what’s the best thing in video games? With a new wholly sensical face-off each week, we’ll surely soon discover the single absolute best thing.
Last time, you decided that breech-loading grenade launchers are better than creating construction blueprints. Ruination over creation. Mayhem over order. Destruction over structure. This week, I ask you to choose between joyous trespass and canny preparation. What’s better: going on the roof, or one in the chamber?
Going on the roof
I could convince you of the tactical merits of going on the roof. You can see farther, you can scout ahead, you can move unseen, you can drop onto people, it’s a great sniping spot, you’re out of range of melee enemies, you’re out of shadow to collect solar energy, you can navigate by the stars, you can gaze at the stars, you can enjoy the city stretching out before you, you can leap from building to building, you can parkour around a city without getting snared in traffic or cops, and you can gather rainwater. Sure, that’s all practical. That’s handy. But the reason I most like being on the roof is: everyone knows you’re not allowed on the roof.
Video games are a hotbed of trespass. From secret government facilities to our neighbours’ homes, we’ll go anywhere we’re not invited if the game lets us. Often it’s not just allowed, not just encouraged, it’s mandatory. Either you trespass on this nuclear missile base or I guess you can close the game and imagine the world ended. And these dramatic forbidden places pale in comparison to going on the roof. You could get in trouble if you go on the roof!
The roof is a daydream destination. As a child, what a thrill it was to be allowed on the roof one time while scaffolding was up for repairs. As an adult living in London, I tried to surreptitiously see if one could bypass the locked roof ladder on our apartment block and get up there for a summer barbecue. And now, now technically I can get on the roof. The roof access hatch is right outside my door, my landlord keeps a sturdy ladder in my broom cupboard, and I’ve even been up there once. But no, I couldn’t just go on the roof anytime. You could fall off! You could fall through! Even worse, you could break a tile and get in so much trouble!
If video games are power fantasies, one of my fantasies is being able to go on the roof without getting told off. I enjoy running and fighting across them, and I enjoy those precious moments where games let me sit with a pal and soak in the sights.
One in the chamber
Like drafting/slipstreaming, having an extra round chambered in a gun is a thing which feels made-up for video games even though it’s quite real. It’s simple: if you don’t blast through all your loaded ammo, in many games you’ll have an extra bullet in your gun after reloading, a leftover from the previous mag. This is how many real guns work. In games, it feels like a treat.
I know that the developers intentionally created this behaviour and balanced the game with it in mind, yet I feel I’m cheating a little, squeezing out a cheeky advantage. I cannot think of a single specific time this extra bullet has made the difference between life and death, yet every time it makes me feel I’m extra-prepared. Hell, I compulsively reload at all times so I rarely even reach that bonus bullet, yet I’m glad to know I have it. How clever of me. How careful of me. How deadly of me.
But which is better?
Even though the lyric “Sixteen in the clip and one in hole, Nate Dogg is about to make some bodies turn cold” looped through my head as I wrote this, I must go for going on the roof. Who’s going to stop me! But what do you think, reader dear?
Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We’ll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.