The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (TLoZBotW) is a game I haven't played yet. I will be soon, and I hear great things--and I also hear the game is pretty good, which means it's a fire in a dumpster where stray kittens were feeding on the remains of some vagrant who died of dysentery while puking. So, I'm not sure what to think. I've kept myself purposefully out of the loop without even so much as watching the Breath of the Wild porn that's now available. It's been a struggle, but I stayed pure.
It sounds, though, like it incorporates a lot of my favorite things from open world games with little of my least favorite, so I'm pumped. Stoked. Super 90s about it. And this leads me to think about the last time I felt this tubular about an open world game.
You already know that game is Dead Rising.
And Dead Rising 2. I never played anything after that, so I assume the rest are Frakenstein-era abominations crafted by circus chimps working off the praise and rejection of a focus group of boys ages in-utero-to-three, because that's what the media tells me. And, you know, this blog here is also media, which means you need to believe it, no matter what else you might see. All those fake-news, alternative fact sources. They don't know what I know. I've spoken to top sources. Big guys. Important people. They all tell me I'm right, and you should to. So, ignore everything else--especially Destructoid.com who gave it an 8, which means it's not the best, and by default makes it the worst. That's bullshit coming from a bullshit website with absolutely no reader-base and a totally toxic community.
Seriously, stay away from Destructoid.
But, anyway, I'm losing the plot here, so let me start talking about the best open world game in the universe.
Ha! You see? I wasn't actually losing the plot but using that line as a clever way of leading into my first point. Like Kubrick I'm a genius, and this blog isn't full of rambling nonsense but actually a cleverly devised existential rumination about openess and worlds (and the slaughtering of the Native American people) in disguise. Be sure to comb through it until your eyes go blurry searching for coded messages. I didn't spend sixteen years working on this for nothing.
The best thing about Dead Rising is that there isn't a story. I mean, there's kind of one where you're dropped into the mall with like some number of days to do whatever, but who cares? The second you're in, you're basically good to go. You can run around anywhere, kill anything, and generally ignore the story to the point where the game realizes you don't give a shit and just shuts the story down and kills everyone on your behalf. It's really generous in that sense.
Some people bemoaned the countdown timers, because they're babies who don't like real games. Sorry, someone had to say it. They shit themselves and cry and don't have the refined motor skills to properly enjoy the games that I prefer playing. Countdown timers were great, because they had no baring on anything. They were basically saying Hey! You don't care about all these survivors and about stopping the army or some shit? Cool. It's gone. Fuck around until the world ends, my dilly. That's what a cool game does.
So many open world games force you through their boring ass story of being x gangster who needs to rise to the top, so he can have a dramatic downfall in the final act, becasue someone told game designers that teenage boys love Scarface. No one should love Scarface. Or you got to be some legendary douchebag who is actually the chosen one for some bullshit reason, and you have to spend hours with people gabbing at you about stones and evil and shit, and then you have to go fetch some shit, so they can gab at you more. These games tend to bar off sections of the gameplay or world to you, until you progress through a certain amount of the story, so that you have to suffer through their "epic lore" and "dramatic characterization" before you can have fun. Oh, cool, this bridge is under construction until I give Coke-Nose the Drug Dogg's bitch and abortion and grind the fetus into the special red meth that we lost in a boat fire and need to give to the Chinese in order to keep relations high between rival gangs and stop a war (that happens anyway, of course).
Not in Dead Rising, where any ending is as satisfying as the others and no story element is truly necessary. And it also adds replay value in my favorite kind of way. The best games are ones that can give you a tight experience that's refined and varied enough that you keep wanting to come back to explore every nook and cranny. And in doing so, you steadily become better at the game, and that allows you to move through the world faster and fight more wisely, which in turn allows you to keep up with the countdown timers, which then allows you to see the story play out. It's just really great game design. Way better than these hundred-plus hour slogs where thirty of the hours are old men talking about dragons and then asking you to go get a plant that happens to be across the game world, and the game will remind you that you still haven't completed that quest, never letting you to forget. You can't let it go. You can't escape. And you certainly can't have any fun until it's done.
And here's where I'm going to make a controversial statement. Weapon durability. It's a phrase that's flying around as often and in as ominous tones as wire tapping these days. Apparently, TLoZBotW has it, and this shifts the game from being Christ's second coming in your hands and eyes to a Satan Sandwhich (which is when you eat spicy poop out from between a person's butt cheeks) as firey and rocky as hell itself. But everyone who thinks there's something wrong with weapon durability is dumb and incorrect (unless you're talking about Fallout 3). Let me explain.
