I may be having a slight issue with The Outer Worlds, aka, the first Fallout-style game that I’ve really gotten into. See, I’ve gotten really into it. So much so that, several hours in, I’m still in Edgewater/The Emerald Vale (the game’s starting area), because I’m doing every single side quest.
Collecting grave fees? You got it, Silas. Collecting fingers for the hot butch constable, even though she’s a cop? Yes, to my shame. Rewiring the robots AND making my robot buddy Jeremy fight the other automatons? If both options are allowed, I want both boxes checked. I’m talking to every rando in town and searching every last nook and cranny and dirty toilet in this whole stinking town, because I want everything. Oh man, this is going to be the death of me.
I’m not usually a person who needs to see 100% of a game. I like a good side quest, and I enjoy exploration, but only immersive sims (especially Prey and the more recent Dishonored games) have awakened the full I need to see everything instinct.
I have my theories on why The Outer Worlds is doing this to me. It’s not an immersive sim, really (the toilets don’t flush, or, at least not all of them do), but it is scratching some of the same itches. It’s letting me sneak around dopey guards and hack into computers, and it has a tightly-designed gameplay loop of shoot bad guys, loot bad guys, level up, and talk to lots of people and enjoy snarky anti-capitalist dialogue in rapid succession. It feels very good to play, and I’m always making constant progress. If this is all happening in the context of a quest, it’s tricking my brain into making me think I am accomplishing things and that means I need to keep going until every option is exhausted.
I do hope this effect wears off a bit, because, well, I’m enjoying the game and I’d rather have fond memories of it, not 3am sweats and fever dreams because I feel a deep need to do every single thing. Games, for me, are not checklists of mandatory activities a la an actual job, they are experiences I’d rather enjoy and hey, enjoy covering for my actual job.
So, once I’m out of Edgewater, I’ll make myself purposely miss the first quest that does not spark immediate joy. Or, at least I’ll try to.