The Jimquisition: Big Empty Sandboxes

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Open world games are everywhere, and it’s getting really stupid. You can tell they’re happening just to follow a trend as well, since so few open world games manage to justify actually being open world.

There are blatant clues found in many of these desolate sandboxes, and we’re going to talk about them and why they’re making videogames rubbish.

Jiryn
Guest
Jiryn
This is one of the few times where the term “Size Doesn’t Matter” really is the truth. Size in gaming doesn’t matter, it’s how that size is used, how memorable it is, and the minute to minute gameplay which is far more important. The problem I have with many “Open World” games, is not only do they copy and paste quests, but architecture too. Every building seems to be one of 2-3 set designs reused ad-nauseam. Which is why I worry about Nintendo’s “Breath of the Wild” being the biggest game Nintendo has ever made, and one of the biggest… Read more »
Nitrium
Guest
Nitrium

A particularly egregious example is Dragon Age: Inquisition. Nothing good came from taking the series open world. Nothing. Indeed, by removing the linearity and filling it with fetch quests (200 shards, collect ’em all!) completely took me out of the game, despite it being optional (although all the equally pointless running around the open world maps was not). Will be interesting to see if Mass Effect Andromeda goes the same way, this time with thousands of planets to explore to find the 200 things you need to unlock a gate or something equally pointless.

tom
Guest
tom
God, No Mans Sky is the worst. And the worst in so many crucial aspects. There is no way it’s mediocre. Callback Anyone ? I actually hate playing that game. And that’s leaving aside, temporarily, all the lies that was and still used to sell it. On topic – Vapid, trash/trinket filled open worlds can also be seen as an obsession of ‘value for money proposition’ that shitty publishes/developers, and many gamers actually desire. Spending a lot more time in the game that a gamer expects to “love” using open worlds, gives a gamer an idea that they are getting… Read more »
Surf Orich
Guest
Surf Orich
I ALWAYS dislike open worlds. Compact, human designed, non-linear maps are the optimal play space for all games in all genera in my opinion. Examples of what I mean by this would be certain early 90s first person shooters like Duke Nukem 3D, certain later games like Thief, and rare modern games like Dishonored. I feel this type of level design is always preferable to open worlds, linear levels, & randomly generated levels. Open worlds are like taking a courtyard with some set dressing (example a tree, a rock, a park bench, some grass, a building, and a car), and… Read more »
Largo Coronet
Guest
Largo Coronet

The best description I can muster for these “open worlds” is a salad bar with nothing but a huge bowl of lettuce and a couple different types of croutons to sprinkle on it. Or a smorgasbord that’s a huge bowl of mashed potatoes with a few grains of pepper in it. Or maybe a huge bowl of vanilla pudding that a rabbit shat in.

I need to stop posting before I’ve had my breakfast.

Devs, if your mission design philosophy could be replicated by the Clone Stamp in Photoshop, stooooooooop…..

Wolfie
Guest
Wolfie

To summarize: you can have a twelve-inch dong, but it doesn’t mean shit if it has the flaccidity of soft rubber. Size isn’t everything.

Leah
Guest
Leah

The only game I’ve found in the last few years which has managed to have a colossal, empty world which actually justifies its existence is Just Cause 3. And that’s because it has no illusions of being anything more than a really good sandbox for you to fly/walk/drive around, fucking shit up.

William Jones
Guest
William Jones
Here’s the thing – I don’t think the pushback against “linearity” was ever supposed to be a driving force for “open worlds”. I think the big problem people had with linear games wasn’t the linearity, it was that no effort was made to disguise the linearity. Level design turned into one long snaking corridor with absolutely no effort or skill put into hiding that – again this wasn’t such a problem, as half life proved, this design can still work well, but only if effort had gone into it. To give an example, look at thief, imagine if the level… Read more »
Benj
Guest
Benj

It’s kind of weird that you haven’t done this Jimquisition topic already since this has been a real blight in AAA gaming for quite a while now.

And you’ve done a good job of criticising the biggest offenders like Mad Max, Just Cause 3, Mafia 3, No Man’s Sky, virtually every Ubisoft game from the past 5 years.

William Jones
Guest
William Jones

I did think Jim was going to mention Final Fantasy XV on this topic, it’s an interesting example, with a huge, empty world – even in the car you can spend way over 5 minutes just travelling… but it manages to be a good game (so far – chapter 3) with side quests that can be ingored – and they really are repetive, or taken on if you want.

