Open world games. They are a dime a dozen nowadays, all varying in sizes. As the generations have gone on, Open world games seem to be the genre that has been the most expanded upon. They have not only become bigger and wider, they have become more populated and dense. My question is when is it going to be enough? How big do we want the worlds we are playing in?
I remember years ago, when I first played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, how I marvelled at the sheer size of the world. It wasn’t uncommon to find myself just driving around the numerous areas, actually enjoying the large area provided. Add in the large amount of activities at the player’s disposal and you couldn’t blame yourself for not following the story missions. A lot of people did criticize that a lot of San Andreas was just open bushland with very few buildings but I felt that it gave the game a much needed diversity. Fast forward a few years to now and we find that not only have the land masses grown exponentially, Just Cause 2 being my case, but they have become a lot more populated and dense. A further emphasis has now been put on growing upwards, to provide a more interactive environment for the gamer.
Now this is all good and I like the direction that the developers are taking but my only concern is, when will the gaming world be just too big for us, and how big is that? A problem that already plagues quite a few open world games are the long travelling distances to start the next mission, so if the world becomes bigger, well the problem isn’t going to go away. It is practically a consensus that gamers get bored and lose attention quite quickly if they have to travel large distances between each mission, but this may just be me. Another factor is that the large size may just confuse the gamer, making them unsure how to get to their objective. Sure this could be fixed with a map added to the HUD in game but it isn’t the same as the true feeling of learning the layout of the terrain and knowing how to get places without a map. The GPS system that was incorporated into Grand Theft Auto IV was a very good idea, but it compromised how much I learned the layout of the land and I became to dependent on it. I don't want to have to rely on a map or GPS to get me where I want to go. But then again this could be just the whole “not asking for directions” stereotype that affects all men.
So what would I rather? I would rather that the industry uses generally the same sized games that are used now, but continues to put further emphasis on expanding the world in other ways. By this I mean that a larger amount of buildings become accessible, the world is more populated and dense by NPC’s and that these same NPC’s have a life. They go to work, they eat lunch and they travel back home in the afternoon. That a more lively and real place that we could visit is created. Also what ever happened to all the side activities we could do? Slowly the industry has seen these things been cut out and to some people, it doesn't bother them because they are just pointless trivial things you don't need in a game and the gamer may never use anyway. Sure this may be the case to some people and yet, I still don't see the harm in adding those random activities to the world. It can't hurt could it? Keeping the game world roughly the same size it has achieved, while expanding on the overall feeling of a real world is the best direction. Despite this, I can’t help myself and wonder, could one day a game be created that is roughly the same size as earth?
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