5 Video Games That Should Have Been Shorter, and 5 That Should Have Been Longer

Nailing an experience's length is easier said and done, and one way or another, these games left a little to be desired on that front.

Posted By | On 01st, Feb. 2023

5 Video Games That Should Have Been Shorter, and 5 That Should Have Been Longer

Getting the length of a game right is easier said than done, as we’ve seen more than a few times over the years. A game that ends up being too short is obviously not something you want- if you’re paying money for it, you want it to justify the price of admission, and a game that ends too quickly and feels like it didn’t do everything it could and should have with its ideas doesn’t exactly succeed at doing that. At the same time, you don’t want too much of a good thing either- even if a game has solid core mechanics or a gripping story that pulls you right in, it can still easily overstay that welcome and start feeling stretched thin. 

We’ve had quite a few notable examples of games that have disappointed with their runtime in both ways, and here, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about- five games that we felt ended too soon, and five that just didn’t know when to end. Let’s start with the former.

GAMES THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN LONGER

RESIDENT EVIL 3

resident evil 3

You don’t ever want your survival horror games to be too long. More often than not, a dozen or so hours is the sweet spot, which means that owing to their very nature, horror games often end up being relatively shorter than other games in other genres, especially in today’s day and age. But even in a genre where audiences are more accepting of shorter runtimes, some games can end way too quickly. 2020’s Resident Evil 3 remake is surely one of them. Perhaps its because it cuts out some fan-favourite sections from the original, or perhaps its because what the game does pack into its 5-6 hour runtime doesn’t exactly hit the highs that they probably should have. Either way, by the time you roll credits on the game, you don’t exactly feel fulfilled by the experience- certainly not in the way most did with the RE2 remake.

THE CALLISTO PROTOCOL

the callisto protocol

The Callisto Protocol turned out to be a disappointment in more ways than one, from its lack of real scares to its baffling focus on melee combat to its frequently clunky controls. Another area where it failed to meet expectations was its length. Striking Distance Studios’ horror game is one that you can blow your way through in roughly 8-10 hours. Viewed in isolation, that isn’t necessarily a bad number, especially given the fact that this is a horror game. What exacerbates The Callisto Protocol’s issues in this area is the fact that it’s an excessively linear game, with little to no room for exploration or engaging in optional content. By the time you’re done with the game, it feels like the game has barely scratched the surface in terms of making good on its potential.

METAL GEAR SOLID 5: THE PHANTOM PAIN

Even if you’re focusing almost exclusively on is main story, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is a game that you can easily clock about 45-50 hours into- twice as much if you decide to properly engage with all of the optional stuff. So no, in terms of pure numbers, Metal Gear Solid 5 doesn’t really need to be longer. The problem isn’t with the amount of content the game offers though, but with the nature of the content it offers. The vast, vast majority of the game’s second half is little more than remixed and recycled content from the first half, and of course, it’s no secret at this point that Kojima Productions had to cut out a great deal of ideas, content, and features from the game during development. The end result is a spectacular game with incredible stealth mechanics that, sadly, loses steam halfway through, and ends on a bit of a downer. Perhaps with more time to properly tell the story it wanted to tell would have helped the game stick the landing.

GEARS OF WAR 4

Gears of War 4

On paper, it doesn’t look like Gears of War 4’s length should be much of an issue. At about 10-12 hours long, it’s roughly as long as all the games that preceded it. Like a few other games on this list though, it doesn’t use that time well. Gears of War 4’s campaign isn’t a bad one by any means, but not only does it take too long to get going, it also ends too abruptly. The first act of the game is a bit too slow and uneventful, but the game does begin picking up pace a few hours in. When the credits roll though, it doesn’t feel like the story has reached its endpoint- not even close, in fact. Even calling it a cliffhanger wouldn’t exactly be accurate- it just feels like someone decided to stop telling the story before the climax could really gather any momentum.

