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Thread: Open World

  1. #1
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    Open World

    So after having a discussion with Mantis on the subject of open-world games, we figured it'd be a good time to raise the question to the entire board. How do you guys all feel about games and the open-world trend? We have games that are meant to be open-world and free roam like GTA, Red Dead, Fallout, Elder Scrolls and the like but what about games that are making the transition or return to open-world? Games like Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Odyssey, etc?

    Plop 'em here, let's discuss our opinions on the matter!
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    I'm getting a bit tired of it. You might call me a salty old sea man(tis).

    We've had open worlds for a lot longer than many people care to realise. I think Daggerfall (second Elder Scrolls game) showed a lot of open world potential, and shortly after that we got the original Grand Theft Auto. What separates these games from recent entries? Of course, TES and GTA were actually designed as open world games over two decades ago. What pisses me off is how so many AAA developers (well, often their publishers' decision) are treating open world as a cash grab and try their damned hardest to find ways to capitalise, even with franchises that didn't have a working open world formula beforehand. One of the biggest offenders of this is Konami with Metal Gear Solid V. I've played it a bit and honestly I don't enjoy it that much. To me, Metal Gear Solid is narrative-driven which can be enjoyed best in a linear format, especially with its superb level design which often relied on good use of corridors or other limited space. With open world there's less of a focus on proper stealth. To be honest, even with Metal Gear Solid 2 there were open world elements, but it was linear. I think real open world games have to be non-linear to a large extent.

    Let's take GTA for example, especially its most recent instalment. You have a choice of three characters, and they all have main missions, but a whole bunch of optional missions. How you choose to play the game is up to you. This is similar with other games of the same type, like Sleeping Dogs or Watch Dogs, and let's not mention the Just Cause series. These franchises were designed for open world. It works. The Elder Scrolls are fun games. I loved Morrowind and Oblivion. I really enjoyed how you were able to make a choice from many different races, and your choices would impact your options down the road, creating a different experience every time. The Zelda games that I played as a kid had some really enjoyable stories, but there's a reason why I have a set of Zelda manga based on them: because those stories are suited to a novel format. Think you could make a TES manga that follows the games? No, you could not because they don't play in a story-like linear fashion. Same with Grand Theft Auto. While I guess a comic series could be created it would be difficult to get it right.

    I don't want to judge Breath of the Wild without playing it. Same goes for Final Fantasy XV. Fortunately my dad has a copy of it which I can borrow to play on my Xbox One when I have the time. I'll give it a chance but I know the Final Fantasy I once knew is over. Final Fantasy VIII is my favourite game of all time for a reason. I found its story beautiful and immersive. Keep in mind that an immersive world and an immersive story aren't necessarily the same thing. I'll play XV with an open mind, but I really hope I won't be disappointed by its story. I feel like open world is more of a "pick up and play" narrative. Like with TES, you can just leave the game without really caring much about the narrative structure, just picking up the pieces over time. But that's okay with TES/GTA/etc. because that's the way they're meant to be. The narrative was already designed around this formula.
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    Open World

    Oh boy this might get winded for me!

    In terms of Open World Games, I am all for it, IF it is executed properly! And I'm not just talking about the game mechanics, the story has to make sense for it to have an open world attached to it. Here's a few examples of good and bad.

    The Good:

    -The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
    Now some might say this is very drastic from the previous Zelda games, and they would be right. But technically speaking, the original Legend of Zelda on the NES was an open world action/adventure as well. So really it is going back to its own roots of exploration and doing the dungeons in any order you wish to do them. Breath of The Wild demanded open world exploration and for good reasons; you have to go to the four divine beasts which were set on different lands, you had to find memories you lost from different areas to remember the past, and you also explore to gain an enrichment in the lore as well as the world itself. Honestly Zelda should have always been an open world game with every installment. All of the games main focus has been on exploring the world to find pieces that will help you eventually fight Ganon and/or save Princess Zelda. So it is pretty natural for the series to be back at the Open World concept; and minus a few hiccups in BoTW, the game does an excellent job at it.

