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Top Ten Most Immersive Games I've Played

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PostJason Tandro Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:36 pm   Post subject: Top Ten Most Immersive Games I've Played Reply with quote

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Immersion is different for everybody. I know some people really get hooked in by different elements. For me the key thing is that I have to feel like I'm in that world. In many games it's very obvious that I'm playing a game, etc. But some games combine the right elements to really suck me in.

This is not a definitive list. Your mileage may vary. But these are the top ten games that have just entrapped me in their world.

Honorable Mentions:

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Okay, so I am not a twenty-something hot girl with a great rack who kicks ass... though I am married to one. This is my first honorable mention because of the world that it constructed. Yes, the world was relatively small, but it was incredibly visually detailed. My first and second times playing through it I was astounded by the attention to detail. Third and fourth time, yes you start to see the cracks in the wallpaper but I've always been a sucker for a realistic day/night transition and the world itself was very fascinating. Not super immersive but I did find myself exploring just for the fun of seeing what was out there. Close but no #10 spot.

Simpsons Hit & Run
I know this one is out of left field as how the hell can you get immersed in a Simpson game? Well the fact of the matter is I felt that this was as close to an accurate map of Springfield as we're ever going to get, coupled with the fact that the game piles on the secrets which make exploration all the more fun. To call it a baby version of Grand Theft Auto is being a little too generous but it does remain the only Simpsons game that is actually worth playing even if you only just want to drive around and hunt for secrets.

Number 10: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Just a short bit on this one. More or less what this one comes down to is AI companions that I actually feel I can trust. Halo's marines are about as useless backup as you can get. But your marine buddies will help you out if you follow their tactics properly. I found it was much easier to play out routine rather than trying to Rambo (especially since you really can't in Call of Duty), whenever I was playing I really felt connected to these guys. Not as immersive as many others on the list but I still feel that it counts.

Number 9: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
For all the people who complain about its short length; that is a given. But the fact of the matter is even amongst those who complain about its length everybody agrees that this is the best we've ever seen a Metal Gear Solid. Rather than being locked in boxy corridors for hours on end and being forced to endure never-ending cutscenes, this is the first Metal Gear Solid game where I really feel like I'm the one in control. The way through Omega Base is not spelled out for me. I'm the one who has to make the right decisions about how to proceed, I'm the one who has to be careful about my COA, and I'm the one who determines how much or how little intel I have based on my ability to use my resources. MGSV made Metal Gear Solid fun again. I can't wait for Phantom Pain.

Number 8: The Sims
It's a life simulator, of course it's going to be immersive but even moreso than I anticipated. Somehow this game made all the boring day to day realities of life something that I just couldn't wait to do. And hey, if I got bored, I could build little serial killer cells for my neighbors and watch them slowly starve to death. Now THAT'S immersion!

Number 7: Minecraft
I mean, do I really need to explain this one? Minecraft. The world is your oyster. And even with numerous blocky maps there really still is a huge incentive to explore. Sometimes I won't even play the game proper I'll just fly around in creative mode and just see what the world has to offer. Having clocked something like 80 hours into a world and then seeing it wiped out in the blink of a harddrive ( I play the XBOX version) is not so fun though. Still this one rates number 7 on my list.

Number 6: Fallout 3
This game I never finished but you can't get much more immersive than a blown up version of your hometown. As somebody who lives in Virginia this is very close to my neck of the woods. It's also centered around post-apocalpytic survival which is a huge plus for yours truly (seriously I design endgame proof survival shelters for fun). The only reason it's not higher on the list is because of the world map. To be quite frank... what is the point of exploring when you know you're just going to find more goddamn barren wasteland?

Number 5: .hack//GAME
I've already talked your ear off on this one a lot, it's featured in a few other of these top ten lists. To put it simply, this was my MMO before I played MMOs and this is a game that I want on my desert island to simulate having friends. The procedurally generated worlds that allow for over 100,000 possible combinations will always add a reason to explore. With keywords controlling different elements there are lot of potential layouts. And this game perfects the joy of grinding, which let's face it IS a thing.

Number 4: Final Fantasy XII
Okay, here is this game's time to shine. The story? Boring and hard to follow. The characters? Except Balthier and Basch they were annoying as hell or else didn't leave much of an impression. The combat? Interesting and fun to play with but it made boss fights kind of tricky. But my god the world is beautiful and I've never been in a more immersive Final Fantasy game. After just a few short story segments you are free to explore a good chunk of the world and you gain more and more segments in leaps and bounds every few story missions. I would spend hours just hiking through the mountains, deserts, and plains just randomly killing enemies as I moved around and explored. And this is a game that REALLY rewards your exploration. In fact it rewards your exploration of the same area by offering chain bonuses when you kill the same type of monster. Grinding? Sure, but I've seen the world. To this day one of my big regrets is not finishing it, but unfortunately its other shortcomings got in the way of me getting to the end.

