As my tenth anniversary of installing Facebook was today, I decided to look back upon my experiences with the title. With nearly a decade of experience playing the game, Facebook has provided a gameplay experience that has kept me coming back time and time again.
Initially, back in 2007, I wasn’t sure as to the longevity of an open-ended game such as itself, however through consistent gameplay patches and the smart inclusion of many well-written supporting characters, the story in Facebook is one that kept me surprisingly engaged. After 10 years of playing through the main scenario as well as its accompanying DLC’s, I’ve completed most of the main- and side-quests and dabbled with many of the different mechanics. And as I’ve reached milestone of 10 years, I now feel personally ready to post my final review of Facebook.
When first released, Facebook seemed intriguing with its open-ended gameplay and multitude of end-game options. That being said, it became pretty obvious early on that the game was employing tactics to make you primarily care about the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ of each of the ‘posts’ that your character makes. Whilst this has become a relatively common trope, with other titles such as YouTube and Twitter innovating on the feature, in 2007 ‘likes’ still felt suitably Next-Gen for its time. The notification system becomes the guide through which the player can measure their success, and once you gain enough support from the characters you meet in game, this begins to fill up with many different options through which to monitor your development.
The gameplay loop is tight, with the more ‘likes’ you receive, the easier it becomes to add ‘friends’. These friends all function separate NPC’s with fascinating side-quests that you are able to undertake. I’d recommend not starting them all at once however, as too many of these stories can becoming overwhelming in their triviality.
Unfortunately, the quest for likes becomes much easier with the upgrades you unlock. Once you’ve added a larger list of friends, gaining frequent likes with low effort content posts becomes easy, and the thrill is lost. The patch that introduced the ‘share’ option offers an alternative challenge however, allowing for a system very similar to a certain rival’s ‘retweeting’ function. (Whilst not as tightly constructed as Twitter, the share function offers a nice alternative for those who haven’t picked up both games yet).
The expansion of the ‘like’ system towards the ‘reaction’ system in the endgame offers one way of encouraging player variety. However, I would have liked to have seen leaderboards through which I could compare my own total number of likes and shares with that of other players. This may have encouraged more competition and replayability.
That being said, towards the end of the game, the ‘like’ system becomes relatively shallow and much of my own later gameplay was focussed on the dynamic storytelling offered by the standalone DLC: Messenger. In this DLC, the characters that you’ve met in Facebook become the stars of their very own visual novels, in which your actions can have direct consequences.
SIDENOTE: I also enjoyed many of the minigames offered by Facebook, such as the ‘Fake News’ plotline that challenged players to work out the fake news sites from the real ones. This peaked in 2015 and 2016, around the highly influential game events of ‘Brexit’ and ‘The US Presidential Election’.
The ‘Check-In’ feature offers an Augmented Reality gameplay aspect that is appreciated too.
The Overworld UI has undergone quite a few changes over the decade, however they’ve settled on something that is functional, albeit not very inspired. The colour themes of Blue and White is something that has been taken up by many AAA Social Media games such as Tumblr, Twitter, etc. Because of this, I would have liked to have seen some more variety, such as the vibrancy employed in rival title: Instagram.
That being said, the character creation tools have grown to become really diverse throughout the lifespan of the game, and now offer a frankly overwhelming range of characterisation options. When I started playing, many of the characters had very blurry and boring profile pictures. Now, all the pictures are in startling HD, which makes many of these characters look much older. I particularly enjoyed how you can revert your own avatar’s picture to those that you’ve used previously. It’s these bonus skin options that really enable Facebook to stand out from the pack.
In general Facebook is a quiet game, however I’ve grown to appreciate the notification sounds. They’ve burrowed their way into my mind, and are so recognisable that I can often identify who else is playing the game when their phones go off on public transport. This was exaggerated with the addition of the Messenger DLC, which allowed much more frequent interactions with other characters in the story. The constant *ding*’s that arrive with each message really hammer home the urgency to view and reply.
In general however, I would have liked to have had an overworld theme in order to assist with my browsing adventures. I’d recommend something like this:
With its constant twists and turns, Facebook tells a fascinating story that is unique to each playthrough. I can’t wait to start again with a totally new character and see how my decisions can diverge the story into multiple directions.
After initially creating your character (of which there are plenty of options to choose from; most notably your profile picture can be anything you desire), you are dropped into a basic user interface with not much to look at.
However, once you start adding ‘friends’ into the game, the game opens up significantly, offering multiple choices through which to build your story. I’d personally recommend avoiding the ‘family’ story packs however. Once those have been added, it limits many of the extreme actions you can do, as otherwise your created character can become overly embarrassed. Be careful with this, as you run the potential risk of forcing an early game-over.
Despite the variety of stories on offer, Facebook does lose focus somewhat during the mid-game. Eventually, there is little desire to add to your character network, as there are seemingly too many stories to keep up with. When this happened in my playthrough, I began to focus on only a few of the characters that I had grown attached to, and continued these smaller stories through Messenger. This offered a much more engaging experience, as the player is able to avoid many of the ramifications of the earlier story decisions made to your avatar.
Facebook is a good game that has done well to stay relevant for over 10 years. However, if you already own copies of Instagram or Snapchat, I don’t see much reason to pick this up. Instead, I’d recommend separately installing the Messenger standalone DLC and just sticking with that.
Follow Cleon on Twitter, a game that he’s been having much more fun with.