I have played a lot of Fallout 4—over 200 hours–and I am still finding new things that I haven’t seen before. (It doesn’t help that I haven’t finished the main quest of Nuka-World). This may sound like a lot, but it really boils down to one thing: the number of times that I have restarted. I have 3 main characters that I play and many others that I started out of curiosity. Fallout 4 isn’t the only game that has this though; games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor are well-known games that push players to play through them using different strategies and character builds.
There are different parts of a game that could make it replayable or, in other words, a game that players tend to desire to go back and play again even if it is the same basic story. These parts may include branching player options, engaging story-centered multiplayer and a well-written campaign.
Games like Skyrim and Fallout are the epitomes of branching player options. The player can play as a a trader who has to build up courage to leave the starting area (like my most recent character) or a character who never personally kills anyone like Kyle Hickney who was interviewed by Kotaku. Story-centered games are also usually played more than once, such as Destiny’s story missions and the Call of Duty (CoD) campaigns. Although the CoD games are usually ridiculed for their repetitive multiplayer modes, the campaigns are usually pretty well-written and cinematic, especially the Modern Warfare franchise.
Although it may seem like some publishers push for more games from a franchise to make more money, replayability is important for many games. Economically, if players are able to continually play a game, such as Destiny, they are more likely to spend money on downloadable content (DLC) that is released after launch.
The second reason replayability is important is for quality purposes. The reasons most Bethesda RPGs like Fallout and Skyrim are so popular in this sense is due to the breadth and depth of the games. Not only can players access different factions to unlock different storylines and endings (breadth), but once in the factions, players can delve into the deep and immense lore built into the characters of the game. Replayability will get players to keep playing games and, more importantly, talking about said games.