If you’re like me, you may suffer from a chronic gaming problem that plagues many: Gaming Backlog.
As much as I try to enjoy the latest and greatest from Gaming Heaven as new titles release each month, inevitably each and every year some titles just fall by the way-side as newer, shinier things and those ever-tempting sequels take up many gaming hours and blocks of free-time. Drawing from my own backlog (one I affectionately call my “Pile of Shame”), I’ve probably accumulated over two to three years’ worth of titles both new and old: I’m still trying to find time to plow my way through some of the best titles of the last few years, such as Dishonored, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed III, and (*gulp*) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
It’s a daunting task: when you have a pile of games that you just haven’t ever gotten through, finding time to make a dent in them can seem like a task of Herculean Gamer Strength. But, with a little bit of time, strategy, and some good ol’ fashioned determination, you can, and will, conquer the seemingly un-conquerable Gaming Backlog, even with all the Steam sales and GameStop specials in the world. How, you ask?
With the latest installment of the DualShockers Guide, we’ll show you a few tips and a some strategies thrown in (sorry, no cheat codes though) for making dents in your Backlog, one game at a time.
Make Your List, Check it Twice, and Strategize
First thing’s first: make your Gaming Backlog List. Put on all of those titles that you’ve been meaning to finish, never started, got distracted by Grand Theft Au…I mean…by other things, and then start planning for what you need to play and when you’ll want to play it. Whether you have five titles to get through or 50, planning and mapping out your “gaming schedule” is always the best way to take on your Gaming Backlog head-on.
Have all of those 360-exclusives that you never got around to? What about the entire Uncharted series? Never got your toes into BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us and just didn’t get the chance to see what the fuss was all about? Add them to the list. Even with new releases coming out every week (especially the upcoming barrage of the holiday season), you can always plan out your schedule to coincide with what you definitely will want to play right on day one. Maybe get in one or two titles before you go out to the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag midnight launch party? Even if you do a plan of “Play X number of games for every X number of new releases I want to play,” you can gradually chip away at your backlog while still getting in some new releases as they come out, rather than just adding more wood to the Gaming Backlog fire.
Every Game is Better With a Friend (…unless it’s Aliens: Colonial Marines)
It’s a tried and true formula: every game is better than co-op. Yes, even the bad ones. (Maybe not “Aliens: Colonial Marines bad”…but otherwise everything else is mostly better).
A strategy my friends and I would always use to chip away at old games: make a party out of it. Rather than sitting and just playing through Heavy Rain all on our own and then chatting about it later, we got some food, passed the controller around, and had ourselves an amazing co-op experience (with a single-player game, of all things). Heavy Rain turned out to be the best single-player multiplayer game we could have possibly played: mostly at the expense of watching each other mess up, and especially to join in unison as we all looked and shouted for “JASON!”
But, the strategy still stands: more and more games are incorporating some kind of co-op play (even in the Dual Mode of the recently-released Beyond: Two Souls, where a second player can take control at points in the game), and even if they don’t, there’s nothing that playing a game while in the company of good (?) friends that can’t make a game-playing experience enjoyable.
Pick a game that you haven’t gotten to yet, see if you have any other buddies that want to play along (or watch and laugh), grab some pizza, and prepare for an awesome game-fueled night.
“Hey, There’s a Sequel Coming Out?!”
Even better incentive for working your way through that ever-increasing Gaming Backlog? Trying to get ahead of all those new releases from your favorite franchises: ESPECIALLY in this coming holiday season. I’m looking at you, Call of Duty, Batman, Assassin’s Creed, and Battlefield.
But regardless, if there is a new addition coming from your favorite franchise, taking the opportunity to jump ahead or catch up on previous titles in the lull before the sequel drops is as great a motivation as any. With tons of sequels coming out for both the franchises listed previously and many others already out, whether you’re trying to catch up on Grand Theft Auto V or get your PokeAdventure started in Pokemon X & Y, taking the month or few weeks before the latest sequel hits can help prioritize your list and get you through games with the small incentive of a time crunch before you get to play the latest edition.
Variety is the Spice of (Gaming) Life
My Gaming Backlog has a pretty eclectic variety: I have less-demanding titles on my list like Far Cry 3, to the ever-consuming RPGs that I have still never gotten to plow through, like The World Ends With You or my long-desired anticipation of playing through Chrono Trigger.
Case in point: mixing up what you play will always keep you interested and prevent burning you out when trying to go through your Backlog. As exciting as the prospect of having multiple RPGs to go through may sound, it will quickly grow tiring after your 50th hour of level-grinding. Instead, opt for a more varied mix of titles on your Backlog, whether that is in genre, length, series, or whatever other parameters you want to set for getting through those long-gestating titles on your gaming back-burner.
There are plenty of ways you can approach this: follow-up that exhausting and comprehensive play-through of Mass Effect 3 with a nice, brisk jaunt through The Walking Dead. After feeling your accomplishment of finishing Remember Me, dust off that copy of Final Fantasy XIII-2 for an epic, fun-filled journey. Chasing a time-consuming adventure with a briefer gaming skirmish is a great way to keep things interesting, prevent burnout, and provide a palate cleanser until you’re ready to mark off that next title on your list.
Start a Game = Finish a Game
Often the biggest obstacle to getting through a Backlog: committing to a game and seeing it through to the finish.
As a frequent Game Non-Completer, I can definitely cry guilty of this, having started many a game multiple times (four times for Okamiden, over five times for the original Mass Effect before I could finally get in and finish it) without feeling into it enough to finish it. It can be for whatever reason: something else catches your eye, a game’s beginning just takes a while longer than usual to get into, etc.
Having recently finished off Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance as a result of starting-stopping it multiple times, the key to successfully going through a Gaming Backlog is to just go all-in: commit to starting a title, and even more so, commit to finishing it. Even if you just start out slow by taking things on one title at a time, it’s definitely better to leave a trail of completed titles one at a time rather than a wasteland of half-finished (but never returned to titles) left with 55% completion save states.
You Can Do It: Gaming Backlog is a “Good Problem.”
Gaming Backlog is the ultimate “good problem.” While many can say that there is never “too much of a good thing,” having a Gaming Backlog can seem most often at times like a chore that just never gets lifted, and only grows larger instead of shrinking. But, with some of the tips above and more than a little determination, Gaming Backlog will turn out to be just as much of a “good problem” as you can think it is. You have all the games that you could want or need to play: now go out there and play them.