Sessler's Soapbox: Open Worlds Need Direction

Posted: March 23, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: Open Worlds Need Direction
Adam uses Just Cause 2 to point out how open world games are very common, but sometimes lacking in direction, progression, or story.

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  • wiggum

    I'm like you, Sess. I love open world titles but sometimes I get so caught up in doing peripheral sidequests and missions and other diversions that I often lose the thread of the main story. But the freedom to explore and play around that these sandbox titles offer is too enticing to resist.

    Picked up Just Cause 2 yesterday. Glad to see its getting good reviews and can't wait to start grappling around.

    Posted: March 24, 2010 11:08 AM
  • Aristofiles

    I still havent played a open world game i thought worked 100%. Fallout 3 is often named as a good example but i dont think so. Sure the world was big and thay had alot of fun stuff in it but there were so many locations in there who just dident matter. Like the Betsheda office building. A fun thing to throw in but it was just a big building with nothing in it. The bigger the world the better it has to be so it dont look lame. Plus no matter how big the world is the "towns" (3 building max) lies 4 minutes apart.... dosent feel very realistic.

    Posted: March 24, 2010 9:39 AM
  • Aristofiles

    I still havent played a open world game i thought worked 100%. Fallout 3 is often named as a good example but i dont think so. Sure the world was big and thay had alot of fun stuff in it but there were so many locations in there who just dident matter. Like the Betsheda office building. A fun thing to throw in but it was just a big building with nothing in it. The bigger the world the better it has to be so it dont look lame. Plus no matter how big the world is the "towns" (3 building max) lies 4 minutes apart.... dosent feel very realistic.

    Posted: March 24, 2010 9:39 AM
  • BinKsHousE

    Great soapbox Adam I agree in most respects. I also think that this generations gaming has so much to do with achievments and trophys that story and "true" open worlds and open gaming can't be done, because you have to go after what the developers want you to go look for or find. Sure once you get all the achievments and trophys you can go back and explore but buy the time you get all thoses things a new badass game or exclusive title comes out that you have to play that you forget about the other game. I think its time for something new. I like the achievments idea but can they make the games that say they are open world truly open and let me open every door? there doesnt have to always be something in there but its another way let me get my $60 bucks worth. I want to feel like $60 bucks was a good deal. Its bad enough I have to go out and buy a PS3 just to play God of War. Adam I think you are a wise man and you have a truly blessed life (outside lookin in mind you) and I love G4.

    Posted: March 24, 2010 4:34 AM
  • RPG-fan

    Adam praised FFXIII? May God have mercy on us all.

    Sandbox games gives you an option to do side-quests, as well, as doing the main quests. The great thing about it is those side quests are optional, so for those gamers who prefers to finish the main story can do that without having to mess around with side quests so much. Myself, I like doing those side quests, as it gives the game tons of lastability, especially, if you are allowed to continue after finishing the main quest.

    To anyone who played Just Cause 2, should I buy it for the Xbox 360 or PS3?

    Posted: March 24, 2010 2:24 AM
  • eric3141

    The down side of open world imo is situations like Bethesda. Their games seem to rely on the open world feature and let the story and content suffer, as in Oblivion or Fallout3.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 9:10 PM
  • happymeowmeow

    So the catalyst for this soapbox is obviously Final Fantasy 13 being stuck with the label "linear". ..and Just Cause 2 coming out.... But anyway, no matter what happens now, it'll be known as "that final fantasy that was linear." Is it deserved? Is it linearity even an accurate label to describe whats going on here?
    It's important to remember that most rpg's have been very linear experiences, even those that offer an large overworld to explore. There's usually a set path that has to be followed, certain order of enemies to beat, level you have to reach before you survive point a , etc. Even MMO's that offer immense worlds to explore boil down to very linear gameplay strategies to progress in the game.
    But is what everyone is saying about the first ten chapters of FF13 true? Of course it is, the criticism isn't coming out of thin air. It's just difficult for me to understand what people were expecting. An open world Final Fantasy? Or maybe that's the thing. High Expectations. We expected something incredible , and while the game is definitely high quality, maybe it comes a little short compared to the other exceptional games we've been lucky enough to play in the last few years.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 8:28 PM
  • IamtheBat

    This is a good time to bring up Bully, a great and unique open world game, c'mon Rockstar, I needz some new Bully.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 8:03 PM
  • Interesting

