After a seven year wait, The Last of Us Part 2 is tantalisingly close, though several plot points have already been leaked online ahead of the game's release. We thought it pertinent to discuss our feelings on the subject of spoilers but don't worry, TLoU fans, we've carefully plotted our course through this minefield to tiptoe around any potential spoilers.
It's a bit of a tear-jerker.
While fortunately I've generally managed to avoid story spoilers, the effect they could have had on several games would have undoubtedly turned me off.
Whether it's the plot twist in the likes of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or BioShock, the impact is similar – to know what's going to happen lessens its impact and, for some it will damage the overall experience.
Of course, most leaks are far from a blow-by-blow of a story, and there's a huge amount to be gained from context in storytelling. In other words, hearing about something isn't the same as experiencing it for yourself.
For example, when I finished both BioShock and its sequel Infinite, the climax of both stories were hugely satisfying to experience myself, even though with the former I at least knew something unexpected was coming at the end. Admittedly, to go into Infinite's finale cold felt far better as I didn't feel late to the party.
When it comes to The Last Of Us, as a series it's hugely revered and respected for its cinematic storytelling, so potentially it has more to lose by being spoiled. Does that mean it won't be worth playing? For even those who are hugely invested, it's always worth letting developer Naughty Dog tell their own story before making up your mind.
With Bioshock, there's something unexpected around every corner.
While spoilers might completely dissuade me from watching a film, TV series, or sporting event the same can’t be said for games. Though there’s undoubtedly more to all of those visual mediums than the end result, much of the joy is sapped out of the viewing experience when you do happen to know the outcome in advance.
While I certainly don’t appreciate game spoilers, they relate to an interactive form of entertainment where much of the joy remains intact. In my opinion, gameplay is the most important factor in gaming - like EA Sports, it’s in the name!
I actually might’ve seen the TLoU 2 ending spoilers, though I’m in no rush to check whether what I read was legit or fabricated. Finding out for myself later this month will be part of the fun, and it hasn’t prompted me to cancel my pre-order.
If it does turn out to be true, the gameplay experience won’t have suffered any and I’ll get to learn the context surrounding that outcome. In the end, I don’t see myself as emerging much worse off.
If you're unsure of whether something is a spoiler, does it still count as a spoiler?
Most of the big releases where I’ve been heavily invested in the narrative, I either powered through before other people could spoil things for me (Modern Warfare 2) or I ended up experiencing them years after they were in the limelight (Mass Effect and ME2) when most people had already moved on and the danger was significantly reduced.
These days I find I’m more likely to spoil things for myself, like when an innocuous internet search for Animal Crossing: New Horizons tips (spoiler, it’s my GOTY) sends me down a rabbit hole of information that reveals exactly what’s awaiting me in the coming days and weeks as I continue to upgrade my island.
For me, knowing that a wealth of information is readily at hand to look up whenever I please is probably worse than having a story or big moment revealed prematurely. In the old pre-internet times whenever I got stuck in a game, I had to knuckle down and figure it out, but nowadays the temptation to just google the solution can be hard to resist, and quite often I end up robbing myself of the satisfaction of overcoming a tough challenge through my own skill or brainpower.
Take Liam's story as a warning, if you're playing Animal Crossing.
Let us know how you feel about story spoilers.