This morning, I skimmed an article about silence. It mostly talked about how daily life exposes us to a lot of sounds we'd rather not hear or something. And how silence feels great sometimes. I totally get that. It's gotten to the point where hearing nothing in the middle of the night is a little creepier for me than hearing something.
But this made me think about the way I play video games or more specifically, open-world exploratory RPG games like Fallout and Skyrim. While these games are already near perfect, there's one thing you can do to change your entire experience that has nothing to do with modding your game.
All you have to do is turn off all of the non-diegetic sound.
What I mean by that is, go into the settings and turn of the music. Even though the scores to these games can be beautiful and uplifting at times. They coddle the player; calm and soothing music plays when you're in a safe area and when there are enemies around, the music changes entirely.
For me, personally, I found that it adds so much to the game I'm playing. I haven't played a game without wearing headphones in a couple of years so I started to try and pick apart the sound design in the games I play. And when there's battle music or any music playing in the background, you can't really "hear" the world around you.
When playing Fallout 4 or Fallout: New Vegas, I immediately have the music turned all the way down. The games, to me, are better without it. It makes me feel isolated and alone. And I think that's how you should feel when you're playing a game like Fallout. It makes things a little creepier and scarier.
I found myself listening for the sounds of enemies instead of waiting for the music to come on. And the moments I'm exploring some abandoned building filled with ghouls I don't know about yet, go from an Action-RPG (with music) to one of those horror games (without music).
It honestly affects the way I play games.
But for a game like Skyrim. It allowed me to really take in the sites. Even though that game came out years ago, it's still one of the most serene/beautiful games I've ever played. Since, I've pretty much done everything there is to do in this game, I usually just roam around the woods hunting animals with a bow and arrow.
And in the moments between finding the next animal when I'm drifting through the woods or the snowcapped mountains, I feel like I'm actually there. And since Skyrim isn't a desolate wasteland, I don't feel as tense playing Skyrim without the music. It feels like a realistic experience. The world feels like a real place and I just happen to be traveling within it.
It's funny, a couple of years ago, I didn't think video games could get any better than they are but after playing with headphones and dropping the music to zero, they have.
Is there anything you guys do to supplement your gaming experience?
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