Those days are not far when you and I….well probably you (cause I use a PC) are rushing towards your nearest retailer, hitting and nearly killing every person in your way to get that latest piece of machinery.
As with every release these consoles get more and more powerful; opening the door to new capabilities and potential for great games.
…If only developers utilized them properly.
A couple of days ago I started playing the new Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Being that is was a Ubisoft published title, and having not been impressed by the early game footage, I was skeptical.
I thought the game would be this big open world with nothing much to do except the main quest (which would have a disappointing story considering the setting), with gameplay more action oriented, and just repetitive in general.
Well after playing half of the game I can say with pure joy that…I was right.
What Was Wrong With Wildlands?
The biggest issue I had with the game was the open world.
Why have this huge sprawling world to explore when there is hardly anything in it? If instead of making this large world with no special side quests, separate stories, and interesting characters, they had focused on smaller, content rich, levels with different path ways that garner replay-ability, I would not have had this feeling of deja vu after the second mission.
And I don’t have this issue just with Ghost Recon. I have the same problem with games like Mafia 3, No Man’s Sky, The Division, Destiny and many more.
These are the type of games which would have benefited from a more linear experience.
What’s The Overall Issue?
The problem with modern open world games is that instead of focusing on a couple of good mechanics and features, they have lots and lots of C+ mechanics in the hope that they will add up to an A+ games, but it never does.
You would expect them not to make that same mistake, but that is equivalent to climbing Everest naked with the help of a selfie stick; pointless.
Nowadays companies seem to forget that they have to put “sand” in the sand box.
No Man’s Content…I Mean Sky.
Before No Man’s Sky’s release, Hello Games had only one selling point; the “quintillion” planets.
If you look back at those interviews and presentations you will find one thing repeated over and over again and that was: look at how big the game is. There was never any discussion over the potential side quests, the story, and the gameplay (apart from exploring). Each and every presentation had Hello Games showing us a random planet and then telling us that there are a quintillion of them.
Then, when the game was finally released, I was shocked to find that everyone else was legitimately shocked.
People were angry at Hello Games for lying and false advertising, even though they delivered what they promised: a quintillion planets.
Sean Murray never really promised a story, quests, activities, or variety; everything that makes up the ‘sand’ in sand box titles. If they had just 20 or so planets with a story, proper gameplay, and narrowed their vision, then game would have been praised to no end (provided the content was good).
Hangar and 2K spend a lot of time and effort in making an entire detailed city. But because they used all their time and resources in making a giant shiny box, they didn’t invest in the story, side quests or the other activities of a crime boss
Also the content that was there was just average. As a result we get a game that looks good, but has a repetitive mission structure, average story, and overall no sand to fill that box with.
Now if I put the appropriate amount of cheese and toppings on the pizza then everyone is happy. People will get they were promised, and I make a lot of money. However if do not put the appropriate amount of stuff on the pizza, I would most likely be impaled on a spike and be ousted for my lies.
Now of course if devs make a large world with an appropriate amount of good content in it; players can get the best of both worlds: an excellent open world with a great story, and, you know, good content. If a company can pull it off then it will be praised to no end and its prestige in the industry will meteorically rise.
Who Does it Right?
The best example of a game that has a good story, excellent gameplay, lots and lots of activities and side quests and is a near perfect open world is the Witcher 3.
Another dev is Bethesda.
With the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, they, too, are good examples of companies who make large, open world games.
Admittedly, though I do have a lot of other issues with their titles, at least they know how to make an interesting open world game with good gameplay.
What companies with grand ambitions need to realize is that you can’t make a good sand box, open world game with just a large world and nothing else.
So why do they still do this? Why are publishers like Ubisoft encouraging more and more open world games when they clearly don’t know how to fill them.
There are a number of reasons
It’s Great For Marketing
Big AAA publishers like Ubisoft and EA know better than most that a game with a large open world is great for marketing.
If you boast about your game being the largest game ever created (no matter how much the game actually sucks) it will undoubtedly sell well.
With phrases like 120 square miles, 299 square miles, or a quintillian planets and a good setting, you can confirmed yourself a lot of pre-orders and launch day sales.
It’s The Trend
Just like in the previous generation when every company wanted to be like Call of Duty, companies today realize that Large Open Worlds = $$$. I
It’s in their financial interest to make open world games while not realizing (or caring probably) that gamers don’t buy open world games because their open world, they buy it because it might be good.
With the advancements in console tech, comes more power and possibilities.
In the previous generation, companies could not make huge open world games, because the consoles did not have the power. So as a result we saw more linearity in the titles.
Now, with newer (more powerful) consoles, devs can make those giant open world games they’ve always wanted. This might cause them to only focus on the world and the graphics and as a result they might not focus on the story.
Future of Open World Games
Again, one of the primary reasons big publishers make open world games is the marketability and financial safety. Otherwise we would not see this increase in open world games.
This trend should most likely continue until the end of this generation when something new comes out that prints easy money.
Until then we will have to cope with games that don’t need an rely on an open world to be good; games like Uncharted and Dishonored