4 Stripped-Back Gaming Experiences for Nostalgia Trips & Avoiding DLC

It’s old farts’ week here, so today, we’re going to hark back to the days when games were released as finished products. If you’re tired of DLC purchases or just yearn for simpler times, we’ve got a few suggestions to warm your heart and provide hours of nostalgic gameplay.

Dust off your 8MB memory cards, forget about fast travel, and within a week, we guarantee you’ll realize how spoiled we are as gamers today!

1. Survival Minecraft

Survival Minecraft is an evergreen game mode. Mooching around completing your goals on servers like Immortal Minecraft provides a huge nostalgia trip and helps you reconnect with what made Minecraft such a phenomenon in the first place.

Work with other users to complete simple goals. Fend off mobs because your life depends on it. Forget about paying for skins. Those old pixels look as fresh today as they ever did — a classic of online play.

2. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings

Discontented rumblings about anything new are pretty standard for the AoE II community. It’s a 20-year-old game with a more “mature” fanbase than most titles. Still, it’s received a lot of new DLCs lately, and many fans complain about the ever-growing number of civilizations in the game as well as balance issues.

Why not take a nostalgia trip by dusting off your old CD and playing Age of Kings in its original glory? Population limit 75, a microscopic zoom level, and just try luring a boar using a PS2 controller. Jokes aside, it’s incredible to appreciate how much of the game has been fundamentally unchanged since those halcyon days.

3. Fire Emblem Games Before They Got a Bit Too Personal

Experts struggle to pin down just when Fire Emblem became a dating sim. Fact is, the games have always been ripe for shipping (including some sketchy ones, mentioning no names). The in-depth character profiles and support conversations are complemented by gorgeous character art. This is all fine, but enough is enough.

Fire Emblem: Awakening was arguably the big change. It’s a phenomenal game, but even being able to turn permanent deaths off felt wrong. Sure, it saved you from smashing your first few 3DSes, but it felt like the ever-increasing focus on character relationships and a friendlier gaming experience meant things were getting a bit… soft.

If nostalgia for titles like The Blazing Blade (released in the West simply as “Fire Emblem”) and Path of Radiance isn’t quite enough, why not go even further back? Seeking out games 1-6, only released in Japan, will have you wishing that life was just an endless series of conversations. The titles were famously considered too brutal to release to Western audiences.

4. FPS Games That Didn’t Try to Make You Feel Like You Were Killing Real People

To be fair, this trend has softened slightly over the last few years. However, in the mid-2010s, it felt like the primary purpose of an FPS was to prepare you for actual combat, albeit with a bunch of foul-mouthed 12-year-olds.

What happened to the days of playing Timesplitters II as flamethrower-wielding calamari in the Wild West and accidentally setting yourself on fire (My God. The screams)? The ultra-realism of later FPS games was a graphic masterclass and perhaps just a bit weird for some of us.

Rose-Tinted Gamer Goggles

Game modes like Survival Minecraft will always be delightful classics because you’re not losing too much, and some earlier iterations of popular titles genuinely make you realize how far we’ve come. It’s great to take a trip back once in a while – but let’s not throw the DLCs out just yet.

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