Discussions

Video Game Tier List Explanation, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I posted one of those tier lists that have been going viral on Twitter, dividing most of the major video games I have played into a few different categories based upon how much I enjoyed them.  I got quite a few questions regarding why I put certain games in certain places, but since the social media platform I was using doesn’t allow me to give lengthy responses easily, I decided that I would instead discuss a few of my most controversial decisions in a blog post.  Additionally, since I do review games on here frequently, this chart should let people know at a glance how my gaming taste compares to theirs, and I always like to be as transparent as possible about the titles I enjoy.

Tier List

While many of my decisions aren’t too confusing, there are a few that I was either asked about directly or just wanted to address because I know they are a little bit controversial.  Since these are going to be fairly lengthy analyses, I actually want to split up my opinions into multiple parts.  In other words, this is basically just a mini-series of posts that get all of my most unpopular opinions out of the way in one fell swoop.  This will be fun!

Wait, you put Persona 5 in the lowest tier?  You Monster!

First of all, I have been asked countless times about my general dislike of Persona 5, especially given that I ranked the two prior entries in the series much higher on my chart.  The answer is that I have a generally complicated relationship with the franchise.  Overall, with the obvious exception of Final Fantasy X, I don’t actually care much for the traditional turn-based combat of older JRPGs, as I often opt for tactical or action RPGs instead.  With Persona 3 and 4, the stories and characters presented there were so phenomenal that I was willing to slog my way through the dungeon-crawling segments in order to get to the life simulation half of the game.

In the fifth entry, however, the balance shifted.  Whereas the prior two games were a fairly even mix between fighting shadows and hanging out with my friends, the Phantom Thieves spent a lot more time in the dungeons.  This, combined with the fact that I wasn’t quite as engaged with the plotline as I was with prior titles because about two-thirds of the experience is an extensive flashback, led to one of the most crushingly disappointing experiences that I have ever had in my years as a gamer.  Since I had hyped this title up and truly believed it was going to be my game of the year, that also did nothing to help what a sour taste it left in my mouth.  All is not lost, however, as I intend to go into Persona 5 Royal with an open mind and hope I enjoy it more the second time around.

What about Borderlands 2?  I thought you love that franchise!

Funny you should ask that, hypothetical person.  I didn’t enjoy Borderlands 2 as much as the original entry because I picked a bad character class.  Since I love Lilith in the first game, I thought it made logical sense to pick Maya and stick with the Siren class.  While Lilith managed to play a support role while remaining varied and interesting to play, Maya felt like she had to stay on the sidelines and be more akin to a traditional healer class in an MMO.  When I played as Lilith, I was constantly using phasewalk to run all around the map, which gave me tons of flexibility to approach battles however I wanted.  Maya, however, felt like the only way to play her successfully was to phaselock an enemy to freeze them, run away, and shoot from a distance.

While I ranked Borderlands 2 low due to my individual experience with one class, I strongly believe that my dislike of Maya is the only roadblock in the way of falling in love with the game.  Therefore, I’m currently working my way through as another class and having a much better time so far.  If I do end up enjoying my second playthrough, I’ll make sure to update everyone on this.

Why is Dragon Age:  Inquisition ranked so low?

Dragon Age Inquisition

Here’s the thing:  There’s a lot that I love about Dragon Age:  Inquisition.  The story at play here is the strongest of the series so far and I loved getting more time with some of my favorite characters, like Cullen and Leliana.  Unfortunately, for everything I love about this entry in the franchise, there is a major issue with this title that completely kills any potential enjoyment that I may get from it:  The side quests.

I love side quests in RPGs.  In fact, I’m really lenient with the quality that I expect from these sorts of mini-adventures.  It’s nice when The Witcher 3 came along and revolutionized side stories, but even the lowliest of fetch quests are weirdly addicting because I love to gain experience, get new loot, and learn more about the world surrounding my character.  The only real requirement of side quests for me is that I must be able to venture forth with the main quest whenever I want.

Dragon Age:  Inquisition doesn’t believe in this one golden rule.  Every time that a main story mission has been completed, the next quest is blocked off by a certain number of power points.  These power points can only be earned by completing miscellaneous objectives and side quests.  This means that I have to take huge breaks between each story mission, which pads out the game to be unnecessarily long.  In my estimation, the main story of this game isn’t much more than twenty hours of content, but I spent nearly three times that hunting down question marks on my map so I could move on with the story.

Now that I know how the story ends, I actually suspect I’ll have a more positive experience in a second playthrough because I won’t feel angry that I keep having to pause learning what happens next in favor of collecting weeds and rocks for ten hours.  In fact, writing this post is actually good practice because after I have finished The Witcher 3, I really want to go back into Dragon Age:  Inquisition and do a deep-dive into its world and mechanics.  This is just a small taste of some of the stuff that I hope to discuss there.

