What do you prefer: graphics, story or gameplay?

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Esteban5XG

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Just thinking about what are the most common preferences in video games. I prefer gameplay and story. I mean, graphics make everything really cool, but I do prefer a good story with a funny gameplay.

For example, Last of us has an amazing story behind, and graphics are cool too. But, on the other hand, Hotline Miami has an exicting gameplay. I do know these examples are based in very different video games, but maybe it's all about types of game, isn't it?

Wanna know your options and video games.

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ll_Exile_ll

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Like you said, it's dependent on the game and genre. For some games/types of games, story is what I'm there for. With others the appeal is pure gameplay. In no instance would I ever favor graphics over either story or gameplay.

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cmblasko

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Depends on my mood, but typically game play.

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Rahf

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#4  Edited By Rahf

If I'm allowed to make a Venn diagram, then the overlap between story and gameplay rule supreme over the other alternatives. But then I include plot with story in this case.

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FrodoBaggins

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Gameplay.

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Ares42

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Considering the amount of time I've put into games like Civ, Diablo, Souls etc it's fair to say I prefer gameplay. That doesn't mean I don't value the others though. Although I have to say, for a long time now I've found myself struggling to get through heavily campaign driven games. Most of them are way over-indulgent with their (usually not amazing) storytelling. I think a lot of people often mistake a well presented story for an interesting one in games.

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Atlas

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As I've gotten older, I've found that I'm much less interested in story than I used to be, because most video game stories are bad. I skip dialogue much more than I used to, and I honestly think some games would be improved by not trying to tell a story. I finished Moonlighter the other day, and I like that game quite a lot, but did it need to have a narrative? When games get narrative and storytelling right it's absolutely magical, but I'm more likely to enjoy games with no story than games with too much story because I can enjoy interfacing with game systems and making my own goals without explicit narrative direction.

So yeah, gameplay for me too. Graphics only bothers me in the sense that I want games to look good and run well, and I want different games to look different. I'm biased against retro pixel-style graphics but have no problem with cartoony graphics as long as the art direction is strong enough.

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nicksmi56

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#8  Edited By nicksmi56

Gameplay.

You could have the most amazing, tear-jerking, heart-touching story in gaming, and graphics that make my eyes sing. If your game isn't fun to play in any capacity, I'll drop it without a second thought.

Sometimes a great story is enough to push an alright game into a good game, or a good game into a great game, but that element of being fun has to be there. If it isn't, why the heck am I playing it instead of watching the cutscenes on YouTube?

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big_denim

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#9  Edited By big_denim

Gameplay > Visuals > Story

I enjoy a good story A LOT. But sadly, they're few and far between in the games industry if I'm being honest. So at this point I've just accepted the fact that most games narratives I am not going to care too much about.

And I replaced 'graphics' with 'visuals.' Graphics implies technical feats in my opinion, and while that certainly can be appealing, it's a game's overall look and aesthetic that I'm ultimately drawn to. What is the enemy and weapon design like? Is it cel-shaded? Or perhaps interesting color pallet choices? Stuff like that is what I'm more interested in. I could give two shits if you worked on your marvelous, shiny, new engine for 10 years and it displays god rays in the most life like manner. It's whether or not that engine is used in an effective and creative manner that really matters to me.

Gameplay is the trump above all-else in my opinion though. I can play a game with mediocre visuals and story, if the gameplay is rock solid. The same can't be said for the inverse though. If the gameplay isn't engaging, it's likely I'll drop the game before seeing it through (unless the visuals and story are reeeaaally good and/or the game is short enough that I can justify slogging through the poor gameplay).

EDIT: It's also worth noting that this is a pretty complex question that I am trying to boil down to a simple answer, but there are a lot of things at play as to what makes a game 'good.' For instance, I am not sure exactly where map/level design factors into all this. It's part of the gameplay, but visuals obviously play a huge factor in driving home a well designed map since colors, lighting, etc can be a useful way in guiding a player down certain paths through a level. Map/level design is a key component to a good game in my opinion and it ties visuals and gameplay together making it hard to say which one is more important than the other in a game. A game must be viewed for its entire package and in the end, only you can subjectively determine whether the pros outweigh the cons.

