Jun 02 2016

When Open World Games are Too Open

I’ve been playing Farcry 4 off and on for the past few months. Yeah, it’s a 2014 title, but it’s still a good one – in fact, it was the first game I bought for my Xbox One when I purchased it last year, but only in November of 2015 did I get around to actually playing it.

In any case, it’s one of those games where, while it has it’s story and plot flow, you can really pretty much do whatever you want. Open World, as it is known, rather than the more traditional level based structure most games have. These tend to be the most enjoyable game experiences for many people, as they provide an ability to “live in” the world presented, doing what you want, when you want, how you want, where you want, within the games universe and rules.

In Grand Theft Auto V players can explore the entire city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles) as well as the nearby desert.

In Grand Theft Auto V players can explore the entire city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles) as well as the nearby desert.

Generally, the games are structured in such a way that the player is presented with a growing list of side tasks to complete, while always having the main task clearly defined, and available when they wish to proceed with the main game. Side tasks can sometimes be rendered unavailable by progress, so often times players will forgo progressing along the main game to complete these tasks, which can easily add hours of gameplay just on their own.

Grand Theft Auto is generally considered the definitive open world game series, and it provides a nice enough balance of story missions and side missions, but many players feel it somewhat lacking on random things to do in the world. Still, the games are quite beloved by their fans, and constantly receive high regards for their gameplay. The games in the series offer plenty of things to do, but never bombard you more choices than you feel you can take on.

A good old shootout in Los Santos

A good old shootout in Los Santos

Farcry 4, for comparison, though, seems to go a little crazy with the amount of things to do in the game: Dozens of locations to take control of, with these combat situations able to be replayed at will; random events happening as you drive around the countryside, from saving people in danger to taking over supplies in route to an enemy base, and even quests for Thangka strips to access the quite long Shangri-La side missions. The amount of stuff to do in the game is almost too much, when combined with the sheer size of the game world.


I’m not necessarily complaining, as I love having things to do in games. It’s just that the way these games are done, they introduce you to these side missions as part of a main story element, and thus it makes you want to complete them, which sometimes can feel almost overwhelming when too many options are presented at once. What do I want to do. Do I want to progress with the main story? Do I want to go hunting, or try to save some hostages?

The Shangri-La missions can take easily 30 minutes each!

The Shangri-La missions can take easily 30 minutes each!

Yeah, having options in a game is great. Sometimes, it can be a bit much, and leave you feeling like you can never complete the game.

I say all this just for thoughts sake. Have you played a game that just had too much going on, or was there a game you played that didn’t have enough optional things to do? Let me know, and perhaps we will look into individual games more in the near future.


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