One feature of games that's often praised is Multiple Endings, ones that make you feel like your choices in the game matter, and give you a different perspective on how things play out. Though in most cases, outside of Visual Novels, games with multiple endings will have rather basic choice at around the 90%+ mark that decides which ending you see. After all it would suck if a choice you made 50+ hours ago is the one that resulted in you not getting the ending you want. Also many multiple ending games tend to go for the whole "one true ending" even if it's not clearly marked as such, in most cases there will be one ending that is markedly more rewarding than others.
Games that have a good ending, will always have a good ending, whether it's a single choice or not, but what I find really bogs down a game's lasting appeal, especially for those who choose to replay it is the beginning. The first several hours of a game usually tend to be the WORST on it's second playthrough, it feels chore-like, and like you're just going through the same linear low-challenge content with front-loaded tutorials and narrative exposition before you can really bite into the meat of the game.
One way to change this up is by not having the beginning a single fixed story, but offer the player multiple choices for how they wish to start, and I'm not talking about a "Skip Intro" button. Let's look at how a few games have done multiple beginnings:
Dragon Age Origins allows you to pick an origin story, one of six, which lets you experience the start of the game in a vastly different setting with it's own unique story which also comes into play later in the game. Granted after this origin you still have to play through the Ostagar and Lothering portions, but there's enough variety there to keep things interesting, and afterwards you can tackle the main quest or side quests in whatever order you choose.
Kenshi allows you many possible start-ups, each with a bit of randomization to it, and you can even download mods for additional ones or make your own. Never knowing for sure where on the large map you will begin. Of course the lack of mandatory tutorials or main story helps with jumping right into Kenshi but the weakness of starting characters can be a big challenge to overcome, but there's not exactly a wrong way to go about it.
RimWorld allows such varied customization of your start, from who you pick, what items you have, where your base is located, and the level of technology available to you. It's very hard for two Rimworld game starts to feel the same.
While it's much appreciated if a game has both multiple endings and beginnings, letting you really take control of your own story you wish to play, I find that I much prefer those that give me the freedom of choice early on, as that has more consequence on my time playing than the ending narrative climax. I'd rather see early choices that matter, and I am much more inclined to want to replay a game if I can immediately experience something different rather than have to invest untold numbers of hours to see a change in the end.
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