Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Longest time spent on a single-player game
Readers reveal the single-player games they’ve spent the longest on, with hundreds of hours spent on the likes of Zelda and Disgaea.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader 84Colbat and includes time spent replaying the same game multiple times, rebuying it when it’s re-released on new formats, or simply playing the same save for a long while.
Although many professed to not having enough time nowadays everyone seemed to have a story of spending hundreds of hours on at least one game or another, with some even getting to over 1,000 hours.
At first I was going to say Ōkami but I don’t think it really is that long, it just feels that way because of the way the game makes you think it’s ending and then you realise you’re only halfway through. Not that I minded, because I love that game.
So instead I’ll go with the slightly more obvious Red Dead Redemption 2. It took me well over 100 hours to beat that game and I wasn’t even trying to be that much of a completionist about it. The size of the game world is staggering really, something that I don’t expect to be equalled in the new gen for some time given the amount of time and money put into it.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that the game is too long but I would say that while I agree the story was stretched too thin, especially in the epilogue, I could’ve spent forever in that game world. I still do in a sense, because I still play Red Dead Online quite a bit, even if it’s not quite the same as losing yourself in the open world on your own.
I played Monster Hunter on the PSP to death. I played it for at least 300 hours and kind of developed a weird claw-like hand position in order to control the 3D camera and move my character about. While it didn’t have to be a single-player game .no one I knew had another copy for me to play ad-hoc with.
Not sure how many hours I put in but I did get the platinum trophy for Fallout 3.
Massive and amazing
I don’t know if Zelda: Breath Of The Wild says how long you’ve played it for or not but I’m genuinely scared to look because for me it must have been hundreds of hours – and yet the time seemed to fly by! Seriously, I have never been so engrossed with a game ever, I think I played the whole thing with my jaw open at just how massive and amazing it was. And all on a tiny little Switch (a Wii U really)!
In truth though the size of a game doesn’t bother me either way, it’s whether the runtime fits the gameplay. For Breath Of The Wild it’s perfect but so too are little indie games like A Short Hike, that last barely more than an hour. What matters is that the story and gameplay fits the length of time they last so while with those games it does it’s the opposite with Alien Isolation, which is at least five hours longer than it used to be and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which is so ridiculously bloated I almost felt myself going mad playing it.
The problem is you never know if a game is worth it going in and by that time you’re already invested in it. I was convinced Alien Isolation was going to be an all-time classic when I started it and it ended up just being a big fat waste of my time.
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Wax on, wax off
I have spent an awful long time on the Dark Souls games over the years. I couldn’t say which was the longest for sure but it was probably the first because I didn’t have any idea what I was getting in for then and it was arguably the hardest of the bunch.
I don’t resent the time at all though. They’re long games but not as long as some role-players, they’re just really tough and difficult to work out how to beat them. They really opened my eyes to other types of games though as before that I was a bit of a Call Of Duty/Battlefield nut and not much else.
I resented dying all the time in the game and yet when I got good enough to cope with most enemies easily it felt great and as if all the time I’d put into it had paid off. It’s kind of like that bit in Karate Kid where he thinks he’s been wasting all the time painting the fence and then realises it was actually really good practice.
Time for Disgaea
As far as I am aware Disgaea on PlayStation 2 is the longest I have played a single-player game for at 300 hours. The Disgaea titles are known for their silly high numbers, such as being able to reach level 9999 and other grindy bonus content which I did all of on the original. Although that is not the whole story.
The main reason I spent 300 hours with Disgaea is because I did not play efficiently. I have now played all five mainline entries (released outside of Japan) and have reached similar distances in some of the later games in fractions of the time. This is despite the later games having far more content.
I do like to complete the games I play and have notched up around 200 hours on other games like Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Final Fantasy 12, and The Witcher 3 but I now generally prefer shorter titles than giant epics. I also do not replay many games.
I can definitely see a place for giant games like Zelda: Breath Of The Wild but there is no way I can fit more than one of those in a year, so I now tend to gravitate towards shorter and more varied games. For example, the Switch release of Finding Paradise is my most anticipated game of this year. (Although the Western release of Disgaea 6 is also high up.)
I do love them but the Xenoblade games, all three of them, do not respect your time one little bit. I don’t think you could beat them in less than 100 hours if you tried and that would count as rushing them. I’m not really sure they justify being that long either and would probably be even better if they were edited down, but that’s not how these sort of Japanese role-players.
Persona is just as bad, worse even given it usually take a good couple of hours before there’s anything really interactive to do in them.
Time well wasted
A single-player game should last at least a little over 10 hours and the maximum up to 50 hours or a little above, maybe 60 hours! Now don’t get me wrong, I have spent way more on some of my games, and way beyond 100 hours on some and near a combined 500 hours on open world role-players like Skyrim.
It’s definitely not unusual for me to spend a long time on single-players, especially if they are so absorbing and immersive. If I am to play a single-player multiple times then it would be one of the shorter games like the Resident Evil games, and other tight corridor-based story games like The Last Of Us.
Back in the day, with games like Mario, Zelda, James Pond 2: Robocod for the Amiga, Earthworm Jim, and Donkey Kong, etc. I would probably have amassed a heck of an amount of hours. Mainly due to the lack of other good games available or the face that I could not afford many at the time. So the absolute mastery of these games was more justified, with more time and limitations.
The most recent single-player game I played was the second The Last Of Us game, and that took over 25 hours to complete, not rushing it just soaking it all in. I spent 80-odd hours in Subnautica not too long ago either. I never usually get another remastered edition later on and replay them, due to having my fill on the original versions. If the Fallout games have given me hundreds of good hours of fun I am satisfied enough so as not to buy another version of the same game.
If a modern single-player is way under 10 hours and full price then it had better be a very exceptional game indeed, worthy of a replay or two. I find though that my favourite games, like Japanese and Western role-players, I always get my monies worth and I hardly ever play single-players multiple times unless I want to experience it again or get different endings like Mass Effect.
It’s lucky that there are companies still concentrating on great single-players as multiplayer games just don’t interest me at all at the moment. Luckily, I just love long games and the hours built up in these awesome creations are definitely not wasted hours at all.
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