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MrGreenMan

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Gameplay and story are key for me. Nothing takes me out of a game faster then bad controls or controls then are not intuitive and having to fight the controls to play a game properly. While I like a good story in a video game, we are just not there yet where we do not have good or proper story telling when it comes to video games. Even the best stories in video games to me just dont really do much or are just poorly written to the point the characters are written to push the game forward and do not come off natural or normal at all making what character depth there is just thrown out the window to progress to a checkpoint. It just comes as amateurish writing and really kills any kind of momentum or proper flow of how a story should progress.

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BrunoTheThird

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Gameplay>Story>Music>Graphics

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sravankb

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Gameplay > Music > Visuals >>>>>>>>>>> Story

Most video game stories are crap, anyways. Might as well be there for what this medium does best. Hell, most video games don't even tell their story through interactivity, so even if I am there for a story, why would I tolerate subpar storytelling when movies / TV shows / books do it so much better.

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cikame

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I might question what you said about Hotline Miami, because i think that game has great gameplay, story and graphics.
I often dislike graphics which push the boundries of what's possible, we already went through the major period of graphics enhancement in the 2000's so now we can make pretty much anything, everything that is added now is massively resource intensive and blurry, forever chasing realism... assuming we're chasing real through the eyes of someone who loves depth of field and vasoline.
The most important part of graphics to me is optimization, is your game fast, responsive, stable, because artifacts and other issues are going to detract from my experience.
I'm currently playing the re-release of Resonance of Fate (2010) on PC, which has moments like this.

No Caption Provided

I took a screenshot of that because it's gorgeous, this is not a graphical powerhouse of a game, but that doesn't stop it looking fantastic anyway, great art is always great.

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Max_Cherry

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Story>Graphics >Gameplay

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oraknabo

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Gameplay is the most important thing in a game.

If you only want a story, read a book. For visuals, watch a movie.

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fisk0

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#16 fisk0  Moderator
@sravankb said:

Gameplay > Music > Visuals >>>>>>>>>>> Story

Pretty much this, though there are times I'd maybe put Music ahead of Gameplay, there have been a lot of games I've put down because of lack of music or dull use of it.

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Symbyosys

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Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay/Gamefeel?

There are exceptions to this of course, like Walking Dead Season One. The gameplay that was there was bad, and aside from some passable faces/emotions, no graphics either.

Guys, video game stories are bad. They are less bad than they used to be. Doesn't mean they can't be engaging.

Some of the greatest games ever made have ONLY gameplay. You cannot even put a mediocre game with mediocre/nonexistent gameplay with amazing graphics or amazing story in the same category.

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FacelessVixen

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Gameplay above all, but if by any slim chance that I'm playing a JRPG, the story and, arguably more important, the characters better be interesting 'cause I'm not slogging though 60 plus hours of anime clichés.

As for graphics, as much as I like games to look pretty, I'll turn down shadows and MSAA in order to get 60 frames.

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indure

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Gameplay > Story = Visuals

Generally gameplay trumps all by a high margin, but I will say that when looking at games that I play for +100 hours (strict PVP games no included) I need to have a really strong attachment to the character I'm playing as to keep on going. I can think of a lot of amazing games that I stopped playing 20 hours in (Witcher 3) because I just was tired of the trappings of the character, while spending +100 hours in games that are arguably bad (Pathfinder Kingmaker) because I love my character and their effects on the world.

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BoOzak

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I feel like we already have a thread like this (with a poll) but i'll try not to be a dick (sorry) and answer as I did before.

Gameplay, always gameplay.

Monster Hunter World is my GOTY. Fighting these Monsters is so damn fun that I dont need a great story or amazing graphics. (although it still looks pretty good)

But RDR2 will win the majority of GOTY awards because it excels in every other aspect. Much like RDR did. I might sound bitter about it but i'm not, (maybe a little) these are my priorities and I dont expect everyone else to agree. I just find it interesting that people always say that gameplay is the most important thing, then ignore it in favour of something else.

