BY NATHAN HAZELWOOD: Gameplay versus graphics. Obviously, it is subjective to each individual. Top of the line graphics are aesthetically pleasing. The visual input can help us feel like we’re really there, swinging that sword, or shooting that gun. They help us feel like that blood smear over there is really real.
But, are visuals more important than solid gameplay, though?
It’s something that has gone around and around in my head for years as we’ve watched video games get crisper, cleaner, more realistic graphics. As we embark on the next generation of video game consoles, I expect that we’ll see video game graphics continue to get closer and closer to reality, but…does it really matter?
Just for Show
Personally, I’ll take solid gameplay over graphics every day of the week. My reasoning being that gameplay and control honestly affect the quality of play more. Graphics go a long way, along with sound, to help with setting and theming, but it’s ultimately tight gameplay and good controls that make or break an experience. It does not matter how well the stage is set if you cannot move about it competently, after all.
Some games have gotten undue criticism for their graphics, though. Fallout 4 is a great example that we keep coming back to all these years later because it had good gameplay and a great setting, however fans were unhappy because it did not look as top of the line as they thought it should. This was a small contingent of fans, but they were still there.
Realism Versus Fantasy
Another thing I’ve noticed is an overall large move towards games looking like real life. This causes mixed feelings in me. In my youth games were an escape from life and I did not want them to mirror the real world. In my not-so-youth of today, this is mostly still what I want. I prefer the disproportionate humans of Super Mario and its lunatic landscapes over a gritty, realistic game like Call of Duty and its ilk.
All that being said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s personal tastes, just voicing some thoughts. If you’re starting to wonder at the same, though, get out and try something else. Play that indie game with 8-bit graphics. Go jump on tree-sized mushrooms. Don’t get too caught up on whether game A looks better than game B, or whether game C looks like a next-gen title, or what have you.
Focus on having fun.
At the end of the day, that is all that matters.