Sessler's Soapbox: So Many Open Worlds, So Little Time

Posted: November 21, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: So Many Open Worlds, So Little Time
Adam laments about all the great open world games that have come out recently and how the genre has evolved over the years.

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  • Irondiesel58

    What the Hell. Finally We get a game that you can play for more then 20 hours and your complaining. It breaks up the mindless shooting games that are just everywhere and littered with teenies. I'm an older game player started with the 2600. If you don't know then your not. But I like getting lost in another world and forgetting about this one for a while and you can't do that with a game that ends in 21 hours. So Shush on that way of thinking. Thanks

    Posted: December 8, 2011 4:20 AM
  • conan1900

    no skyrim in this soapbox episode?? WTF!!!!

    Posted: December 4, 2011 3:36 PM
  • DarkMggt

    Holy crap. I completely agree with u sir. I play games exactly the same way where i have to complete the side quests first b4 I go on with the story quests. Its one reason why i dont like playing mmos, because the side quests never end. I hate revisisting old area and im such a completionist that "open world" games do irratate me a little. Thank you Sir Ses for pointing this out.

    Posted: November 29, 2011 6:49 PM
  • bolo73

    Adam nailed it. It would be cool if side quests had some effect on the main story. Skyrim is not good at sharing time with other games, family, work, life.

    I found some side missions in Skyrim down right impossable without transforming into a werewolf. I did not know I was too low level for the dungeon until I got to the boss. Either I die or my companion would before we dropped the boss. After 6 tries at beating him I gave into the wolf. Killed the boss just after he got out the crypted.

    Posted: November 29, 2011 12:47 PM
  • cry_of_paine

    I think that Batman did a pretty good job of preventing you from going too far down the sidequests and straying from the main quest. You only had the sidequests open up at specific points in the main story.

    Part of the problem is exactly the point made in the video - the main quest is so much richer and more fulfilling. With Batman, I finished the main quest and still had all these Riddler trophies to collect, and it felt more like a chore than a game. Plus, early on in game history, many games had side quests that you couldn't do after a certain point in the story. I remember KOTOR, and if you got too far in the story without talking to your intended love interest, you would lose that option. So most people have been trained to sort of "eat your veggies first" - get the side dishes over with before you get to the main dish.

    Posted: November 29, 2011 2:56 AM
  • sicsmurf

    I feel that the term open world should no longer be a game genre, but a standard for today s games. PS3 and X-box 360 games are usually $60 when they come out and consumers want a fulfilling experience that is deserving of that price. Like Adam said, If it s not a shooter [or sports game] than it s usually an open world. Games need to be able to set them selves apart from one another. It shouldn t just be a side quest but a side story. Give it some background and multiple ways to solve. This is where Skyrim excels. It should feel like it has a purpose for being there. Even the smallest quests seem like they belong in this world and have their own back stories that coincide with the larger picture. Personally I get lost in this game. I do things as they come up, because I know I will be rewarded for it. Plus I will game levels no matter what I do. Not only that but after you do the quest it gives you an alternate path for when you replay with a new character.

    I wish they would do away with silly or unneeded quests, like, in Batman you can go around the city and stop a 5 second mugging that serves no purpose other than a trophy or achievement. Don't get me wrong, I loved Batman, I own both games and have beaten many times. But, if they were to focus on the philosophy of "quality over quantity" the game would be that much better. "Open world" label should work the side quests in naturally. For instance, Batman, instead of being able to start side missions right away I wish they had a part of the main story break off into the side mission. You could come across bane in the main story, and after defeating him the problem of the tanks comes into play and breaks into a side story. Instead of those silly mugging missions they could have spent more time and made the Bane mission more of a story than simply a quest. Like how they incorporated the Riddler this time around. I felt that was a real side story and not just silly jobs running throughout the game. Also, this way they you wont be able to do every side story right off the bat because you wont have an item or gadget yet. This will also give a diversity of mission types for side stories rather than the run of the mill quests that are in every other "open world" game.

    Everyone plays their games differently and that's what is so appealing about the "open world" genre. But, if you throw everything at the player within the first five mins of playing then there will be nothing to impress them later on in the game. This is why I love Skyrim with such a passion. Your character grows throughout the entire experience and no matter what you are doing at the time. So you always become more powerful and learn new techniques, spells and strategies. Along with that you have different options to finish a side story or quest. Even the small quests can take you 45 mins to complete. Plus, in Skyrim you come across side quests throughout the game and you can do them whenever. But, in Skyrim even the smallest task will have it s rewards.

    I believe that instead of the goal of simply making an open world game a developer should have the goal of making a game with more RPG elements. And, in that way, they can set them selves apart. Even in Skyrim, you have consolations you can gain perks through. It s obviously a glorified skill tree, but doing this makes it seem easier to get into for new gamers. Also, if you compare Skyrim to it s predecessor, Oblivion, it is just as much of an RPG, but is easier to get into for the average gamer. I have heard many people say they love Skyrim and they hated playing Oblivion. I m not saying every game should be compared to Skyrim. Skyrim is has been refined over generations and is what Bethesda specializes in. I m just saying that after playing Skyrim all other open world games I have bought previously seem well kind of like a rip off. Now, I have yet to play Saints 3 and GTA5 is about to be announced, from what I hear. When it comes down to it all that matters is if it makes you happy for however many hours you think your $60 is worth. But, I think even the casual gamer is ready for the genre to evolve to it s next form, action RPG. Even if the RPG elements are watered down.

