There are numerous genres when it comes to videogames and all of them have their own place in the industry and more importantly, in our hearts. From heavy scripted games like Uncharted and Heavy Rain to sports games like Fifa or NFL, there is a genre for everyone.
Today, we’ll focus on open world videogames. This is by far a genre that many people hold close to their hearts with a good reason, as some of these games end up being the game of the year for many fans and websites alike. Titles like Grand Theft Auto, Fallout 3, Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls series are all fan favorites and while they may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, it’s hard to deny their overall quality.
When players get their hands on a game that gives them the freedom to explore, to interact with the world and sometimes even change it, they fall in love with the game’s characters and setting. Let’s delve in some of gaming’s best open worlds and even give developers something to ponder on…
Do you remember GTA: San Andreas? Some people love it, some hate it but it was, for many, Rockstar’s masterpiece. A game where you could do so many things that when it came out, people all over the world started to create all sort of modds for it, spawning entire communities around the game. They even created multiplayer for it, something that is played by thousands of people around the world to this day. Fans loved the game and its hard to deny its impact on the gaming industry. If you played a lot of San Andreas I challenge you to install it once more and ride a bike to grove street without feeling any sorts of nostalgia, and most of all, I challenge you not to enjoy it.
Truth is that most people who liked it back then still love it today and while it wasn’t a perfect game, far from it, in its entirety it was a unique and enormous experience filled with a great storyline,great characters and a gargantuan ammount of side activities to partake on.
Maybe you enjoyed Fallout 3 or The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, two games that are very different from what Rockstar provides us but huge in scope and depth. Skyrim’s lore has a scope that most games do not even dream of having, from generations past to political incidents and wars that happened, there is so much history than what we’ve experienced. This franchise has set the perfect foundation to grow and evolve in the future.
While the fifth chapter in the Elder Scrolls series still doesn’t have truly fleshed out combat mechanics it presents the players with so many options, so many different ways to tackle each situation that it makes them forget about its flaws and bugs. Gamers end up enjoying hundreds of hours of gameplay, exploring caves and cities, each having their unique inhabitants and stories to tell.
Player decisions and choice is something that is a characteristic of RPG’s but also something that I believe that gives every game a more complex feel and granted that not all games must be complex, for me it is almost always a good thing when we get to make decisions and change the way other characters perceive our protagonist in these fictional worlds.
Saint’s Row, a game based on satire and creating the most mayhem you can, with its entire focus solely on having mindless fun, does not present players complex decisions to make or a Hollywood style storyline and it still is a very enjoyable game. Some gamers just want to have fun and not having to make all sorts of decisions and master elaborate mechanics, and that is the beauty of open world games, they can cater to almost every kind of gamer.
Maybe you are an FPS fan in which case you have Borderlands, a critically acclaimed game that has players exploring an open world in first person while still having a storyline to follow, proving that no matter the genre of your game you can forge it to become a hybrid, a game that although maintaining its core intact, can provide gamers with the much needed freedom that only sandbox games can offer. Think of the possibilities for a second…
Imagine a Mass Effect or Star Wars game that has an entire world or galaxy for you to explore. I know this is a strech but bear with me for a second. Imagine flying around on a spaceship or any sort of vehicle, going from one place to another and especially, being able to explore a world like tattoine or the entire citadel without restrictions. Don’t think I want them to just make a Grand Theft Auto Space game (although that would probably be fun), but rather a game that, as Witcher 3 is shaping up to be, is more focused on exploring large areas while still maintaining their focus on providing the players with a rich story and lovely characters. It wouldn’t be easy to pull off but if even Metal Gear is going that direction, why couldn’t games like Star Wars or Mass Effect, that have so many worlds and such an expansive galaxy each, try to explore this genre?
With a new generation of more powerful consoles and games like Watch Dogs and Metal Gear Solid V on the horizon, and the likely release of a new Fallout game soon, the expectations for this genre are trough the roof and the potential for new and fresh sandbox experiences is higher than it has ever been!