Nowadays there are so many open world epics available to us, which means as consumers we need to be getting the best for our money, especially as a lot of these games are an easy 35 hours+, often taking our time attention away from other games. Developers are doing everything they can to cram as much as possible into the massive worlds they create, however quite often you’ll find yourself running from one end of the map to the other just to listen to one piece of dialogue. Or doing the same sort of side mission over and over again (the worst ones for me were the eavesdropping missions in the old Creed games).
So is there an over saturation of open world games on the market, or the content available in the games themselves?
This question recently came into my mind as the last two games I’ve played are Assassins Creed Origins and Shadow of War. I’ve spent a lot more of my time on these games exploring the open world and often not paying a lot of attention to the story (Until I need to). I would say the majority of games I play, and enjoy the most, are massive open world action games, or as I like to call them “Soft RPGs”.
I remember when I first played GTA 5 I was in awe at the exciting open world and the level of interaction in it, it was like no other game I’d played before. With this setting such a high bar, has it been reached since, especially with the constant additions to their online play? I’m really not sure, with certain games it definitely has been matched, but a lot of these big games have a TON of filler content, with a lot of the focus being on the interactive world… Which is all well and good but there has to be enough to do in that open world to keep you engaged, and preferably not the same quest over and over; if it is the same over and over the combat / stealth elements need to be good enough to make you want to constantly fight and kill (Not simple button bashing like Dynasty Warriors). A lot of this could be just me being fussy, and whilst playing these games I never get bored, but when I look back at them I do think about how much I actually remember and how much I was just killing time – This is quite often.
Assassin’s Creed was great because I love gear collecting, so to get the best gear I had to go hunting; this was fun but when I think about the game, that’s all I really did apart from taking down enemy camps / forts. Not that it wasn’t fun but that doesn’t really show a massive variation in gameplay. The stealth and planning were the things that kept me keen to play it through but once I’d finished the story I had not a particularly massive urge to continue. I also think it’s good that they took an extra year out to make it as it gave us time to actually miss the series.
Shadow of War has some of the best open world combat I’ve ever experienced and I cannot fault it for this, and as a game I cannot yet fault it at all. I just want to keep killing Urak-hai captains and levelling up whilst following the Middle Earth storyline; the combat makes me want to keep going and playing for a long time (although I’ve heard negative things about the last act of the game!) and for me this is what i want my open world games to be, complex combat systems with an enjoyable story line with side quests that keep you interested **cough Batman cough**.
Horizon Zero Dawn for me had a really fun open world that made me keep wanting to hunt to collect all the best gear and armour, but when it came to doing a big chunk of story at the end I got extremely bored and felt it a chore, and the story wasn’t even that lame.
So maybe it’s me playing too many of the same sort of game, but the games are there for me to consume and as these types of games appeal to me then I will continue to buy them. The games themselves often have repetitive side quests which never compare to proper RPGs which often have a vast array of side quests (Especially The Witcher 3), and sometimes it’s hard to do massive chunks of the story of one go. I also think there can be too big a focus on gear collecting (Although I’m always a sucker for this)…
I don’t think there is an over saturation of these open world games and I think the worlds themselves are becoming much more interesting, but I think that more needs to be done by developers to keep us interested in terms of what we actually do in these worlds.
See this is where I am the contrast of many really, I still LOVE a good open world game – I was a huge fan of the recent Dead Rising 4: Franks Big Package and the open world before me, I find that in many games like this I can lose myself in the world and just go around having quite a lot of fun. Though this in part is where I think my tastes in open world games have changed, I don’t really want the ones full of serious things to do anymore I would rather something where I can have quite a lot of fun now.
But then at the same time, as a massive fan of RPG’s from both sides of the world, Open worlds aren’t something that has just appeared to me in the last 5 years, it has kind of always been there so where people are becoming oversaturated by these worlds it is something I have strived to look for the whole time I have been into gaming really.
I do, however, find that some games can easily suffer from being a bit TOO open world-y for example I see above that Javier really enjoyed the open world of Horizon Zero Dawn and for many this was the game of the year in 2017 – but for me? I hated it. The whole time I was playing it I couldn’t help but think that the game would have seriously benefitted by being just a little bit smaller (and about 8 hours shorter as well) but for ages I thought this was just me hating on this specific game and it was a one off until I was hit with a realisation that this is my same issue with the otherwise excellent Final Fantasy XV.
In both games, the worlds are simply too big and the result is a really jarring departure from their excellent storytelling – to a point where I almost couldn’t be bothered to play through the rest of the story.
BUT THEN there is the flip side to it – both games combined aren’t even nearly as big as the Witcher 3 – yet I found it hard to draw myself away from this game, even upon completion of the main story I found myself grasping at every bit of dlc and treasure hunt I could just so I could spend more time here – so what was the difference? I think what it all boils down too is “things & stuff” where Final Fantasy & Horizon had a lot of quests that had you travel across the whole world whilst seeing nothing but a few enemies in between the quest, The Witcher 3 has loads of quests but you couldn’t even travel 5 minutes without something interesting happening – Be that a new quest, an ambush or a whole new town there was always something holding my interest.
All in all I don’t really think we are seeing an over saturation of open world games, nothing that is new anyway, my big issue with many is that some of the worlds are just a bit too big and empty. The emptiness and loneliness of a game world that has been made bigger than the game needs just makes the whole experience feel a bit… shit.