Which one is more important in a game?
Obviously, it is subjective to each individual. Top of the line graphics are aesthetically pleasing. The visual input can help us feel like we’re really there, swinging that sword, or shooting that gun. They help us feel like that blood smear over there is really real. Are they more important than solid gameplay, though? It’s something that’s went around and around in my head for years as we’ve watched video games get crisper, cleaner, more realistic graphics.
Just for Show
Personally, I’ll take solid gameplay over graphics every day of the week. My reasoning being that gameplay and control honestly affect the quality of play more. Graphics go a long way, along with sound, to help with setting and theming, but it’s ultimately tight gameplay and good controls that make or break an experience. It does not matter how well the stage is set if you cannot move about it competently, after all.
Some games have gotten undue criticism for their graphics, though. Fallout 4 is a great example. Good gameplay, great setting, and fans unhappy because it did not look as top of the line as they thought it should. This was a small contingent of fans, but they were still there.
Realism Versus Fantasy
Another thing I’ve noticed is an overall large move towards games looking like real life. This causes mixed feelings in me. In my youth games were an escape from life and I did not want them to mirror the real world. In my not so youth of today, this is mostly still what I want. I prefer the disproportionate humans of Super Mario and its lunatic landscapes over a gritty, realistic game like Call of Duty and its ilk.
All that being said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s personal tastes, just voicing some thoughts. If you’re starting to wonder at the same, though, get out and try something else. Play that indie game with 8-bit graphics. Go jump on tree sized mushrooms. Look at a game’s control scheme and playability before you look at its graphics. Above all else, go play some games and have some fun.