When The Sequel Is So Close, You Don't Know If You Should Play The Original


#1

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As yesterday was winding down, I stumbled across this stunning GIF from State of Decay 2, pulled from a recent IGN video walking through 25 minutes of the game:

That looks like my kind of game.

Lots of games have day-to-night cycles, but few commit to making the player feeling like they’re truly lost. State of Decay 2 looks like it’s going to make you uncomfortable with the decision to venture outside when the sun’s gone, and it looks f’ing terrifying.

State of Decay 2 doesn’t come until May 18! That’s all sorts of months from now!

For whatever reason, I never got around to the original. I’d heard all sorts of good things from people I trust, but it was always one of those games that seemed to get away from me, or something else came up. Eventually, there was enough distance that I couldn’t justify playing it for work, and when the sequel was announced, all bets were off.

The prospect of a sequel has kept the game at bay, especially since the original game was described as pretty janky, and State of Decay 2 seems committed to building on top of the parts that worked in the original, rather than starting from scratch.

And yet, I remain curious about State of Decay! Should I play it? Should I wait? Should I spend time with State of Decay 2, and if it’s interesting, go back? (The last one doesn’t seem especially likely, especially if there are quality of life improvements in the sequel.)

This is less a specific question about State of Decay than a broader question about how to handle an impending sequel, if you’ve never played the original game, but have every intention of diving into the next installment. This is especially relevant for games that aren't narrative heavy. State of Decay had a story, but it seems more like the kind of game where the real stories happen while you're actually playing, not in the cutscenes.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/437kbg/when-the-sequel-is-so-close-you-dont-know-if-you-should-play-the-original

#2

I feel like same with Ni No Kuni. I’ve never played the first one, and always wanted to. I’ve been toying with getting it over the last two months in preparation for Ni No Kuni 2, but since they aren’t in the same storyline - I haven’t been able to get myself to do it.

I know I am missing out on a great game, but I just can’t pull that trigger!


#3

I constantly self-sabotage when it comes to this.

If I get excited about a game which is a sequel, I feel like I must play the original first because I think I’m going to be missing out on some major context.

Usually what that means is that I evaluate whether I have time to play the original first and end up playing neither, unless I’ve had concrete assurance that the two games exist in completely different timelines.


#4

For State of Decay, I think that you can get a pretty good sense of what the game is like with an hour or two of play. And the Year-One Survival Edition isn’t too janky, and looks quite good at times. Dusk is real good. I think Patrick should stream the first couple hours, seems like it’d be a hoot.


#5

I’m having this dilemma now that I found that the psn preorder of Yakuza 6 comes with a 10 dollar copy of Yakuza 0. I know the story shouldn’t be too directly connected since there’s 5 games in between and Sega has a bunch of recap stuff online anyway. Do I start 0 now and play 6 when I’m done since it will definitely be out by then? Am I going to want to play two long story heavy games back to back when I’ve been spending the last several months on The Witcher 3? Should I just wait until 6 comes out and play that since that’s what everyone will be talking about and then go back to 0 when I’m feeling it? It’s just so hard when each game in the series is just so freaking long.


#6

When the Sequel Is So Close, I Know for Certain That I Absolutely Must Play the Original
by kcin

If a series is driven by any continuity whatsoever, I must experience all entries in sequential order. This is true of every form of media: TV shows, movies, books, comics, podcasts, etc. It’s so bad that, when the New 52 line of DC comics launched a few years ago, I got every major arc from the very first multi-book event way back in the 80’s, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and started reading in order to ‘catch up’. Keep in mind the New 52 line was meant as a total relaunch to completely remove the need to ‘catch up’.

It may seem like on its face that this was a stupid thing I inflicted on myself, but the truth is that I fucking LIVE for little references and callbacks in serialized fiction. It’s my favorite part of worldbuilding. It’s why I love immersive sims so much: I might read an email about a character whose daughter lives with their ex-husband now, and then 5 hours later elsewhere in the building, I open a drawer and find a card that reads “miss u mommy”. I get the same kick out of that as I do from a shot of Batman looking longingly at Catwoman for a single frame, and knowing what he’s thinking about. These kinds of small, ultimately meaningless touches do as much for me in getting a feel for the established history of a place and the people who populate it as the Codex in Mass Effect.

Having said all that, State of Decay has virtually no story, so what you’d be missing out on is the evolution of its mechanics. From an academic standpoint, that might be interesting, but as a player, I don’t think it’s something that’s necessary to getting the bigger picture of the State of Decay world. It’s full of zombies and people are trying to stay alive. The original is extremely compelling, but is ultimately only half-realized. I’m extremely excited to play the sequel, and if asked, I would 100% say “skip the original”.


#7

See, I absolutely have to play the earlier gmes in a series first (as long as it makes sense to), so… guess who’s finally playing their 5 year old copy of Ni no Kuni! It’s a little generic (I guess is how I’d put it?) when it comes to some of the RPG elements but it’s very charming and looks wonderful even now; I have acquired a deep love for Mr. Drippy. I’m playing it far slower than I intended to, though, so 2’s not getting played for a while I think…

For me, doing this has generally been rewarding- I played Nier/Drakengard 1/Drakengard 3 near the end of last year (well, I slowly played Nier from May-November because I was working on the Plat, and then the Drakengards in November) before Automata and really enjoyed that. Similarly, I finally played Yakuza in mid-2016 (so before 0 and Kiwami happened) and now intend to play through the rest of the series in order, with probably 2-4 this year at the least, starting with 2 later this month. It means I’ll get to 6 in like… a year and a half, if that, but I really want to see the entire thing through rather than skip ahead, particularly due to characters like Haruka growing up over the course of the series. I have a high tolerance for repetition and tedium, though (it just means podcasts in the worst case) and also love old/janky games so I’m probably more suited for that than most would reasonably put up with.