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Luchalma

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Almost all of my favorite games I love because of the story and characters. Obviously I'd prefer a game to play well rather than not but if the story is good I don't really care how it plays.

Story > gameplay > graphics

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Zeik

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#22  Edited By Zeik

The objective and diplomatic part of me will say it depends on the game. Some games or genres are carried entirely by their story, like visual novels, while others are great with just gameplay and no story at all.

But if I'm being completely honest, the amount of games that would make it to my top favorite games of all time with no story at all are pretty minimal. It's not that pure gameplay games aren't fun, but they don't tend to stick with me the same way. They're minor diversions between the games that can give me both good gameplay and an entertaining story.

Also I still can't stand people who say "if you want a story go read a book". They're entirely different mediums that handle storytelling in entirely different ways. The strengths and qualities inherent in video game storytelling cannot be reproduced purely by text. A great video game story utilizes its medium to tell it, not just the written script.

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monkeyking1969

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The like all three....but story has to be there. And, it not enough to have a good story or a good world, the developer has to tell it story well. It is not enough to have and interesting loop of gameplay ist has to be a loop of gameplay worth playing. It not enough to have nicely rendered graphics...the graphics have to stylistically match the story, tone, and gameplay. I would even says that what a story SAYS with its story, visuals, and gameplay is crucially important.

A good game is like a good cookie. Justy shoving a cup of flour in your mouth with a raw egg mixed with butter topped with 1/2 cup of brown sugar is not tasty. Those things correctly mixed, baked and cool is a cookie. Even those thing mixed is at least cookie dough; however, not mixed to the right proportions is a mess.

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NTM

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#24  Edited By NTM

Gameplay, story, then graphics. That said, if a game looks awful it can take away from the other aspects. The quality needs to be good enough in each category to really be something I think is worth experiencing. Also, even though I put graphics last, I am definitely into good graphics because I think better visuals can help immerse me into the game's world better. If a game doesn't play well, it's really not worth playing. I like a good story in games; not every game needs a good story to succeed, but I prefer a good story. Also, as mentioned, the sound is also a very important aspect and that perhaps above all needs to be acceptable to make the experience good I think. You can almost ruin an experience if the soundtrack is atrocious. The last thing I'll say is that there are some games that you hardly play where they're either walking simulators or heavily use cutscenes, but it doesn't mean they're bad at all. I think, for me at least, the biggest thing really is the atmosphere. If a game has a good setting that I want to lose myself in, then I'm happy.

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deactivated-61356eb4a76c8

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Game play > Graphics > Story. I love playing strategy games and RPGs where I can craft my own story. That said I do love a well crafted story now and again.

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TakyonDG

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I love games like FTL, Into the Breach, XCOM, Battle Brothers where the story is barely there but gameplay reigns supreme. That being said, I have a bunch of love for Darkest Dungeon for having that kind of gameplay but supplementing it with a fantastic atmosphere and story. I guess for me story is like the icing on the cake

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ArbitraryWater

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I feel like this question is sort of a false dichotomy. Even as a pretty ardent "gameplay first and foremost" sort of guy who loves mechanically dense RPGs and intense action games, it's not like story and presentation don't affect my enjoyment of things. I can name a handful of favorites where the gameplay is the only thing that matters, sure, but for the most part I think most people view games as a cohesive whole. Gameplay is usually just the most important thing because, as it turns out, most games are based around their interactivity.

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TobbRobb

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#28  Edited By TobbRobb

Depends, but If I made a list it'd be something like this.

  1. Atmosphere/Mood/Aestethic/Style (whatever word you want for this)
  2. Gameplay
  3. Writing
  4. Graphics
  5. Story

Basically I don't really mind if a story is lame or if the graphics look kinda cheap and jank. If a game is fun to play and I like the feeling I get from the combination of visuals and music, then I'm down. And I separate writing and story since there are plenty of examples of a clever or interesting plot with bad dialogue or dull storylines with great characters and flavor. I prefer the latter.

