Open World Flood

I was browsing some reddit threads talking about Dying Light the other day, and came across a comment chain that started with the following:

I dont know about you, but I”m getting kinda tired of open world games now. Literally almost every aaa title is an open world game that exploring them just isn’t as fun anymore. It seems to be the same thing that happened with military shooters last generation. Rinse and repeat experience. Not to say they’re bad games, but i’m just getting tired of the formula.

At first, the sentiment sort of struck me as being funny. How can you get tired of wide-open games that let you do anything? And then I started reading the example games people were giving. Then I looked at my own unplayed Steam list:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Assassin’s Creed: Revelation
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Darksiders 2
  • Dead Island: Riptide
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Fable 3
  • GTA 4
  • Just Cause 2
  • Prototype
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Sleeping Dogs

To be fair, not all of those are technically “open-world” games. To be fair the other direction though, I didn’t include the more borderline titles like Tomb Raider, Thief, Prince of Persia (I apparently own 5 of them somehow), the Hitman series, and so on and so forth. Nor does that list include games I want to play, such as Far Cry 4, Shadows of Mordor, and GTA 5. Nor does it include, you know, Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I am still currently playing.

While I am enjoying my time in the aforementioned Inquisition, I can see the commenter’s point. In fact, they have given voice to the sort of unspoken sentiment I have been fighting against for a while now: open Steam library, look at games, and become physically exhausted.

My issue seems to be more 3rd-person Action game fatigue, but it is basically the same thing. Run around, spam the attack button to auto-chain combos, climb shit, find secrets, defeat boss with large HP bar by waiting for vulnerable spots to light up and completing the Quick-Time Event. Huh… that actually sounds suspiciously close to a cynical MMO description.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy this specific genre. Just, perhaps, in smaller doses than the horse tranquilizer ones I’m staring down the barrel of. I want to play these games, but somehow I can already feel the sheer volume of virtual space I would have to traverse to get there. When you get sucked in and immersed, you want the game to last forever. Looking through the glass window from the outside though, before it can sink its hooks in you, and it more closely resembles a Little Shop of Horrors.

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Posted on January 30, 2015, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I like open world games, but when I think of series that evolved from slightly more linear into open world (Dead Rising, Arkham), I generally prefer the earlier installments of the games. I have a tendency to get lost in open worlds, and go off finding every little sidequest I can. I’ll often get burnt out before I get to the actual story.

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    • That’s a really good point about burnout. I’m basically doing ALL the things in Inquisition, because I know that my motivation to continue playing a game drops to zero after finishing the plot. So if I finish early, I’ll miss out on all the side conversations. But if I do everything, I get burned out and never actually finish the plot. It’s a rough Catch-22.

      It almost seems as though the best way to do open world games would be minimize the plot as much as possible. Worked for Minecraft, but how many others?

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      • I think it works for Elder Scrolls too. The plot isn’t in your face at every turn with cutscenes and the like. I actually wish they would drop the “main quest” and just make it on the same level as every other faction. Unlike these other open world games, it is possible get a satisfying conclusion from an ES game without going through the fated hero stuff, which I absolutely love!

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  2. I would say I generally like open world games. But then again, sometimes I don’t really like the fighting (or just suck at it) of a game all that much and the vast amount of things to be done feel like a burden. Sometimes I even feel kinda guilty about it.

    For instance, I’m playing (or trying to play) Assassin’s Creed 3. I’m playing all the AC titles in the right order, so I want to finish this. But the world is so huge I’m lost all the time to a point that I just want to get it over with.

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