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Thread: What is your favourite open world?

  1. #76
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    The FireWatch world is pretty great in combination with its story. Not the most open ever, but pretty good.

    For some reason Voxel Farm has inspired me with the promise of a Minecraft-like procedurally generated world that looks like Skyrim & is arbitrarily deformable.

    Everquest Landmark used it, and people made some cool stuff on it. But it's the more general survival exploration game that would win me over & become my favorite open world if it came to pass.

    In anticipation, I've been known to open up one of the free demos, especially the alien planet one, and run around with some techno playing. Really it's to give me something to do while I listen to the album since I'm taking notes on how to make electronic music. The kind of metagame I play is to find the highest peak off in the distance and see if I can find a route to scale it to the summit.

    You can get the demos here. Granted it's not everyone's cup o' tea.
    http://www.voxelfarm.com/demos.html

  2. #77
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    I found Firewatch, well I guess disappointing is the word. Not so much the story, but the promise of an open world which never eventuated. Especially when you started skipping days at a time and had no choice but to go where you were supposed to.
    Also, Breath of the Wild is possibly shaping up to be one of my faves, its that good.

  3. #78
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Firewatch could've been pretty grand from a purely exploratory standpoint if it had been really open-world. It's a shame, but understandable from a budget standpoint.

    Also, I know it's not technically an open world, but Stalker: SoC stands as one of the most memorable experiences in terms of exploration for me. There's precious little that comes close to it in terms of atmosphere and sheer presence; it really feels like you're out hoofing it in an abandoned Eastern European city, all that crumbling brickwork and rusted metal sitting silent and abandoned as anomalies boil the air next to them. It's the combination of the mundane and the alien: you're walking down a lonely wooded road, and for a moment, you stop as the clouds blot out the sun, there's the sound of the wind in your ears, and then the echo of a distant pack of mutant dogs as it scents you; there's something about the way all of that comes together.

    And then, of course, there's Pathologic, though I wouldn't call it a favourite open-world, it is definitely one of the most extraordinary and unpleasant ones ever made, and definitely something a hell of a lot more people should try experiencing.

  4. #79
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    holy shit I totally forgot about SoC, absolutely agree with you there. The exploration in that was amazing, Call of Pripyat was also good, but didnt quite achieve the level of atmosphere that Chernobyl did.

  5. #80
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    I was going to put Shadow of Chernobyl on the top of my list, but I didn’t think most people would consider it to be an open world game. You have the freedom to go anywhere, but it was meant to be played linearly, following the story. And I think most people played it that way, at least the first time.

    I loved the atmosphere, especially with the graphical upgrades of the Complete mod. It is one of the most immersive games I’ve played. And it’s great at combining the positive aspects of an open world game with the positive aspects of a story-driven game. I wish other studios had followed in their footsteps.

  6. #81
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Others have already said similar, but I prefer structured worlds with a high degree of freedom over true sandbox games.

    True sandboxes tend to feel a bit more like toys than games, and also tend to lack a sense of progression or purpose.

    In Gothic, you can explore every area and find something unique and hand-placed, and you can also systematically murder all the monsters and clear the area.
    The game is balanced rather than infinite or random, so each hand-placed item that you find is useful. Each monster that you kill helps you reach a higher level.
    Gothic has an open world, but it also has a fairly linear narrative and a logical progression between most areas.

    Meanwhile, compare that to The Elder Scrolls games, which are more sandbox. Most places feel repetitive, both in terms of architecture (re-using the same designs over and over) and in terms of content. You kill enemies, but they just respawn later. You gain skill levels, but it doesn't really matter since the game is infinite. You find items, but they are pointless because, again, they are infinite and random. It doesn't really matter if you clear out a dungeon or not, because you tend not to gain anything of true value or any real progression through doing so.
    The Elder Scrolls games give you a vast world to explore, but the exploration often feels meaningless because while it fullfils the "open world" part, it falls down on the "game" side of things.

    The same applies to other sandbox games. You have an open world where you can do a number of things, but those things quickly get repetitive and boring, and since a lot of areas are filled with random, respawning content, there's no real sense of progression outside of the quests.
    Running around mowing down uruks in Shadow of Mordor is fun for a bit, but when a thousand more uruks will spawn to take their place and you don't get anything out of it, it quickly starts to feel pointless.


    I guess what I'm trying to say is that while open worlds can be fun for a while, I tend to think of games with a proper narrative (both in terms of story, and in terms of game progression) to be superior as games.

  7. #82
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Open worlds I've enjoyed more than others were where stuff went on that was regardless of you. So say your out in the woods looking for reagents and then nearby a bunch of elves get into a battle with a troll or whatever. When your not the be all and end all in a game, you feel more immersed as it's more of being in that world.

    Was something I always loved in WoW and in the other games I've experienced it in.

    Thinking about this last night, System Shock 1 & 2 + The Bioshock's (not including the main campaign of Infinite) sprang to mind. Now I fully know that they are not "open world", but the continued eco-systems of their maps, which mean that no map is ever fully "clear" of enemies, allow for areas that felt more alive. And you always needed to keep one eye open / never let your guard down entirely, as something could pop up out of nowhere at any time. And since they all feature hub-levels, means that you can go back and forth whenever you want, unlike traditional games.

  8. #83
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Since Bethesda's open worlds were mentioned: I've played a bit more Skyrim, and I'm reminded again by how inconsistent Bethesda's worlds are visually. There are moments in Skyrim, even unmodded, that are absolutely gorgeous - and then there are others where the game looks like an early version of a small indie game that bit off more than it can chew. I've seen beautiful sunrises and sunsets outside Whiterun, but yesterday when I came around the corner and saw my first glimpse of the plains stretching beneath Whiterun, I was struck by how bad it looked. The flat mid-day lighting made it even worse.

