I can safely say we’re all keen gamers here, but there are often times I find a gaming session is significantly improved by an outside medium complimenting the game I am playing incredibly well. Think pairing the right song with the highlight moment of a film, or the best drink to accompany your favourite food (Cherry Relentless with a meaty pizza for me), and you have an idea as to what I am going to list in this article.

I recently had a revelation in the build-up towards, and the restarting of a game I had lost interest in a couple of years ago that blew my mind when I experienced it. This week I’m going to talk about that, as well as other outside features that I use to improve the gameplay from some of my favourite games.

Caffeine + Doom = HYPE

The inspiration for this article, I recently found myself working through several concurrent cups of coffee during a recording and editing session, and being taken into a caffeine buzz the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in years. As I’d had an urge to play Doom (2016) again for a while, after not finishing it the last time I played it, I booted it up on my Xbox One X and started it again.

What followed was a blood and caffeine fuelled gorefest, along with the volume close to the max on my TV, and I lost myself in the game for an hour and a half. The passage of time seemed to stop affecting me during this session, and it was just Doom Guy and I viciously blasting demons apart.

I have every intention of repeating this warm-up before continuing the playthrough, as this has been one of my most memorable and satisfying gaming sessions in years.

Alcohol to Online Games

Now, obviously, I’m not saying you should drink alcohol when you play any online game, nor am I saying you should even drink at all! But I’m usually typically not keen on playing online as I am very competitive, but lack the persistence to gain any real skill at games I haven’t had the chance to play for 10 hours more than anyone else who’s playing, and sometimes not even then. My playstyle is more rooted in firing at anything that moves while hoping friendly fire doesn’t matter, and relying on my team to get me through anything that’s remotely challenging. While I can always find a small amount of fun in this, like with all of life’s problems (maybe just my life), alcohol definitely helps!

I’ve played several online games this year such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and For Honor, and always find myself at the bottom of the leaderboards, but in the moment to moment gameplay this doesn’t bother me if I have a beer readily available at any time. If you’ve watched a Respawning livestream that I’ve been a part of, you can usually count on me being the weak link in any team, but making up for it by talking the most shit about anything that pops into my head.

If I had to play online without alcohol going forward then it’s doubtful you would see me on an online game ever again. Fortunately, while playing with Respawning at least, I’m never drinking alone!

Adding your own backing audio or music to a Forza Motorsport 7 sesh

Whilst the sound design of the cars is great in Forza 7, it can get dull pretty quickly. The monotonous and repetitive in-game soundtrack, that’s almost as bad as lift (elevator) music even more so! That’s why I devised the genius solution of turning the TV volume down quite low, so I can still just about make out the engine rumble over the music, and listening to my iPod while playing. Of course, if podcasts are more your thing then the same applies.

Comfortably, I haven’t completed a single race in my last 100 hours of gameplay without listening to my iPod while playing. I’ve gone through a huge amount of albums in that time, and always find that the (easy mode) racing gameplay is a nice background to keep my eyes and hands busy while my ears and brain have the time of their lives!

Kingsglaive to Final Fantasy XV

I’ve said multiple times that Final Fantasy XV is my favourite game of all time, and a contributing factor to this is its accompanying movie, Kingsglaive. It works so well in its world building and early game plot background, but manages to hold its own story in such as way it is easy to forgive it not being included in the main game. Sean Bean, Lena Headey and Aaron Paul lend their voices to bring the characters to life within the city of Insomnia, and Darin de Paul who plays the games primary antagonist Ardyn Izunia, is as brilliant in Kingsglaive as he is in the main game.

Overall, it is definitely worth a watch whether you like or have played Final Fantasy XV or not (shame on you if not), and is one of my most watched films of the last few years.

Viewing the Artbook to Dishonored / Horizon Zero Dawn

I have a growing fondness for artwork based in / on video games, and have often extolled the gorgeous graphics in the Dishonored games and in Horizon Zero Dawn. Their artbooks are great for getting you more invested in their worlds, and are shining examples of why video games work so well as an artform. The only downside is they do usually come with a hefty price tag when new, but are completely worth it in my opinion.

The perfect ‘rainy day’ books, or for when I’m lacking the enthusiasm to play any of my games, a couple of minutes leafing through them and I’m ready to go again!

Thank you for reading about the outside features that I find greatly improve games I already love. If I’ve missed one you use then please let me know in the comments and on Twitter @RespawningUK and I’ll catch you next time! 

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