Does making a game open world make it better?

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I don't have much experience with open world games. I played Breath of the Wild and liked it a lot but wouldn't call it better than the older games in the series. I played Assassin's Creed Valhalla and didn't like it much. The amount of things to do was overwhelming. I prefer games where the world expands as you progress through the main story but its size never becomes excessively large.
 

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For me, the answer's an easy no. But it really coms down to personal taste.

Of course "a game" is far too wide of a spectrum to just apply anything to. Solitaire is a game, but nobody's thinking of creating an open world solitaire game (it...just wouldn't work). The games most suited (or even exlusively suited) are role playing games. No matter whether it's historical, science fiction, fantasy or just "real life" (like GTA...to a degree, of course), the idea of the game is that you are given the freedom to explore it. In fact, exploring is the main draw for this kind of game.

To be fair, all Zelda games (except my favorite: 4 swords on gamecube) are open world games. BotW is just different in that it's far less restrictive in how you go about things (others usually have obstacles blocking your path, indicating that your business is within what you can reach).

To me, the main reason I dislike open world games is the way they're designed: top down. That is: the world is created first (or at best in tandem) and then the gameplay is dropped inbetween that.
However, the gameplay is often stale if you look at it from a distance. You're always just travelling from A to B. Someone's lost an item. Fetch it from spot A and bring it to B. Kill person X in location C. Follow person Y but don't get spotted. Hack a computer by standing next to it and pressing spacebar. And so on. They're all variations on the same kind of gameplay.
If the world is beautiful and the design is solid, it's certainly not a bad thing (I'm not trying to bash lovers of the genre...just trying to explain why I don't care).
But it's also restrictive creatively. I remember plowing through assassin's creed 3 when I was given the (luckily optional) objective to collect feathers. I kid you not: feathers. These were scattered all throughout the world for...I don't even know if there was a reason. There was just the most mindnumbingly stupid request to collect feathers as if it were precious pokémon. Later it was joined by another stupid quest (Benjamin Franklin lost his parchment. yeah...I guess faithfull Americans get a stiffy collecting part 135 of 423 of the declaration of independence, but I.COULN'T.CARE.LESS). And then another. And then...
...and before I knew it, my map was full of these stupid things. Even trying to collect everything seemed like an assignment for someone without any social life ("whatcha doing tonight?" "I'm hoping to climb a strangely shaped tower in order to retrieve a document from a video character").
At one point, I found myself enjoying a sidequest where I had to separate two about-to-be-fighting brothers. It was only afterward that I understood why: it involved navigating both controllers to keep their hands out of each others reach. It was a stupid minigame...but it managed to stand out in a very positive way because for freaking ONCE I didn't have to strottle three quarts of the state to fetch an NPC some stupid trinket.
 
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It just depends on the gameplay. There would be no point making something like League of Legends open world, yet games like Breath of the Wild thrive with it. It's not a 'one size fits all' sort of thing. The game designers just need to consider if it would fit their game.
 

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For me, the answer's an easy no. But it really coms down to personal taste.

Of course "a game" is far too wide of a spectrum to just apply anything to. Solitaire is a game, but nobody's thinking of creating an open world solitaire game (it...just wouldn't work). The games most suited (or even exlusively suited) are role playing games. No matter whether it's historical, science fiction, fantasy or just "real life" (like GTA...to a degree, of course), the idea of the game is that you are given the freedom to explore it. In fact, exploring is the main draw for this kind of game.

To be fair, all Zelda games (except my favorite: 4 swords on gamecube) are open world games. BotW is just different in that it's far less restrictive in how you go about things (others usually have obstacles blocking your path, indicating that your business is within what you can reach).

To me, the main reason I dislike open world games is the way they're designed: top down. That is: the world is created first (or at best in tandem) and then the gameplay is dropped inbetween that.
However, the gameplay is often stale if you look at it from a distance. You're always just travelling from A to B. Someone's lost an item. Fetch it from spot A and bring it to B. Kill person X in location C. Follow person Y but don't get spotted. Hack a computer by standing next to it and pressing spacebar. And so on. They're all variations on the same kind of gameplay.
If the world is beautiful and the design is solid, it's certainly not a bad thing (I'm not trying to bash lovers of the genre...just trying to explain why I don't care).
But it's also restrictive creatively. I remember plowing through assassin's creed 3 when I was given the (luckily optional) objective to collect feathers. I kid you not: feathers. These were scattered all throughout the world for...I don't even know if there was a reason. There was just the most mindnumbingly stupid request to collect feathers as if it were precious pokémon. Later it was joined by another stupid quest (Benjamin Franklin lost his parchment. yeah...I guess faithfull Americans get a stiffy collecting part 135 of 423 of the declaration of independence, but I.COULN'T.CARE.LESS). And then another. And then...
...and before I knew it, my map was full of these stupid things. Even trying to collect everything seemed like an assignment for someone without any social life ("whatcha doing tonight?" "I'm hoping to climb a strangely shaped tower in order to retrieve a document from a video character").
At one point, I found myself enjoying a sidequest where I had to separate two about-to-be-fighting brothers. It was only afterward that I understood why: it involved navigating both controllers to keep their hands out of each others reach. It was a stupid minigame...but it managed to stand out in a very positive way because for freaking ONCE I didn't have to strottle three quarts of the state to fetch an NPC some stupid trinket.
You need to collect 5 missing letters of the Declaration of Independence to complete the message
 

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Of course "a game" is far too wide of a spectrum to just apply anything to. Solitaire is a game, but nobody's thinking of creating an open world solitaire game (it...just wouldn't work).

