There have been a few brief gaps in the videogame release schedule this year, and some of us are finding ourselves with extra free time thanks to our sudden absence of social lives (apart from drinks over Discord, roleplaying over Roll20, and various other online meet-ups). Obviously that’s not true of everybody—especially if you’re looking after kids—which is why we’re curious: Have you had a chance to reduce the pile of shame this year, or have all the free games everyone’s been giving away just added to it?
Have you made a dent in your backlog? Here are our answers, plus a bunch sourced from our forum.
Evan Lahti: Neglect doesn’t begin to describe the state of my backlog (1,440 games owned on Steam, but obviously I haven’t completed or even played all of those), but after 12 years at PC Gamer I’ve learned that there’s a difference between what I feel pressured to play for professional reasons and what I truly enjoy, and how to manage those feelings. The biggest games that are still burning a hole in my library are probably The Witcher 3 (open-world RPGs are daunting!), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (ditto), Hitman (FPS players don’t have patience for stealth), and Frostpunk (grueling but lovely). Everything else I’ve made peace with. More recently, I’m waiting for Bannerlord to receive a few more patches (and mods) before I fully commit to building my own saga.
My fore-log is going well, though: I’ve spent the last two weeks playing Gears Tactics, a game that releases April 28.
Robin Valentine: Honestly? I’ve not even scratched it. If anything, all this background anxiety and uncertainty has led me to retreat into the familiar. I’ve started yet another new game of XCOM 2 (little did I know Chimera Squad was on the horizon…), put some more hours into Stellaris, and played a ton of Legends of Runeterra. Meanwhile, even recent impulse buys like Jedi Fallen Order and Alder’s Blood sit untouched.
Things are a little more positive on the multiplayer side of things, however. Over the last couple of years I’d basically stopped playing with friends online altogether – it just never felt like I had the time to do it anymore. But in lockdown suddenly scheduling in the time is way easier, and playing games like Vermintide 2 and Monster Hunter World has been a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends and get some of that all-important social contact. I’ve even been keeping up my tabletop gaming – I’m in an online Warhammer Underworlds league, using board game simulator Vassal, and I’ve been playing pen-and-paper RPGs like D&D and Heart: The City Beneath over Discord.
Rachel Watts: A little bit! I’m partial to short games so I have managed to finish a few, but I still have so many left. On the plus side, I have been keeping up with what’s come out recently and I’ve been enjoying The Procession to Calvary, Cloudpunk, and The Flower Collectors. When I want to switch my brain off I dive straight into Minecraft, exploring all the different seeds and servers. I spent a couple of hours yesterday in WesterosCraft, the Game of Thrones Minecraft server, which I had never seen before even though it’s been around for years. If only I spent half the time going through my backlog as I did in Minecraft.
Dave James: My Pile of Shame is infinite and hampered by an obsessional relationship with a single game, one that’s refreshed on a regular yearly cadence. Traditionally that means I get a month or two of leeway between each release that I can spend focusing on some of the games I’ve missed over the year. But the likelihood of my finishing those games now are pretty low… I dread to think what the percentage of games completed in my Steam and Epic accounts are like right now.
But I’m definitely going to finish HL: Alyx, and would’ve done for Control had Jacob not recorded over my original saves when he borrowed my Epic account for some DLSS 2 benchmarking. But I know neither Divinity 2, Fallen Order, Return of the Obra Dinn, Wasteland 2, XCOM 2, or Anno 1800 are going to get anywhere near completion. And maybe not even Red Dead Redemption 2. Now I feel depressed…
Jorge Jimenez: Nope. My backlog consists of 40-50 games and I would be lucky if I manage to chip away at a handful of them a year. I’m at this point in my life where I need to be ok with the fact that I will never play through any of the Dark Souls through completion. The same could be said for any of the Dishonored and the newer Far Cry games. Even with spending more time at home, I end up just playing a lot of my comfort food games which are usually RPGs and strategy games. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Mount and Blade Bannerlord and looking forward to diving into Treachery in Beatdown City, XCOM: Chimera Squad, and Gears Tactics. Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone keeps sucking me back in so, chances are, the backlog is only going to grow.