Degrading weapons is one of the best parts of Dead Rising. The game would fall apart without it. You'd just grab the katana and never look back, doing samurai moves on every zombie in sight like Andy. Just riding through on your horse, destroying shit, and ruining everything. Fucking Andy. But weapons that break force you to improvise and try out whatever may lay around you to use until you finish (travel back in time with me, so I can make a Bill Clinton joke, here) and then reach for soemthing new. You start out with normal shit like wooden planks to fight with, but soon you'll find yourself in situations where all you have is a lawnmower, and so you got to try it--and it turns out to be the best fucking thing ever. Eating zombies like nobody's business. It's great. And degrading weapons builds this mentality in you to hord an arsenal of odds and ends to use just in case, and if you leveled up enough you can carry more of them.
Which brings me to leveling up. Leveling up is dumb bullshit that only gives you the impression of having accomplished something when you actually didn't and enforces playing the game longer instead of getting better. You just beat up weasels until you get to whatever level you need to mash your way through fighting dragons. It's dumb and pointless and turns a game into number-crunching, micromanaging dick cheese. Dead Rising is the only game ever made that eschews this rule. Because leveling up isn't about useless numbers. It just gives you more dumb shit to play around with in the game. You can now run around and karate chop zombies to your heart's content. You can disembowel them bitches. You can fucking suplex them like a Fire Pro Wrestler. It's bliss, and it's all additions that have a noticable difference in gameplay and don't for you to spend thirty minutes staring at a screen wondering how some new sword will effect your current build against the snow scrotums of the north.
And crafting is also a complete waste of time that no one should ever enjoy in any game. You know what isn't fun? Entering a vast world full of possiblity--and then dying in five minutes, because you didn't cut down trees right away and build a fire and tent and wicker wife to help deal with the steadily increasing insanity, you stupid fuck. What's wrong with you? How didn't you know that the second you started the game you would need to do those things? Well, now you're dead, buddy. Want to try again, and this time do it right?
It's dumb and creates more micromanaging nonsense where you have to try to store every piece of crap that you find, because it might make something down the road, but of course you only have so many slots, and of course you're also dying all the time, so if you run away from the place where you decided to keep all your stuff too far to actually explore your world, you're as good as gone and have to start all over again. That's not fun and shrinks an open world almost immediately upon entering it.
Dead Rising (2), however, has an excellent crafting system, because it never gets in the way of you enjoying the world you're in. You find blueprints for all the dumb shit you can make, so there's no need to hoard anything, and nothing that you make is necessary to your survival, so there's no micromanage-or-die mechanic bogging the whole game down. It just works to reinforce what's already present in the game and give you more weird and dumb ways to kill mindless hoards of things that we'll pretend never had lives or families, becasue it's more fun that way.
Now, you might think that escorting legions of already-braindead people back to the safe room might constitute bad gameplay and act as more of a chore than a useful addition, but you're obviously wrong. If Resident Evil 4 did it, then it can't be bad. That's a fact. 98% of people agree with facts, and you want to be cool like everyone else, don't you? Then, trust me. Also, not saving the people is just as fun as rescuing them. Photographing girls as they're eaten out (litterally! but not in the Buzzfeed sense) by clusters of undead double amputees is a blast. Her screams of pain are Nice! and Fantastic! and usually erotic, as well. Not to mention that their names flash up on the screen in big letters letting you know they're dead. It's like a victory screen in a fighting game. There's accomplishment in that. I feel great every time I lead groups of people into the center of the mall and then attract all the zombies and leave them to their deaths. It's the only joy I feel in this cruel, unforgiving world.
Don't turn around. Some hideous ghoul creature is following us.
I once was walking to work, when I looked to the side and realized all the buildings I passed were tobacco and liquor stores, thrift shops, convenince stores, and Grumpy's Bail Bonds in this ever-running circuit as I progressed toward my destination. Not only that, but I couldn't even walk into the buildings. All the doors and windows were painted on. I could get inside. I couldn't do anything. They were just there for show. Just there to take up space.
Then, I realized that all the doors were just locked, and I was in the worst part of the city. I got shot and died, guys. It was really sad.
That's how I feel in most open world games where you can run around and collect things, and it's big and vibrant, and you can play around with the physics and whatever, but when it comes to really doing something the world ends up flat and empty. Sure, there might be some challenge missions or some mini-games like bowling with your cousin or hot uncensored fucking, but nothing of much substance, and for the most part the world just lacks the life you'd expect. It lacks that sense of discovery.
But Dead Rising is different. Obviously, or I wouldn't have even bothered mentioning it. The mall area is packed not only with zombies to kill and interesting weapons for doing your murders, but every area you walk into also offers hosts of new discoveries. Every store and area has some new novelty, and the chances of stumbling upon new story elements and Psycho battles adds to the density of every square foot of this world, along with rewarding the more explorative players. Finding a way to jump on top of different buildings, reaching areas that don't seem possible at first, usually brings some one-of-a-kind tool or weapon that's rad and awesome and so worth the time. And the presonality of every strange boss you face just drips with life and color (and my semen), and it creates a world that you can't drag yourself away from. One that you can play over and over and always discover something new. And there hasn't been an open world game to match it since. We'll see if TLoZBotW can change my mind.
But Way of the Samurai 3 is a close second.