After nearly half a million votes, you - the readers of Dorkly and the clickers of toplist options - have decided what are the best feelings in videogames. The things that fill us with joy. The things that make us squeal internally (and sometimes externally). The things that make us feel all fuzzy and warm inside. So, without further adieu, here are the 20 best feelings in videogames.
Most games start you out in the wastes of nothingness, or in some rinky-dink one-horse town that somehow has a functioning economy with three houses and a single shop. But eventually, you find your way to your first BIG CITY (or some equivalent, like The Citadel in Mass Effect). It's huge - bigger than anything you'd encountered up to that point, absolutely filled to the brim with locations and NPCs to get bored with. But mostly, it FEELS like a real town! It's big enough to have tons of nooks and crannies to explore, people to interact with, and you might even be able to get lost in it. And best of all, unlike real cities, there's way less people taking a piss in the streets.
The internet is a wonderful, incredible thing. You're on it right now! If it weren't for the internet, we'd have to send this off to a printer and mail all of you copies. And odds are the GIFs in this article would NOT function very well in print. I mean, I haven't tried yet, but I'm guessing.
I bring this up because - as great as the internet is - it's spoiled a few things for us, such as Easter eggs. In the days of yore, Easter eggs were actually things you could discover on your own, or maybe a few months after the fact in one of the 900 gaming magazines at the grocery (I MISS YOU, TIPS & TRICKS). And the discovery of an Easter egg on your own is a deliriously great feeling - you've stumbled across something that few would ever find AT ALL, and even fewer would even know what they were looking at. It was a wink from the developer, something added that really didn't serve any function except to be appreciated by you.
And that's not to say Easter eggs discovered by the internet aren't amazing too - while some of the more fun ones might get spoiled early in new games, other ones take the work of many players months to decipher and figure out. Remember the Arkham City Easter egg hidden in Arkham Asylum? That wasn't discovered at first - it took a long time, and most would have definitely never found it on their own. But once it was out and on the internet, it sent people into a frenzy - because HOW COOL IS THAT?
We live in an incredible, INCREDIBLE age for gaming - some of you may not remember it, but those terrible-looking NES games that seem so crummy and cheap were expensive as hell. Like, we're talking in the $70+ range here, and that's in 1980s dollars, which were worth a LOT more than today dollars. Speaking of, buying games today is fantastic - thanks to the decline of cartridges and the rise of digital distribution, games are cheaper than ever. Platforms like GOG.com, Humble Bundle, and Steam regularly slash prices on PC games all the time - games that were brand new AAA titles a year ago can be bought for $10. Sites like eBay allow you to pick up old and obscure games for dirt cheap prices. And emulation...is illegal, and you shouldn't be doing it. Ahem.
But the point is, games that used to cost a bunch of money can be picked up for practically nothing these days. Was there an old game you thought looked awesome but you couldn't afford at the time? Now you can get it for a few bucks! It's ridiculously easy to build a very respectable gaming catalogue on the cheap, and each purchase you make of a gaming classic that's now 90% cheaper than it was originally will make your heart sing.
Again - the internet has made videogame secrets in general much more common knowledge, but there's still times when you'll accidentally walk down the wrong corridor, or blow up a random wall, or whatever - and find yourself in a secret location most would never tread. Level Ate in Earthworm Jim 2 is a perfect example, or the Chris Houlihan room in A Link to the Past, or...like, 6 of the endings in The Stanley Parable. It's like moving into a new house and finding a secret cubby hole - except this time, there ISN'T a dead raccoon inside.
Speaking of, anyone know how to get dead raccoon odors out of your apartment?
I love secret characters - I especially love them because the characters you control ARE the game, to some degree, and you think you have a limited number of options. The limited number of characters are basically the limits to which you can experience the game...until you get a secret character, at which point you realize the options are SO MUCH bigger than you'd anticipated. With games like Symphony of the Night, unlocking Richter basically doubles the game's length, giving you a new excuse to replay the entire game with a new character who has his own playstyle different from Alucard's. With games like Mortal Kombat II or Super Smash Bros., another character is just another way to mix up the endless multiplayer battles you can have. The point is, DLC secret characters are garbage and I hate them.
JAVIK SHOULD HAVE BEEN FREE, MASS EFFECT 3.
Yes, a lot of games are overpriced. And yes, as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin's Creed Unity recently proved (not that this is something that REQUIRED re-proving), new games are often shipped completely broken nowadays. And yes, I'm answering self-asked questions to introduce an entry. But none of this matters, because buying a new game is just a really, really good feeling.
Months of hype and anticipation and high hopes are all tied up in that one moment - whether you go to a midnight launch or download the game or just buy it as soon as you get a chance, it feels great to have a new, shiny game that you know thousands of others are buying at the same time. You're a part of something, a new experience that the internet hasn't had a chance to spoil yet, and you get to go on a journey of discovery and awe. And there's a pretty good chance the game will disappoint you - but there's also a chance that it won't, and it'll be one of those mythical top-tier gaming adventures that sticks with you for years and years.
Once the day one patch finishes downloading, that is.
