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Re-imagining the Open World

GamerNode's Mike Murphy writes:
"When Grand Theft Auto III arrived back in 2001, an unspoken rule appeared in the world of videogames. A rule that made it mandatory for every open-world game to have as much varied content and things for players to do throughout the environment as possible. It has become a formula for these types of games to feature several different types of jobs, tasks, and side-missions in addition to the story and give the player a sense of freedom. But having a ton of content to explore can actually prove to be a massive distraction from the story in these games. They have the potential to lose their focus and fail to fully engage players in a strong narrative. With this in mind, perhaps it's time to re-imagine the open world and have the focus put on immersion instead of content."

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italianbreadman2710d ago (Edited 2710d ago )

Great perspective here.

I feel the same way about Mafia II and Empire Bay. The game's narrative is so focused, even within a world that allows exploratory freedom. That exploration isn't actually necessary, but the player gets a sense that it is absolutely possible. Additionally, the game's missions do a good job of escorting the player throughout a great portion of the city, so it still doesn't feel underutilized.

amlabella2710d ago

I wasn't the biggest fan of Mafia II but it certainly nailed that sense of place because of its open world. I was perfectly fine not having to do side missions and other small tasks because it focused on a strong narrative set in an interesting place. Having a lot to do is great but it was refreshing to play a more straightforward game like Mafia II. And I really like the idea of having side missions opening up once you complete a game.

DanCrabtree2709d ago

As evidenced by my review of Mafia 2, I absolutely agree. However, I think that 2K is trying to respond to some concerns about the limited breadth of the missions by putting side quests in DLC. I think.

BigManFanelli2709d ago

The term "open-world" sort of implies a game with a ton of things to see and do, as does the other term "sandbox." However, Mafia proves that narrative can be just as effective in sending a player around a big area as content can. I wouldn't mind seeing more stuff like it...

italianbreadman2708d ago

Unfortunately, these two terms, which are NOT synonymous, are used as if they were.

An open world is just as it sounds. Mafia II utilizes an open world. But it doesn't have to be a sandbox, and isn't. A sandbox is simply a play space with minimally limited possibilities. A sandbox doesn't even have to be an open-world game, either. Scribblenauts' main menu screen is a sandbox, for example.