My Love/Hate Relationship With Grinding (and/or Farming)


Grinding has been a large part of RPGs for as long as I can remember. Particularly MMOs and JRPGs, but any other kind of RPG as well. And, over time, it’s crept into other genres as genre blending becomes more common, or new ones arise (like the Diablo series and its “clone” genre). Nowadays it’s pretty much omnipresent in any game you play to a lesser or greater extent.

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I used to hate grinding, still do to a certain extent, but I’ve come to appreciate it as a core part of the gameplay loop of certain games. Diablo games and derivatives like Borderlands or Torchlight are pretty much nothing but grind when you get right down to it, you grind to hit the level cap so you can grind for more loot to get bigger numbers to grind for better loot, etc. ad infinitum. Removing the grind would basically remove the game, and I greatly enjoy two out of three of those franchises. Pokemon is another franchise that would almost feel incomplete without its grind (though I am beyond grateful that the EV and IV grind has been reduced in recent games), and I wouldn’t change every kid’s first JRPG for anything. Well maybe just a little. But not much.

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Other games, however, frustrate me the moment grinding for levels or parts or ‘mons or what have you becomes a necessity. When it feels tacked on and unnecessary it starts to get my goat. even in games I otherwise adore, like Kingdom Hearts, with its grinding for materials for Synthesis. Particularly you, Final Mix, and your addition of even more materials you need to grind off of Heartless that were designed by Satan himself (at least if you’re playing on Proud. Sniperwilds give me nightmares). Still, this kind of thing can usually be shortcutted or ignored if you’re willing to try a lot harder to beat a game sans some of its best equipment. And usually, the game is not designed this way out of malice, but maybe just to appeal to people with different tastes than me. And I admit I enjoyed a lot of those aspects more when I was younger and had a lot more time to play a game.

Multiply this hit by about 10 other undodgeable, unblockable ones and you just about have the full Sniperwild experience.

Some games, however, do seem designed that way out of malice. I hate to keep harping on the same game, but Battlefront II is the gift that keeps on giving. Dice recently changed the game to have a much more forgiving grind after a deluge of complaints and the removal of its abusive pay to win system. This speaks to me that the extraordinary amount of hours it took to unlock anything (much less everything) in the game was an obvious ploy to twist players’ arms into paying more money. Mind you, Battlefront II is not alone in this regard. Things have been swinging this way for a while as I see it, with the trend starting many years ago with shooters like Call of Duty introducing leveling systems to multiplayer to begin with. It was only a matter of time from there before people started offering shortcuts in games like that to escape the interminable grind, often fighting uphill against players kicking your ass because they had more free time to grind levels and get better perks and weapons. I saw this trend in a free to play game I used to play in middle school called Gunz: The Duel, a quite flashy little game that was very fun when the hackers and pay to win-ers (costumes and weapons, all more powerful than anything in the base game were purchasable on a temporary basis) weren’t ruining a lobby. It was really only  a matter of time before it migrated to paid games, in retrospect.

Who could hate a game where you can run on walls? Even if most people DID just exploit the game engine to just fly anyway.

While I have forgiven the grind in many RPGs for sucking away my time, this disturbing trend of games that do not have a harsh grind because they’re flawed or made for a different audience, but to force people to drop more cash on the table is something I can’t. Games like Battlefront II and Shadow of War set a disturbing precedent even when they fail. Putting aside lootboxes, making a paid game based around any kind of microtransaction to skip parts of it is abhorrent, and something this budding legislative fad to look into lootboxes likely won’t be able to fix. I hope people remain vigilant, and don’t allow this to become the norm. I don’t believe I’ll be able to just ignore it if every game becomes a tiring grind to play, and the let’s say mutual respect I currently have for that aspect of games will be nonexistent. This trend, more than anything, is something that might succeed in pushing me away from games in general if it becomes too widespread. I hope enough others share my feelings on the matter to make a difference.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below

#My Love/Hate Relationship With Grinding (and/or Farming)

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