After nearly one hundred twenty hours, I finished my completionist run through Dragon Age: Inquisition today. As I sat staring at the credits and waiting for the short epilogue cinematic that would come after them, I was left with a curious sense of emptiness with a mental image of a blank calendar filled with endless days stretching out in front of me. Many of us who are avid RPG players have felt this way at one time or another in the course of our gaming careers. Think back to your most beloved RPG and you know what I'm speaking about.
But I digress. As I sat there, one thought kept repeating itself in my mind...
"What on earth am I going to do now?"
Of course, and this needs to be said to avoid the inevitable "get a life" comments, I realize that in the grand scheme of the real world, finishing DA:I and not having another game lined up in the immediate future is a small thing. I do have a real life but I also have an active gaming life with a space that needs to be occupied.
To that end, I began to think of the things I could do to help ease the emptiness that completing Dragon Age: Inquisition has left. Here's what I came up with.
OK so this one's not terribly constructive or, frankly, very healthy yet it is decidedly part of the experience of finishing a loved game. We tell ourselves to go slowly, to not finish the thing too fast but, as inevitably happens, the excellence of the experience compels us to keep playing...and playing...and playing until that fateful day when the final credits roll. As the ending notes fade into the atmosphere, we realize what we have done and then it hits.....now what?
Go Back to the Main Menu & Start Over
I don't know about you, but my immediate reaction to the "now what" at the end of my favorite RPG is to go back to the main menu and immediately start a brand new character. One of the greatest joys of most modern games is the act of creating a new character, painstakingly agonizing over every minute detail. Once done, we can jump right back in if we want and play the game exactly as we did before or we can try a new race, new decisions, new tactics, a new class, etc. Replayability is key here.
I tried that today on finishing Dragon Age: Inquisition but the lingering depression over the game's end (and, to be honest, a feeling of disappointment over the ending but that's another article...) left the experience pretty hollow and I didn't even finish my character. I will to be sure. The game is fantastic and I want to go back...just...not yet.
Restart the Series
As with most of the very best RPGs, Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third in a series of games based around the same game world. Some of the decisions made in DAI had elements from the previous two titles. New players might love DAI and have curiosity about the first two games. The point is that one way to stay immersed in the universe is to go back to the very beginning and play through all of the games again. Once again, it's a way to revisit the lore, learn new things or perhaps to play a different way.
Read Game-Based Novels or Read/Write a Fanfic
Many RPGs these days have tie-in novels, comics and game-based books. For instance, and since it's the foundation of the article, the Dragon Age IP has six game-related books (World of Thedas, Art of Dragon Age: Inquisition etc.), six comic series, an anime film, Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, a pair of Flash/mobile games with ties to Dragon Age, and five published novels. Just working through that list could take a good long time.
Fanfics are, as the name implies, fan-written fictionalized stories based on the characters and settings found in the games we love. Most reputable sites will mark what general age classification they fall under, what characters are involved, etc. Amazingly, there is some pretty great stuff out there (though be careful of NSFW works if you're not into that!). If you don't like what you see, write one for yourself!
Alongside fanfic, is the vast and often amazing body of artwork associated with popular, and even some not-so-popular RPGs. A quick search at Deviant Art can bring up some very professional works all surrounding your favorite game. Those with an artistic bent might like to create some of their own art based on the game. Published on a website or just living in your personal notebook, it's a great way to stay involved in the game.
Find Another, Similar Title
Fans of RPGs are never shy about suggesting other games that are similar to others in the genre. If replaying your favorite game or the game's series isn't your thing, check out other games like it. Most gaming sites will make suggestions. Steam, for instance, always has a "suggested group" of games that might pique your interest. Some are good matches, some not so much, but it's always worth a look.
This year is going to be an especially good ones for fans of roleplaying games. With titles such as The Witcher 3, Pillars of Eternity and many others coming out, finding a new game to play should be pretty easy.
We live in the gaming age where most, if not all, games have a multiplayer component. Dragon Age: Inquisition has a spiffy cooperative game that gives players a chance to quest for gear and other loot together all while still immersed in the DAI setting and running with familiar, though slightly tweaked, character classes. Mass Effect 3 also had a robust multiplayer component.
Play Something Completely Different
As Monty Python used to say, "And now for something completely different..."
Perhaps the void left by finishing your favorite game simply needs to be filled, not by the same game or a similar game, but by something completely and utterly different. If nothing else, the time away from the genre gives time for the RPG experience to be digested and contemplated. The hunger is sated, at least for the moment, without the useless comparisons and the "gee I miss my main..." whining that often accompanies a new play though.
The good news is that finishing a game doesn't have to mean that it's over for good and all. It simply means that we need to look for new ways to stay involved --- or to repeat our experience all over again. These are just a few of the ways that that can happen.
As for me, I am not quite ready to leave RPGs behind me -- in fact, I'd probably need to be dragged kicking and screaming from the genre So, with that in mind, I am off to another Bioware game, but more on the MMO side, kind of that "something completely different but a little bit the same" thing. Star Wars: The Old Republic awaits.
What about you? How do you deal with finishing a favorite game? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments.