"Yes, I said it: nowadays, the CPU and GPU are too powerful, and game designers are hell-bent on 3D and other graphical gimmicks, instead of focusing on gameplay."
There are two kinds of gamers. Those who play games, and those who don't. And then there's everyone else in between. You seem to be the 'gamer' type. That's the type who is fond of figuring things out, playing puzzles, solving quests, etc. I would guess that games like Tetris appeal to you as well. While I enjoy that occasionally, but that is NOT why I like modern graphical 'games'.
When I buy a modern 3D game for my PC, I'm looking for a lushly graphical, photo-realistic, and impressively huge immersive environment in which to explore. I want the graphics and sound to be so good that I simply lose my mind in the environment as if I was there. Games like this don't come cheap, so I'm willing to save and spend my money on only the quality ones that matter. Too many 'me too' games are the fast food of the industry. There's a lot of games that just aren't worth the time and effort to play.
For me, the more time and effort a company has put into the graphics and sound, and the more effort that has gone into the character of the world the better. I simply don't play games that are 'just for gaming'. I play games that simulate another environment that I can journey to after a hard days work. Modern 3D graphics games like "Skyrim" are in many ways like reading a good book, a book that becomes your story. In those simulated worlds I can go places and do things I could never do in real life, no matter how much money I had. When is the last time you could go to Hawaii and have the whole island to yourself with ancient castles to explore?
If anything, the game Skyrim's failings were that it wasn't 'good enough' graphics for 2011. The game was dumbed down to make it fit in the console. It's great that modders for games like Crysis and Skyrim can step in and make them better, otherwise we'd be stuck in 2005 era graphics. I will say however that Skyrim, even though an ultimately boring game from the point of view of story and gameplay, pushed the envelope of what is possible.
So the 'list' in order of what I want is:
1. Insanely great photorealistic 3D graphics engine.
2. Huge immersive high quality environment to explore.
3. Story. A background mystery for me to solve.
4. Some baddies for me to take on.
5. Some skills to achieve. Note: NOT UNLOCKS. UNLOCKS SUCK.
6. Gameplay. Something like the Myst series of game play was fun.
So for me there are 'games', and then there are 'simulations'. Games are something you spend a little time on occasionally because you have nothing better to do, and you need to keep yourself occupied. Simulations are immersive 'cyber' environments that tell a story, have gaming aspects, and provide a place for me to get lost in. And they can be huge time sucks. I wouldn't mind spending over $100 USD on a photo-realistic simulation that would take over 6 months to play. Few companies care to go there however because they don't think people like me are out not out there. And they just care for the business of gaming and pushing out the me-too fast food.
Give me real-time ray-traced graphics and a world to explore as good as the intro to Final Fantasy 13...
1. I think PC gamers world over recognize Crysis (the 2007 original) as the defacto standard for which all games of that era should be measured against. FarCry 2 is another. These are games in which the developers worked very hard. It was also the last generation of games that weren't dumbed down to console level. I see that CryEngine 3, and developers, are finally recognizing that we've got to move on. Being trapped in console level graphics just aren't going to get us anywhere in the future. As technology advances, we must constantly try to push the envelope of what is possible with technology. I'll put my money there.
2. Minecraft was an excellent example of what is possible on an individual level and I champion this. Indy games must also push the envelope of possible story lines and worlds that could be created. Big companies need something to measure themselves against there too.