With the new generation of consoles Open World Games are becoming increasingly common. Larger hard drives and more processing power gives developers scope to build massive worlds filled with stuff to do. But is this a good thing?
Story and Plot
I have always been someone who loves story driven games, narrative, character and plot are very important when considering which game to buy. I recently watched a playthough of Until Dawn a sleeper title that has raised a storm on PS4. Here is a game that is firmly based in clichéd 80 teen slasher horror, it isn’t breaking new ground but was utterly compelling. The choices you made really effected the game and, brilliantly, to win you played the character rather than the game. If someone had a fiery temperament the rash decisions were the right ones; if a character avoided confrontation, hiding would save their lives. Reading character profiles and playing this way gave you a real connection to the character and drove you to try and save them no matter the cost.
At the same time Until Dawn hit the shelves so did Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, an open world game, which is a new direction for the normally meticulously plotted stealth series. I picked up a copy and now I actually wish I’d got Until Dawn instead.
Metal Gear V – Brilliant but is it too Big?
Before I am lambasted by the Metal Gear massif hear me out. Metal Gear Solid V is a brilliant game, mechanically sound, playable to many different styles, interesting meta game and content up the kazoo. However I have now put 39 hours in and have uncovered very little of the story. I spend an hour tweaking Mother Base, another hour chasing down an endangered Okapi, completing side missions and attaching balloons to as many things as humanly possible. I haven’t unlocked gun customisation yet so I am prepared to loose more hours to that soon.
My problem with open world games is that there are so many things to do, so many distractions that I never fully engage with the story or necessarily ever see a credits screen. I fully expect to get my money’s worth out of Metal Gear V but I am unlikely to ever finish it. Here’s my problem, as a story driven gamer I always feel a little let down.
I competed every faction quest in Elder Scrolls Oblivion through to the Knights of the Nine. I ran the Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, the Mages Guild, the Fighters Guild, became Champion of the Arena and gathered the Knights of the Nine. However I never completed the main story, so in my version of Tamriel Oblivion still rules. With Skyrim I didn’t complete any factions quests or the main story; I put in dozens of hours and was so over-powered that nothing was a challenge so I gave up.
I really disciplined myself to complete Dragon Age Inquisition and I will have to do the same to ensure I finish The Witcher 3. So is the value in a game about the amount of content or is it quality of experience. That questions is unanswerable as it is down to personal taste.
Close the Door on Open World Games
I am at the point now where the words Open World Game will make me think twice about my gaming choice. Fallout 4 will be here soon and I really want to play it (I did actually finish Fallout 3) but in a crowded gaming line-up do I have the time to invest 100+ hours in a single game. I would have finished Until Dawn twice maybe three times to see everything as the story; tight plotting and manageable collectables would make that 20 – 25 hours well spent. The Uncharted Collections is out in 2 weeks, three tightly plotted games that will, back to back, give me 30 – 40 hours of exquisite gameplay, fantastic characters and engaging story. Whereas MGS V has a slow and unengaging story, snake is a virtually emotionless, almost mute character so I have no desire to find out more.
So for this gamer, Open World Games are going to be severely rationed, there is fun to be found but they have become a fashion rather than a gameplay addition. So no, they’re not a waste of time but as far as I’m concerned for now give me plot, give me story, give me Until Dawn.
Open World Games vs Story Driven Games