Number 3:Shadow of the Colossus
I will admit wholeheartedly to not "getting" this game the first time around. I kept saying to myself "this is a huge world but there's nothing in it." How naive I was. The world itself is what is there, and with an art style that was years ahead of its time it crafted what is undoubtedly the most beautiful free-roaming game world ever crafted... at least in my mind. Having the time between colossi fights to explore and get to the next area was simply beautiful. Yet another world that I wish I'd spent more time in. I never beat the final colossi though I'd seen my friend do it so I know "how it ends". But still it was an incredible piece and I look forward to playing it again hopefully quite soon.

Number 2:Skyrim
I loved Hearthfire. There I said it. Mods make the game ever better but even if you are limited to the console version, Hearthfire adds the ability to build your own home and raise a family and I swear to you, exploring the already amazingly beautiful world of Skyrim was made even better by adding these touches. I'm sure I've told the story about how I spent an in-game week simply spending time around Riverwood earning gold as a lumberjack and just being a "citizen". These are the moments that make the game amazing. The quiet moments between slaying dragons and fending off the undead. This is what I mean by immersion.

Number 1:Grand Theft Auto 5
But it also helps if you recognize a few things too. GTA V is basically a game built around immersion. You have control over three characters but they may as well just be little yous running around blowing shit up. But if you can stop looting and shooting you will appreciate how finely crafted this world is. From the variety of real-world inspired minigames such as golf and racing to the more "freeform" activities like skydiving, scuba diving and mountain climbing. This is a world that says "hey, I'm a big ass playground. Let's have some fun". The fact that there was no locale limitation from the get-go unlike every other GTA before it was something spectacular especially given the breathtaking size of the world map. This is a world that I can never tire of living in.

Okay so these are mine. What are yours? [/img]
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PostRaylazor Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 6:44 am   Post subject: Reply with quote

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I can agree with a lot of the games you picked being on this list. People experience games differently, but sometimes we have games that make you just feel like you're sucked in. Here's my list!

Note: Immersion for me is how well the game is able to make me feel like I am one of the characters, or how vividly I can imagine stuff thanks to the medium. Another thing is that this list will mainly comprise of PC games since I've grown into PC gaming.

Honourable Mention: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
FFCC:RoF gave me the immersion as a spectator to a storybook. Throughout the entire story, emotions are conveyed through a cheesy, but loving matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the game to the point where I've played it multiple times!

10. Don't Starve (PC) - Never Beat It
Perhaps the art direction of Don't Starve doesn't exactly take you to the innards of the world. Your character is a carefully crafted in this Tim Burton-esque world filled with danger and different reactions. Don't Starve puts me at the edge of my seat through it's artwork which is able to intensify or dull any scenario.
However, Don't Starve only hits #10 in my opinion due to the lack of player encounters. It's a game where you can quickly learn the mechanics in and out, and that leaves it quickly a hollowed shell with nothing to fear.

9. F.E.A.R. 1-2 (PC)
The first time I played F.E.A.R I was dumped into this world of a paranormal threat that clearly didn't care much for regular Joe Schmoes. Your character, Point Man, has the ability to 'slow down time' through his superhuman reaction speeds. Through the mechanics of the game, you truly feel like one of the many hulking soldiers on the battlefield, each fighting for a different reason. The game leaves you afraid, but also pushes you to think like Point Man, hardened and ready to take on everyone as the one man army he is.
Eventually F.E.A.R. falls into repetitive cliches played out to the point where I no longer feel like the character, but rather a spectator of a very, very generic movie. It may not keep it's immersion constant, but the game plays out as an excellent try or buy through the gameplay itself.
Oh, and let's not talk about FEAR 3. I bought it a while back, and I'm still contemplating whether I should even touch that trash or not.

8. Minecraft (PC)
Minecraft alone is not immersive. However, take a daily out of your life and just sit down with a hardcore survival over night. Turn those sound effects up and soon you'll be feeling the same pressure poor ol' Steve is probably feeling. The first night is always the worst. No matter how seasoned you are, you can never cover all your bases. You spend your nights restless trying to patch your defenses, trying to keep your hunger at bay, and trying to not mind the sounds of past survivors moaning at your door.
In the end however, Minecraft was built for creation, not immersion. It's commendable what people have managed to pull off with custom maps and game modes. But it will always be the sandbox game where you play as god.

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC)
Skyrim has you start by riding inside a cart. We've all seen the opening, and we all know about how close you were to crossing that border. Unfortunately, you are immediately plunged into two rival factions, problems waiting to ambush whatever path you take, and a massive world of snow and sweetrolls. Although others tend to disagree, I find it brilliant that Skyrim dropped trash items like plates and buckets into the game. Everything builds into this world, and even if you can't carry twenty cauldrons, it's always neat to pick them up.
Skyrim dries up through repetitive dialogue. Not every guard should have arrows in their knees. AI and character personality types become blaring obvious as things go along, and the quick acceptance of the protagonist plays against it. But everything has it's flaws when the game lasts ~1000 hours, right?