If you’re curious about why I placed anything in a specific tier, feel free to ask me in the comments below and I’ll explain the best that I can or put my response in another entry!  I’m actually planning on checking back in on this chart in the future, after I have some replays under my belt.  As I said in some of my mini-analyses, I have a suspicion that my first experience was not entirely representative of my true opinion on the game.  For those who follow me for my bookish content, there’s no need to fret, as I will absolutely be doing a similar chart with the notable books I have read recently.

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Categories: Discussions, video games

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22 replies »

  1. You had me until the critique on Inquisition, you monster 😢 lol

    One of the guys who does some writing on here with me had the same issue with DAI and the artificial constraints, a lot of the side quests were derivative at times but did feel if you explored each area fully before moving on you usually found or achieved enough points to allow you to progress.

    Really do need to do that DAI write up soon 🤭

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  2. I loved DAI and totally get what you mean how power points prevent your progression until you have enough. I never had a huge issue with it because I like to explore new areas.

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    • I guess for me, the problem was that the novelty of new areas wore off quickly and the main story became the primary drive for why I was still playing. Locking off the only portion of the game that I really enjoyed quickly grew tedious. Since I know how the story ends, however, I suspect replaying it will be more interesting because I can focus more on lore and side missions.

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  3. Interesting that Night in the Woods and Journey are rated poorly for you. Those are so well reviewed and some of my personal favs. What about them did not vibe with you? 😮

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope to answer that in the future, but the short story is that Journey felt artsy for the sake of being artsy and I didn’t find there to be much to actually enjoy (though I did like the flying bit at the end) if that’s not my thing, and Night in the Woods was about double the length that I thought it needed to be and I just got bored.

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  4. I love hearing about why you put these in these categories. I really liked when you posted your tier list because like you said it gives an idea of your tastes and it’s interesting to see why some games that you enjoyed previous entries of then have that one you don’t like/rate as highly.

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    • I just love it because when I see someone rate a game high or low, it’s hard to know if I should trust their opinion or not because I don’t know the greater context of their other reviews. With this tier list, I thought it was basically a profile of what I do and don’t like in games and people can form their own opinion about what a high or low score means from me.

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  5. Is this going to be an ongoing graphic/feature, Hannie? I presume that games like Witcher 3 are not there yet. I note you correctly distinguish between different games in same series, e.g: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and II are in different tiers. I’d do the same, although I’ve yet to complete many games – even in the AC series. Plus, I admire those that attempt to wade through the Witcher series from 1 to 3 – I’ve only watched my partner struggle with 1, give up, get further with 2, then stop – having completed Witcher 3 main story.

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    • I’d like to revisit this again, maybe at the end of each year, and add new titles I’ve played, as well as rearrange any titles I revisited and changed my mind on. Right now, Witcher 3 is hovering somewhere between tiers 2 and 3 for me, though it could end up anywhere on the list depending on how the rest of the game goes for me. This is all kind of the start of an eventual goal of having 100 games I can wholeheartedly recommend enough to make a top 100 list. I’m not quite there yet, but hopefully I will be one day!

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    • Fallout 76 is a game I have good memories of because I played it for dozens of hours with my mom. It’s definitely got flaws, but I can’t deny what an amazing time I had playing it with her.

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      • I do think it’s on its way to being a much better game. I played the whole Halo franchise with my husband while we were dating and I have great memories of it, but I just didn’t care much for the third game compared to some of the others. ODST is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

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      • Yeah I haven’t played for ages but tempted to go back I loved 4 had a competition with people from college who get through first was funny. Halo 2 is my favourite ODST was ok haha.

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  6. I still say placing 999 on such a low tier is rather misguided, but I will say Gone Home and Limbo absolutely deserve to be on those low tiers. The former is what happens when you let confirmation bias rule your critical analysis while the latter really has not aged well, coming across as light years behind what indies would end up over the next few years (not that the press would want to admit it). Then again, in general, I’m glad the walking simulator movement is starting to fall out of favor because it’s a genre that actively shuns innovation. While one can get away with that in films by hiding behind the “it’s realistic” defense, shunning innovation in gaming is would be like shunning words in literature. And Limbo as an art game just doesn’t have enough substance to justify recommending it, boasting design decisions the AAA industry had rightly abandoned several years prior. I still wonder how certain critics can speak so highly of it and then turn around and lambast classic adventure games despite having many of the same problems (i.e. the trial-and-error nature of the gameplay). I have to say Limbo is a better game than Gone Home by virtue of actually being a game, but on my own list, it’s admittedly a pretty close call (Limbo is only two placements ahead).

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    • I like the walking simulator genre in general, but in the general absence of gameplay, you have to tell a rock solid story or find ways to be innovative in other ways. The follow-up to Gone Home, Tacoma, wasn’t a perfect game either, but it did far better at understanding that there needs to be something for the player to do other than just walking around and waiting for the story to be told.

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      • Not to mention that with its brand of trial-and-error gameplay, Limbo came across as really behind the times. There’s a good reason AAA gaming abandoned such practices by then.

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