    Its all about money.
    Developers want linear games because its cheaper to make, less time and effort and resources has to be spent.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 7:58 PM
  • funkykafka

    Thanks, Adam. And I gotta love a gamer who uses the word pejorative. By & large, the consensus is that gamers are illiterate. Me like games when me shoot & kill bad guys.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 7:37 PM
  • Sage_Sakyia

    I like both, sandbox types (Morrowind/Oblivion, Fallout 3, GTA, etc) and linear ones. I like variety, for example, I'm playing ME2 currently, which isn't a sandbox but not 100% linear either (though closer to linear), also playing DA: Awakening, very linear and straightforward, just got Just Cause 2 and have Red Dead Redemption reserved, both very sandbox-ish. I was hoping to be interested in FF13 but it's just not my cup of tea, so you know what I did? Got Lost Odyssey (quite linear, at least most of the game) for like $9 used @ Amazon, lot of people told me to get that back when it came out. So far I really like it, it's satisfying my JRPG side.

    Point is, sometimes I wanna play something that is linear and straightforward, or, just not very "sandbox-ish" because sometimes sandbox games are overwhelming and even a bit intimidating, so I like a break from them here & there, having the option to play either.

    Yeah, I feel we are a bit spoiled, but since I like both styles, I don't really feel all that guilty. I do love being able to do what I want when I want, but as I said, it can be somewhat overwhelming, and I sometimes forget what I was doing or planning on doing last time I played, if say, I haven't played in a bit, Fallout 3 is a pretty good example, but even better ex. would be Oblivion (or Morrowind), I have to write notes sometimes on what I wanna do or where I have stuff stored because I forgot, lol. That's why a game that is linear is refreshing once in a while, because there isn't a million things to keep track of.

    There is something else that I think we are spoiled from somewhat, being able to save anywhere anytime, I do like being able to do that. I sometimes cringe when I realize the game has save points to get to, take Star Ocean: Last Hope as an example, or when I just started playing Lost Odyssey recently, I assumed we'd be able to save anywhere/anytime, because I'm used to it, lol.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 7:15 PM
  • brennahan

    I'm gonna be brutally honest, gamers have been spoiled. We've been spoiled by so many fantastic, good open-world RPGs games in the past decade that the transition back to more linear games is almost painful. People played sandbox games and found a new found love or even obsession with the thought of being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want. That's why it's so hard for gamers to accept many games that are more linear than others.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 6:10 PM
  • Juicelee

    honestly what I'd like to see in an open world game is the mesh of linear narrative and encouraged exploration... like what if you had a game where the story progressed on its own timeline. you could could choose to interact with it or not interact with it at any given time which means the narrative is still happening regardless if you choose to participate.

    Ive never seen that done in a game and I think it would give the world a life of its own and it would make most players curious on the outcome should they choose to participate or not especially if they can jump in at nearly anytime with no incredible penalty

    Posted: March 23, 2010 5:36 PM
  • randallmcginness

    I think it really depends on the game and how well everything is constructed and how much the environment can make suck you in.

    GTA 4's story was decent enough to keep me entertained and although I didn't beat it, I paid more attention to the story than I did causing ruckus, mainly becuase i've done it so many times before and never really played it for the story.

    inFamous did a fantastic job of having a great story with decent side missions. The side missions got a little repetitive but were still fun to do. I'd mostly venture off from the story/side missions to look for blast shards or for trophies. When I played through as evil Cole, I became more side tracked but just in short spurts to destroy everything around. The island were too similiar to each other to keep me entertained with just messing around w/ a point.

    I bought Fallout3 because I heard the story was really good. After a few hours in, I didn't really care about the story because I was enjoying the environment. The story is good though. I haven't beaten it yet, but will one day. I thought Bethesda did a really good job of mixing a good story with an good looking environment that sucks you in.

