Keystone gameplay elements, called so because if they’re taken out the game isn’t that much fun anymore. I started thinking about this during a bitter game of Overwatch and I’ve applied it here to bunch of other games:
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is only as fun as the loot you find in the first five minutes. If you’re in the top-20 on Miramar without a a scope you’re going to have a difficult time going forward. The same is somewhat true for the Erangel map but there’s much more consistent cover and loot is a little more dense from the start too.
Fortnite is only as fun as the rarity level of the guns you find. Unlike the staggered –textile mixed– loot spawns of PUBG, the potions (armor) and type of weapons you find in the beginning do not so much influence your fun in the long run.
Overwatch is only as fun as your teammates are willing to cooperate. This is independent of game mode, there’s this strange contrast between Quick Play and Competitive game modes. In competitive, people can be resistant to changing characters which put the team at a deficit, even to the point where they’ll spitefully throw the game. In Quick Play, people play the characters they want to play, leading to deficient and unusual compositions of all DPS and tanks or or all DPS and one secondary healer. Usually, the team to take some composition initiative get’s momentum and wins.
DOTA 2, LoL, Heroes of the Storm (MOBA’s) are similarly fun to Overwatch. It’s only as fun as your team mates are willing to cooperate. Unlike Overwatch though, it’s much harder for a single person to carry the team.
Hearthstone is only as fun as the cards you initially get and how well they align with the current meta. However, you will always be outspent by the people who take the game seriously.
World of Warcraft is only as fun as your character’s level and/or your guild’s ability to organize and raid. There are some truly amazing sights through out the game but until you’re of a certain level you’ll never get to see them. The even larger content needs to be done through raids which need a guild to do. Once, I was lucky enough to raid Molten Core with 39 other people and it was very exciting.
Path of Exile is only as fun as the quality of your build. The game has a staggeringly complex skill tree, while most basic builds can work through the first and second difficulty levels the third one will really test it, and it’s usually where I’m forced to scrap my characters. There are plenty of sample builds on the forums but they too often require unique equipment which is extremely expensive and drop very, very, rarely.
Kerbal Space Program is only as fun as the length of your patience and determination to reach other planets or build space stations. With a little experience missions to the Mun and Minmus can become routine. However missions to the Jool and the far outer/inner planets consist of lots of time waiting for comparatively small maneuvers only to get there and find out you don’t have enough fuel to complete the orbital burn or you forgot to deploy the solar panels and you’re out of power. Being honorable, you revert the save to vehicle assembly and redesign your rocket only to go through that whole process again.
Rocket League is only as fun as the mean skill all players compared to your skill individual. If your skill is lower than all other players it can be a bit daunting to have cars of all variety flying around while you drive in circles just trying to get some boost. This does not apply to 4×4 modes, anything can happen there.
Minecraft is only as fun as your desire to explore and create. The caverns are deep and endless, but what is over that hill? The sun is low, the monsters are coming, are there enough torches? To my 1:1 scale model of Helm’s Deep!
Starcraft 2 is only as fun as you know your build order and it’s the right build order to counter your opponent. Contrary to popular belief, unless you’re Master league or higher, the game is not so heavily depended on super-human actions per minute (APM) and micro ability.
X-Com is only as fun as your ability to best position a squad of units against an unknown enemy. Though ultimately, it relies on the secret RNG which determines the actual probability of your shots to hit the target.
Civilization (chose your version I through VI) is only as fun as the AI is able to be even to you point-wise. An experienced player playing on Settler (easiest) difficulty won’t have much fun as they stomp across the globe. On higher difficulties, it feels as though each move is precious and the struggle against your digital strategic equals will not be firmly decided until the last move!
No Man’s Sky is only as fun as you can convince yourself you’re having fun collecting resources in order to build better tools used to collect more resources to collect more tools.