This time last year, we shared our gaming ambitions for 2023. We looked at the road ahead, seemingly endless before us, and dreamed big. There seemed to be nothing we couldn’t do. Then a year went by and here we are. Here we are again.
So, how did we do? Did anyone manage to achieve their ambitions from 2023? This is our confessional. It’s also an invitation to do it all over again, and to join us as we dream ahead and lay out our gaming ambitions for 2024. What will you do this year?
Last year I said I’d run a role-playing game, a tabletop role-playing game, and I failed. I didn’t manage to do it. But it wasn’t a complete failure. I spent more time playing Dungeons & Dragons than any other game last year, and my partner did actually run her first D&D campaign, so technically I did, I suppose? Can you give me that?
Also, I did make loads of progress towards running a game. The hold-up for me has always been I’ve chosen a game that doesn’t have a pre-written campaign, Quest, which means I have to write my own, and dreaming up a world and story obviously takes some time. But I’m nearly there – really, I’m nearly there – and I think it’s only a matter of weeks now before I begin. 52 weeks. No! No, I joke. I’ll be tough on myself: I’ll use Maddie from Dicebreaker’s advice and set a date and begin.
I’m still super-keen to make it happen! If only to remove it from my tabletop list of things to do. I’ve got a whole pile of other games I want to run, see. There’s the DIE RPG, which has a really interesting ‘you play a character playing a character’ idea, and then there’s the Teeth RPG, which reminds me of Darkest Dungeon, and also The Witcher RPG, although that looks quite dense. Anyway, running tabletop RPGs is absolutely still my intention (and maybe obsession) for 2024.
But there’s something else too, and it’s streaming. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to it because I’m a, a bit scared, and b, intimidated by what I think I have to learn. There’s always urgent Hoovering to be done instead. But I’m inspired by the people around me I can see doing it, like Ed on the news team, and my partner’s talking about doing it now (god why doesn’t she get her own ideas, eh?), so maybe that’s the incentive I need to follow through. Hang on, that doesn’t sound right – you know what I mean.
Watch out Twitch here I come?
Last year, I said I wanted to become more ambitious with my gaming ambitions, and I am pleased to say I was. I played games I would never have considered before, including Street Fighter 6. Was I any good? Don’t be silly! But, gosh darnit, I did it.
In the last 12 months, I also took on smaller indie games I might have overlooked before. I am so pleased that I branched out from my norm, because these were some rich experiences – Venba even ended up becoming my personal game of the year.
As for this year, I have decided I am going to play The Sims 4 and not use cheats. I am not typically one to exploit cheats in games but when it comes to The Sims, I can’t help myself. As soon as I load my family into their humble plot beginnings, I immediately begin spamming the money cheat until they are wealthy beyond imagination. I then up sticks and move into a palatial abode, complete with swimming pools, sweeping staircases and every appliance under the sun, and then spam the money cheat again.
However, in 2024, I will be a more honest homeowner. I will make my Sims get jobs and work for promotions. I will earn that super-duper hot tub and maid service with some good hard graft. And when I do, those bubbles will feel all the sweeter for it. Right?
Last year, I listed my ambition as trying “to actually finish a single-player campaign”, and much to my surprise – considering I totally forgot that I’d even written that resolution – I achieved it!
Both Synapse and Horizon: Call of the Mountain were PSVR2 titles I reviewed for the site, the former of which I was able to Platinum. While, in flat-game land, I polished off Meet Your Maker (or Platinumed it at least, as it’s a live service game), Fort Solis, the Resident Evil 4 Remake, and the excellent campaign for Mortal Kombat 1. I fully platinumed Dead Island 2, shot my way to the end of Robocop: Rogue City and, over the Christmas break, 100 percented Super Mario Wonder. I also completed the original Duke Nukem on the Evercade and Alan Wake 2 as well.
So all in all, a pretty decent list of completed games! Though, my list of ‘uncompleted’ games from last year is still way, way longer.
In 2024, I’ll try to keep up with this trend, starting with Nobody Saves the World, which I’ve gotten thoroughly into since it was released on PS Plus at the start of January. Maybe this year I can also attack my back catalogue and finish games like Dave the Diver, which I half-started and then left to gather dust as I moved on to other projects. Not sure there’s enough time in the day to take on that challenge, considering this year has some cracking games due, but I’ll give it a good go. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it!
Although I didn’t write down my gaming goal for 2023, I did have one. And it’s probably better that I didn’t write it down, because I definitely failed it. I had decided 2023 would be the year I let my Like a Dragon hyperfixation take over. With Ishin and Gaiden releasing in the same year, I was going to play through the entire series from 0 to 6, Judgment spin-offs included. And then Capcom released the Resident Evil 4 Remake. I had no hope. So, best that it wasn’t cemented in ink!
But this year I’m committing publicly to my two goals in the hopes I actually stick to my promises. My first goal is quite broad but something I’m terrible at doing. I want to make sure that each game I play, I finish. Not necessarily to 100 percent completion, just the end of the story or the game’s natural conclusion. I’m guilty of starting games and never finishing them, even if I really like them, so I’ve decided I want to sort out my playtime better this year. I’m starting with Elden Ring (fourth playthrough’s the charm, I hear), which I’m playing on my Steam Deck – I love dying to massive Runebears on the go.
