It is a very slow summer here at Re-enchantment. And now, with my new super-powerful PC I’m finally going to play Witcher 3… and Total War: Warhammer, two video games that made me spend… way too much money on a machine I don’t really need for anything else. Open Office & Firefox work on my old laptop well enough…
I experience genre fiction in several complementary forms. Books might be most important, but movies, tv series, tabletop & video games are also great. For social gatherings tabletop games are just perfect, but when I want to immerse myself in a fantasy world and influence the events (and not only let my imagination go wild with wonderful stories prepared in a static form by writers) – I go for c(omputer)RPGs and strategies.
Witcher 3 is the best its genre has to offer. Based upon a series of novel by Andrzej Sapkowski, it lets you (for the third time, and parts 1 & 2 were also very good) become the Witcher and shape the events in a wonderful fantasy setting. That you can get to know before while reading highly recommended Sapkowski’s saga. Both are superb separately, and they complement each other greatly.
It’s beautiful, ain’t it? Big, interactive world that lives, with people living their lives and you changing destiny of nations. Or just walking around. It’s an amazing experience, and I strongly believe that every genre fiction lover should at least try it. This particular game, Wither 3, combines two features that not often go together in even the best games: big world and engaging story. Story that you don’t only witness, but shape, to reach one of multiple possible endings. Making some difficult choices along the way.
There even are strong female characters 🙂
There are many shitty games to be sure, but the % are not different than they are with books. You just have to do some research or ask friends.
Games I’d personally recommend to beginners are a series of interactive stories by Telltale. They published several titles where player gets a chance to play a part in a story taking place in a popular franchise. So far – Fables, The Walking Dead, Song of Ice and Fire, Batman… stories are very good, and gameplay is very easy, accessible to people without much experience in the gaming world. I’m a fan, but not the biggest one, since the scripts in these stories limit our choices heavily. It’s a pre-prepared story with limited choices, great if writers did good job (and they usually do), but it does not have the freedom of games like Witcher (or Skyrim, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic…). Still, a couple of hours of fun and a great place to start.
I’m a big Fables fan and The Wolf Among Us was a delight…
And there are also strategy games, if you want to influence events on a larger scale. You might build a city, manage a war, or lead entire civilizations from stone age to modernity. Personally, whenever I read a good book about World War II, I feel an urge to win a campaign or two in that setting. But a fantasy strategy I’m going to play on my new computer is a Total War: Warhammer, strategy/battle game set in a dark fantasy world of Warhammer.
Warhammer is a setting created by Games Workshop and used in many traditional games, with figurine Warhammer Fantasy Battle and, my personal favourite, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay being most popular. Technology is on early Renaissance level, with magic, fantasy races (elves, dwarves, orcs and other) and a terrible threat of Chaos, forces of (chaotic) evil periodically invading and wreaking havoc.
Many tie-in novels were published, fantasy and s/f (there is also a s/f version of the franchise, Warhammer 40 000), of various quality, as it usually is with tie-ins, but some are fairly decent sword & sorcery stuff.
What I love about is a chance to visit a world I’ve known half my life and lead my people in battle. Ok, for my people I’ll have to wait for a version that includes elves 😉 but still, breath-taking graphics and proven mechanics (Total War is a series with many great historical strategies, this one is their first fantasy title).
A good computer games greatly enhances amount of fun I get from a franchise. Writers are better than game designers at creating interesting worlds and if a good writer cooperates with experienced video games team… great things can be accomplished.
Several decades since first video games were created, we can create this medium as a mature one. It took time for mainstream critics to acknowledge comics, and video games are not there yet, but don;t be a snob, widen your horizons and play some good games 🙂