Stop putting crafting in games that don’t need it

Crafting can be one of the most delicious parts of games, I won’t deny it. There are games where acquiring the schematics for better guns or working out a combination of tat to create something useful is a wonderful experience. I love it when a game has an extensive crafting system like The Witcher 3 or Minecraft, but equally one of my pet peeves is finding an obsolete crafting system in a game that didn’t need it.

Crafting feels like it’s become a box to tick rather than a mechanic that actively improves the way we play games. I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed the crafting elements of The Witcher 3. I felt as though I had accomplished something when I had the right ingredients to concoct a poison to taint my sword with, and have a small panic when I realized I was low on Dwarven spirit to make Swallow. You could face a beast with or without an oil handy, the choice was entirely yours. The Witcher 3 is the gold standard because though you didn’t need to engage with its deep crafting mechanics, they were there and they were rewarding.

The same goes for Minecraft. It’s kind of in the name, of course, but Minecraft’s system is deep and broad and creating objects in the game has a direct effect on your enjoyment. You have near-infinite options of what to do with your redstone outside of the crafting table—that creativity is the fundamental draw of Minecraft. Because I’m spoiled by these examples, I really notice when crafting is unnecessary, a waste of time, or even just boring.

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

The most recent display of this unnecessary clunk is Elden Ring. It’s a fantastic game, I love it to bits, and I have very few qualms with the finished product in general. But crafting wasn’t a necessary component for its success. In the other FromSoftware games I’ve played, the elements of collecting blood vials and smithing stones or using materials to kindle a bonfire were enough. You were collecting one object and immediately putting it toward a useful purpose without any crafting faff. In Elden Ring it just feels like side content that’s neither necessary nor engaging.

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