Collectibles in games. Some people enjoy the journey of collecting each individual item scattered around the game that may provide extra background story or give the player new loot. For others, they are purely annoying and unnecessary aspects of gameplay which are just used to extend the game’s lifespan.

However, for me, I fall into a middle category in which I both love and hate collectibles, and I’ve found that it really depends on the game whether or not I’m going to spend a few more hours getting all of those pretty meaningless items. So I have to ask myself: why is it that I will collect everything in some games but will not for others? I think I have narrowed my answer down to two reasons.

The first reason is how the game presents your progress to you. For example, in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, there is a whole button used for the sole purpose of showing you the side quests and collectibles you have done and need to do in that area. You just press and hold the button to show a display on the left side of the screen, and a list of the things you need to finish appears. You are still in complete control of the playable character while you do this, so it doesn’t feel like your gameplay is interrupted. Once you have completed an area, the display then changes to a bright gold colour so you can tell at a glance whether you’ve done everything if you’re ever unsure. Similarly, having a visual aid to see how far along you are in collecting is also rather encouraging to keep me going.

Like in another game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Black Flag’s map screen also has a list of all the collectibles in that location. They are shown with a circle beside them which is coloured in green bit by bit as you collect more items. I find it’s nice to have this as it’s a good, quick indication of how much more needs to be done. Conversely, a game which does this very badly is Killzone: Shadow Fall. Although you are able to see what is to be collected, you have to look through multiple menus which have terrible displays. Having a clean, easy way to see my collectible progress really helps me invest the time to collect them all.

The second reason is rather obvious – rewards – but still, I think some games have failed in the past at providing decent loot for completing collectibles. Not only should a player be rewarded for investing the extra time into finding all of the collectibles, but I also feel like they should be rewarded at some points throughout the hunt. As an example, Fallout: New Vegas had a very simple, yet enjoyable collectible mission; find seven snow globes scattered all over the wasteland. Although trying to find these seven items in the big open-world of the Nevada desert is quite a daunting task, the reward of 2000 caps per snow globe makes it all worth it.

Likewise, in the Saints Row series, there are loads of collectibles to be found in the city of Steelport, but what’s great about hunting down these items is that you get an immediate reward of cold, hard cash to spend on whatever you want. By contrast, you have a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition, a title which I love but fall slightly by the wayside in terms of collectibles. You are tasked with finding loads of different collectibles, most of which give the rewards of “influence“; however, this currency is found much easier elsewhere in the game, making tracking down each individual item throughout the world . Ultimately, a game which provides generous and frequent rewards for finding their collectibles is a surefire way of getting me to hang around until that very last item.

So that is my pretty strange relationship with collectibles. As long as they are implemented in the game with a slick presentation and satisfying rewards, I am more than happy to spend hours upon hours finding pointless digital items, which, of course, are not a complete waste of time…

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