I've come to realise one of the major contributing factors that make a game enjoyable and immersive to me is a mechanic where you have a safe haven or home to go to between dangerous missions.
Have any of you also noticed this, and if so what other games do it well? Here are a few examples:
XCOM: Both the original and the excellent remake. Probably my first experience of this. Spending time imagining walking around your base, giving orders, reading reports, checking progress, meeting with soldiers, and so on makes for a nice, peaceful, and meaningful contrast to the high-stakes, playing-for-keeps live field missions. To this day I still get a thrill every time I have to decide a loadout and give a launch order for a mission – but it wouldn't have been nearly effective without the preceding minutes of calm looking after the day-to-day operations of the base.
Subnautica: One of the most immersive (heh) games I've ever played. Again, I think this is largely due to the comparatively domestic base-building element in contrast to the thassalophobia-inducing horrors that await you beneath the waves. When you reach the stage when you can finally build a base it feels like real progress, and as you expand it it becomes something you're proud of and enjoy spending time in. Sometimes it's just nice to spend a day or two bumming around the base: working the farms, tinkering in the moonpools, curating your aquarium, decorating and re-decorating, and so on.
Dragon Age: Origins: This game had terrific campfire interludes that really helped develop the characters and build what felt like a genuine caring relationship with them. Between the loud cities brimming with overlapping goals and sidequests, and the chaotic blood-soaked battles, it felt soooo good to take a quiet moment to catch up with your party members, stare into the fire, give gifts and tinker with your equipment (no euphemism intended).
Darkest Dungeon: The campfire element is less substantial than in the above examples but still IMHO contributes a great deal to storytelling and immersion. On longer excursions your injured, shivering heroes pause to huddle around a fire and get what rest they can, risking ambush when they drift off to sleep. One of them might sing a song to rally the party, another might apply bandages to their compatriot. Then it's back into battle and the realistic prospect of death.
Minecraft: This one almost speaks for itself. There's easily as much game to be had building your home and outfitting it as there is exploring and fighting.
So I guess the point of the post is, what other games have this contrast between a dangerous, exciting combat or adventure element and a quiet, domestic, restful campfire/home base/haven aspect?
I've realised I love this contrast in games and I'd love to explore some more like this.
Thanks for all your comments and insight.
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