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What's better: auto-level up, or auto-detect graphics settings?

Vote now as we continue deciding the single best thing in games

Morrigan the witch in Dragon Age: Origins, casting flaming hands and shooting a load of fire at an enemy mage
Image credit: BioWare

Last time, you narrowly decided that soulslike bloodstains are better than ghosts walking through walls. That sounds to me like the decisions of cowards who not only don't want to be got by ghosts, they want to be warned about the presence of any danger. Maybe I'm being ungenerous; maybe what you truly enjoy is watching other people get extremely ghostgot. I cannot deny it is great to watch someone absolutely stack it. Onwards! This week, I ask you to choose between two automatic assists. What's better: auto-level up, or auto-detect graphics settings?

Auto-level up

Look, I'm just not that fussed about this character. It's a miracle that their awful puns about Dwarves have only got us into one fight. All of their armour sets look bad. Rather than try to save the world to resolve their 'tragic' backstory, honestly like two therapy sessions would've done it. Only one other party member likes them, and honestly I think that guy's a bit of a prig too. And worst of all, they're just some nerk with a sword and a shield. Video game, I don't care. Level up their stats and skills following whichever build your designers thought best. Take this nuisance off my hands.

I'll admit it: in some games, on some difficulty levels, I'll turn on auto-levelling for a character I dislike or rarely use. I'm sure I could micromanage their stats and skills and behaviours to optimise their performance on the battlefield and their behaviour off it, but that would require investing time and effort into them. Worst of all, I have to open their character sheet and see their big stupid face.

It can be practical, too. If you don't quite yet understand how a particular RPG works, which stats and skills are most useful, perhaps you might let the game take over for a few levels until its shape becomes more clear to you. This is doubly true if you don't play many RPGs.

Sometimes it's saving you some clicks because it doesn't really matter. Earlier this year, multiplayer slashfest Dead By Daylight added an 'Automatic Purchase' option for when "you're just looking to level up your character quickly and cheaply and don't care what you get". Handy.

Auto-levelling isn't a flashy thing. It isn't a thrilling thing. You will not buy the game to experience this thing. It is papering over some other failing. But if we accept that few games are perfect in every way (and we must), this thing can compensate for others. A welcome thing.

Auto-detect graphics settings

A time was, I fine-tuned my autoexec.bat and config.sys and config.cfg and Registry and whatever other settings you've got to eke out every extra frame possible. I could tell you the performance impact of individual graphics settings, and how to balance quality and framerate (though in truth, my computers were so bad that I always went hard for speed). Now, look, I'm almost 40 years old and my computer is good enough to run most things just fine. Video game, I don't care. Set my graphics options whichever way you think best for my particular PC. Take this nuisance off my hands.

I always start from the auto-detect options, whether with the game's own assessment or Nvidia's own take in its control panel doodad (a time was, I would have refused to install or touch this too). You can still fine-tune if you want, if you think the game has been too conservative or too bold in striking the balance. I'll often nudge a few options to find a few more frames or crank view distance. But broadly? It works. It's fine. It's good enough.

Even the most ardent config tweaker must admit PC gaming can be faffy with hardware settings and setup. You might enjoy the faff, and I'm happy for you. I once did too. But I'm glad that these days, in many games I can launch and go and everything's grand. My intimate knowledge of Quake and Half-Life texture filtering options is not as valuable as it once was and that's fine. That's good. I can accept that. Okay, yes, I am still loud about the importance of turning off Quake's texture filtering, but that's for aesthetic reasons, okay.

But which is better?

Auto-levelling for me, just to avoid seeing that stupid face. I won't name the character nor the game, so you'll have to guess. But what do you think, reader dear?

Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

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