Do you think the amount of collectibles in games is getting out of hand?

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PurpleShyGuy

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#1  Edited By PurpleShyGuy

Recently I've been playing Remedy's Control, and I'm struck by how many times I've found myself running up to desks and opening chests to find yet another page of lore or dull, unimaginative modification. While I did like reading some of the files, I don't want to stop every few minutes to pull up the menu to look at them. It's not just Control either, with games like God of War 2018, Nier: Automata, Batman: Arkham Knight having far too much to collect. I know you don't have to get this stuff, by since my brain has been conditioned by so many years of gaming to "get the shiny thing" I compulsively do so. The two biggest issues with getting rewarded so often is that the rewards themselves feel so bland and disposable, and the frequency at which they will pull you attention away can disrupt big important story moments.

I remember in Batman: Arkham Knight where the game wanted me to walk up to a body with a tarp over it for a big dramatic reveal, yet I immediately ignored it after spotting the familiar green glow of a Riddler challenge, because getting a little trophy took priority over whatever the story wanted to show me. A relatively new game that did collectibles right in my eyes was Hollow Knight. The badges provided the player with small but interesting ways to play the game and they could also be combined to change the gameplay even further. I know people criticise Hollow Knight for the way it drip feeds you abilities and the like, but I rather be rewarded with fewer but more meaningful and impactful collectibles.

Am I alone in thinking this? Do people just like having tons of things to collect? Do developers really believe we will drop a game if we don't have something to hold the collect button over every minute?

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Efesell

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#2 Efesell  Online

Nah, so long as they’re off to the side like they typically are then it’s fine.

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bigsocrates

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I don't think it's really changing. Donkey Kang 64 came out over 20 years ago and games have had scads of collectables for a very long time; especially open world games. Do you even inFamous, bro?

You mention Control but did you play Alan Wake? Pages and coffee thermoses and caches and all Brightfalls lore and radio shows and TV shows and that game was just a giant collectable. So to answer your question I don't think it's "getting" out of hand. I think it's pretty stable.

As to whether they are a good thing or not...I think it depends on the game and collectable, to be honest. There are some games that have a ton of collectables and it's fun because it enhances the world. Either because they're cool in and of themselves (the Alan Wake TV show was a lot of fun, the thermoses were stupid) or because they provide a good challenge and fun things to do (inFamous shards are generally fun to collect and I absolutely loved grabbing the crystals in Gravity Rush, both games that had fun traversal.) In other games they can be a real slog (Riddler Trophies are often very annoying and you need to get way too many of them to have any effect.)

Personally I can usually ignore the collectables that I don't care for so it doesn't bother me, but I do understand that if you're the more compulsive type it can be a drag. That being said, I still think implementation is everything. Ghost of Tsushima had a ton of stuff to check off (basically collectables but in activity form) but I enjoyed that side stuff so I didn't mind there being a lot of it. Watch Dogs Legion, on the other hand, I had to pick and choose because I would have burned out trying to collect all the skill points or whatever, even though the skill points had gameplay benefits. So it's not just about number or what they do in the game, it's about how they fit into the world and whether getting them is fun.

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PurpleShyGuy

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@efesell: I wish I had your mentality. I think I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder due to the way I need to get everything in a game.

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PurpleShyGuy

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@bigsocrates: God don't remind me of Donkey 64, I still have nightmares about it to this day.

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bigsocrates

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@purpleshyguy: I'm just saying...this is not a new trend. You can argue about whether it's good design or say that you personally are fed up with it and that's fair, but I don't feel like it's "getting out of hand." It has been out of hand for a while.

Bafomdads!

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Thegoldfether

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#7  Edited By Thegoldfether

I do see come kind of issue with how much scavenging I did in TLOU2. The cards and coins were cool, but I spent a sizable fraction of my game time running the edges of the game looking for stuff I needed to be prepared for the next combat encounter. simply put there was a direct correlation to time spent running in circles to my effectiveness in combat.

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PurpleShyGuy

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#8  Edited By PurpleShyGuy

@bigsocrates: True. I think my problem is that as games aim to be more and more realistic, finding a giant copied-and-pasted chest randomly in the toilets (like I did in Control) can be distracting. Older games usually had the benefit of being more cartoonish at least.

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ghost_cat

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As someone who leads a lean and minimal lifestyle, videogame collectibles are the only way to free my soul and go ham scooping up everything.

Also, I think it's a matter of application within the game. If the collectibles serve to successfully enrich story and gameplay, I welcome whatever the amount is.

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bigsocrates

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@purpleshyguy: Yeah, well, can't argue with you there. It can be really weird to be playing a game that attempts a realistic art style only to see the same incongruous collectable all over.

But as I said it's all about implementation.

In Ghost of Tsushima they were generally shrines or banners or Haiku spots that fit in to the world around them.

inFamous and Gravity Rush are both newer games that are still cartoony.

