A Wide Open Expanse Of Fuck All: Open World Video Games

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I don’t know what I want to do. Travelling is boring. The landscape looks so human it is mind numbing to look at. These and more are some of my more memorable quotes from the last time I played an open world game.

I don’t hate open world by any means, I just find that very few understand how to present a massive landscape without falling into the trappings that open world falls in. One such aspect is the loss of focus, when I have so much to do I struggle to get my head around all the options and often don’t put all my enthusiasm into doing whatever I end up doing. Most of the time I don’t know what all my options are and miss the stuff that is supposed to be fun, I feel an angry twitch form when I find out I missed out on the fun content because I was doing the sliding puzzle mini-game for the one mission that gives horrible rewards. I could put up with that reward if the task was fun and while I realize it isn’t easy to make everything you do superb, a little bit of inspiration could make the mundane that bit more interesting. Speaking of side content….

Side content in an open world is viciously aggravating when you have to go far far away for the objective then far far back again to get the reward. I lose momentum when I can knock out all these local quests in one go then I find that just one or two of them want me to go 500 miles to some godforsaken land. Fetch quests are the worst offenders of this, requiring you to jump from area to area to area often for a reward diametrically opposed to the time spent. These sort of things aren’t so bad when you know all the locations should you miss one if the instructions aren’t super clear, I just want to be able to punch in my side quests at something like a kiosk found in every town, getting from place to place isn’t always that fun. Speaking of getting around…

For the love of all that is good and holy, why does travelling suck so much in most open world games? I’m not talking about fast travel, that stuff is efficient but it kills all the fun of exploring the vast open landscape. I’m talking about trekking it on foot or riding a horse for 10 minutes with camera fixated on our glorious protagonist, horse butt. Getting around should be fun and I honestly can’t think of any that are particularly fun, not even ones featuring cars or the like. The distances you travel should be a large part of considering the speed of movement, watching the titular characters have to do a whole bunch of nothing isn’t what I came to do. I will give a few points to Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker for having events crop up during movement from one island to the next, but the stretch of land you crossed was far too large and the HD remake on the Wii U even has a new high speed sail to compensate for this. What I don’t get is how it wasn’t immediately obvious that the speed was abysmal for a game that needed you to move around so often. What I can’t give it any points for is the Great Sea, my god such a boring land to traverse. Speaking of boring lands…

Geography is incredibly important to creating a world I can believe, and it seems not many can get it right. My experiences have mostly been creating such a humanly designed land that it lacks vision, there is too much organisation to the layout and the hills, it is far too convenient to be believed. The other kinds are so inhuman and scattered that they are annoyance to navigate, I don’t want it to be organised but I don’t want it to be a mess either. I need a well hit balance to really be convinced of the authenticity of the land, clear paths won’t cut it and neither will a single tree on a random hill. Moving past the design of the land itself, how about some detail to the land? See that expanse of nothing, how about some flower beds I can run through at high speed, make a pond where a frog and his best friend hang out. I see far too much empty space in the open world you are letting me explore, the point of exploration is not to find something new (although that is the definition) but to find something new that I’m interested in. I don’t often find landscapes in this sprawling world you give me and you know it because you made the map so easily accessible.

I love open worlds as much as I love linear worlds. However, I find that there are many errors in creating these worlds, those of which might come from not being a gaming staple long enough to iron out the kinks. I want to be a part of a fantastic world that doesn’t pull me out with these issues that often make me wary when looking to start an open world, with such a massive time sink I really don’t want to be distracted by the small but obvious flaws. I will likely finish it anyway, I need something to do and it isn’t making me sad or angry, but it certainly makes me feel disappointed at what could have been.

What are some of the shortcomings you have noticed in open world games? Do you feel excited or kind of wary about the turn to open world so many are going to recently? I’m just hoping that there are some in that trough of new open world games that don’t fall into these problems and make me happy to visit quite possibly every day.

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  1. #1 by taloscrow on November 12, 2014 - 7:00 pm

    Have you played Skyrim? Stunning open world visually. Full of lore and curiosities. It is funny isn’t it when you reflect on the number of hours we might have spent looking at a pixilated horse backside!

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    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on November 12, 2014 - 7:01 pm

      I have my own reasons for veering away from anything Bethesda studios make, but I’ve at least watched my brother play. Honestly? Not all that enthralling. Yes, horse butts are very prevalent, especially in something like Red Dead Redemption.

      Like

  2. #3 by Fur on November 8, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Haha the very first paragraph makes me think TWO WORLDS II. The more I try open world games the more I realise they’re not necessarily for me sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. #4 by Grocs on November 8, 2014 - 5:58 am

    I love open world games as long as they have interesting side missions to do that aren’t repetitive. Watch Dog side missions for example were boring as hell while Red Dead Redemption’s and GTA V’s side missions were really entertaining. 🙂

    Like

  4. #5 by joshakazaam on November 7, 2014 - 5:10 pm

    Open world games are a lot like the lazy babysitter; turns on the TV and leaves you to your devices.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #6 by Bryon on November 7, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    I love a good open world game, but I often find a balance issue between the main story and side quests, and it’s very easy to lose track of what’s going on in the primary plotline. I thought that GTA V did a brilliant job of having an interesting/fun array of side activities, while keeping the main story front & center.

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  6. #7 by Elyce Goff on November 6, 2014 - 11:59 pm

    I prefer open world games. I enjoy going where I want, exploring, and seeing what kind of trouble I can kick up. I don’t like being spoon fed down a path to game completion. Then again, I also have a general problem with authority.

    Liked by 1 person

    • #8 by Prof.mcstevie on November 7, 2014 - 12:06 am

      I enjoy them as much as I do linear games, but I have recently found a lot of the ones I’m playing just don’t facilitate the fun very well.

      Liked by 1 person

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