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Why I hate video game collectables – Reader’s Feature

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – it’s okay if you don’t get them all (pic: Nintendo)
A reader vents about annoying video game collectables, from the Korok seeds in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild to the pigeons in GTA 4.
I think it’s a universal desire amongst gamers to want to get the completion percentage of a good game as close to 100% as you can. It’s a sign you’ve wrung the game dry and experienced all it has to offer. There’s a closure with a 100-percented meter that elicits a sense of pride and accomplishment. However, there are several bar graphs on my games that are likely to never reach their pinnacle and those inevitably revolve around the gathering of collectable items, I hate bloody collectables.
I should immediately, cravenly backpedal and qualify this by saying not all collectables are terrible, but then again, like escort missions, the ratio of good to total mind-numbingly terrible examples is just as savagely skewed. I’d like to discuss some of the ones that have pressed on my personal hate gland and try to get the bottom of why 98% of all collectables should be herded into a lorry and driven over a 300 ft cliff.
So, what caused this outburst of pique? Well, I was watching a video on YouTube and the commentator was using Zelda: Breath Of The Wild gameplay as a background to whatever they were talking about and fortuitously during the footage Link uncovers a Korok seed and I remembered how much I hated Korok seeds. Rather, I hated the unconscionably high number of Korok seeds. I enjoyed Breath Of The Wild for the most part and found a few of the Korok seed puzzles curious and mildly absorbing while I was getting to grips with the game.
I also appreciated the inventory space they afforded when they were cashed in, but after a while I ignored them and as I mopped everything else up I hated them. I had everything squared away and in its place like the fussy weirdo I am, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to hunt those bloody Koroks. It felt like, and was, a waste of my time. As I said earlier, the problem was the overwhelming number of the damn things. Too many, with too little reward to make them worth my time. Zelda: Breath Of The Wild will never be 100% on my save file and I balefully blame Koroks for that.

This takes me onto the pigeons in GTA. This pestilential menace fluttered from the rafters in GTA 4 and the second I saw them I thought to myself ‘nope’. The mission was called Flying Rats and I immediately knew I wasn’t finishing it the second I saw 1) the sheer stupid number of bloody birds that had to be exterminated (200 in total) and 2) how hard the bloody things were to find. Which is two of the three golden rules of pointless collectables. The trifecta is of course is no reward for the painstakingly annoying job of completing the aimless hateful task, but at least for this you would have earned an Annihilator helicopter spawn… apparently. I wouldn’t know since this 2.5% of gameplay was going mostly untouched by me.
Collectibles in an open world game at least can be safely ignored, they don’t change the fundamental way you play the game. In linear single-player games, if you want to try and get everything done in one playthrough, without dreary multiple playthroughs plodding through the same story over and over again, you’re going to want to grab those collectables as you go. This means diverting down blind alleys breaking narrative flow up to appease the collectable overseers.
The one that lodges in my brain for having committed this heinous act would be the Uncharted series and the artefacts scattered throughout the levels. I love padding about an Uncharted game using my antique AK047 to carefully excavate hired goons’ brains from their heads, all wrapped up in a meaty mystery plot usually to find a hidden city and buried treasure. For the sake of collectable tat however the mystery has to be side-lined so I can pick up a tatty bit of Aztec pottery or an ancient coin or some other pointless detritus that adds nothing to the game. This was an unwanted bit of copy pasting that Tomb Raider would indulge in as well, from the reboot onwards.
Sometimes with collectables I start off with good intentions, hovering them up avidly, and then the drag of completing them just pulls the life from you, like a reverse version of Mercy from Overwatch. For an instance of this I’m going to cite an odd example: books. Namely, books in role-playing games, though this could be audiologs or any way of dispensing lore that isn’t a codex in the menus. As you explore Tamriel, Rivellon, or Ferelden you will stumble across books which open the world up to you with snippets of background information and usually offer a bit of cash. But again, as with most collectables, it’s a volume issue.
It’s not long in any role-playing game before you’re carting more books around with you than a mobile library. I stop reading, I know it’s kind of missing the point and I should be reading to immerse myself in the world but I just get fed up with all the florid prose and impenetrable lore about the third age of Aquarius. I just end up tuning it out and stacking them up for sale. This is not the most egregious of the collectables, more a neutral bland type, but surely there’s got to be other ways to communicate this ancient wisdom to the player.
Two that manage to hit the trifecta mentioned earlier would be the Riddler trophies in the illustrious Batman: Arkham games and the flags or feathers in the Assassin’s Creed series. Collectively they probably number close to 500 hundred individual items and the effort expended in finding them could be used so much more constructively, like watching grass grow or sorting the knives into size order in the cutlery drawer. My stark lack of enthusiasm when I see this is what the developer will pad their game out with could be photographed by the international space station, it’s that vividly written all over my stupid face.
Hopefully you’ve been nodding along to my collection of poor collectables but as is always the case with these things I’ve probably mortally offended someone with my choices or haven’t gone far enough, missing some memorable padding. A good collectable should impact on the game, add to the lore, be interesting in their own right, be fun to do, and be in proportion to the other in-game activities. It’s a hard line to walk, so it’s understandable to see that sometimes developers miss one or all of these targets.
By reader Dieflemmy (gamertag/PSN ID/NN ID)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter .

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