Feature

Tips For Surviving The Summer Gaming Slump

by Kimberley Wallace on Jul 30, 2014 at 11:21 AM

If you're a gamer, you're no stranger to summer release droughts, but this time doesn't have to be such a downer. You can view this break as an opportunity, whether it's trying a new genre or preparing for your favorite releases.

We know gaming dry spells can be rough, especially when you have free time on your hands and can't find anything that grabs you. We hear you loud and clear, so we've compiled a list of tips to prevent your PC, consoles, and handhelds from collecting dust. These ideas should help keep you at bay until the fall releases inundate you. Then you'll have bigger problems, like how to stay on top of everything... but that's for another day.

Get Out Of Your Element: Try A New Genre


We all have our comfort zones, and breaking out of them is difficult - but you never know if you're going to enjoy something until you give it a chance. The worst-case scenario is that you realize it isn't for you and move on. The best case? You find something new to love. The summer slump is the perfect time to put your all into something unfamiliar, as you're much more likely to actually devote the time necessary to grasp its mechanics and give it a fair shot. Maybe open-world games have always intimidated you, or maybe you're worried you're not a worthwhile adversary in shooters. Leave your fears at the door, put the time in, and emerge with a new perspective.

This especially extends to daunting genres like MOBAs. Game Informer's PC editor (and resident MOBA expert) Dan Tack imparted some wisdom, saying prepare for the toxicity of being new, practice using bots, and then try to enter the arena with friends, other new players, or seasoned vets willing to help. "Learn and have fun together with a full team of five and it will make your entry into the genre a lot easier," Tack says. "There's a lot of improving and learning to do during your first hundred or so hours of a new MOBA, but it doesn't have to be an arduous experience."

Make Old New Again


HD collections and remastered editions have provided us another excuse to play some of our favorite games. These also come with perks beyond just improving the graphics, since new gameplay and DLC is often included. The Last of Us is one of the best games from the PS3 era, and the recent remastered edition just gives you another reason to step back in. RPG fans have had their treat of HD collections with releases such as, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, and Tales of Symphonia Chronicles. Other genres haven't been left in the dark either, with Ratchet & Clank, Devil May Cry, and Silent Hill collections also available. And that's just scratching the surface.

Maybe you've forgotten some important parts of these titles, or maybe you just want to relive them. Either way, reacquainting yourself with a game you adored is a nice trip down memory lane. Now might just be the best time to take that trip, as there is nothing pressing begging for your attention. Who knows? Maybe you'll see the game in a whole new light.

Get Ready For The Fall Flood By Playing Previous Iterations


This fall and beyond will see new entries in powerhouse franchises like Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed, The Witcher, and Far Cry. If you missed a past game or want to refresher on the sprawling storylines, now is the time to play them. This is one of the best ways to get even more excited for what's to come. I recommend giving Dragon Age: Origins another go, so you can fully appreciate Morrigan and Leliana's return. If you can fit Dragon Age II in, try to for Varric's awesome one-liners, but Origins is the more important of the two. As for The Witcher, at least play the second the game, Assassins of Kings, but you really can't go wrong with playing through the entire series. After all, this will be Geralt's final hurrah; you should send him off in style by celebrating his best moments again. At the very least, you don't want any missing gaps as you approach new entries in long-running franchises. Now is the perfect time to rectify your oversights.

Read on to the next page for more tips!

Dig Deeper Into The Lore With Books, Movies, And Comics


Popular franchises have evolved past video game iterations. Most now have books, movies, and comics that add insight into the series. You don't have to sit in front of your TV or PC to prepare for the fall gaming rush. Even if you're stuck poolside (poor you), you can catch up on lore with novels and deep dive material from your favorite series. Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed, Halo, and Diablo III all have a slew of reading and viewing material to boost your excitement. For instance, the novel Dragon Age: Asunder covers some of the events leading up to Inquisition. Assassin's Creed: Forsaken gives you more insight into Connor's father, Haytham, showing him interacting with his own father, Black Flag's Edward Kenway. You'd be surprised what other media exists for your favorite franchises by doing a search for books or movies. The best part? It just might prepare you for what's to come or help you to make connections you previously didn't.

Fill A Gap In Your Gaming Experience


Nobody can play everything. We all have those well-established franchises that we've never touched, but know we should have experienced in some capacity. I'm sure you're tired of hearing groans from people when they hear you haven't played a certain franchise, or you nod along clueless not to draw attention to your inexperience. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to do that? You know, actually knowing what the big fuss was about and being able to contribute to the conversation? We joke around about people mistakenly referring to Link as Zelda, but those people actually exist, and it's possible you're one of them for another series. Make it right. You don't have to be that person.

Play The Backlog Lottery


Game backlogs can be scary and downright intimidating. The worst part is you realize you've bought all these games and they're just collecting dust, or sitting in your Steam library lonely with no hours logged. It should be a no-brainer to use this time to dive right in, but picking which one to start with can be one of the hardest decisions. I've found more creative ways as the years go on to decide where to proceed next. Sometimes I'll take a Twitter poll, but my other favorite thing to do is to leave it up to chance. I pick my five top contenders and assign them a random number 1 through 5. I then fold up the numbered paper, put them in a hat, shuffle, and select a number. The mystery of not knowing what you're going to pick adds some excitement, and it also makes it so I don't sit there agonizing about which one I should load up. Plus, there's nothing better than finally feeling like your dollars didn't go to waste.

Find A Hidden Gem


Many under-the-radar games get cherished by a small group, but never hit mainstream levels of success. You'll hear devotees sing their praises, often causing these games to reach cult classic status. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky just released this week on PC and Deadly Premonition received a director's cut last year. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc surprised this past February with its brutal premise of schoolmates having to kill each other to escape being locked in a school. These games may not have a huge budget, but tend to have a lot of heart. Why not see what all the fuss is about?

Help a fellow gamer out. How are you surviving the summer slump? Share your experience in the comments below.