In Alan Wake the TV shows made sense in context, the pages related directly to the supernatural elements of the story so they kind of made sense, but the thermoses were just dumb.

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quasiconundrum

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Personally, I'm a fan of collectibles so long as they exist in service of some larger goal. If they're just random "shinies" that serve no purpose but to bump up some completion percentage or give you an achievement, that's just not compelling to me.

Lore-based collectibles (such as in Control) are a bit different to me, though. I think their value (when done well, at least) is self-evident. If I'm interested in a game's lore, I welcome these moments that flesh it out a bit more. If I'm not interested in the lore, its easy enough to just ignore those tidbits. I'd much rather have them than not, though.

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LapsarianGiraff

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For me, Control was pretty great about collectibles, in that I actually wanted to read that stuff.

I will say though, the collectible situation got out of hand as early as 2009/2011 with Assassin's Creed 2 and Batman: Arkham City. Fuck those Riddler trophies.

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nophilip

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I think Control is a great example of collectibles done well. The writing in those collectibles, is, for my money, the best content in the entire game. Alan Wake is an example of terrible collectibles. Combing every inch of generic, featureless forest in order to obtain thermos #72 really kills the momentum of that game. Control, on the other hand, is built much more around the concept of exploring the Oldest House and uncovering all of its secrets.

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Thegoldfether

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#16  Edited By Thegoldfether

@lapsariangiraff: I dig the Riddler trophies because they where actual puzzles. and I got them all in the 3 main Batman games But I remember trying to 100% AC Brotherhood and I just didn't care to get them all after a certain point. imho it was the epitome of tedium.

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csl316

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It took some effort, but I started ignoring collectibles unless they have some sort of gameplay hook. Or if the world's interesting and there's good lore tied to them. Probably around the time where I stopped worrying about achievements.

It's freeing, man.

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LapsarianGiraff

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@thegoldfether: I loved the Riddler stuff in Arkham Asylum, but City onward there were just so many of them. In Asylum at least it felt manageable, and because it felt manageable, I 100%ed that game in a single weekend from renting the game from a video store (oof, old).

That quantity plus the number of times I'd start a puzzle and go, "oh wait, I'm not going to have the ability for this for the next few hours," really killed it for me. By the time I had the necessary ability, there were so many other puzzles and the map was so dense I had already forgotten where to go with this new ability. At least in the main parts of Arkham / Metroid Prime the map is restrained enough you can remember really clearly "oh, now that I have missiles I can go here, sweet!" The number of trophies robbed the backtracking of even that joy.

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Topcyclist

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@purpleshyguy: Maybe lore dumps like hitman, where you're able to hear a recording while you continue to walk, or MGSV. Then you can multitask.

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wollywoo

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#20  Edited By wollywoo

I personally don't mind collectibles unless both

A) they are needed to unlock substantial story or gameplay content

AND

B) there is no meaningful challenge to get them other than finding them.

e.g. Mario's stars/shines satisfy A but not B so they are fine. (Some of Odyssey's moons satisfy B, but there are enough challenging moons that it's fine.)

Breath of the Wild's Korok seeds satisfy B but not A so it's fine.

DK64's various collectibles satisfy A and B which is why that game is generally considered not great.

I can imagine if you are kinda OCD then B-but-not-A collectibles are annoying as you compulsively start to collect them and it's not fun. I'm pretty good at ignoring these for the most part, though.

I'm also not at all a fan of "bonus room" collectibles in platformers like DK, Rayman, etc., if they are not challenging at all. To me they do nothing but slow everything down.

My favorite kind of collectable are those that satisfy neither A and B: they're not necessary for unlocking much but they provide a great challenge. Like the band-aids in Super Meat Boy or the strawberries in Celeste.

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tds418

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For me, Control was pretty great about collectibles, in that I actually wanted to read that stuff.

I will say though, the collectible situation got out of hand as early as 2009/2011 with Assassin's Creed 2 and Batman: Arkham City. Fuck those Riddler trophies.

Considering the original Assassin's Creed had over 400 flags to collect in the open world that led to absolutely no in-game benefit when picked up (only achievements), I think Assassin's Creed 2 is an interesting place to draw the line.

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#22 rorie  Staff

@tds418 said:
@lapsariangiraff said:

For me, Control was pretty great about collectibles, in that I actually wanted to read that stuff.

I will say though, the collectible situation got out of hand as early as 2009/2011 with Assassin's Creed 2 and Batman: Arkham City. Fuck those Riddler trophies.

Considering the original Assassin's Creed had over 400 flags to collect in the open world that led to absolutely no in-game benefit when picked up (only achievements), I think Assassin's Creed 2 is an interesting place to draw the line.

Flashbacks, wow. I think they were taking their lead from the GTA III and Vice City which were just loaded with bullshit to find, little of which mattered. I'd definitely prefer that to having to actually get some use out of collectibles which would make them less optional, though.