DEUS EX: MANKING DIVIDED

Speaking of games that end just as things are beginning to get interesting, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is probably one of the finest examples of that in a modern video game. 15-20 hours is a little short side for an RPG as it is, and it doesn’t help that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided doesn’t end on a very high note- in that the note it ends on feels more like the end of act 2 than the conclusion of the final act. Of course, it’s well known at this point that a lot of that was down to development issues behind the scenes, but the fact of the matter remains that the game left a host of people extremely dissatisfied with its conclusion. Hopefully, one day we’ll get to see a resolution for this story- even though the chances of that look rather slim right now.

GAMES THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHORTER

MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF WAR

Middle Earth Shadow of War_12

The open world bloat epidemic has infected a vast number of games over the years, and Shadow of War was one of the earlier examples of that. The root of the problem lay, unfortunately, with the game’s aggressive monetization, and how it always wanted to push people into spending more money- because if you didn’t, you had to spend hours upon hours grinding your way through its rote open world offerings in order to make any real progress. Of course, a lot of the monetization-related issues were eventually patched out, and what was, in many ways, even worse- a game that was too large and too bloated for no reason whatsoever. If it had been about 20 hours shorter, Shadow of War could have been a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. As it stands, it’s still a fun game- but it just does not know when to end.

RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2

red dead redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is easily the most ambitious game Rockstar has ever made to date, which is saying something, because making ambitious games is the only thing Rockstar ever does. You can spend upwards of a hundred hours in this game’s gorgeous and incredibly detailed open world, and the wealth, variety, and quality of content on offer in every nook and cranny ensures that you’ll always find something to grab your attention. If you’re in it purely for the story though, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that does drag on from time to time. From its prologue to the infamous Guarma section to the surprisingly long epilogues, there are plenty of sections in this open world epic that can feel like they’re unnecessarily padding out the total runtime. Don’t get us wrong, this is still an absolute masterpiece- but every game has flaws, and being a bit too long is one of Red Dead 2’s.

GHOST RECON BREAKPOINT

Ubisoft games are the poster boys of open world bloat at this point, and though we can point to several examples to prove that point, the one we’re going to go with here is Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Why? Well, there are the obvious reasons of course- the open world is too large with not enough variety, the side activities on offer are too repetitive and formulaic, the mission design even if you’re sticking to the main story is nothing to write home about. What compounds those issues even further is the fact that… well, that this is just a bad game, if we’re being blunt. Ghost Recon Breakpoint tries to be Ghost Recon and The Division all at once, and it doesn’t do any of it particularly well (or even passingly well). The fact that we have to tolerate its mediocrity for several dozen hours makes its already long runtime feel even longer.

DEATH STRANDING

death stranding

Death Stranding is the sort of game that you either “get” or you don’t- there’s no middle ground. It’s weird, it’s eccentric, and it’s proud of it. If you like what it’s doing and if you buy into its ideas, there’s little doubt that you’re going to love every tiny little bit of it- but if it just doesn’t grasp you, then its open world adventure is likely to feel like a bit of a slog. There’s a zen quality to Death Stranding’s traversal-focused gameplay loop and its asynchronous multiplayer mechanics, but for many, that isn’t enough to carry the whole game. Seeing as the whole game is easily thirty hours long at the very least (and much longer if you decide to really dig in), that can be a pretty big problem for people in that group.

DAYS GONE

You’ll often hear people tell you that Days Gone doesn’t really pick up steam until you’re about ten hours into the game. To be fair, that’s not wrong- it’s at that point that the game truly begins coming into its own and its mechanics and world start singing. At the same time, however, not everyone has the patience to play a game for ten hours before getting to a point where they actually start enjoying it. This is a big, wide game with a ton of content on offer, and a lot of it is really good- but a lot of it is janky as hell and bogged down by generic design. Perhaps if Sony Bend had decided to trim out the fat and go for a much more focused and better-paced experience, Days Gone would have been a much better game- maybe even one that could have gotten a sequel greenlit.


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