Christopher Livingston: That’s a big nope. I’ve got quite a few games on Steam I’ve never played—I keep meaning to try The Elder Scrolls Online and I’ve still yet to play Stardew Valley, somehow—but I’ve been digging into Fallout 76 and Bannerlord instead. I’ve been tucking away Epic’s free game offerings for months and have yet to touch any of them. When I’m looking for something to play I usually check out either what’s new or coming up, or play something I’ve already played a million times. I don’t know what rainy day I could possibly be waiting for to start chipping away at my backlog, but it apparently hasn’t happened yet.
Harry Shepherd: I played a little of The Outer Worlds. I don’t know how I haven’t finished it already given its brevity for an RPG, but the recent Noclip series on it has inspired me to get back into the Unreliable’s interstellar saddle.
And… that’s about it. Typically deciding how to put a dent in my backlog is a recipe for an entire evening of agonised indecision, so I just buy more games like Fallout 76 and FF7R – I couldn’t wait out the console exclusivity, oops – instead. Then I reflect on the fact that if I don’t play some of the games languishing in my Steam library now, I’ll probably never get to them. It’s a troubling thought, but nothing a little retail therapy won’t solve.
Steven Messner: Backlogs are a self-imposed tyranny and I refuse to enslave myself to them.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself so I don’t feel bad about the massive amount of games in it. I’m weird in that for the past two years I’ve started tracking most forms of media that I consume on a regular basis—books, games, etc—in a spreadsheet because I like having a tangible record of what I’ve experienced and how I felt about it. Earlier this year, I decided that I’d commit to playing a whole mess of indie games that passed under my radar of the past five years (The Curse of the MMO Player). I tackled a few, like Super Hot and Inside, but the rest have largely gone untouched as I devoted most of my gaming time to new releases like Animal Crossing and Final Fantasy 7: Remake. That said, I did beat Planescape: Torment for the first time ever earlier this year, which was the first step on my mission to play all the classic cRPGs before Baldur’s Gate 3 comes out. I’ve started Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition now and am steadily working through it, so my backlog isn’t a total lost cause.
Jacob Ridley: I’m chipping away at it as best I can between bouts of Ring Fit Adventure. Currently juggling my time between DOOM (2016), Yakuza 0, Forza Horizon 4, Planet Zoo, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Thanks Xbox Games Pass for PC!
Alan Dexter: According to the site HowLongToBeatSteam I’m 1,726 hours behind with the games I already own. I actively torment myself by collecting all the free games from Twitch, Epic, GOG, etc too, so the number of games I own (and haven’t touched) is on the rise. So no, I’ve not managed to make a dent in my backlog at all, with a couple of exceptions. After completing Half-Life: Alyx I realised that I really should finish Half Life 2: Episode Two, and so went back to it. I thought I’d got a fair way through when it first came out, but I quickly discovered that definitely wasn’t the case—I’d quit 15 minutes in. In my defense I was heavily into World of Warcraft at the time, and normal single player games couldn’t hold my attention at the time. I’m clean right now though, so I’ve got space in my life to see if I’ve somehow altered time and space.
Andy Chalk: At best, I’ve managed to scratch the paint a bit. I’m on the cusp of finishing Journey to the Savage Planet, which was really good, but now Cloudpunk is demanding my attention which has put my plan to hit Below on hold, my hopes for diving back into The Council are more distant than ever, oh god I just remembered Kentucky Route Zero, I have at least three full-scale RPGs I haven’t even unboxed yet—Tyranny, Pillars of Eternity 2, and Divinity: Original Sin 2—and I still need to finish the original Pillars, THERE ARE CATS IN SEA OF THIEVES AND I WANT ONE, and Doom Eternal is still hanging over everything. And that doesn’t even get into the pre-2015 stuff.
Ugh. Please don’t ask me about my backlog anymore.
Jody Macgregor: I’ve started using howlongtobeat to find out which games I can comfortably finish in like five hours or less. I’ve managed to get through a few short games in between other stuff, including the fourth-wall breaking OneShot, platformer played backwards Spoiler Alert, keyboard rhythm game Frederic: Resurrection of Music, and heavily accented adventure Yorkshire Gubbins. Although I also spent a whole week just playing fantasy clan management sim King of Dragon Pass.
Frindis: My backlog is so full that when I reach inside, it bites my hand! On a more serious note, I have been playing mostly Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Diablo 3, and Warzone for the last week. Oh, and a tiny bit of surviv.io while waiting in the Warzone lobby for next match to start. I also just reinstalled Lord of The Rings Online and will be participating in the upcoming 13th-anniversary event.