One of the great advents of modern gaming is the push for more and more custom characterization - the chance to really mold the person or being you'll be inhabiting for a long period of time, and make them your own. While it costs characters iconic looks, it allows you to feel more connected to games than ever before, and that's really what games are all about. Games like Mass Effect do it wonderfully, allowing you to mold your character on tons and tons of levels, from physical makeup to gender. Hell, even Bethesda first person games - where you pretty much NEVER see your own face - allow you to have tons of input into how your character looks. Because, as in real life, it doesn't matter whether YOU can see you, but that you had a choice in determing how you present yourself to the world.
Or, you can just make a bunch of f*cked up Shepard faces. Because that's pretty fun too.
Where did the concept of an uber-weapon really come from? Probably the best example is the BFG in DOOM, but since then, games have explored new uncharted territory in hiding weird, superpowerful weaponry in their games - from alien ray guns in Fallout to the legendary Concrete Donkey in Worms, these weapons basically turn you into a god - and that's what's so amazing about them. Most games start you off with nothing - you're scraping along just to get by. By the time you have the Great Deity's Mask, you know you've arrived - you're no longer the helpless wimp you began as, but rather you're a strong, powerful force to be reckoned with. Instead of fearing enemies, the villains should fear YOU.
And unlike Spider-Man, with great power comes absolutely zero responsibility (except to kill some bad guys real good).
One of the first big videogames ever was Pong - and there's a reason for that. Games have always functioned best as social experiences - it's why the rise of MLG has happened: it's exciting to watch a group of actual people playing games together, reacting intelligently, and behaving in ways computer-controlled players couldn't. Plus, it's just fun to have someone alongside you for an adventure, especially a long co-op campaign, so you have someone to - for lack of a better term - share war stories with. You both go through the same experiences, have the same encounters, and can laugh about the same things. It's bonding on a whole 'nother level - LITERALLY! Haha, this has been A Videogame Joke.
But for real - co-op games are the best. A solitary campaign can be a very lonely experience - but having someone by your side to share the trek with changes the dynamics of everything. Of course, you'll get into screaming matches over loot-ownership and "WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU SAVE ME?" arguments, but that's all part of the journey.
The "What?!" at the beginning of "What?! Charmander is evolving!" was legit - I had no idea how Pokemon worked, and the fact that my little baby dinosaur was mutating into a NEW teen dinosaur was mind-blowing. I had never seen a game do anything like that before, and the whole concept of Pokemon evolving became an obsession (mostly manifesting in "trying to evolve Pokemon that definitely don't evolve" - lookin' at you, Gen 1 Electabuzz that I leveled to 100 because I was a dumb kid who refused to listen to reason).
The first time I realized my allies could die was all the way back in The Oregon Trail, when poor Ezekiel drowned in a tragic river fording - at the time, it didn't bother me too much (Ezekiel was nothing but dead weight, frankly), but times have changed. Games like XCOM and Mass Effect, while two wildly different examples that handle this in different ways, have made you appreciate your allies so much more by making them mere mortals. Most games allow you to heal up your party after they're defeated, but XCOM leaves each death permanent. Most games would never kill a distinct, lovable personality from your party, but in Mass Effect 2, your whole squad of wonderful characters can be lost thanks to your poor planning. And so it becomes more important than ever to get through an entire game without screwing up. Whether that means reloading an old save repeatedly until you get it right (and it absolutely DOES mean that), sometimes you have to act like a real soldier, and do whatever you can to ensure no one is left behind.
When it comes down to it, a lot of games are like smashing together action figure toys when you were a kid. Games are meant to be PLAYED - and dressing up your characters in weird and ridiculous outfits is a huge part of the fun. Of course, sometimes the only way to GET those outfits are by murdering the NPCs currently wearing them.
I'm sorry, Outcast Paladin in Fallout 3, but your armor was WAY too rad for me to walk past you without shooting you in the head with a rocket launcher. Forgive me.
Most of the time, FUCK Fez. It was a beautiful, charming game, with incredible mechanics and design that left me completely enamored with the final game, but FUCK IT. Because some of those puzzles are just goddamn MEAN in their complexity. Even once you've figured out the multiple codes and languages masked in the game, some of the puzzles are so out of control in their ridiculousness that it stretches your patience to the breaking point.
But then, sometimes, I take back my "FUCK IT." Because after staring at a puzzle for way too long, getting way too frustrated, and trying everything, something dawns on me - the solution. I try to get it just right, and IT WORKS. And there is no better feeling in the world, conquering an insane puzzle that the developer KNEW was insanely cruel when they designed it.
But, honestly, some of those anti-cubes are just...FUCK FEZ GODDAMMIT.
The introduction of morality and choices with consequences changed the ways many games were played - instead of a totally linear narrative, you were now an actually active participant in the world of the game. What you did MATTERED - and as a result, the ending you and the world around you would face could be determined by your actions. And you wanted things to turn out well for everyone (well, most people did), because: a) it was usually a little more difficult to get the "good" ending, and gamers love mind-numbingly difficult challenges; and b) after spending hours and hours with characters and an entire world, you don't want to walk away from it with everything in disarray.
