The concept of a world being ‘open’ should diversity the possibilities within a game. It should offer me the opportunity to play the game in the way that I want to. In my opinion, the use of an open world has very rarely added to the diversity of a game.
It is worrying to me that the Open World genre is still relatively new, yet the genre doesn’t seem to be progressing as it could be. Game developers appear to have hit their creative limits, seemingly unable to find ways to deepen the experience within their environments. Even across miltpile developers, there have been little to no advances in their ideas.
Run, fight, loot, repeat.
Too many games are being released with the same principles thrown into a huge expanse of wasted space. Far too much running towards far too little content. Final Fantasy XV attempted to add some spice to that formula, but unfortunately my Regalia turned into a fast travel loading screen after the novelty wore off three days into my play-through.
There was one thing Final Fantasy XV did get right. When I finally did reach my destination, the character interactions and the overall telling of the story made the journey worthwhile. The interactions with the inhabitats of the world deepened the experience. Many games that have been built around the open world concept have failed to provide any kind of motivation for me to actually play the game past the first hour. For such a huge area of exploration, the actual content is shallow.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain remains the only example in my mind where the open world provided more than just an epic landscape. The incredible freedom afforded by the game offered almost infinite options.
The world was designed in such an ingenious way that encouraged audacious gameplay. Every element of the environment had an effect on what the player could do, nothing was simply aesthetic. Each enemy outpost was connected with the world. An attack on one would affect future plans over the course of the game. It was as close as a game has got to true freedom. No other game has offered quite so much variety within their world.
Deep Environment, Shallow Gamepay.
Filling the world with collectibles. This is not an acceptable game mechanic in my view. It is too often used as a game lengthening mechanic. Forcing the player to travel for several days to the fairest edges of the map so that they can finally complete their album of magic coins… no thanks.
I did however, enjoy the collectibles included in Tomb Raider (PS3). Each treasure was incorporated into an intricate puzzle that was both challenging and rewarding. I actually wanted to collect every treasure as they fitted with the theme of adventure. Finding a random flag floating above a random rooftop adds nothing to my enjoyment.
Considering the player is supposedly being set lose in an expansive and variable landscape, the environment itself should offer enough variety and enough intrigue that shallow additions are simply not necessary.
A true Open World
The concept of immersing yourself in an inspiring and magical game world sounds like the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately it is difficult to fully enjoy the experience when that world is as one dimensional as a side scrolling platformer from the 1980’s.
The creators of these games now need to take a look and begin to develop the genre. The opportunities are so huge, all of these games should be so different from each other. But somehow, we seem to be stuck with a number of identical games all being released under a different name.
Im looking forward to finding the next game that gives me variety. I’m waiting to be put in a world where I can make a difference.
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