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Onemanarmyy

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Also turned out that those collectibles in AC1 were glitchy as fuck. Sometimes players were not getting credit for finding them, sometimes flags dissapeared. Pretty bad.

Still , riding on a horse from big city 1 to big city 2 and hearing foreign languages in between felt quite novel. I don't feel bad about that game at all in hindsight.

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LapsarianGiraff

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@tds418: Assassin's Creed had a bullshit number of flags for sure, but they were much easier to ignore on the map versus, say, Assassin's Creed 2, which just broke the scale. I couldn't look at that map for 2 seconds without "race here!" "chest here!" "animus fragment here!" AC 2 was totally the start of the "Ubisoft petri dish" map effect.

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PurpleShyGuy

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@topcyclist: Control does it the worst with audio logs, where you either have to stand next to the device until its finished or listen to it in the menu, there was no way you could move and listen. I know the reason why it's like this is because the developer didn't want audio logs to play over dialogue, but maybe you could hold a button down to pause the recording if someone starts speaking.

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PurpleShyGuy

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@wollywoo: What the collectible is can also be a problem for me. The audio logs, files and mods in Control had me pulling up the menu to make use of them, which disrupted the pace. I was also playing on PS4 and accessing the menu had a pretty hefty delay, but that's obviously a technical foible rather than a design choice.

But to be clear, I'm not calling for the end of these types of collectibles, just for them to be reduced in number.

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apewins

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I dislike collectibles when there is no challenge in getting them, and when the game is littered with them. I wish I could ignore them but some part of my brain just obsesses over them. The worst are time-constrained mission where you have to escape a collapsing building for example, and I just can't help but to search every room while I'm supposed to be running for my life.

I'm currently playing GTA V, and in the first few mission I used to look behind every dumpster and under every table. I then learned that there's never anything there so I can more easily focus on the game itself and not worry about missing anything. It's refreshing.

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hansberg

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@purpleshyguy: I would disagree on the intrusiveness of Control's collectibles. Yes, most require a menu to be brought up; but most are also just backstory and not necessarily critical to the action of the moment. I have, so far in my time playing, been content to just wait until I reach a point of downtime (for example a fast travel location, or after an area has been thoroughly cleared of enemies) to comb through those logs, letters and documents. Basically waiting until I reach a point where the pace would not be disrupted. If nothing else it helps to ensure that I am reading them when I'm not thinking about what is going on in the next room, helping with retention.

That leaves only those recordings and videos that play in front of Jesse and are not saved. I have found so far found those to be largely plot relevant and so SHOULD be viewed at that moment. For example, the video explaining the floppy disk, letting the player know that this thing is coming up and what it does.

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BladeOfCreation

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I agree with what others have said; this is hardly a new problem. I remember people talking about all of the flags in Assassin's Creed or the Riddler challenges in the later Batman games years ago. I usually ignore collectibles in games unless they are easy to get. To name a recent series that has had easy-to-get collectibles that I didn't mind hunting down, Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales have the benefit of having a fun traversal system and a number of collectibles that isn't overwhelming.

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randyf

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I'm surprised at your lack of support here, @purpleshyguy. I just recently played through (most) of the Dishonored games and I was constantly overwhelmed/bored/annoyed at the amount of stuff I either had to spend time finding or risk missing out on. While it might not be a "new" problem as others have said, I feel like we've reached critical mass with how collectibles are handled and I think we're do for a refresh. I don't want to spend that much time and effort collecting things when a good portion of them don't add any value, and I don't want to skip collecting them in the event that I might end up missing out on something cool.

There has been a trend of games that reveal collectibles at certain points in the game, either as an unlock you can purchase or reward for reaching a certain part of the game, and I've grown to really appreciate that. It allows me to focus my efforts on collecting what I want and informs me on whether or not it's something worth my while. The Riddler maps/informants in Batman is a good example of this -- even if I don't care much for the trophies themselves -- and Ori and the Will of the Wisps has an option to spend money to reveal certain collectibles.

That said, I completely agree that games could stand to trim some of the fat these days and make the collectibles have more meaning than they currently do. If I have to open another freakin' drawer for two coins right next to a cupboard that has a game-changing upgrade, I'm going to lose it.

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Gerorne

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One of the best things in my replay of Last of Us 2 is turning on the accessibility option of auto-pick up items. As fun as it is to pick up supplies in a game where you can only carry a limited amount, it's fun just ignoring that part of the game and actually playing. (Plus it's fun watching your character frantically swipe at large piles of stuff or grab at something I didn't even know was there.)

But also, I've felt that too many games don't understand how to balance collectibles since Donkey Kong 64.

And I agree with Arkham Knight. The first Arkham game had the right amount. A limited amount of strategically placed collectibles is fun. Scattering Riddles all over like they're Christmas lights on the tree that is Arkham City is too much.