    My bottom line is that it all depends on how the game is and what you're looking to do. To me, a perfect open world game would have a great story, fun game play mechanics and an interesting environment that will make me want to explore it.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 5:31 PM
  • bigboi21

    Open-world games are a great aspect of any game in my opinion. But also in my opinion an open-world game is one that allows you to go anywhere, at anytime, do anything at anytime, and doesn't require you to complete the "main" story in order to attain everything that would make the game fun. Fallout 3 for instance, open-world game (no one would argue with that) but with the RPG element and great characters (by that i mean voice acting), and pretty well thought out stories (main one including the side ones) makes it such a great game. Grand Theft Auto IV: Ballad of Gay Tony, as another example, great open-world game, so much to do, interesting characters to the point where it makes you think, "i wonder what his story is", and compelling story make it a great game as well. Now with this new game, Just Cause 2, massive world, so much to explore, amazing action and the ability to do so many crazy things...just cause, make it a great game. Now all these great games your probably saying, well your just a fan of open-world games. True, i am, but linear "closed-world" games attract me only if they have great aspects. God of War III for instance, great combat system, amazing story, and incomprehensible scale make it a great game. Heavy Rain, compelling story and unique, interesting characters make it great.

    To my point: in my opinion the perfect game would be one that combines aspects from all of the games i mentioned above, yes i chose them for a reason.

    Imagine a game with:
    Fallout 3 take-aways: great amount of side-stories, great voice acting, and that RPG aspect (allowing you to upgrade and customize your character for personalization
    GTA IV take-aways: funny, yet attractive (i don't mean looks) characters, freedom to do what ever basically
    Just Cause 2 take-aways: insane action, "just cause" feeling (excuse the pun), new and great mechanics (i.e. grappling hook n parachute combo)
    GoW III take-aways: outstanding scale, compelling story, attention to detail
    Heavy Rain take-aways: interactiveness, personal involvement with the story, putting you as a person into the game

    Wrap all those aspects of great games into one, and you can't say you wouldn't have the best-selling game of all time.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 5:25 PM
  • Slayinfool

    I yearn for a true open world Dead Rising game! Anyway, I tend to get a larger sense of worth from open world games. Like I really got my money's worth after playing it cause I spent 100 plus hours playing one playthrough. Exploring as much as possible, and completing every side mission. Not that I don't feel like a game like Uncharted 2 isn't worth it. Cause obviously that game was well worth it.

    I just feel like it's ok that story takes maybe a backseat to the gameplay in open world games. I feel the most important aspect in open world games is variety. Don't give me copy & paste side missions to do over and over again. I believe thats what sets open world games apart from each other. Games with repeated side missions get mundane very quickly.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 5:18 PM
  • RandyMercer

    I'm glad Adam Sessler touched on this again, I still find people saying that a good game(Uncharted 2 Batman:AA) was too linear, as if it were a bad thing. Not all games are going to be Open-world or an RPG; if a title has a straight forward narrative that is scripted and planned out then you have to play the game for what it is. I've played a few Open world games, inFAMOUS was my favorite but since it's so Open it was kinda hard to remember the story but kudos to them since it still had heavy story implementations in a good majority of the game. Thanks once again Mr. Sessler maybe other gaming journalist and gamers a like will pay attention to what you say. More Tech, more problems.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 5:11 PM
  • WildfireFox

    Blair Herter is not a 'feature' of anything, not even a gaming convention, that someone will go to see.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 4:47 PM
  • FaroDemon

    lol wtf 0:56 " It's a good game!" lol you sounded like a chip munk

    Posted: March 23, 2010 4:32 PM
  • PennStater

    I think that open world games need linearity to some extent to make sure that you get a good feeling for what's going on.

    I just finished "The Saboteur" and I am so wanting more of it. Out of all of my open-world games, it is the ONLY one that I finished to 100% completion. There were so many targets and the game was just so freaking good and such an impressive twist on the open-world theme, and the linearity/story segments not only gave me ideas on how to tackle certain problems but they also gave me more of an emotional attachment to the characters and the overall story than I could have gotten from simply going around blowing up Nazi checkpoints. However, it didn't restrict me from going wherever I wanted to go .

    I don't necessarily like when games really force you into a story arc while limiting where you can go until such time as you reach a checkpoint. Case in point - GTA4. Was it *really* necessary to punish me for trying to get to Algonquin and Alderney before certain points in the game? Why? What could have possibly been the purpose for that? I thought it was a ridiculous mechanic that insulted me by saying that I'm not "good enough" to see the rest of the islands, especially when it really didn't do anything to advance the storyline.

    I have always enjoyed deep stories in my games, but I also like being given the freedom to do what I want if I choose to do so while still being pushed through the main story line, not shoved like in GTA4.

    Posted: March 23, 2010 4:27 PM