Zippydsmlee
Guest

Same for mechanics really, less is more after all. For content it means while you may have a large area there’s little detail in it…..but at least its not bland and random corridors and room design we’ve gotten en mass since 2000…..

Muddy Scarecrow
Guest
Muddy Scarecrow
Perhaps more games should do what Link Between Worlds did. While technically not an “open world” game, it’s absolutely more open ended than any Zelda game has been, allowing you to tackle the game’s dungeon in absolutely whatever order you wish. There’s also small side things to do that have you finding little squid creatures called Maimais and pieces of heart. But unlike so many pointless collectibles in games that do nothing more than tell you you collected all the things, collecting every single Maimai allows you to upgrade all of your dungeon items. And collecting every piece of heart… Read more »
SilentPony
Guest
SilentPony

Say what you will, Bethesda doesn’t have empty sand boxes. Fallout 3/4, New Vegas, Skyrim, Oblivion to a less degree. There is shit to do. Cheese to steal. Doors to pick.

Mike Wallace
Guest
Mike Wallace

This problem isn’t recent either; it stretches back as far as The Godfather, The Game. Outside of the plot missions your character takes over territories by doing one of four different tasks, over and over again.

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000
Open world fatigue started to set in a little too. I’ll still play them, and enjoy myself, but I don’t go for 100% completion like I used to. Maybe I’m just getting too old to devote my limited free time to the meaning less filler that a lot of games get. More content and options are great, but unless it moves a story or reapes quality rewards for my character, I’ll just skip past. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Witcher 3 and it’s phenomenal side content too. That’s set a bar for me that few have reached. More to the… Read more »
George
Guest
George

I really like Xenoblade Chronicles X. That game is massive and it seemed like there was a lot to do too. That game made exploration and discovery part of the open world in and of itself. Also, upgrading the Skell is pretty fun too.

09philj
Guest
09philj

I love the depth of Pillars of Eternity’s semi-open world. There’s interesting stuff everywhere. There are simple fetchquests at the start of the game, but they get increasingly rare as you go through.

diamond
Guest
diamond

I thought Jim hinted on PQ that this JQ would be about Modern Warfare Remastered adding microtransactions? wonder what made him change his mind?

keironsmith123
Guest
keironsmith123
Yeah to be honest as much as i love open world games i am starting to get sick of them because of all this collecting bullshit and doing the same bloody thing over and over again you have in most of them now. I wish more Devs would copy CDPR with The Witcher 3 where they somehow gave every single one of the 100s of side quests in the game a little story and meaning. I will give Ubi praise for WD2 though as the side missions in that are pretty good and feel like actual worthwhile content. Sure the… Read more »
drownedsummer
Guest
drownedsummer

One thing Jim didn’t mention regarding the latest submission to Greenlight by the person responsible for Shooter Tacttics. He’s accused Jim of copyright infringement due to use of his latest trailer on Jim’s Best of Steam Greenlight trailers. The trailer in question? It features around 3-4 minutes of a scene from a Cheech & Chong film.

kripto sporidium
Guest
kripto sporidium
I feel I should say this, because there’s already people missing the point : Jim isn’t saying that open world sandbox games are inherently bad or that he doesn’t like them, his point is that there’s a trend of making video games be an open world sandbox without actually making an effort to make that world interesting or memorable or anything other than “real big”. The point is that there are there are games being made that have open world elements, and those open world elements provide absolutely nothing to improve the formula or make an interesting game, but just… Read more »
Samithi Sok
Guest
Samithi Sok

Loved that Nightvale reference Jim!

09philj
Guest
09philj

Jim that’s fucking Stingray, not Thunderbirds!

7thGuest
Guest
7thGuest

I love open worlds.
Full, empty, dull, boring, weird ones, meh ones, sandboxes or linear, it doesn’t matter, faffing about going to one end of the map to another just “do it” for me.

While I have to agree with most of the criticism though, I just can’t get enough of them (for different reasons, I don’t think that size matters for example, and in no way justify price or perceivable amount of “content” in any said game).

diamond
Guest
diamond

Sorry Jim, I think you’re dead wrong on this one, I love open-world sandbox games and I don’t see myself ever getting tired of them.

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