Having only joined Destructoid in May of this year, Iíve been waiting for a fun monthly musing/blogs wanted topic
to write about. This week's topic interested me because to me every game has some extent of freedom - the defining trait of a video game is that you have the (sometime limited) freedom to play how you like under the given set of rules. It doesnít matter that you're always going to save the princess - itís all about how you do it. Even in the most linear of games you have the ability to choose how you play the game (I myself canít think of a single game which is as linear as a film, in which you canít control even the simplest of actions. If there is such a game, please let me know in the comments as I am far too young (15) to have come across a game so ancient that doesn't give the player the simplest level of freedom.))
From my early childhood I remember many great games like Mortal Kombat, Monkey Island, Worms, Sonic, Pokťmon, and Counter Strike, as well as all the memories with it, however one game that I remember perhaps too well was the then free to play (on the Indian servers) Korean MMORPG Ragnarok Online. Although Ragnarok is one of the simplest MMO's (not having a quest system), it was one of the first exposures I had to a truly open world with a high level of diversity in the many different regions and major cities. Some people may see it as a grind (because really, the only way to level up is by killing shitloads of monsters over and over again); and although today looking back I wouldnít be very interested in playing it, years ago, levelling through dungeons and bosses, undergoing tests to "evolve" from a "job" to a secondary higher job (e.g. novice->archer->hunter) and grinding till I heard a ďbing!Ē when I levelled up, I would want to hop back on and play with my friends.
But reminiscing aside, this game was the first ever game I played that I had true freedom. I could be whoever I chose to be. I experienced the bliss of being able to choose how you look, your different base stats and attributes, and the complete and utter freedom to choose in which area you chose to train your character in. Writing this blog reminds me of what Iíve been told of the original Legend of Zelda
, which is partially known for the ability to tackle the dungeons in whatever order you like, with no minimal linearity and no overworld map (in the original?).
Today I can say that personally open-world games are the most enjoyable, just because they set you up with a beautiful world (Aquaria
, Shadow of the Colossus
) to explore - whether itís a world which is filled with buzzing urban environments or a world which you can admire solely because of how serene it is. Open world games are one of the most popular genres in todayís gaming scene (shooters are still definitely the most popular), with great games like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Saints Row, Rockstar Games' games (Red Dead, GTA), Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Infamous, as well as smaller but still equally awesome games like Minecraft and Terraria
Personally, I hope that developers (and publishers) start to look more towards games with higher levels of freedom (because as gamers we milk all the freedom given by developers) in brand new (fictional) locations and periods in time, rather than creating another Call of Duty or Halo. Donít get me wrong, I love games with great cinematics and amazing set-pieces like Uncharted 2, but Iím honestly looking forward to Arkham City and Skyrim far more than Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3.