In today’s gaming world gamers are more demanding with every passing day. New games are expected to have sprawling, massive, cohesive worlds. This is both due to the technological advancements available for both consoles and PCs alike. Not long ago 4K was a novelty. But, nowadays even consoles are capable of, albeit not always native, UHD resolutions. This has led to constant debate, do graphics really matter that much or is it gameplay more critical?
Let’s go back to basics
This question is now something viable due to the sheer amount of graphical and processing powers gaming devices are capable of handling. Although, this was out of the question, or at least less relevant, when consoles were on the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Back then, what really made a game stand out from the rest was the design decisions and overall art direction, rather than the complexity of graphics or the size of the world.
That same principle can be applied to this current generation of gaming. Rather than concentrating on how photorealistic a game looks, I think it is much more important to consider the general intent and aesthetics as a whole. Games like Journey or Inside are not graphically demanding, but their ambiance and art direction is superb. Graphics alone make no sense unless they are bound together with great art concepts to create unique and entertaining worlds worth exploring.
A game might look gorgeous, but if it doesn’t “feel” right when you play it, it’s more than likely going to be a bad or mediocre experience at the very best. Mario Bros. was so famous because of how well it delivered its platform mechanic. The game was entertaining and easy to understand, yet challenging to master as you progress. This responsive and well-balanced gameplay made Mario the masterpiece everyone nows.
Gameplay is the essence and heart of a game. It is the tool storytelling utilizes to interact with the players and keep them entwined in the plot created. Bad gameplay can cause even the best story narrative to be tarnished. Games like Celeste create great stories by creating a good paced narrative mixed with some tight and challenging gameplay.
Gameplay or Graphics? In the words of Thanos, “Perfectly Balanced”
Gameplay and graphics go hand by hand. More than graphics is the art direction that matters. When a great art direct meets with well-executed gameplay, a great game is born. Stories depend on these elements to be effective.
One doesn’t have more weight more than the other, both are impactful to the way we perceive and value a title. What is viable is that a gamer appreciates more one of this than the other. Some players like visually stunning games and are not really looking for the best gameplay or the best story. Other, are more interested in good-looking games with precise controls, like Overwatch. In the end, it is a matter of personal preference and not a given. Each gamer has its own way of appreciating the titles they enjoy.
What do you enjoy more in a game? Are you looking for the most realistic titles? Or are you interested in precise gameplay or great stories? Chime in the comments below!