What Draws Me to a Video Game? — Gameplay

(See my intro here for the first part of this series!)


Gameplay covers a lot of things, but very basically it is what is rewarding in the game, and the way the game “feels” to the player.

What makes for a good gameplay in a video game?

  • Crafting
    • Crafting is one thing I always enjoy in games, no matter which game it is. I find a game especially good if I can craft things and be self-sufficient (meaning that the armor, weapons, gear, or items I craft are good enough to keep using for a long time) and/or help other players with my craft. I also enjoy crafting systems that are complex enough to be interesting, but not so intricate that I need detailed charts and spreadsheets to work out what I need for to create items. Discovery systems within crafting (where you can randomly combine items to discover new crafting recipes) are a lot of fun, and I typically enjoy games more if they have these types of systems worked in.


  • Combat
    • I enjoy combat that is intuitive, versatile, active, and cooperative.
      • Intuitive: I want to be able to figure out which abilities to use and when I should use them without having to look at a guide.
      • Versatile: I want to be able to mix and match abilities to suit my playstyle, or “feel” of my character (for example, stealth-based abilities if I’m playing a rogue, magic-based abilities if I’m playing a caster, etc) while still remaining viable during harder content like dungeons or raids.
      • Active: There is nothing I hate more than just standing there during combat, getting hit, and hitting the mob back. I prefer combat that allows me to dodge, move while casting, and allows me to use positioning effectively.
      • Cooperative: I love games where group combos, or even combos at an individual level, are possible and deal more damage (or even special types of damage!).


  • Exploration
    • I love games where exploration and discovery are inherent parts of the game. I enjoy being rewarded for finding new things, or discovering things for myself. Guild Wars 2 accomplishes this by special cut-scenes of breathtaking scenery when you find a “vista” point, and they also reward you with fast-travel waypoints as you explore. WildStar allows you to play as an explorer where you are rewarded for finding secret areas and asking “I wonder if I can get up there…?”. WildStar also allows you to play as a scientist and feel like you are discovering the world, one scan at a time, taking data down about new plants, animals, and structures.


  • Dungeons/Raids/Group Content
    • Difficult content that requires players to band together to complete has always been a staple in video games. I love the feeling when my friends and I get together and overcome challenges together, when everyone in the group feels accomplished and needed, and when you or a friend gets that special gear or weapon upgrade. The sense of pride that comes with defeating harder content is amazing. But too often games cater to the “hardcore” raiders, min/maxers, and elitists when designing dungeons and raids. What is “too easy” for the hardcore players might be a worthy challenge for a small group or casual players and there is always this sense of “You’re not a REAL player if you can’t complete these easily”. I absolutely hate seeing the “group looking for more, must be X class” or “must have X gear score” or something similar to that. People seem more interested in just rushing through things to get to the end than actually experiencing the content or helping other people out. I think the devolvement of the dungeon and raid experience is half blamed on players who think there is only ONE right way to play a class, and the developers that cater to that mindset, and design dungeons that can only be completed if your character conforms to a specific “spec”.


  • Abolishment of the “Holy Trinity” & zerg-fests
    • I loved the idea of the abolishment of the tank/dps/healer “Holy Trinity”. Guild Wars 2 went that route, and is so much fun… when you’re leveling. Dungeons, however, are another matter. Players who specialize their characters as they’d like to, rather than how guides tell them to, don’t get picked for dungeons and even if they do, they tend  to die a lot, or not to be able to do well in the group because the dungeons are designed for min/maxers. Guild Wars 2 devolved quickly into a system where everyone has to do the most damage possible in order to win, rather than allow some characters to be support, and still be viable to the group. I would love, love, LOVE to see a game that handles the abolishment of the “Holy Trinity” well, and isn’t just one huge dps zerg-fest. I feel like the ability to play any character as you would like, and group with any other character no matter what role or play style they use, can only make a game more fun. I hated being forced into the role of tank or healer because no one else wanted the responsibility when I wanted to play a different class, and we couldn’t complete the content unless someone caved and played a specific roles. Similarly, I want to still feel useful as a support character when I want to play a support character, and not be forced into doing the most dps possible with my class by default because that’s the only way to complete content.


  • Player trading
    • Every game should have a system where trading to other players is possible and profitable. Too many times I’ve spent lots of time crafting items, farming base materials, or killing creatures for items or gear only to find that all the things in my bags are “vendor trash” (only useful for the purpose to selling to a vendor NPC for a piddly amount of in-game currency). I want to be able to play as a merchant or trader, buying low in one area, selling high in another. I want to be able to play as an artisan or crafter, whose goods are actually useful all the time, not just as players are leveling. I want crafted goods to be worth something comparable to the time and effort I have put into making them.


  • Cash shop
    • Cash shops and microtransactions are a bit of a volatile subject for a lot of people. While I agree that I don’t want to “pay-to-win”, I also enjoy being able to buy dyes and vanity items, non-combat pets, and skins in order to customize my character as I like.


  • Goals
    • Games that allow me to set my own goals and achieve them are the most fun for me to play. Achievement systems usually capture my attention, and have me running around and completing strange tasks to get rewards, titles, or points that mean nothing other than to me. I love being able to set goals that I can accomplish and feel rewarded and good about my time playing well after I’ve reached maxed level.


Want to keep reading on this topic? Click the links below to navigate to the different sections of this series:


User-Interface (UI)





Final Thoughts


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