6. Half Life 2 (PC)
Half Life is a controversial choice. Some gamers simply find it to be a mediocre shoot-things game, others find it to be a series of consistent excellence. I juggle on the fine line between both. Although Half Life is old and slightly uncooked through some of its gameplay, it makes up with a wonderfully imaginative environment. You fill the shoes of LabCoat McGee- someone who doomed the world in order to save it. Your adventures lead you through irradiated swamps to destroyed city complexes. No matter what side you're on, no one can deny how unique City 17 is.
Half Life 2 simply is unable to top the list however, the engine is basic compared to today's standards, and it suffers from some of the same problems as Skyrim and F.E.A.R.

4. System Shock 2 (PC) - Never Beat It
Look at you hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone... You certainly sound like the description SHODAN has given you. Welcome to the Von Braun. Despite the linear start, System Shock 2 has no problem dumping failure all over you just like Dark Souls. Every move you take and attack you make has weight, and the claustrophobic hallways soon become your best friend, as it means only enemies can come from one of two directions. I was left in a state of misery, lost on a ship in space I had no control over, while giant sticks of beef jerky attempted to kill me with broken shotguns and whatnot. But at the same time, I felt empowered. I can integrate whatever I please into myself. I choose what weapon I want to be, and each small victory along the way is satisfying for both you both in and out of character.

5. Dark Souls (PC) - Never Beat It
Dark Souls' third person perspective may choose to play against the immersion of the game, but everything else certainly doesn't! Dark Souls provide beautifully crafted areas that all tie into each other eventually, creating this 'whole world' feeling instead of your regular World 1-1 to World 8-4. The weapon and equipment mechanics are played to excellence, every swing you give can make you feel defenseless (I play with a Zweihander/Silly Weapons), and the weight every successful or failed swing makes you feel like either the lightest feather, or the heaviest anvil. The world is big and you a small creature part of its system. Will you choose to survive? Or will you die? Most likely the latter multiple times.

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (PC)
But Ray, how in the world does an arcade shooter get this far up on the list? CS:GO is something like a blanket. While the other games were essentially heating vents that chose to heat you either or, you have to decide whether you want CS:GO to heat you or not. Choose to wrap yourself in a blanket, and you'll be quick to blank out anything else around you.
From the musical score to the weight of the weaponry, it's a game that chooses to glorify or humiliate you. Everything can be out of control and difficult at the start, but at the same time you can make absolutely everything perfect. Every kill you get has a satisfying feel when you know your skill was superior to the enemy's. Every time the enemy has planted the bomb, you have this quick rush of panic and urgency to clear an entire bomb site within a time limit. CS:GO is simply a game that you play, or it plays you.

2. Pikmin 1/2 (GCN)
Perhaps I have a bias to Earth- my home planet, but Pikmin 2 gives you the opportunity to fill yourself into the shoes of a small astronaut looking for a way to get home. The overgrown, post-human environments are beautiful, full of life, and abundant with recognizable things no more. The world of Pikmin (or Earth) is a home away from home that is still home. The game brings everything you think you'd know about your home planet, and scraps it. Certain things are familiar, but everything feels like washed out nostalgia. Through the smaller perspective, players are able to gain a new perspective of our world and shows off how every little bit of scrap you find is a gem of their own. This paired along with descriptions and uses the computer chooses to brand it with makes you feel truly alien. You'll work through that 10,000 poko debt in no time.

1. Metro 2033/Last Light (PC)
The day you're dropped in a post-apocalyptic Moscow is the same day you're forced into immersion. The world around you is crumbling, and not because the text told you so. Other survivors are crammed into small prison cell rooms, trying to escape the nuclear winter on the surface. The invasion of privacy both tells what kind of person you are, and how ruined things are. Everyone you come across has a story tied to them, whether they're important to the story or not, and you know it. Both underground tunnels and the surface has this eerie dystopian beauty. The gameplay is gorgeous when you're forced to count the bullets you want to fire and trade. Seeing your exact amount of bullets in the magazine is an excellent detail. The guns feel lofty and frankly a piece of junk. At the same time, a piece of junk that will save your life multiple times. People will take advantage of your kindness, and your choice is avoid them or confront them. The monsters are evil and fill every single human being with terror or anger. The side narration brings you closer to Artyom, and helps you understand the reasons why he chooses to fight. Through a combination of today's technology, semi-linear worlds, environment, atmosphere, and gameplay, Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light is one of the premier games of storytelling. Welcome to the Metro.

Hopefully my english wasn't too broken. It's a bit odd saying that since I'm most familiar with english. Nonetheless I hope this post helps you see why these games are what they are to me. Someone elses turn to write! Razz

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Posttay120n64 Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:56 am   Post subject: Reply with quote

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Immersion is weird because there are a lot of games that consume my mind and life, if only briefly. And it really doesn't take much for a game to become "real" or, I suppose, for it to become existential in a way. So tbh, I don't really know how to approach this question. Among my all-time favorites are games that I get lost in simply because I love them so much and am so familiar with them. These games are basically real to me. Games like:

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Illusion of Gaia
King's Quest VI
Super Mario World

And then there are games that suck me in due to their addictive nature. Whether by story or mechanics, there are some games that I can't stop playing until I finish them. Games like:

EVERY Smash Bros.
EVERY Kingdom Hearts
EVERY Legend of Zelda
Batman: Arkham City
Chrono Trigger

I'd have to give this question more thought, I suppose.

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