Relax, Not Every Game Needs To Be Open World

I will be one of the first people to say that I adore open world games. Skyrim, Breath of the Wild, and The Witcher 3 are just some of my favorites. To be able to fully immerse yourself in a brand-new environment that’s filled with mystical locations, engaging lore, and interesting world events is one of the greatest experiences gaming has to offer. That being said, it seems that there’s been a bit of a push to make as many games as possible open world, and that needs to stop. One shoe does not fit all, and there are certainly some game series that function (or would function) significantly better without a massive, open world aspect.

There are obvious benefits to creating a massive open world when it comes to games such as The Witcher 3, because there is actually enough content to fill it in a way that makes sense. There are countless story-rich side quests, numerous large cities (that are not just filled in with pointless locations and NPCs), and enough smaller locations in between the larger areas, in which you can pick up treasure and other interesting items. The plot of the game complements the enormity of the surroundings, causing everything to work in unison to create a phenomenal RPG.

It makes sense, given the wild success of many of the popular, open world RPGs that companies would attempt to follow suit and produce an open world masterpiece of their own. But when you try to force an open world game with non-open world material, you end up getting results like Metal Gear Solid V and L.A. Noire.

Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot of good stuff going on in Metal Gear Solid V. But they absolutely did not need to make it an open world game, and it drew away from how great the game could have been. The game certainly would have been enhanced had I not spent so much of my time just traveling through long, narrow tunnels to get to the next major location. In addition, so many of the side quests seemed like filler—disarming mines definitely got old after a while. If you’re going to make the game open world, it can’t be nearly this empty and lack this much content. At the very least, an easier way to get around probably would have gone a long way. L.A. Noire was debatably an even worse game to make open world, considering it doesn’t really have side quests (though there are small side cases), the world is relatively empty, and there is zero encouragement for exploration. Some will argue that the point was to give it a feel of a “real city,” but unless there are more ways to engage with the city around you, that ends up feeling relatively pointless.

I think many need to break out of this mindset that open world games are automatically superior to other games. While exploration and freedom are great, they’re not automatically better than games that don’t allow for them. They’re simply different. For example, Doom, The Last of Us, Evil Within, BioShock, and Uncharted are all massively successful games that did not include an open world, and they were even superior to many games that did.

A good rule of thumb would probably be to create only what you need to. If you’ve got some colossal ideas that would require a whole world to implement them into, absolutely go for the open world strategy. It shouldn’t be any different than envisioning what type of playstyle should accompany a story (turn-based, first-person shooter, etc.). Let’s just stop pushing for every game to follow the same path.

Next: Twisted Metal Deserves To Make Another Appearance On PlayStation

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  • L.A. Noire
  • Metal Gear Solid V

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