You say that but my favourite magic the gathering game from a high level gameplay perspective is open world (would not be before the XBLA title that they cracked AI though).


That said I will go with the sentiment. Open world is just a mechanic, and one that really needs to be thought through to work properly. It becomes painfully obvious when you don't have the semblance of a living world to deal with.

Too many devs have also been caught in the trap of thinking open world therefore good as well. Got worse when MMORPGs were a thing and people realised how much effort that took so converted would be such projects into open world single player.

I might even go one further and say I am not sure open world has made that many games that do it right that much better either. For instance I reckon Far Cry as not open world would have been better. Give people the illusion of choice as far as how to get to their next objective, maybe some upsides and downsides (time to regroup vs time to restock) and that would do better for me.
 

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The term "Open World" is now associated with repetitive fetch quests, quest markers, minimaps and fast travel.
4q7258bxdwv41.jpg
 

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You say that but my favourite magic the gathering game from a high level gameplay perspective is open world (would not be before the XBLA title that they cracked AI though).


That said I will go with the sentiment. Open world is just a mechanic, and one that really needs to be thought through to work properly. It becomes painfully obvious when you don't have the semblance of a living world to deal with.

Too many devs have also been caught in the trap of thinking open world therefore good as well. Got worse when MMORPGs were a thing and people realised how much effort that took so converted would be such projects into open world single player.

I might even go one further and say I am not sure open world has made that many games that do it right that much better either. For instance I reckon Far Cry as not open world would have been better. Give people the illusion of choice as far as how to get to their next objective, maybe some upsides and downsides (time to regroup vs time to restock) and that would do better for me.
I'm not sure what you mean with the first part. There was that shandalar magic video game... Do you mean that? Or the open nature of magic as a collectible card game? Or even something else?

When I think back at the first open world games (gta 3,vice city, San andreas), in hindsight it were mostly tech demos. It was fun because it was never been done before.

For me it was the same with far cry 3... I could go anywhere and do whatever I wanted in a jungle. But as a result I never even tried 4,5 or 6. I had already had all the game had to offer in 3. But it seems like open world is, ironically, painting yourself in a corner. Once you go there, you can't go back to more restrictive in a future game. Even though it would've been a better choice (I'm thinking of saints row... They just rehashed the same city for at least three games).


@SG854 : do I look like I care? I'm trying to play an assassin in that game, not someone's private mailman.
 

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I'm not sure what you mean with the first part. There was that shandalar magic video game... Do you mean that? Or the open nature of magic as a collectible card game? Or even something else?

When I think back at the first open world games (gta 3,vice city, San andreas), in hindsight it were mostly tech demos. It was fun because it was never been done before.

For me it was the same with far cry 3... I could go anywhere and do whatever I wanted in a jungle. But as a result I never even tried 4,5 or 6. I had already had all the game had to offer in 3. But it seems like open world is, ironically, painting yourself in a corner. Once you go there, you can't go back to more restrictive in a future game. Even though it would've been a better choice (I'm thinking of saints row... They just rehashed the same city for at least three games).


@SG854 : do I look like I care? I'm trying to play an assassin in that game, not someone's private mailman.
I can't remember the name. Would have been late 90s early 2000s. You wandered around the fantasy Arabian world (would have been around Mirage in terms of expansions) in isometric perspective challenging people, monsters and whatever else to various games of magic, gaining cards, health (only had 10 to start with vs the usual 20, which even then I could see as something of a nerf for AI purposes), seeing challenges and more besides.

As far as GTA going 3d being progenitor. Where do we count the Elite franchise in this? Various roguelikes as life sims had also been pioneered long before then, though nothing particularly like Gearhead (one of the more interesting open source games) or anything we see there today. PC RPGs had also been there for several years before then; Might and Magic and most Elder Scrolls games being quite capable of "go anywhere, do anything" type play even if there was a nominal story somewhere in them.

On not doing more than Far Cry 3. Other than maybe missing out on Blood Dragon (an expansion for 3, though radically retools it) some might say you skipped out at the right point. I don't necessarily agree but it is a position I can stand to hear more from as I can well see some noting something was lost or maybe not as coherent in the later efforts.

Now sitting here trying to think if anything went from open world to more structured. Elder Scrolls kind of did with Battlespire and Redguard but most would tell me they are spinoffs. Might and Magic sort of did as well with various things more explicitly dubbed spinoffs. Open world elements was also a mini trend at one point (Thief 3 being one of the more notable to stick in my head, but that was more for tanking the series and is potentially more of a different dev given the reins type deal), though that would have been after GTA 3 sold all the games.
 
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Does making a game open world make it better?

It depends on the game mechanics and what you do with them in the open world versus a progression of closed levels. If you're going to have an open world game, you'd better have enough actual content to fill it up with (grinding doesn't count), or hope like hell some emergent gameplay elements... emerge when you expose your game mechanics to a wider arena. Either way the players have to want to explore or take advantage of the game world, and not be forced to traverse it for fetch quests or other bullshit.



I can't remember the name. Would have been late 90s early 2000s. You wandered around the fantasy Arabian world (would have been around Mirage in terms of expansions) in isometric perspective challenging people, monsters and whatever else to various games of magic, gaining cards, health (only had 10 to start with vs the usual 20, which even then I could see as something of a nerf for AI purposes), seeing challenges and more besides.
I think this is the one you're thinking of:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic:_The_Gathering_(1997_video_game)

I remember playing it way back when.
 

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Yeah probably should have just looked it up earlier
video

Seems to chime with what I remember, also remember resetting my computer when I was about to lose to dodge the penalties there.
 
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