Fun stuff in games with no higher mechanical/completionist purpose

What are some cool things in games that are just there to be experienced, that don't advance progress in the game, or reward you with stuff, or check off a box on a checklist? A good, baseline example for me is the confessional in Symphony of the Night.

I'm playing Control, which is set in the office of a government agency called the Federal Bureau if Control. It oversees weird, supernatural stuff usually relating to the power of collective thought. You can find all kinds of little labs where studies were going on prior to the big inciting incident, sometimes containing memos fleshing out the setting or the story, or triggering side quests that reward items or new abilities, but very often they're just there to be found and experienced.

In one room, there's what looks like a recording studio - a control room connected to a room lined with acoustic panels and a single chair. If you press a button in the control room, it starts playing a song by Finnish metal band (and frequent Remedy Entertainment collaborators) Poets of the Fall. Also in the control room, you can find a questionnaire asking participants in the study about how the song made them feel and what thoughts popped into their head. You can just sit in that room and listen to the whole song. There's no achievement, no reward. Just a goofy little tableau giving insight into the kind of weird and seemingly pointless research this place does.

You can also find an office covered in sticky notes, and on a desk is a memo from a disgruntled employee declaring that they will be working from home until someone fixes whatever mysterious force is causing the sticky notes in their office to duplicate. I thought it was foreshadowing the future appearance of an Altered Item that causes things to duplicate and I'd have to cleanse it. Nope. Just another window into work at the FBC.

What are some of your favorite things like this?

I definitely do this stuff in open world games. The Just Cause games let you do a bunch of dumb fun stuff with the grappling hook and explosives. GTAV was interesting to just go for walks in and observe little details or explore areas you never go to in the story.

there is unfortunately an achievement tied to this one, I later found out. but i came upon it organically, which was pretty neat.

I‘m less of a stickler about if theres an achievement tied to it because I love the basketball Easter egg in Deus Ex 1 but I know if it was made today there would be an achievement tied to it (in fact I’m not 100% sure but I believe later titles with a similar basketball running Easter egg did tie an achievement to it). I try to be forgiving of them having to find a bunch of interesting achievements and sometimes making something like that an achievement ensures more of the people who play it are likely to see it and appreciate it than would otherwise (though I agree that having it on a list ruins the sense of discovery and for-its-own-ness [and having secret achievements would be impossible])

A fresh new example for me: When you lose in Gunsport, the countdown begins and instinctively smashing the X button will speed up the countdown just like an old arcade game. I had that classic panic moment and fumbled over to the start button like it was a new quarter.

Nice touch @exodus!

Would have to say the majority of my time with any open world game with vehicles is spent going on insanely pointless road trips and exploration. with The Crew I did a bunch of long distance drives. with Fuel, I ended up just trying to explore the game's massive world. This is also the majority of what I spend my time doing after finishing any GTA campaign is just hanging out in the game world.

@exodus#5512 I really appreciate that the fairy sits on the piano and sways to the music. 10/10 haven‘t played it but it’s game of the year now

the basketball thing reminds me of pikuniku - there was a basketball hoop there and I spent a few minutes trying to kick an acorn or something through it, just because, and when I did it some confetti and a cheer happened. And I was like heck yeah!!

Then later it turned out I NEEDED to do something like that and that's why they had the little fanfare for getting a basket, but discovering it out of context made it feel pretty nice.

In Megaman Legends 1, Megaman has the ability to kick, which can flip enemies over or damage the terrain, and is basically his other interact option besides shooting and talking. In the first mall area of the game, there‘s a bunch of little shops, and a can in the middle of the hall that you can kick around. If you kick the can into the back of the bakery, you’ll get a little bonus for picking up litter (though I don‘t know why they’re rewarding you for littering someone's store instead).

It's a neat little feature that's never explained, and also a nice way to grind for money early on.

I‘ve often said that my favourite bit of gameplay in The Last of Us is picking up bottles or bricks and huckin them at guys. I’d play a whole entire game based around throwing heavy objects with that level of interactive satisfaction.

You could argue that this example does serve a higher mechanical purpose, but _not the way I was doing it_!

HMMM, you've given me an idea: Huck Rock