Aren't open world games just the greatest ever? You can go wherever you want, do whatever you want, ah dat freedom! amiritegaiz?!
I suppose in theory open world games are great. The problem is that they're rarely executed perfectly, and furthermore as of late, they seem to appear increasingly in games that have no need to be open-world. Even more prevalent in gaming is an increasing almost contradictory movement in AAA games to take away player agency. So what ends up being the result of these two factors? A not so open world. SeewutIdidThere?
Let's take a look at the critically acclaimed, recently released Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. At face value a tactical espionage game with an open world that allows you to approach the mission from whichever angle you want is an exciting prospect. However, in reality MGS V really misses the point. Like many open world games, MGS V uses mission boundaries. Meaning that, while playing a mission you are limited to a specific area on the map. If you dare to leave the boundary area, you fail the mission. Here in lies the issue. Open World games are supposed to be about freedom and allowing as much player agency as possible. However these boundaries limit the possibilities for the player. So why is this a problem?
There was a mission in which I, the player, was required to hunt down some targets. The target would move in from different area's outside of the mission zone. My job was to destroy as many as I could. However, one began to escape from me, so I began to chase them down. Unfortunately as I was getting close to the target, it exited the boundary area. As a result I was denied the possibility of trying to chase down the target and try to make it back for the others within the time limit provided.
Another, and more on point example was I needed to get to a village from my current position. There was a mountain, however between me and the objective. A mountain which could not be scaled. The shorter and easier way around the mountain however was not the route I could take because it wasn't within the mission area. So I was forced to take the long way. Nothing like walking across bland boring desert. for 5 minutes.
Mission boundaries seem like such a waste of potential to me. While it's possible that these boundaries are a result of hardware limitations, I feel like that isn't the case at all. Instead I feel it is a way for game developers to create a specific experience that they want the player to have in an open world. They are simply there to take away freedom in exchange for a guarantee of enjoyment. How does taking away freedom make a game more fun? Think of it this way, which is more exciting? Sneaking through guards which are all looking at you having those tense movement of, can they see me? IS there an enemy hiding somewhere I can't see? Is it safe to move now? Or just walking up behind each enemy and bopping them in the head one by one while they all have their backs turned to you? By taking away player agency the developers are ensuring a curtain amount of fun, or challenge is there to be had.
So then, I propose this to you, why even bother making the game open world when developers want to control the experience? For no other reason than "open world" is a buzzword. It looks good at press conferences, and it's "what the kids want". MGS V is a great game, but I find myself playing and constantly thinking... this game would be way better without the open-world elements, or if they just ditched the boundaries.
Also don't get me started on the mind numbing experience of getting from one mission to the other. I swear if I have to trek one more km of empty sand area or forest area or whatever I might just lose my mind. The Phantom Pain... more like The Phantom Pain in my ass! Ha Ha h-okay I'll just go home now...
So are you enjoying the open-world nature of MGS V? Or are you like me and questioning why they are there? Lemme Know below in the comments section.