    Posted: November 27, 2011 9:37 PM
  • Spankin117

    Adam your the man!

    Posted: November 27, 2011 12:02 AM
  • Hydrafiend

    My problem is that I have this desire to make the game last as long as possible and put off the main story missions and then I never finish anything lol.

    Posted: November 25, 2011 1:00 PM
  • InnerRise

    I play as Adam describes here. Mass Effect 2 comes to mind. You have a list of side missions you just want to get out of the way and clear up before finishing the meat of the game, the story missions.

    It just sits there like a weight upon your shoulders until you clear them from your list of things to do.


    You can spend a lot of time inside me.

    Posted: November 24, 2011 1:22 PM
  • Epaine

    It seems that older games tended to block off areas or made them rather difficult without advancing through the game in the same way a level based game worked. Now you typically can go anywhere and try to do anything from the start. It seems like giving all this content at once allows some people to breeze through what they want to do, or it give others a struggle as they try to do everything or can't figure out what is best to do. Maybe they put in so much content at the begining to improve the appeal and initial sales of the game while making the main quests fast and thereby increasing the likelyhood that they buy DLC?

    I think it's been said before here, but one of the best thing in games is a sense of urgency or epicness, as typically one needs a compelling reason to do the main quests instead of side quest #1594 where I get the awesome gem of awesomeness that makes all other quests easy mode. But it's very hard to put in that desire for main quests without a level or lock based system or a timer like Dead Rising. If instead one tries to make the main game so compelling, the side parts tend to suffer or don't get played at all. It's an interesting question of where the balance should be between how good each piece of content is and how relevant it is to the story.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 7:03 PM
  • Wozman23

    I still prefer linear games, because open world games do tend to have that disconnect between story and side quests, which causes the pacing, and my interest level, to suffer. It's no coincidence that my favorite games this year, and the vast majority of my purchases, have all been linear while the big open world games of this season have all been placed on the back burner to be played when I've exhausted my other options.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 1:41 PM
  • flyingchicken

    The way I play the side quests has to deal with the story. For instance in Batman, it wouldn't really make sense to do all of these side missions when you're on the verge to... well you know. But in games like Assassins Creed and Skyrim, you can do whatever you want at your own pace because the story doesn't feel like it's rushing to a conclusion.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 10:11 AM
  • flyingchicken

    Hope everyone has a fun Thanks Giving with all your fams.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 10:02 AM
  • SoloReverb

    For those budget minded gamers, open world games tend to be a real deal.. I could only afford to buy 1 or 2 games this year... so Skyrim was at the top of my list... hasn't disappointed me yet, and I don't think it will... Loving every second of it.... Great soapbox as always... insight and retrospect are a rare commodity in these times... thanks again, and happy Turkey Day to everyone at G4 and everyone in the comment section too!!

    Posted: November 23, 2011 8:14 AM
  • DreadPirateRoberts

    Whenever I play an Elder Scrolls game, I always tend to veer towards to guild quests first. That way I can get all the great perks that you get when you finish a guild, and I feel more empowered to take on the main quest.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 6:36 AM
  • vferg

    My only gripe about open world games with tons of side missions is that I grew up with the original RPG's were I loved doing those side quests and stuff and it was a lot of fun to do them and made you feel really good about finding all of them not to mention really pissed when a game didnt really include any. So by growing up with the mind set that I need to do side missions its really hard to change someones way of playing a game these days were I have all these choices to detract me from the actual game but I basically shouldnt bother doing so. I am relearning the way I play games these days but I must admit its extremely hard putting my old ways down. I really want to do everything in these games but it really doesnt make that big of a difference. I kind of liked how Skyrim has done it, since you really dont level up or gain experience from completing any quests or side missions and you only get items for the most part I really havent felt to obligated to doing a lot of them.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 6:34 AM
  • Metalhead980

    You can't play Skyrim like that.
    If you choose to ignore the story and complete MISC tasks you will never finish the game, ever.
    Those Tasks are put together on the fly depending on player action.

    My advice to anyone that wants to get through Skyrim with a solid experience is Clear both main stories, clear the guilds quests, the daedra quests, the cult quests and then once those are done you can either do the small stuff or move on. That right there is around 150 hours.

    Posted: November 23, 2011 5:23 AM
  • MooseBoyz

    Thank you for summing up Adam my general feeling for games lately. Too many big releases and not enough time to play them all. Skyrim is the first game that I am truly enjoying in a long, long time. I thought Gears was great, etc... but nothing touches Skyrim for the sheer joy of taking gaming to another level that makes the main quest, side quest inconsistency so obvious. Games are becoming so large and with so much content that it is difficult to find an adequate amount of time to play and enjoy without the next big game coming out. My god, this year has been nuts for that.

    Posted: November 22, 2011 11:40 PM
  • Phopojijo

    The somewhat ironic part of all of this is how Grand Theft Auto 3, which Adam said almost started the entire category of "Open World", skirted this entire issue by progressively unlocking more and more of the world as the main story pushed on.

    Odd how sometimes ideas iterate and end up worse than they were.

    Posted: November 22, 2011 10:38 PM
  • joevero

    i thought mass effect was very effective with limiting side quests and fallout made side quests into add-on packs that worked pretty well too.

    Posted: November 22, 2011 10:12 PM