Illustration for article titled The Faster A Video Game Treasure Chest Opens, The Better em/em

About one hour into my Assassin’s Creed: Origins playthrough, I came upon my first treasure chest in an out-of-the-way cave near Siwa. As I walked up to it, I pressed the E key and braced myself for that everlasting example of minor gameplay annoyances: the chest-opening animation. But it never came.


Instead of sitting through an animation, Assassin’s Creed: Origins briefly displays your gathered resources in the corner of your screen. At no point in this wonderfully A-button-friendly process do you lose control of Bayek. There’s no excruciating, lingering view of the chest’s contents. No close-up of the hero rummaging through the box while gasping in awe. No lilting five-chord melody proclaiming, “You got some stuff!

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The lack of chest-opening cutscenes is not a new development in video games, but as someone whose last game before this was Xenoblade Chronicles 2, looting resources without suffering through a five-second cutscene and hearing “What we have here?” again was cause for celebration. Sure, these animations can be fun, and they often contribute to the character and atmosphere of a game. The way Link opens chests in Breath Of The Wild by simply kicking them will always elicit a chuckle. But just as Korok seeds start grating on you after the 50th one (yahaha!), chest animations can overstay their welcome. While they might only take a few seconds, those seconds add up over time.

Illustration for article titled The Faster A Video Game Treasure Chest Opens, The Better em/em

There’s a lot to like about Xenoblade, but its resource-collecting animations actively suck the fun out of the game. Here’s the whole process:

  1. Your party walks up to a Collection Point
  2. The game takes control of your hero, who digs into the ground, accompanied by a quick one-line quip that never seems to change
  3. The game pauses to note any field effects from your Blades, along with another quip
  4. Resources spring out of the ground and get scattered in a wide radius around the Collection Point
  5. You run around manually picking up all of those resources. If any fell off a cliff, you’re out of luck

And here is that same process in Assassin’s Creed: Origins:

  1. You walk up to a chest
  2. You press a button

See the difference? Granted, Xenoblade is a very different game. But they’re both open-world games with resource collecting as a mechanic, and the way they approach this mechanic couldn’t be more different. Playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins reminds me that we tend to live with small gameplay annoyances, but a simple fix can make a world of difference.

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