There were a lot of games revealed at E3. I want to play a lot of those games. But in order to play a lot of those games, I have to play other games first. That makes me sad.
Now, there are plenty of video game sequels that don’t require playing the other game first. Of course, there are the obvious ones such as Super Mario and Final Fantasy, where most games follow a completely new story that has little to no connection with previous titles.
For other franchises, it varies. The Legend of Zelda, for example, all exists within one (actually three; it’s complicated) universe, but each game contains new characters, or at least incarnations of characters, and storylines, so you can jump into any game without having played previous installments... except for the direct sequels. And unlike Final Fantasy, which courteously lets you know when a game is a sequel by putting a second number in the title such as X-2 or XIII-3, Zelda just gives a subtitle, the way it always does. That’s why I played the direct sequels Phantom Hourglass and Majora’s Mask before playing the originals, The Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time, respectively: I had no idea that they were direct sequels. I still enjoyed Majora’s Mask, and I doubt playing Phantom Hourglass before The Wind Waker was the reason I ended up not liking it, but I did experience the games in an order that left me a little confused and spoiled the previous games, which could have been avoided by making the title Ocarina of Time 2 or something else to suggest that this game is a direct sequel.
And then there are the games where you have to play every game, from start to finish, in order to enjoy the newest installment. I saw the Kingdom Hearts III trailer. It looks dope. But in order to fully enjoy that game, I’m told that I need not only to play Kingdom Hearts I and II, but a whole smorgasbord of side-stories and prequels that adds up to apparently over 200 hours! The same problem exists for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and even Metroid Prime 4. These are all games that look fantastic, but that I probably shouldn’t play until I play the originals.
Granted, this usually isn’t a huge problem. Every now and then, there come a fantastic sequel that absolutely requires you to play the previous installment that sucked, but I haven’t run into this problem too often. The common rebuttal to this complaint is that “the original games are awesome and you should play them regardless!” That’s a fair point, but I think a lot of people reading this can relate to wanting to be “in” with everyone else. I loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to death, and part of the reason for that was that I could share experiences of the game with my friends. When I first played Ocarina of Time, however, the game had been out for over a decade. I loved it all the same, but when I wanted to talk about the game with my friends, they didn’t have much to say, having finished it years ago themselves. Likewise, it sucks to hear everyone on the internet and in real life getting so excited about a new video game, and not getting to join in that conversation because you haven’t played it. This problem is only expanded by people like us who closely follow video game journalism.
And finally, there’s the issue of time. I will probably end up buying the 200-hour ticket to Kingdom Hearts III because I hear that it’s a pretty fun 200-hour ride, but, ironically enough, those are 200 hours that I won’t be spending on more relevant games. That, in turn, means that I’ll have to play those games later if I want to enjoy the sequels, and before I know it the year is 2080 and I still haven’t played Final Fantasy VII.
This is, in the scheme of things, a small matter. I know that I will die with many video games on my shelf unplayed, and there will be video games that come out possibly centuries after I die that I will never play. There are so many things in this world to be stressed out by that not playing all the video games should be the least of our worries. Just remember to play what’s fun, and enjoy it.