I have a real problem when it comes to video games. Not just because I can’t stop myself from buying them, which I can’t. I’ll inevitably fall in love with a good game, play it to death over a very short span of time—interrupting all other important things going on in my life—and then run smack into a wall. I’ve dubbed this the 75% wall, though for you it might hit at any other point nearing the completion of a game, when more of the experience is now behind you than ahead.
I’m only bringing this up because of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which has seemingly stumped me about 3 acts in. It’s definitely not the first instance of this happening, but it is the most recent. The same invisible wall has appeared dozens of times over the years, with great games like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3, and I believe it has something to do with not wanting an experience to end. I dread being ejected from a beloved world.
They’re places where we can get dangerously hooked onto the lore, cities, fine-tuned landscapes, and the very fabric of a mythology that’s been created from near-scratch; where friends are easily made and parted with, and the only discomfort you feel is an incoming bathroom break during a raid. The digital world is happily void of things like bills and work (though you will inevitably fall into a trade of some sort in order to make in-game funds).
What it boils down to is that, much like Breath of the Wild and World of Warcraft, when I find a story so rich and enthralling, I don’t want it to end. The DLC some games provide isn’t quite the same, unless if they could figure out how to keep adding on to the world ad nauseum—like Blizzard has managed to accomplish with their perpetual money-maker. Fallout 4 has meanwhile milked me for around 300 hours simply because you can build settlements, and each of the 30+ settlements requires a great deal of work to both function from a design perspective, and be habitable and defensible for the folks living there. It’s like The Sims mixed with Mad Max, and it too is an experience that I can’t seem to wrap up. There is an endpoint looming ahead, and I’ve super-powered my protagonist to the point that very little causes me to stumble, but I refuse to open that door with the glowing exit sign above.