The grind: love it or hate it — it’s usually a major part of most weighty video games out there. That’s essentially why we come to expect it when tucking into a lengthy story these days. Whether we like it or not, we know that no matter the amount — there will usually be some level of grinding involved at some stage or another. And that’s all well and good — providing you thrive from monotonous levelling and recycling the same old methods ten times over. But for some, the grind can feel like a serious eye-opener over the amount of time we’re actually wasting with certain goals.
It takes a lot to keep the attention of a player for the long haul. And while the story is one thing to take on board — shovelling an additional dozen or more hours of filler content before reaching the conclusion can be a risky move altogether. Sure, there’s more bang for your buck — but it can often fracture a solid experience if tackled in the wrong way. But that’s all a part of video games, right? There will always be filler content — just the same as there will always be ludicrous challenges that demand way too much of our time for very little reward in return. Just take these five, for example.
5. Criminal Mastermind (GTA Online)
It doesn’t matter if you’ve poured fifty hours into Grand Theft Auto Online or five hundred. Truth is, when it comes to tackling the infamous Criminal Mastermind mega challenge — there is far more you’ll need to boast than your own skill level. In fact, you’ll need three other players, all of which must be multiplayer fanatics — and overall wild cards with a serious commitment to completing the insanely difficult online challenge. So, good luck filling that roster and everything.
Criminal Mastermind will have you completing five major heists, as well as powering through all the prep work before each exploit. The catch, however, is that you’ll have to complete each chapter on the hardest difficulty, with the exact same team of friends, and entirely back to back. Oh, and did I forget to mention that nobody can die over the course of the five heists? If they do, then the challenge is void, and you’ll be put straight back to the beginning. And, depending on the team — that could mean around five or more hours can be wasted. But hey — pull it off and you’ll get your paws on a cool $10 million. Worth it? Meh.
4. Pacifist Run (Cuphead)
It’s common knowledge that Cuphead is, in general, a friggin’ difficult game to conquer. Unfortunately for new players, it’s so easy to get lost in the charming 1930s-inspired visuals and quirky cartoon roster, that many usually fall flat at the overwhelming difficulty curve. That said, Cuphead, overall, is such an enjoyable little side-scroller that, despite the harsh environments and multi-stage boss battles — people still love to explore it. That is until they make the decision to give the “Pacifist Run” a whirl.
Ah yes — the Pacifist achievement. Probably one of the hardest challenges to the local community, no doubt. And if you haven’t had the chance to sink some hours into Cuphead and unearth its rigid trials yet, then we can only compare the test to something of Dark Souls standard. However, rather than firing through each level with all guns blazing, the Pacifist achievement can only be obtained by completing a large portion of the journey without unloading a single bullet. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, no — not really.
3. No Death Run (Dark Souls)
While it’s certainly no Cuphead — Dark Souls is still one of the most notorious entries in the gaming world. Sure, it’s challenging in short bursts and can ultimately test any true gamers patience and skill — but it’s also a stepping stone to some of the most demanding challenges on the market. Not dying. Not even once. That’s really all there is to it a lot of the time, and, depending on the game, that can mean having to go back and replay the journey ten times over until perfected. Dark Souls, on the other hand, might take a few more attempts.
For a game that revolves around nailbiting action sequences and overpowered bosses, it’s clear that you’re going to run into a few beatings along the way. I mean, it’s pretty much stated on the box art. You will die. A lot. And, it’s because of that, that FromSoftware thought it’d be a nugget of fun to devise a challenge around not falling to a blade at all. Of course, with something as demanding as that, you’d at least expect a gold trophy or flashy achievement, right? Wrong. You get nothing. That’s right — your dying efforts amount to nothing at all. Go figure.
2. 400 Flags (Assassin’s Creed)
With a series as visually stunning as Assassin’s Creed, exploring every nook and cranny of every city is almost a necessity. That is, of course, until you’re led on a winding trail in search of 400 flags that don’t really add anything to the actual experience overall. But hey — as it was the first entry in the Assassin’s Creed timeline, Ubisoft clearly needed to show off their newly-established world by luring us to every tower and cliff-edge remotely possible. Only, by force-feeding us the sneaky little collectables by the motherload, hoarding the whole 400 became pretty tiring insanely fast.
With 400 flags scattered across the whole map, it is up to you to dig up and collect each and every one. However, while you’d expect a serious pay-off for a journey as monotonously lumbering as flag hoarding — what you’re really left with is a few poxy achievements and nothing more. And that’s just on Xbox 360. PS3 users, on the other hand, are left with nothing to cherish for their efforts whatsoever. Just seven hours of wasted time — and 400 digital flags that will continue to haunt you ten years down the line. So, you know — thanks for that, Ubisoft.
1. 7 Day Survivor (Dead Rising)
It’s one thing having to survive for three days straight with bloodthirsty zombies clawing at your sanity — but seven? Sheesh, as if that’s any easier. Heck, even if you’re a massive fan of the Dead Rising series and thrive from decapitating endless waves of shoppers with a pair of garden shears; that’s still a lot of buttons to mash for a total of 14 hours straight. Oh, and did I mention that you’re not allowed to save the game, either? Well, there you go.
Completing Dead Rising ultimately unlocks the Infinity Mode, which lets you take residence in the infamous shopping mall for an entire week straight. However, with your health bar constantly depleting, you’re left to scrounge for food every fifteen to twenty minutes before succumbing to starvation and having to start all over again. So, imagine having to do that for 14 hours straight. Doesn’t exactly sound like the healthiest way to spend a day, does it? Still, what’s 20G worth to you? A day lost to a shopping mall? It’s totally your call.