The Benefits and Detriments of Open World Gaming

– by Brendan Reid, Editor – 

As we reach the second year of the latest generation of consoles, you might have noticed a trend going on with all the big-name developers. Many developers these days are taking the “open world” approach in their game design, so much so that it has almost become the norm. Games such at The Witcher, Fallout, and Grand Theft Auto are all defined by their open-world style, and coming out with new installments regularly. Even games that are traditionally very linear such as Metal Gear Solid are taking the open-world approach. This design can pack a ton of content into its coding, potentially yielding countless hours of immersive gaming bliss. There’s nothing quite like running through a world that you feel is a real place, convincing in its physics and objectives. But is an open world all it takes to make a game a classic?

  • Too Much of a Good Thing
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Is there perhaps too much to explore in an open world game?

Though it can be a blast to play through their open worlds, these games always run the risk of becoming stale, and also of becoming too large for their own good. Any person who has a job, a family, or is in school will have a great deal of difficulty completing everything there is to do in a typical open world game. Many games of this type boast of their length, which can be upwards of 300 hours. It is very difficult to play a game for this long, as most gamers lose interest after the 60-hour mark. This number of things there are to do in an open-world game can be both a benefit and a detriment; although these can provide you with a plethora of fun activities, they can also distract you from the narritive. All sense of urgency is lost in a game’s story when you can take the time to go hunting or purge an entire city of zombies between plot points.

So much can be accomplished when a game is focused. When the mission list isn’t so densely packed with things you might choose to do, the objectives you are given seem much more significant, and the story can become that much stronger. The visual aspect of the game can also be improved, for the designers can focus on fewer environments, and truly make each one shine. Some of the best games of the last generation of consoles, such as The Last of Us and Dead Space, were linear by nature, and through this they were able to deliver powerful narratives and create fantastic and believable atmospheres.

  • Combination Games 
True immersion can be hard to come by, but when it does, the feeling is bliss.

True immersion can be hard to come by, but when it does, the feeling is bliss.

Some of the best games come about when open world and linear concepts are blended together, to create interconnected game worlds that are immersive and comprehendible. Games such as Dark Souls and the Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time excelled at this, and became favorites because of their accessible size and tight controls. As with most areas of life, a game works best when it is balanced. Have too much to do and it becomes insurmountable, too little and it becomes boring. The best experiences come from true immersion in a world, one that you feel you are a part of, in control of, and are subject to its laws. No matter the style of game, this should be what developers strive toward, for it is what sets games apart from all other entertainment media, and also what their audience loves them for.

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