I’ve also totally set up these plans for myself for other series and failed (there was a year or two where I wanted to play through all of Ys… and ended up just playing 1 and 2), but I find it very rewarding. And of course there’s some things I really should be acting on but haven’t still- I Kickstarted both La-Mulana 2 and Pathologic’s remake and still haven’t gotten around to 1 and HD respectively.

…because yes, I am also someone who sees something being remade and grows a want to play the original first to compare, though in Pathologic’s case it is something I have wanted to play for years and years and HD makes it more accessible, so…


#8

This is funny, because it’s actually comic books that snapped me out of that line of thinking. DC in particular, with their spectacular mismanagement of everything starting around Infinite Crisis, did me in. DC drowned the market with weekly titles through Final Crisis, most of which wasn’t worth reading (with the possible exception of Black Adam’s arc in 52). What both DC (and eventually Marvel) lost focus of is that big events and reboots never matter as much as the strength of their individual titles, because none of those events ever stick – and the collateral damage and confusion to buyers isn’t worth it. (How many times has Marvel renumbered their titles in the past 5 years?)

Long titles always have the odds stacked against them – and long titles with rotating creators almost never work out. When you think about the best parts of a franchise, it usually comes down to specific arcs you can get in trades. I don’t really buy comics any more, but if I did, I’d aim for either titles I know are consistently good, or specific arcs that people like.

Anyway: I don’t actually care about playing through franchises if the early games aren’t good. Metro 2033 was a recent example of this, but the one that probably comes up for most people is The Witcher. I would be surprised if the majority of people who played Witcher 3 ever touched the first 2 games; you can’t even play the first game unless you have a PC.


#9

Funny you say that! I basically gave up after Infinite Crisis! I just can’t stand Green Lantern, and like 80% of every DC event revolves around Green Lantern. Anyway, I agree with your conclusion about DC and comics in general, though I’m probably more foolhardy than you. The whole exercise was a fascinating lesson in the comics industry, that’s for fuckin sure. Probably also explains why I’m only reading creator-owned series right now.


#10

I’m interested to see if anyone else can think of times when they’ve jumped into a sequel and really felt like they’re missing story references from previous titles?

Personally, I found it really hard to follow the story in Euro Truck Simulator 2 without having played the original.


#11

My strategy is to feel enough pressure to put off playing the new game and not enough pressure to play the previous ones. ;-(


#12

Yeah, I’d second this, that the first game is worth messing around with, but you won’t need to invest a ton of time. That way it’ll give a bit of perspective in terms of what’s changed, and you can still have some rad fun before 2 comes out! The Year-One ed. is much better, agreed.


#13

I’m kind of a weird one because I always find myself starting in the middle of a series without much care for what happens before it. In fact if I’ll probably just end up not playing a game if I get it into my head that I NEED to play the previous ones.

I’ ve started with Mass Effect 2, Witcher 2, Yakuza 5 and Nier Automata. I’ve tried to go back with a lot of them but it’s never really happened. I’m usually happy enough to just fill I’m the blanks as I go and enjoy the games.

@anarchobama Yakuza does a pretty good job of catching you up every game. It helps to know characters and what their relationships are, but if you’re willing to pay intent attention and do some reading in the glossary you’ll probably be fine. I started the series with 5 and I’ve had a pretty good time.

In terms of playing 0 before 6, probably won’t help much to be honest. You’ll understand a few things, but 0 has to kind of work within a lot of existing story details so it might as well be standalone.


#14

For me this is frequently less about “closeness” and more about, I guess time and sequence. I own the Witcher games and have wanted to play them all, but I also know that playing through the first one will be a huge slog and playing through the second one a less frustrating but still tiresome. They’re really long games, and I know I’ll probably enjoy Witcher 3 the most. I very frequently have this problem of wanting to go through things linearly. I’m listening to Autumn in Hieron, and enjoying it, but I am pining to listen to Counter/WEIGHT because it sounds like my shit. But. I just gotta. Do it in order.


#15

This can be a very frustrating dilema, especially for story driven games. I have played Mass Effect 1’s opening few hours more times than i can count with the intent of starting a whole series playthrough, but that game aged like shit and i end up giving up on the whole process. Conversely, I do a full Metal Gear Solid 1-5 playthrough once a year and those games all aged beautifully and not skipping any makes the closure in 4 so much more rewarding.

State of Decay is one of my favorite games of all time, and were i not in your position of playing all new releases for the purpose of coverage, I would absolutely play the original (or the xb1 re-release). Having said that, if you’ve got access to a key or the game pass and it would be free, give it a few hours to get a feel for how open ended and rewarding every risk you take is, and how frustrating it can be to wrestle with the controls at times. It may give you a greater appreciation of the sequel, and help you manage expectations.