Open World Games

This topic came to mind after reading the recent PCG article:
It's time for open world games to ditch the question marks | PC Gamer

The first thing that came to mind was: What was your first "open world" game experience? For me, it was the Elder Scrolls Arena. It was such a massive game that let me do just about anything and go anywhere. It was such a unique experience from games I had played previously. The game's map size (I've seen differing totals) was over 62,000 square miles, with the majority of that procedurally generated.

Now granted, looking back with a 2021 gamers eyes, most of that was pretty much dead space with very little to do; but at the time I was astounded. Daggerfall was better, and I have more memories of that game, but Arena was the first. I don't even think you could physically walk from town to town (I tried in Daggerfall, but never accomplished it).

Second question: Do you have a favorite open world game of all those you have played, or do you have several depending what you feel like playing? Skyrim (now Skyrim SE) still ranks as my favorite. Not only was the base game great, but the ability to mod it, tweak it, to be exactly what you want it to be makes that game infinitely re-playable. And I think that's true for most Bethesda's games. They create these great open world "sandboxes" and allow players to mod & tweak them to fit exactly what you want. I hope that aspect never changes.

For me, Bethesda is the current king/queen of open world games. I've never played the Assassin's Creed games, but from what I've read, they're also great experiences; though I don't really know about the modding scene for those games. No Man's Sky is another one I've watched & considered, but never actually purchased.

So, what are your thoughts?
 
Sacred isn't far from my mind, you could go to end area from start of the game if you knew where to go. I can vaguely remember all the Easter eggs in the desert

Sacred 2 you could follow the story and finish story in a few days or you could ignore the story completely for weeks at a time only looking at story to get a new area to play in. They at least made it harder to get to end from beginning region, so thats one change. You couldn't just stumble on it.

I can't think of many earlier games I played like that. Or since :(

Sorry to be a 1 game sort of guy, I did play it for probably 4 years straight before I tried to find something else.

Big maps are no fun if there is nothing in them.
 
This topic came to mind after reading the recent PCG article:
It's time for open world games to ditch the question marks | PC Gamer

What was your first "open world" game experience?

Second question: Do you have a favorite open world game of all those you have played, or do you have several depending what you feel like playing?
I played them out of order, but I consider Bard's Tale II to be open world. Granted, it was a small world, just a small town, but you could go where you wanted. It wasn't a linear experience. The Might and Magic games were that way, as well, but with much bigger worlds (by my memory).

My favorite games change frequently. Witcher 3, various AC games and Far Cry 4 come to mind, but I'm really more of a builder and engineer type player, so if I had to seriously decide two open world games that I was going to have to play for 200 more hours, I'd pick Satisfactory and Conan Exiles. And if I had to narrow it down to just one, it would probably be Satisfactory.
 
Pity the article forgets the 4X genre, and some RTS could have a place there too. If you haven't launched a biggest-possible map in Civilization—or your 4X of choice—against just one other opponent and Raging Barbarians, you haven't experienced the joys of huge random terrain, oceans, islands etc to explore 'forever'.

RTSs have a degree of OW in terms of dispelling the Fog of War and choosing routes, but I'd like to see a truly OW RTS like a 4X—random maps every game, you choose how large, with various goodies and baddies 'out there' to reward careful exploration.

What was your first "open world" game experience?
The original Far Cry. 2004 was a good FPS year, so I'd just come from completing Half Life 2. HL2 was a stunning game which I replayed once more, while FC was a wonderfully enjoyable game I replayed ~half a dozen times—and that's allowing for the very annoying Trigens in the second half of the game. FC started and cemented my huge preference for OW shooters.

Do you have a favorite open world game of all those you have played, or do you have several
Oh Civ4 without a doubt. But limiting OW to genres the article was talking about, I suppose Far Cry Primal would edge out FC4—interestingly, Primal is a reskinned smaller version of the FC4 map, so great job there, map maker!

I've dipped my toes into AC Origins & Odyssey, and am looking forward to their worlds which have received a lot of praise.

dead space with very little to do
Big maps are no fun if there is nothing in them
That's what I love about FC games from FC3 onwards, you never know what you're going to meet out in the wild—it's different every time, between wandering patrols and wandering 'Oh look, lunch' wildlife. I spend way more time drifting and looking for trouble than I do following story missions.

Assassin's Creed … modding scene
Very poor, just a few cosmetics. One of the reasons I haven't bothered with them up to now. Far Cry is much better served for mods.
 
Big maps are no fun if there is nothing in them.
That's definitely one of the dangers that game developers have to deal with, as well as us players having to deal with the results. I'll often see a new game touted as "massive open world", but I'm more skeptical now, and will usually want to see some reviews before I buy into it. They frequently suffer from either: A) Dead space with little content, or B) Repetitive content. An example would be Dragon Age Inquisition, while I truly love the game, characters, and storyline; some of those area maps, while not suffering from dead space as much as they did from repetitive content. If I killed one bear on the Storm Coast Area, I killed a thousand. Clear a small area, walk back through it, and those same freaking bears are back.

Bethesda on the other hand, learned a great deal from Arena and Daggerfall, dropping the procedural generation of content, and making the open world space of the Elder Scrolls games (starting with Morrowind) much smaller but denser with multiple places to explore, characters, and random events that could distract you from the main storyline.

