Witcher 3, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. All of these are open-world games and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, but should all games try to be open-world? Is there a fatigue to all the games coming out that have adopted this aspect? Should some games remain linear or should some developers, such as Guerrilla, try their hands in it, hoping for a success?
I often think about this, especially since, as of recently, a lot of games seem to be going towards the open-world, RPG style. Guerrilla Studios took a giant risk by going from their familiar FPS, linear games of Killzone and taking on the open-world RPG style that is Horizon: Zero Dawn and completely nailed it! Other games, such as Mafia 3, did not fare so well when it came to the open-world genre. I personally don’t mind open-world games if they are done right. What I mean by that is making sure that there is plenty of quests to do that really open up the world your strolling through on a Saturday evening at home. Developers really need to make their worlds seem alive and interesting, not empty, dull and not worth playing for more than an hour at a time because the player gets bored. They need to make a game that’s hard to put the controller down for. Another issue with open-worlds games, along with others, is the problem of loot. Weapons, shields, armor and the aesthetics of them all need to be appealing too. Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Destiny I feel did this very well and although Destiny is not an open-world in the tradition aspect, it does completely succeed in giving the player tons of loot to choose from and make it something the player actually wants to put the time into getting it. Now, with that being said, I don’t think every developer should try their hands at the genre. Some games just don’t work being open-world. I would never want an open-world Halo or Call of Duty game. Those games would fail if they were ever that open due to there just not being enough in their own worlds to do. I think the players, who are extreme fans of the games and how they play already, would be extremely upset and probably drop off if Activision or 343 Industries took that route. I, personally, am totally fine with the linearity of those games and just having levels to play that take me to the end game, with only a handful of objectives to do during those levels.
I decided that with this question, I wanted to give, not only my opinion on the subject, but also those of other writers/friends of this site. Here is what they had to say:
“I do like that a lot of these developers are going more open world. However, I’m not a big fan in the laziness of the development. Like Homefront and even The Division, to me, were not good at all. It seemed as if they spent more time building up the game then they did developing it. I love open world but I don’t like lazy developers that lack the software to make a solid open world game. I don’t necessarily think that there is a fatigue of open world games because games, like Zelda: BotW, are going to a more open world concept. I think that there are a lot of games that are wanting to go the open world style. I think the problem we come across is these developers that are new to open world, are trying to rush to get their game on the shelf that they don’t put the needed time into the game so it’s crap. To me The Division is a prime example even though it is Ubisoft. There was more time in the trailer than in the game. So no, I don’t think there is a fatigue in open world games. I think there is a fatigue in the skills that these developers have when trying to build an open world game.” – Brian Akins, Editor and Writer, SickCritic
“I’ve seen a lot of posts over the last few months about gamers feeling this ‘Open World Fatigue’ and dismissing games due to being open world. But to be honest, I have to disagree. I enjoy been able to sink 60-70+ hours into a game and relish the opportunity to complete all available side quests and tasks. On the other hand, I can accept that some gamers don’t like this as I too was overwhelmed when I first played Witcher 3 and noticed all the question marks of places I had to see and unlock. I love the fact that more developers are starting to create open world games, Horizon been the perfect example. Guerilla, a developed known for the Killzone franchise, a Linear FPS, branched out and created a master-piece. I loved the fact Metal Gear Solid: V, was open world. I believe it added a sense of realism to the game. Being an open world game gives the developers more creative freedom, and makes gameplay more compelling. It also gives you a sense of endless possibilities, a feeling I believe cannot be replicated whilst playing linear games. However, there is a risk that most developers will put too much effort into making open world games too beautiful and forget about other aspects of the game, like Mass Effect: Andromeda. ” – Jonathan Lack, Writer, SickCritic
“I’m massively in favor of the use of open worlds in games. At the same time though, I don’t discount games for having a linear narrative either; I think a nice healthy mix of the two in your games library is needed, and they balance each other out well. That being said, that’s for me personally, as I try to vary the types of games I play, genre-wise. Open world games, particularly in the last couple of years, have become increasingly popular, with more and more franchises dipping their toes into said type of surrounding. Done well, it offers the player a massive and expansive playground, in which they can lose themselves (reminiscent of the fantasy epics, like the worlds of Tolkien or G.R.R.M). But done badly, they isolate the player, making them feel lonely in an often-deserted world. I know it’s hard, and very time-consuming to pull off, but I think when developers have an open world in mind, they should spend serious time filling it up; think of the Witcher 3, a game which thrived off its multitude of unique side quests, as opposed to say, maybe Dead Island, or even Ghost Recon: Wildlands where, while fun for a time with friends, comes across as repetitive and not quite as fleshed out as we’d like. But, that’s a perfect world, and we can’t expect developers to do everything, and rightly so!” – Donogh Moore, Writer, SickCritic
“I don’t play too many open world games so I haven’t had enough time to get tired of them, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I have played. I don’t think I’ll get tired of them for a while, though, because the whole point of those games is having so much to do. However, there’s a possibility that open-world games will dominate the market or ruin the franchise if they can’t transition as well as Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” – Maxwell Broggi-Sumner, Writer, SickCritic
“I have always been an advocate for open world games, mainly because I get the most out of the money I spend. Developers are starting to gravitate towards this genre, which I personally find exciting. Guerrilla Games for example (known for the Killzone series) went completely out of there element to create Horizon, but I don’t think they made this change to follow trends in open world RPGs. Guerrilla has been cranking out mediocre first-person shooters trying to find their “niche” as a studio, and they have come into their own with Horizon. So, to answer your question, yes, I would love to see more open world games come into the market, but only if they are original in concept and build upon the genre in some way. “– Devin Pratt, CEO and Founder, SickCritic