One of the biggest things to happen to gaming since the PS2 era is the move towards Open World games. It may have started before the PS2, but it became mainstream after Grand Theft Auto 3. The idea behind it is that Open World games give you a higher level of immersion by creating sprawling game worlds full of people and places to interact with.
Theoretically, that sounds amazing. But you know what? In general, I find Open World games rather dull. Sure, there are some great Open World games out there, but the majority of them just can’t hold my attention through the whole game. So I wanted to explain why that is…
Big World, Little Content
One of the biggest complaints I have with the majority of Open World games is the fact that the worlds feel hollow. Having a huge, expansive game world means that you need to be able to fill it with enough content and gameplay to keep someone entertained. Rockstar, for example, are generally rather good at doing this, but most Open World games just don’t seem to manage it.
I find that the reliance on huge game worlds often means that the game is either full of filler quests like repetitive fetch or hunt missions, or feature long walks through empty areas. It takes a real time and money investment to create a lively world that never feels like you’ve got nothing to do.
Because of this, most companies don’t have the ability or resource needed to create a truly immersive Open World game. A “closed world” game, on the other hand, means that the game world is far more focused and condensed. This allows developers with smaller amounts of resources at hand to create detailed, living and immersive areas without running out of ideas.
Slow Story Progression
This is more of a personal preference thing, but I am one of those strange people who play a video game to be enthralled in the storyline. If the graphics are bad, or the gameplay isn’t up to scratch, a good storyline will keep me going through the game anyway. It’s a really important aspect of gaming, for me.
But that also means that story progression is important. Whilst the story will keep me playing, if I go for hours without any real progression in that storyline, I will undoubtedly lose interest. And that’s really where the issue comes into play.
If a game is built around an Open World design, more often than not, you need to make long trips in order to progress the story. Again, there are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as Rockstar’s games and some of Bethesda’s. But we’re talking about the Open World genre in general. Now, things are improving as Open World game design matures, but you still get a lot of these games where storyline progression just suddenly breaks for long periods of time.
With more traditional game design, because everything is so condensed, the developers are able to put more focus on the storyline. Quests, missions or chapters can be moved through with good pacing as you don’t need to traverse vast wastelands or open fields to get to the next part of it. This creates a much better flow, helping to keep you invested in the characters and plot.
A Higher Amount of Glitches
One of the reasons I prefer Retro Gaming, in general, is because developers had to do their very best to make sure a game was complete and working before they ship it out to the public. We didn’t have DLC or Day One patches back then. These days, however, they are sadly becoming the norm.
The worst offenders of this are usually Open World games. And there is good reason for that! When you are building a game that is the size of Skyrim or GTA5, it becomes very difficult to test and fix bugs with the game. With deadlines looming, the developers almost always miss bugs that can either ruin your sense of immersion or downright break the game’s progression!
A good example of this that I encountered was in Skyrim. There is a quest where you have to help break a man out of a prison-like building. Once you get to him, you are supposed to have a chat with him, but my game glitched and I couldn’t speak to him. Now, that was a main story quest… That meant that I couldn’t progress in the storyline anymore! And I’ve already expressed how important the storyline is in a game for me…
And That’s All Folks
Those are the 3 main reasons why I prefer to play “Closed World” games. Yes, this is a personal preference post, but I wanted to share it. As I said earlier, Open World game development is improving constantly, with these issues slowly fading away. When that finally does happen, Open World gaming will be one of the best things we get in modern games. But until then, there are just a few developers who can really do it well, with games like GTA5, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Red Dead Redemption.
What are you thoughts about Open World gaming? Let me know in the comments below!