    -Horizon Zero Dawn:
    Now I won't say much entirely about this game only because I actually just started on playing it finally (due to playing and beating BoTW first) but the lore so far in it has it make sense that the open world is necessary for the story to thrive. You are exploring but also fighting enemies in different ways with the environment and you are always needed to craft and scavenge items from the Wild to help you on your journey. You feel like you are living off of the land and trying to protect the place in which you do call home. I don't want to spoil anything but the story along with the mechanics makes for a great open world game and maybe once I beat the game I can go more in depth about it.

    Now for The Bad:

    -Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
    I agree with Mantis on this one, this is NOT how you do an open world game. Was this game fun to play? Sometimes. But was the open world necessary? Hell no! The idea of having a whole world is awesome to explore, if it is actually fun to explore! The game did have things to collect and find in the world but there was a huge disconnect from the story to the world that the open worlds value was completely lost. You don't journey through any part of the areas to find someone to help you with the story unless you are already doing a mission. To simply do a main or side quest you pick the quest from a menu while in the helicopter which loads up the quest and brings you to the specific area. It's not natural for an open world game and it has to set the mission up for you when you pick the mission; not when you explore the land or interact with the world itself; the world itself is just set up for the story but it's not a dynamic setting or a place where you truly feel compelled to explore it because you want to. And the story itself was not set up for an open world game to begin with so the game already was set up to fail.

    I love Open World games. I really do! I love the idea of exploring beautiful landscapes and finding hidden things throughout the world. Finding hidden treasures and exploration is a must when creating these games but you have to also make the idea of exploring not just mandatory but fun so that when you are exploring and killing time you don't feel like it is time wasted. That said, not every game needs to convert to open world games; a story does not always translate well into an open world game; the story needs to feel organic and the reason to explore and have an open world needs to fit into the gameplay mechanics as well. Everything needs to gel together fluidly, otherwise game developers are creating a game that won't find much value in the world that they created.
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    Sparkysaurus nailed it. Hideo Kojima made an open world game without understanding how to make that work properly. If you're going to do an open world game, you really have two options. You can either make it a massive playground to wreak havok on (Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, or Mercenaries back on the PS2), or you have to create a world that you would want to explore and get immersed in (The Elder Scrolls series is probably the best example of this). Metal Gear Solid 5...I don't know about you fellas but exploring Afghanistan circa 1980s isn't a world I would like to explore. You could argue that it gave you options when it came to missions but that went away quickly with the side ops missions which became repetitive really quickly. After that, there isn't really anything to explore or do. It's just an empty world.

    To me the best example of a game that did open world much better is Red Dead Redemption. It created this awesome wild west world that you'd want to explore, not to mention a lot of the stuff in the world is there for you to help better immerse you in being a cowboy from doing robberies, to doing bounties, hunting big game, and hell, even just going to a saloon for a drink and to play cards. It wasn't just thrown in because it was considered in as you could tell Rockstar put a lot of thought into having the open world support the gameplay and atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to see how they expand this in the next game.

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    I love a good open world game because you can just do whatever you want. That's the main reason why I loved Grand Theft Auto when I was small and it's the reason why I still love the game. Especially with GTA 5, it's just amazing the different types of things you can do. I can go parachuting, be a taxi driver or even hold up a store if I want. And GTA isn't the only good open world game either, as mentioned above Red Dead Redemption was great (although I never had a chance to try it out but from what I've heard and seen it's amazing). Horizon Zero Dawn deserves a mention because it created something that no one expected and created an open world out of it. It's just amazing. Add the fact that these games have amazing graphics and you just can't hate open world games

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starwind55 View Post
    you have to create a world that you would want to explore and get immersed in ...

    ... put a lot of thought into having the open world support the gameplay and atmosphere.
    These are the two important points for me. This is the kind of game that I like to play. Sometimes, the world itself helps move the story along, when lore is a key factor. I think that helps make a game more exciting.

    I like an open world where various areas feel so different that it's actually like entering a different country/climate or even continent. I think it's great for immersion.

    Exploration is also a relaxing form of play, when you don't really feel like killing mobs or raiding or battling other players. Having a world that's worth exploring, makes it much more fun.

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