  9. #84
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Another game I loved running around and headbutting things in was Okami. Truth be told, it was the first thing that came up when I saw the thread title, but I immediately dismissed it as 'not memorable enough'.

    But that's a lie. It's plenty memorable, for its aesthetic and its construction and its gameplay. Its only faults are that it could be more populated, and it's very easy to take its beautiful environments for granted.

  10. #85
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    To some degree, respawning is necessary to keep a non-linear game world feeling alive. But it has to be carefully balanced to avoid being gamey. If you clear a level and it stays clear forever, that's usually not very realististic (depending on the story). Conversely, if the respawn rate is too high it's not very realistic either, and it can make for tedious, immersion-breaking gameplay.

    For example, in SS2, I liked the fact that if you cleared the Med/Sci deck in the beginning and then went back later in the game to get the AR or raid the chemical storeroom, there were some hybrids who had come down there to patrol the halls again. On the other hand, the boxes of droids in the cargo bays in Engineering suggest that there is a finite number of the droids and they're going to be coming from the bays, but if you loiter around Engineering their respawning pattern quickly becomes obvious and immersion-breaking. There is also a choke point somewhere in Ops where spiders and hybrids respawn as fast as you can kill them. On the whole though, respawning helped the game.

    Bioshock had a lot of spots like that too, where splicers respawned too quickly and sometimes way too close to the player, getting in the way of exploration and contributing to non-immersive "arcade shooting gallery" feel to it. But the worst of all for me is Far Cry 2. The AI was pretty good but the respawning almost single-handedly ruined the game for me.

  11. #86
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Yes, minor levels of respawn with significant delays are fine.

    You still clear the decks of the Von Braun in System Shock 2 - you get all the items, and kill most of the enemies. A few will reappear to keep the place from feeling too empty, but the whole thing doesn't just reset like dungeons in The Elder Scrolls.

    There's also the thing which Gothic did - it would periodically spawn more enemies into areas, at key points during the story progression. If you had already cleared the area, then there would be some new monsters - if you hadn't, there'd just be more monsters there.
    In that case, the repopulation is carefully controlled and balanced, rather than the areas just resetting.

  12. #87
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I was thinking about this yesterday driving around in GTAV. One thing I really like about its world, especially living as an expat, is how incredibly American it is.

    I don't mean in the patriotic sense. I mean in the sense that every country has its own look and feel if you were plopped down in any arbitraty town you could tell right away (if you knew its characteristics. There's a great google maps game that does just that btw). It's in things like the street signs, the shape of curbs, the landscaping around streets and buildings, the architectural styles, but even the way garbage cans or chainlink fences are strewn about. It feels like being home, except for the one detail that my actual home has vast flat praries with long lines of sight and no palm trees, but little things like that aside, it feels exactly like driving in anywhere USA, not even impressionistically, but very literally.

    What got me thinking was that I wish there were games that could evoke that level of presence in other countries so you coukd feel genuinely there. I mean Far Cry 3 did have moments where it evoked some of what you could see on some Carribean islands, but it didn't stick and I didn't really believe I was really in one like I believed I was in the US in GTAV. All the rebel bases and whatnot didn't help. Similar thing with ArmA2/3 & E.Europe, or Stalker & Ukraine. Flashes of it, but not quite in its natural world of everyday life. More than anything, I'd like it if a game let me explore some real world places I can't get to easily, like the back roads of Rio de Jenero or Kuala Lumpur.

  13. #88
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Yeah, GTA V is definitely one of my favourites. It's the kind of open world where I enjoy just being there. Combine that with giving me enjoyable means of traversing the world and I'm a very happy gamer. Some games do the former really well, others the latter, but if you get both right, I'll name my kids after you.

    *shouts*
    And I saw that, Grand Theft Auto! You steal one more cookie from the jar and I'm sending you to your room without dinner!

  14. #89
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Not until you change my name to petty theft cookie.

  15. #90
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    [darkly]
    Nothing petty about cookie theft.
    [/darkly]

  16. #91
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    ArmA2/3 & E.Europe
    Arma 3 takes place in Greece btw, but it really nails the mediterranean feeling IMO. Not specific to any country, just generally the whole climate and environment. I only played the demo, but it felt like being there.

  17. #92
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I should try it again with an open mind. And Greece is the birthplace of all things Byzantine & Orthodox, so I always think it deserves to be an honorary East European state. Maybe it's just me, though.

  18. #93
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2004
    Oh it didn't occur to me that you included Greece there, especially lumping together A2 and A3 which IMO are quite different environments. It's just that I'd think of Greece as Southern Europe, not Eastern. I guess it's a remnant of the cold war eastern bloc definition, which didn't include Greece. Anyway, as for the Arma games, they definitely don't represent "its natural world of everyday life" like in GTA5, as you wrote, but the environments are great, in a hiking simulator kind of way.

  19. #94
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I was thinking about this yesterday driving around in GTAV. One thing I really like about its world, especially living as an expat, is how incredibly American it is.
    All the more remarkable when you consider it was developed by a Scottish studio. Though on second thought, so many of the movies that have really nailed life in America have also been directed by foreigners.

  20. #95
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    It had content made by so many studio branches, though, a lot in the US, actually a ridiculous number I found myself thinking during that 40 minute credit roll.

    But that aside I do think foreigners can see things natives can't see at the tip of their own noses because they're too immersed in it. Also natives that go live in another country see things back home that had always been there they didn't notice before.

    That doesn't diminish how self conscious I am about making an open world game set in 1700s Paris though. But I decided to go with a kind of caricatured mythic version for purposes of the game, so not too worried.

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