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The Point of No Return

I’ve just wrapped up Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I will most likely write up some grander thoughts in the near future. Before I do that, however, I wanted to make mention of a small, seemingly inconsequential touch that stuck with me due to its near non-existence in most other games.

As the main story of RottR draws to a close, you come across a campfire, just another of the many the game uses as hard save points and fast-travel nodes. This particular campfire, however, greets you with a warning message:

Point of no return. There are no base camps beyond this point. Fast travel and player upgrades will not be possible past this location until the story campaign is complete.


This one little paragraph says a whole lot. It tells you to spend all those upgrade points you’ve been saving up, because now’s the time to use them or lose them. It gives you a chance to go back and finish off the rest of the optional tombs or side missions if you’re like me and lose motivation the second the credits roll. And, most importantly, it lets you know that it’d be best to set aside a good chunk of time before continuing, so that you can experience the climactic conclusion without interruption.

Fire arrows: a girl’s best friend

Issuing this kind of heads-up shows a level of respect for the player that’s far too rare these days. Excessive padding and unpausable single-player modes are becoming all too common, with little consideration given to the real-world circumstances in which we game. The responsibilities of adult life don’t always make for the ideal play environment, yet despite the average gamer age exceeding 30 years old, few games seem willing to recognise the reality beyond their virtual worlds.


Perhaps it’s a fear of breaking immersion. Perhaps it’s a conviction that the game’s vision trumps player convenience. Whatever it is, it’s actively ignoring the biggest proportion of gamers out there, punishing them for no longer being able to put their real life on hold at the drop of a hat. Such an archaic approach is foolish to cling to these days.

As grateful as I am for RottR’s early warning system, it could still be improved. Adding in a time estimate, for example, would be useful for gauging whether to play on or set it aside for when your time is less tight. This could be applied to all of the game’s story missions, not just the final one, to avoid the frustration of having to quit and lose progress as well as preserving the pacing of critical narrative scenes.


What are your thoughts on this? Do any of you feel similarly that games need to make a greater effort to respect our time and account for external commitments? If so, how would you want them to go about it? Can you name any other examples like RottR that buck the trend? Chime in below!

Matt Sayer is 50% gamer, 50% writer, 50% programmer, and 100% terrible at maths. You can read more of his articles here, friend him on Steam here or tweet him cat photos at @sezonguitar

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