It wasn't so long ago that the idea of a truly open world, where you can just go anywhere and do anything, was the fevered dream of a crazed gaming madman. But these days, everyone and their dog is chucking huge worlds at us, populated with believable characters who live their lives irrespective of the actions of the player.
But are these really the grand answer to all of our gaming woes? Do these open worlds truly live up to their promises? It's hard to tell a story if the player keeps wandering off. It's tough to create any kind of feeling of tension if the hero can just ignore the captured princess while he builds a house and enters a series of horse races before bothering to rescue her. We have covered this in the past but our gaming views can shift, so a revisit to this topical point is definitely overdue.
If a game world is just lackadaisically scattered with identical fetch-quests and short scripted battles with shrugging randomised loot drops, would we not be happier back 'on the rails', playing something where the designers have used a tight perspective to create drama, tension and action in a carefully scripted and directed way?
The direction of a game can be diluted in an open-world game. But the procedurally-generated stories that can arise and the unexpected results of a player’s tinkering can create stories that outshine those plotted out in more traditional games. Because they’re yours, and nobody else will have experienced them in the same way. Open world games lend themselves far more to the wondrous rabbit hole that is the world of modding, and with enough add-ons, two distinct players might not even appear to be playing the same games.
But Half Life! Alien Isolation! Dishonored! For every incredible, seemingly endless GTA 5 or Arkham City or Skyrim there’s an intense, story-heavy traditional game that simply couldn’t have worked as well if the blinkers had been removed. Or is that the similarly-blinkered opinion of a dim-minded games-buffoon?
Only you can answer that! So what’ll it be? Open Worlds Forever, or Tales from the Rails?
Dont forget to share below which open world games you are currently enjoying or tell us about open world games you were sorely disappointed in.