My second goal is also quite broad but a bit of a hangover from last year. I want to marathon at least one series that I’ve been meaning to for ages – get myself up to date from start to finish. My current candidates are Kingdom Hearts, Like a Dragon, Dark Souls, and Final Fantasy 13. The most achievable of those is Final Fantasy 13, but the one which has been on my to-do list for the longest is Kingdom Hearts. I only need to complete one to consider my goal achieved – just one! Any others completed will be a bonus.
Hear me out. Resolutions are made to be ignored, forgotten, and then repeated the following year, right? At least that’s how I’ve always dealt with them.
It seems the past year has been no different. “2023 will be the year I get up to date with Final Fantasy 14,” I wrote last year. What a joke. What a seemingly impossible task. How am I meant to catch up on a sprawling, near-endless MMORPG in a year filled with other long, ambitious RPGs? That’s not to say I didn’t play it at all – I finished the excellent Shadowbringers expansion and have now seen the game at what many players believe is its best. And I am so ready for more.
But now, readers, this resolution has become more urgent. I was lucky enough to attend two Fan Fests last year in Las Vegas and London, and nothing could be more inspiring than immersing yourself in the passion this community has for Final Fantasy. All that excitement and build up towards Dawntrail this summer: I am now determined to be playing it alongside everyone else. And I have a plan. Mouse and keyboard is out. I refuse to be chained to my PC. PlayStation and controller is the way forward (please send me your layouts!). There’s the small matter of FF7 Rebirth in February, but otherwise I am all-in on Final Fantasy 14, as Endwalker awaits. It’s going to happen this time. I promise.
I wanted to finally get stuck into Final Fantasy 14 last year, and set myself the lofty goal of getting caught up with its story before Final Fantasy 16. Instead, I restarted – again – months after 16 released just so I could get the Fall Guys crossover cosmetics. Then I left my character in the Gold Saucer with its pink bean companion and never returned.
This year, I’m dropping the big ambitions and downsizing to the far more manageable goal of playing more indie games. While I played more games than ever in 2023, almost all of them were triple-A, and most of them disappointed. Big budget flashiness is hard to resist sometimes, but I miss my janky horror and weird puzzles.
It’s a tough balancing act when writing guides sometimes, but when I see how many amazing indies I missed last year, and look ahead to the many more releasing in 2024, I’m more than happy to drop a few bigger games off my list.
Sorry Final Fantasy 14, I guess I’ll see you for the next weird crossover.
My aim for last year was to get stuck into a new genre. Specifically – and let’s not talk about this – I was planning to have a run at Dwarf Fortress. Reader, that did not happen. And I didn’t finally get to grips with really complex, deep strategy games like the Total War series.
Weirdly, though, there was one genre I unexpectedly clicked with. From Paranormasight to the phenomenal Pixel Pulps, 2023 was the year I fell in love with visual novels. I know, I took my time, right? But it was a really excellent year for visual novels.
This year, my ambition is a bit different. In the real world I’ve gotten quite interested in photography, more specifically photograms, or photographs that are made without a camera. Over on TikTok I am following loads of people who in one way or another are involved with print-making, using all kinds of funny machines and odd techniques to make pleasant or meaningful marks on paper. So this year I want to make some kind of headway into image-making in the context of video games. Whether that’s using an in-game camera to take a really good picture, or something weirder and more technical, I don’t know. But I have just received an eBay Game Boy Camera in the post. Wish me luck.
Last year I challenged myself to solve Cain’s Jawbone – also known as one of the most difficult literary puzzles ever created. How’s it going? Well it’s certainly happening in some sense… Look, I’ve made a lot of notes. Can we please move on?
This year I want my gaming ambition to be a little easier and, by that, I mean something actually achievable. So in 2024 I want to play more hidden gems. I love searching through itch.io and Steam to uncover a project someone has poured all of their heart into, especially if the game is surreal, a little queer and has a dash of horror. Thanks to a variety of events (life, am I right?) I wasn’t able to indulge in this hobby during 2023, but this year is going to be different.
I missed this series last year because I was on a nice holiday. This year, my ambition is to go on more nice holid- what’s that? Gaming-related only? Oh.
Serious hat on now: my ambition for 2024 is to fall in love with a game. There were games I loved in 2024 – The Banished Vault, Zelda, Cocoon, Baldur’s Gate, Football Manager (and the rest) – but through either the relentlessness of their release schedule or my own lack of time and commitment, there was no game I was truly in love with. The irony of working a job that involves being across everything in video games means very little time to really dedicate to your favourites.
Plus, so often our new year’s resolutions are these self-flagellating things born of guilt or obligation. “I have to whittle down my backlog,” or “I have to finish that one game I keep starting and dropping off.” I hate that! To that I say: I don’t wanna! Video games are there for us to love, not to work through. This year I will love again.
My aim for last year was to 100 percent Horizon Zero Dawn and Forbidden West, and when Burning Shores came out I added that to my list too. Did I achieve it? Well, no – but I did complete all of the stories again and made it close to the 100 percent mark for all three! As much as I love the Horizon series, other games did get more of my time, especially when Tears of the Kingdom arrived – that game absorbed every ounce of energy I had.
Which brings me onto my ambition for 2024. It’s similar in some way to my one for last year: I’d like to complete the story campaigns of at least three new games. Now, they don’t necessarily need to be games that are released this year: they could just be titles I’ve not played before. There are plenty out there I’m itching to play.
I’m definitely guilty of playing the first few hours of a game and then hopping off onto something else. I think it’s the guide writer in me, always having to quickly change games without completing them. Therefore, I hope publicly announcing my goals will motivate me to actually do them this time. We’ll see.