Inverse: Open-world titles have become one of the most popular types of game genres. Here how they've gone from technical innovations to the butt of an internet joke.
Great article. I still remember booting up GTA3 for teh first time. I cant overstate how blown away I was with the scope of that game. I had literally never seen or played anything like it at the time, and the franchise not only defined the genre, it is still the most succesful open world game genre to date - with GTV still in the top 10. Considering that it has been confirmed for PS5/SeriesX - you can bet it will be in the top 10 next gen as well. But yeah, open world jank is definately a thing. clipping issues, bugs, repetitive side missions, map clutter, collectathons, etc etc. But to be honest I think the open world games with the most jank has to be from Ubisoft, i.e. Far Cry / Assassind Creed / Watchdogs. I've had to stop buying these games, not just becasue of the repetitiveness and the jank, but becasue they just became really bland, and uninteresting to me. For me some of the most interesting and innovative open world games are the Soulsbourne games (including Sekiro), The WItcher 3, Horizon Zero Dawn, etc and there are others. Games that took the formula and did something interesting, new and innovative with it.
I want to say that I agree. The closet thing to it was Driver and Driver 2 on the PlayStation. Even then, getting out of your car was amazing. I was so confused why my friend was upset that I stopped at red lights when cops used to chase in Driver. DMA’s design choices were second to none and they were years ahead of the competition. To this day, no modern open-world game had touched GTA5 which was released in 2013. There are few games that leave impressions like that... Super Mario 64, Zelda, FFVII, GTA3, FFX, Halo, Bioshock, Half Life.
Driver was amazing!!!
Think it was Jim Sterling that called Ubi games 'depressingly competent'. They technically have quite nice production values but their games are unshakeably insipid and all seem to have this really 'corporate-approved' tinge to them.
I found horizon zero dawn's open world to be, hard to describe, but tiresome is a good word. I got really tired of travelling around I ended up got straight lines to the next objective to just get it over with. I loved Assassins Creed Odyssey, clearing out the forts, doing the missions, looting chests etc. I really don't like the soulsbourne "genre", don't like the gameplay or the visual style.
The open world games are hitting several roadblocks as the years continue. Unfortunately I have to call out Ubisoft on this one. Although they fund big budget games like Watchdogs, Far Cry, Ghost Recon and Assassin's Creed, all those series have become incredibly stagnant and show little sign of innovation.
Completely agree, especially about the stagnation part. The monetization isn't doing their reputation any favors either.
This was a really thorough and well-written article. I used to love open world games. At one time I'd have described them as my favourite type of game. But that was back when open world games were few and far between. But open world games are no longer special. And its been a long time since I played an open world game that really blew me away.
I know Bethesda has gotten a lot of criticism but I absolutely loved Elder Scrolls 4 and 5. The next mainline title will be an automatic buy for me and I am looking forward to it. There are bugs and goofiness sure, but they put effort into all of the quests and most NPC's are fully voiced. MMO's like world of warcraft are full of jankiness (kill 10 rats, next kill 20 wolves) but in the single player ES most of the quests have a story and a reason for you to do something and have you doing something actually fun. My favorite are the Dark Brotherhood quests when it comes to creativity. I enjoy playing them through and trying to find everything I can. I wish they could put out Elder Scrolls quality titles more often. But with the amount of detail that goes into them I understand why it takes years to make each one. * I agree about the article when it comes to other titles like No Man's Sky. I got NMS and was finally able to get a refund for it and was happy about that. It was terrible. The largest most open world I've ever seen and it was almost completely shallow and void of anything substantial. 100,000 light years wide, one inch deep. You can compare that to Elder Scrolls 4. I watched a development video where there was one guy whose job was to simulate erosion. They used procedural generation at first to create basic forests and basic mountains, and then this guy went over literally every inch and added rocks, flowers, shrubs, and anything else that needed to be added to make it seem more realistic. The whole map was touched by hand at some point. I think that's why at almost any point in ES I could stop and take in the view and thought it looked beautiful. In NMS there were plenty of times I stopped and looked around and was like "WTF is this?" or "why is there no red crystal I've been walking for MILES"
I've never really cared for open worlds, but one thing I do love about them is that they're fun to dick about in, nothing like the hilarity of the unexpected. I always prefer more linear games because open world games make me feel a little directionless, although there are some open world games that I really love, like HZD and BOTW.
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