Sorry to be a 1 game sort of guy, I did play it for probably 4 years straight before I tried to find something else.
Oh, I hear you on that. While not 1 game, I do have a group of games that I replay over and over on a regular basis, year after year.

Sacred 2 you could follow the story and finish story in a few days or you could ignore the story completely for weeks at a time only looking at story to get a new area to play in. They at least made it harder to get to end from beginning region, so thats one change. You couldn't just stumble on it.

I can't think of many earlier games I played like that. Or since :(
I love Sacred 2, I have it permanently installed on Steam to this day and still go back to it from time to time ("Permanently installed" mainly because I don't want to spend the time with various downloads again to get it to run. Plus, it takes up very little disc space.) I always pursue obscure side quests (like the Blind Guardian concert) and try to find secrets and different areas. Takes a long time for me to complete a playthrough. A unique game that never achieved its due.
 
RTSs have a degree of OW in terms of dispelling the Fog of War and choosing routes, but I'd like to see a truly OW RTS like a 4X—random maps every game, you choose how large, with various goodies and baddies 'out there' to reward careful exploration.
I would really like an open world RTS with minimal units. I really enjoyed the exploration at the start of an Age of Empires III match and one of my favourite RTS missions was in C&C: Tiberium Wars where you just got a single GDI Commando.
 
I read the article and mostly agreed with it.

Open world often makes stories feel disjointed, I can have an urgent main quest to save an important NPC and have to meet someone at midnight, but instead go fishing or go looking for the lost sheep for days on end with no fail state, which totally breaks immersion and engagement with the main story and world.

The checklisting and copy paste encounters of a lot of open worlds bore me after a few hours. I appreciate that many people find the act of checking off a list comforting somehow after a hard day, personally I'm broken in a way that it always reminds me of the kind of thing Cookie Clicker is satirizing. Numbers go up, click click click. I'm literally just wasting my time here.

Its best for me when feel like there's some challenge in whatever I'm playing, I want to be learning systems and mechanics and most importantly, encouraged to do so because its vital to actually get through the game. I always feel a bit empty when I make it through an encounter by luck without really knowing how, like it wasnt earned.

It feels like in a lot of modern open world RPG type games, in my experience you can grind to level up to god like power and walk through the whole game without blinking, or thinking by half way through. This is the part I think bothers me most.

It does really help to have a world with interesting ideas in it, if there's no challenge to the gameplay at least it can make me think in other ways. I've been playing some Mass Effect Legendary and the pacing of the Citadel section bothered me, for some of the reasons I've listed. But then I speak to the characters on the Normandy and the engineer has a snippet on how the stealth system works, and Tali something on how the Quarians organized their government in the Flotilla. That kind of thing makes me want to play more to hear more of that world building, even if the game itself is just passable.

I really wish developers would spend less time making huge playgrounds, and instead spend more time building more focused stories and original gameplay ideas in denser worlds. I think they don't do that because its much harder to pull off then just making a huge detailed world with a less ambitious game and story within it. That and the fact that the same model with slight adjustments are selling a bajillion copies every year, so what do I know? :D
 
I love Sacred 2, I have it permanently installed on Steam to this day and still go back to it from time to time ("Permanently installed" mainly because I don't want to spend the time with various downloads again to get it to run. Plus, it takes up very little disc space.) I always pursue obscure side quests (like the Blind Guardian concert) and try to find secrets and different areas. Takes a long time for me to complete a playthrough. A unique game that never achieved its due.
I should try to reinstall it again. I have all my save games on Onedrive, as well as the Community Patch that added... entire new regions, I bought Gold edition on Steam. Its 16gb used to take me 2 days to download when my download speed was 1.87mb/s. Now it takes 10 minutes, or did on my last PC. It hasn't been on this one.
Biggest problem is remembering it again. How to play I mean, I remember a lot of the map. There are over 600 quests in the game, but as you know, you don't do most of them the 1st few difficulties as the mobs go grey too fast. First time through you just follow story, after a while you start game and go in opposite direction to story
  • I remember the town full of ghosts you had to save
  • The hidden staff quest where you have to talk to all these random devs all around game world
  • All the extra dragons and hidden bosses you could randomly stumble into.
  • fact there were two routes underneath the top island
  • Using gear that extended your vision area just to find more of the map you can't access (lol)
  • it was a game that rewarded exploration to the max.

such a fun world


No one does hand drawn maps like them anymore. It was all pre determined what would be where but it never got boring
 
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That's definitely one of the dangers that game developers have to deal with, as well as us players having to deal with the results. I'll often see a new game touted as "massive open world", but I'm more skeptical now, and will usually want to see some reviews before I buy into it.
This is especially true of randomly generated worlds. They can be decent, but I've run into far too many that were incredibly boring. I haven't played it in a long time, but 7 Days to Die had really boring procedural generation. They may have worked on it since I played. But the king of boring goes to Empyrion: Galactic Survival. It has huge planets to explore--so long as you think walking across a 100 square mile field of grass is entertaining.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Ultima 2. You got to play over the whole Earth! Of course, every square was about 500 miles across, depending on how close you were to the equator. You could go through gates and see the entire planet in the past, too. Or get on a rocket and fly to other planets in the solar system!

My favorite would be X4: Foundations. It isn't an RPG, either, but it's very much a sandbox - much like the article was talking about.
 
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