What's the best thing in video games? Go on, name it. You don't know, do you? Oh sure you might have an opinion on the best game or RPG or FPS or whatever, but what's the very best feature of video games? Reader dear, together we can answer that question. Starting today, join me as I pit feature against feature in wholly logical comparisons until we're left with one perfect thing. Even if I do suspect we'll eventually decide that the answer is orbs.
Let's start with an simple one. What's better: cloud saves, or seeing your own legs in first-person games?
For over 15 years, I've schlepped around a load of old saves and config files. Between computers and reformattings, I have needed to root around an arcane maze of folders then transfer the treasure on burned CDs, thumb drives, or now Dropbox. Because who knows when I'll want that old Planescape: Torment save where I think I got stuck somewhere daft, you know? I've still lost loads across the years. A hard drive fails, or a CD shatters, or I forget to back up something, or... it's a nuisance. But no more. The ritual of transfer is over because now almost everything I play stores my personal files in one cloud or another.
I don't even know where saves are stored on my hard drive anymore. I might be annoyed that they're splintered across a dozen different semi-standardised folders but I don't care. I have no need of this knowledge. It's great. My saves and profiles are now just hovering in the sky over my flat, waiting for me to reinstall a game. I'll never lose a game I had meant to return to, or have hundreds of hours of unlocks wiped. Thanks, the future. Cloud saves might not be the most glamorous feature but without them, I'd likely have given up on several of my favourite games.
I am delighted when I look down for the first time in a first-person game and oh! There are my legs! Always a joy. While I have fully internalised the virtual body we possess in first-person games, oh! Look! My legs! Wonderful. It's even better in games where character customisation or visible gear let me pick those trousers myself.
I will admit that first-person legs always look a bit janky, and maybe they do over-dress the fourth wall, but I like that. The developers know they're a bit weird, of course they do. But ambition and enthusiasm and committment mean that yes, absolutely they must add those wobbly legs. Amibition outstripping technology is one of my favourite aspects of game-making. It really speaks to the spirit of- sorry, I must interrupt this prattling to inform you that I've just looked and: I can see my legs! Fantastic.
But which is better?
I'm Team Legs, all the way. What say you? Name your winner and make your case.
I swear I'm keeping track of this as we begin our impossible journey towards a definitive answer. Back with another face-off next week.