set of games — this matters. I don’t think I have a year worth of content left in Asheron’s Call.

And despite the fact that The Elder Scrolls Online fell behind Final Fantasy XIV earlier in the year in terms of preference to play — I still really quite enjoyed it.

Runner up for this slot: Final Fantasy XIV
I possibly do have year’s worth of content left here. I never quite finished The Horrible Hundred, so I still have Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers to get through. But at least presently, the heavily rigid nature of FFXIV puts it behind ESO in my preferences.

Warframe

Agh. Probably the most difficult one to decide on — because it’s the final slot. But also this final ‘function’ or target area is so much bigger than even the colony simulator/city builder cross that RimWorld took.

The function of my final game entry is ‘Multiplayer with Friends’. Sure there is some overlap with the MMO selection of The Elder Scrolls there. But more specifically this is our faster-paced jump-in/jump-out game and I may not be able to attract interest for ESO within my friend group. So I’m treating that one as single-player (or at least PUG play).

Warframe still has a bunch of content in the way of Fortuna for us to go through, with some fairly substantial updates coming soon. Both in story and gameplay… I mean… They’re going to give us a controllable multi-crew spaceship. From which you can launch missions. Attack enemy capital ships. And offer support from within the ship for your ground crew.

And those things are due fairly soon. The next cinematic story update is due around December, I believe.

Still…

Runners up for this slot: Path of Exile and War Thunder.
Although there is a bit of a delta between those two. Path of Exile could easily have eked out Warframe’s spot. War Thunder would’ve played runner up to either of those two.

Path of Exile has new Leagues that keep the game fresh on a pretty regular cadence, but more than that — there is another ‘expansion’ release we’re soon to find more information about, that I would expect to also release within the year.

For War Thunder — while I play mostly on the aeronautical side of it, the tanks game is also very well developed and by now I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the naval aspect had been released to all. I was playing the Closed Beta Test for it a year or two ago. So a lot of different play styles within the one title!

Final Thoughts

So my list ended up being:

  • XCOM 2
  • Skyrim: Special Edition
  • RimWorld
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Warframe

A pretty solid list for me — but a whole year? With nothing else? I don’t think I could do it. I really don’t. It covers a lot of my genre interests, but not all of them. And something that the very nature of this exercise prevents (because… it’s the entire purpose of it, I guess) is the removal of the flexibility to play something on a whim that I also so value.

What’s also interesting to me in this exercise though is how reluctant I was to pick anything new and untested. There was no rule — either in the original tweet, or what I additionally set for myself — that prevented this.

Cyberpunk 2077 comes out early enough next year, with a solid enough pedigree, that it might well be a really solid pick. But even with having this realisation I’d be more likely to pick The Witcher 3 over taking a gamble on Cyberpunk 2077.

Oh no! And I just realised I didn’t include one of the X series like I’d intended to cover the space side of things. I was considering X4 when initially thinking about potential entries for this list, but I might even have jumped back to X3 and the heavy expansion mods that existed for it. The attraction here would’ve been the economic empire-building — so possibly could supplant RimWorld.

But I’m sure this will just be one realisation amongst many as the year actually rolled by if I was ever to attempt such a mad feat. xD