I also really like subversive games, or rather ones that don't put all they have up front. Some of my favorite franchises are stuff like Metal Gear, Nier and Souls partially just because there is always some weird thing you never knew about that I can find out 8 years later and still be amazed.

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Rejizzle

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Story is kind of a nebulous thing for me sometimes. Like, does Proteus have a "story" or is it just a semi-guided experience? I don't know, probably overthinking this.

As a visual medium I think graphics (or just overall design or styyyyyyyyle) can do a lot for a game and cover up mediocre storytelling, just as they can for movies or comics.

Then again, my favorite moments from games tend to be a combination of these things, so maybe aesthetics, story, and mechanics are just inseparable from each other on some level.

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soimadeanaccount

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When done correctly, Story.

A game with good gameplay and nothing else is a toy. It could be a great toy, it could be a fun toy, it could be a toy that I keep coming back to over and over and love dearly, but still just that.

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Atwa

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Gameplay far and away the most important aspect to me, otherwise I probably wouldn't be playing games. It will take a lot from me to play a game with gameplay I don't enjoy, but I have no problem playing a game with awful graphics/story if the gameplay is great.

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Teoball

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#32  Edited By Teoball

Story and atmosphere/world is a lot more important to me than gameplay and graphics. If the game has a good story and looks cool I don’t care what the gameplay is like.

Games that are only about the gameplay and/or getting points have no interest to me (except Tetris effect in VR, but I’m only there for the music and experience in itself and not so much for the tetris)

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mems1224

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The main story of a game means almost nothing to me since almost all video game stories are bad. I favor world building and atmosphere over the games actual story.

Gameplay is definitely the most important thing in a game but I can also put up with a game that doesn't play so great if it has other interesting gameplay mechanics.

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Draugen

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Depends on the kind of game, but as a rule, story. And by that I don't mean plot, but the setting, the characters, the vibe and how engaging the universe is. I can forgive alot of wonky gameplay, and less than stellar graphics if a game manages to suck me into it's setting.

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nutter

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Tilt.

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Redhotchilimist

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#36  Edited By Redhotchilimist

How it actually feels to play is most important to me. Do the controls feel good? Is the system fun to engage with? Is the balance geared for the right amount of challenge? Is the UI nonintrusive/helpful? Those kinds of things are gonna be there always, and if they're awful your story really has to be something else to be worth playing through a bad game for. Like, say you get two of either good graphics, a good story or gameplay. If the gameplay is abysmal, it'll devastate those experiences, but either a lackluster story or some middling graphics will not, as long as it's not the main draw the game has in the first place.

I think Bioware is a good example here. The gameplay is either bad or decent and the graphics are largely ugly, with a layer of jank on top of it all. For some people that doesn't matter 'cause they think the story is so good. For me I get very frustrated playing their games, largely because of how unfun they are to play and how the graphical presentation kills whatever storytelling chops are hiding underneath(also? I don't think Bioware games have that strong writing at all times, but that's another issue).

It helps if you limit your gameplay in those cases, I find. Tales from the Borderlands is a real ugly game, visually. Buggy, too. But not only is the direction pretty great, because the game is largely limited to cutscenes and the occasional short walk around and talk-segment, the storytelling is more than fun enough to make it worth experiencing as little more than an interactive movie.

Graphics for me are a booster. If you're making a game that's pretty fun but kinda slight, being beautiful or stylish in your presentation can help elevate it to new heights. And if I can't stand looking at a game's style, obviously that's gonna be hard to overcome. But you can't have a beautiful game with abysmal gameplay and still make me wanna play it.

I usually need all of these ingredients in a game, though. I can't really get into puzzle games 'cause I like my games to have some context and story at least.

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Sahalarious

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These are alll ingredients in a good game. I don't know why people always fly the "who cares about graphics" flag, why wouldn't you want to enjoy better art and beautiful vistas? I think the graphics don't matter crowd are those afriad to admit they need to upgrade. I can't afford a 5.1 system or a 4k TV right now, but I know that my games would be significantly better if I did. Red Dead pairs great voice acting, compelling unique gameplay, and is extremely well-written. I think in gaming the easiest to forgive is bad writing/story, but it always adds something.

