If you’re like me, you probably play a number of games at the same time in some fruitless attempt to beat every release. Sometimes you’ll end up beating four games over the course of a week, while other titles (read: first-person GTA V) will steal your heart completely. When splitting up gaming time, having an in-depth enjoyment maximization system isn’t just ideal, it’s crucial. Maybe you’ll play a massive open-world game until you get bored, then switch to an action-packed 2D platformer. For every first-person shooter you sink four straight hours into, you might throw in a couple of handheld JRPG grinding. As robust as these hypothetical systems are, they don’t hold a candle to the two most complimentary games of 2014. I’m talking about two games that play up each other’s strengths while covering for their respective weaknesses. Those two games?
Taking on two massive open-world titles at the same time might seem like an arduous task, but it’s far more realistic now that this year’s major release season has ended. These sandbox titles often feel somewhat similar: collect some stuff, unlock fast travel points, do some side missions, beat the story. Sure, these elements are present in both Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4, but their respective combat styles and overall pacing differ immensely.With the holiday season rapidly approaching and free time likely to increase due to whatever vacation time you’ve saved up from that job you can’t stand, now is the perfect time to dive into a couple of ginormous titles.
Dragon Age: Inquisiton is very clearly the meatier affair. While BioWare’s newest epic is the type of game that you’ll log into, blink, and notice that your entire weekend is gone, it’s also a snap to pick up and play. If you have two hours to spare, undertaking one of the larger story-based quests or simply wandering around one or more of the seemingly endless sandboxes is the perfect use of your time. While Dragon Age: Inquisition has an overarching storyline, individual missions often feel like their own standalone tales. The perfect example of this is “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts,” the main mission that takes the Inquisitor inside of the Winter Palace of Orlais. Full immersion into the world of Orlesian politics is absolutely necessary for success. By raising a “Court Approval” meter through careful dialogue choices, players have the opportunity to avoid one of Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s most difficult boss battles. Because of the heavy-handed nature of some of these more lore-dense moments, you might find yourself struggling to pay attention for hours on end. Don’t fret, humble video game connoisseur, the solution is – as always – a hefty dose mindless violence!
While I love me some Dragon Age: Inquisition, I often find myself juggling multiple games at the same time, and sinking 10 hours a day into a single RPG would literally ruin my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are some days where I forget about the whole “bathing” thing and go full-on nerd with a game, but other games pile up and eventually I need to restock the old coffee supply. Knowing full well that Far Cry 4 is all but essential gaming for the discerning player in 2014, I set off on a quest to beat the sequel to Vaas: the game. So far I’ve accomplished nothing, and that’s perfectly okay.
Far Cry 4 sports some of the best-looking environments of 2014, so just inhabiting Kyrat is a treat. Collecting everything on an Ubisoft game’s map is one of the most mindless yet enthralling activities known to man (get out of here with that “raising a family” nonsense, my legacy lies in 500 hidden chests). Having an overarching excuse to muck around in an intriguing sandbox makes the mundane enjoyable, the effortless fruitful, and the lame exciting. The best part of Far Cry 4 isn’t the story, it’s using tight first-person mechanics to fight your way through a stunning sandbox filled with spontaneous firefights, outpost battles, and honey badger attacks. Sure, Pagan Min is an exciting villain, but you know what else is exciting? Throwing molotov cocktails at rhinos. After playing the sometimes overwhelming epic that is Dragon Age: Inquisition, nothing feels better than stomping on pigs from atop a massive elephant. Oh, and the switch from third-person to first-person doesn’t hurt the mindless immersion factor, either.
Dragon Age: Inquisition and Far Cry 4 are two of the best individual titles we’ve seen this fall, but they work even better as a pair. Both demand your full attention, but the cerebral nature of the former often feels like it uses an entirely different part of your brain than the latter’s “woah, dude” badassery. If you’re considering picking up one of these games – which you should because nobody really needs car insurance or food – the other should be firmly on your radar as well. Ghosts don’t exist, so take the money you were going to spend on that spirit-eliminating Himalayan salt lamp and put it towards a complimentary title for your fancy video game machine.