Whether you wanted the closing narration in Fallout 2 to reflect a wasteland on the mend, or finish the first Bioshock with the Little Sisters un-harvested, or wanted to get ALL of the best Chrono Trigger endings, you knew you would face struggle - you couldn't take the easy way out, but rather had to consider the consequences of resorting to violence and only thinking of yourself instead of others. But once you got that good ending, you could walk away from the game knowing you did right by that world. Meanwhile, you weren't really doing anything to improve the real world, but one step at a time, right?
Being low on health means one thing in games without a "save anytime you want" feature - you could be one bad encounter away from being knocked back to your last checkpoint or save point, and all of the progress you've made since will be erased. You barely make it out of one more scrape with a couple random encounters, and then you see it: an oasis in a desert of pain...a save point.
It's pure elation in videogame form - all of your fears of being consumed by zombie hordes can be wiped away by a typewriter! You're safe at last - you can rest, you can take a break, and you can continue your adventure without worry that all of your hard work will be immediately taken away. However, each save point merely delays the issue, it doesn't really SOLVE it: there's always another range of time between that last save point and the next one. And it's uncertain WHEN that next one will actually pop up and rescue you once again. But that's the fun - it's a savior that appears from out of nowhere.
Thank you, typewriters. Thank you.
A good boss fight MEANS something - it's the culmination of a level or dungeon (typically) where you can finally use all the skills you've gained to their fullest extent. And, if you're playing Dark Souls, it means you get to shit your pants in terror. This is where you face off against an enemy unlike any other, where you'll finally be tested - and likely won't be able to win on the first try. It may take hours (or even days) to overcome a particularly tough boss - but in the end, when you land that final blow, you'll feel like you've actually accomplished something.
And, at least for a moment, shitting your pants will have been worth it.
While beating a big 'n tough boss is great 'n all, it really can't compare to beating a game's FINAL boss - because this is what the entire game has been leading to, and beating the boss (usually) means you've completed the game. And finally taking down Lavos or Kefka or Sephiroth or Ganon or...well, any number of a million different final bosses feels so good - because, really, they were KINDA asking for it, what with all the "becoming a god and murdering a bunch of innocents" 'n all.
Also, the end game bosses tend to be some of the most difficult and annoying in the game - often taking multiple forms, so just when you thought you'd finished the boss, he or she pops back up to reveal they're still alive AND even more powerful somehow (which, uh, doesn't make a lot of sense, since most people get significantly WEAKER once they've been stabbed with swords a bunch). But that last time - the final FINAL blow that perma-kills them once and for all - is a glorious feeling. The bad guy is dead, you're alive...and you saved way too many health potions you thought you would need. Dammit.
Even once a boss is dead, the game isn't REALLY over until the credits start to roll - that's when it really sinks in: this game you've spent anywhere between a couple hours and "I've been peeing in a jar" levels of time is finally done. You've seen the whole journey play out, from beginning to end. And even though you might need to go back and finish off some sidequests you forgot about, or explore some areas you missed, you've seen pretty much all the game has to offer. You've experienced a story, and now that story is done - and you can put away the game, like closing a book.
Now time to start your New Game+.
The debate between pixels and polygons will go on 'til the end of time, but there's one thing that will always give polygons the edge: the sheer sense of awe and scale they're capable of. They can create huge, expansive worlds that are breath-taking to look at, and even more unbelievable to explore. But it's that first, fleeting moment of discovery - that first time you actually can see the world that lays before you. It's so much bigger than you could have guessed, and so full of potential and possibility.
And it's all yours. It's all your mystery to uncover - an entirely new world that lays at your feet, and anything could happen. Whether it ever lives up to the potential that flickers in your mind doesn't matter - that first moment fills you with hope and excitement, and it's something you can never really recapture. There's nothing that you'd change to improve it - because in that one moment, it's perfect. It's magic.
Now lemme just install some mods to add boobs to the mirelurks.
The reveal of Darth Revan. The truth behind Shadow of the Colossus. The meaning of "Would you kindly..." Why James is really in Silent Hill. The connection between Booker and Comstock. The nuke in Modern Warfare. The identity of the Origami Killer.
These are moments that prove how powerful games can be. Unlike movies, TV, and books, you are an active participant in the stories of games - and you're experiencing things as the character is. Revelations to them are revelations to you. And a well-told videogame story will grab you so much more than a story told in any other medium - because it's happening to you.
So when a good twist comes in a good game, it hits you like a punch in the gut - especially because this is a game you've likely been engrossed in for hours and hours, and now the rug's been pulled out from beneath your feet. And that's why I have to tell you...
...actually, that's not true. Double twist! I mean, we do lists 'n stuff, but we still do comics and videos and all that other stuff you guys like.
Anyways, yeah - videogame twists are great, and absolute proof that videogames have a narrative power unlike anything else.
Basically, videogames are pretty great. Go play one right now. If you're at work, tell your boss that Dorkly said you had to. We got ya covered.