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StrikeALight

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Gameplay > Graphics > Story.

Though I guess it really depends on the game and concept.

For example, I wonder if Quantic Dream lose much sleep over response rate, and such.

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DivineKataroshie

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It depends on the genre, but in general I don't like too many skills and too complex mechanics, but I love nice and immersive combat, so gameplay is very important factor in keeping me interested in the game. Graphics don't matter too me as much, and I replayed a lot of my retro games from 1998-2006. So for me it would be a tie between gameplay/story and then graphics.

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peachykeen

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ThePhantomnaut

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#41  Edited By ThePhantomnaut

Everything. A good balance of elements that are well done makes a great game.

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warcat777

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1. Gameplay

2. Story

3. General atmosphere

4. Controls

5. Accessibility (how much can I control how the game looks and plays with options)

graphics is the least important aspect I could think of

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billmcneal

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#43  Edited By billmcneal

Gameplay and story are definitely more important than graphics to me

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BoboBones

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1. Gameplay/Controls

2. Atmosphere/Art Style

3. Story

4. Graphics (Technical)

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Deo_Brando

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For me, the most important thing is a good story. If there is no good history, then the graphics will not help the situation ...

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hermes

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Gameplay > Story >>>> Graphics

I have spent a lot of time playing games because they feel good to play (Dead Cells) or the story and delivery was interesting (Talos Principle) than because I was in awe with the graphics. In fact, having an interesting graphic style does a lot more for me than eye popping realism.

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TheManWithNoPlan

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1.Gameplay
2.Story
3.Graphics

If a game isn't fun to play, then the story has got to be really strong. I really don't care about how it looks if the other two aren't being done well.

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Nodima

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#48  Edited By Nodima

I'd love to say gameplay, but I will overlook a lot for graphics and story, or to expand, world building/immersion/characters. I mostly play big budget action games hoping the gameplay can match up to the little things in the art design and storytelling/cinematics, while I completely ignore games that consistently get brought up as gameplay juggernauts like Into the Breach or Dishonored. And I simplify a lot of games with all three (or, mostly all three) like MGSV so that I miss a lot of the smaller details that get pointed out on subreddits and Kotaku deep dives.

From this year, the most obvious example is Dead Cells, a game I've heard zero about with regards to story or characters and looks like a lot of faux-16-bit games of the past three years so all the praise for it just kind of shrugs of my shoulders as I hear it.

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thegreatd

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I'd put "story" first, assuming it's a catch-all that includes writing and worldbuilding. Basically all of my favorite games have stories, characters and worlds that I love engaging with. I'll never turn down good gameplay, but I'm more willing to suffer through bad/mediocre gameplay for a good story than the other way around. For example, Matt Rorie's Alpha Protocol is one of my favorites despite its very obvious shortcomings.

Gameplay is always more important than graphics though. As a fan of sports games, I'm still more likely to play Madden 2005 than the current incarnation because I prefer how the older games feel. Good or bad graphics are still noticed, but they're not a major concern if I'm enjoying everything else.

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monetarydread

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#50  Edited By monetarydread

Game play. I watch enough movies and TV shows that when I decide to play a game it's because I want to interact with my content instead of being passive. Sure, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good story in my games, but that's not what I come to games for.

As for graphics, I'm not one of those people who say that they don't matter. I have played enough games where good graphics have made a poor game better, for example the Metro series. This might be the most controversial opinion in this thread, but I would put graphics above story in my rankings here. Any good game with cut scenes allows you to skip them when you want, but outside of edge cases, if you don't like the graphics in a game you can't really do anything about it. Plus there is the whole immersion factor, I can be immersed without story, but I can't be immersed with terrible graphics. I remember playing a lot of Gothic II back in the day, and when I went back to it recently, I totally got immersed in the game play aspect again but the graphics were tough to deal with.