Hveðrungr: I don’t have much of a backlog since starting my infamous spreadsheet. I have made time for some games I’d picked up more recently though: All Walls Must Fall; Star Trek Bridge Crew; The Council; and Tomb Raider (2013).
Sarafan: I have a huge RPG backlog. I’m a fan of this genre and there was a lot of noteworthy RPGs in the past years which I didn’t have time to play. This includes Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Divinity Original Sin 2 unfortunately. These are still waiting for their time. Right now I’m playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong. During these hard times I’ve already managed to finish my biggest shame from the pile – Icewind Dale 2. Next on the list is probably Divinity Original Sin 2. Given the great reviews the game received, I have high hopes that it’ll be better than the first one. RPGs are very time consuming, so I’m expecting to pour 100 hours or so into this one. It’s not easy to find so much time under normal conditions.
Don Alosi: Absolutely! I usually try to finish a game unsuccesfully while buying two or more every given month, but this time around I’ve managed to reach the Division 2’s endgame while only buying Sea of Thieves and Anthem! Only 231 games to go!
Johnway: Despite the outbreak its business as usual so my massive list of unplayed games remains just as large as before if not larger. After getting burned several times buying games when they could be much cheaper (Division 2 i’m looking at you), i promised myself to be more price conscious and buy games when they are at rock bottom prices to minimize expenditure and work on my backlog (i have games i acquired 3 years ago that i haven’t even played!).
So much for that plan. In 2019 i counted at least 39 games on steam,. Over a quarter of a way through 2020 and i have got 24 games. Most coming from bundles, freebies, gifts or i have bought at a dirt cheap price. Lets not count the epic store or my handhled console collection of games that i haven’t finished…
Krud: wouldn’t call it a dent so much as a scratch. I started over with Pillars of Eternity, as it had been years since I last played it and couldn’t remember a lot of the plot points. I just remembered feeling stuck at a point where my character was far too weak for what quests I still had available to me, which I couldn’t use to get XP to level my character so that I wouldn’t be too weak for the quests. I’ve started replaying it in… ::covers face in shame::… STORY MODE. ::minor chord:: ::lightning strike:: ::audience boos::
Seriously though, it is a much more relaxing playthrough in Story Mode, and parts that I previously had to just walk away from, I can now get through in a matter of minutes, vs. the up to an hour (or just death) before. Sure, I could use this time to “git gud” at the game, but I have other games to get to, and honestly at this point I just want to play through the plot so I can move on to PoE2: Deadfire, which I plan to play “properly.”
Beyond that, though, I’m getting “caught up” on some TV shows and reading books. And writing. And just trying not to succumb to cabin fever (which adversely impacts my ability to enjoy gaming and other things.)
jpishgar: I *so* have.
I finished out Stellaris: Federations as a lovely empathic hive mind that took out more than it’s fair share of fallen empires before retreating en masse to the L-cluster and pretending not to notice The Contingency. (Rant forthcoming on the Stellaris “Victory” screen as anti-climactic ennui-inducing.)
And now I’m on the last legs of Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. Which, though it’s in awful rough shape, is still quite fun. I just managed to secure my own independent kingdom, and provided I get my fix taking out at least one of the Imperial factions, I’ll be moving on to either Dungeons & Dragons Online, Satisfactory’s most recent update, RimWorld for that royal dlc, or GreedFall.
RustyLinks: My backlog is… well, like space really.. it’s BIG!
In between playing favourites and new purchases I try to cycle through my backlog, playing a mission, act, scene, chapter, whatever from each in alphabetical order – one game a day. I start with Steam, then Epic, GOG, Origin, and then UPlay (although GOG 2.0 might change that) before going back to the start. It takes me EIGHT MONTHS to cycle through once. Then Epic go and throw new free games at me, Steam has sales, new games come out… unless I actually win millions on a lottery and retire to become a digital hermit somewhere I feel like I will be cursed to spend eternity playing games and never reaching the end…. wait, that sound good actually.
Firehawk0073: I have the problem alot of people have… for every game I finish on Steam I get 2 more elsewhere. I am making a small dent… just finished Pony Island. It sounded dumb when I got it as a freebie, but it turned out to be a real gem.
I Will Haunt You: I have not even made a dent in my frontlog in the last couple of weeks.