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.

  • 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.

    • 09philj

      Not many people are making open world sandbox games though. They’re making linear games with a boring hub world filled with inconsequential bullshit.

      • diamond

        That’s just your opinion, not a fact, I don’t find most hub worlds in games “boring” at all and I do not think they are filled with”inconsequential bullshit” in the least. I personally can’t get enough of open-world games.

        • drownedsummer

          Yes but far too many do exactly what Jim is describing they aren’t lovingly crafted it’s someone repeatedly using Ctrl & C and Ctrl & V as if it were an Excel spreadsheet.

          • diamond

            That’s just your opinion, not a fact, I feel like most of the sandbox games i’ve played HAVE been “lovingly crafted”

          • drownedsummer

            I’m not stating it is a fact neither did I imply it to be one. But surely you can’t believe that of every open world game you’ve played especially a lot of Ubisoft’s content.

    • Andrew Christianson

      He wasn’t haranguing open world games. He was targeting poorly designed and lifeless open world games.

      • diamond

        I personally don’t think most open world games are “poorly designed” or “lifeless” in the least(the only one that came out this year that I would really say is those things is ironically one that Jim liked- Far Cry Primal).

  • 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

      Same here, unlike Jim I love getting collectables(Especially when they add to the game’s backstory like in Evil Within or Quantum Break). and I have no problem doing several of the same type of side mission.

      • keironsmith123

        Collectables aren’t bad when there’s a certain amount its when the Devs go over the top with them what annoys me. Arkham Asylum had a perfect amount but then Arkham Knight just went completely OTT with it and took away the fun of finding them.

        • 09philj

          Fez is nothing but collectables, and I love it. The crucial thing is that finding all the collectables (Especially in Fez) requires effort and is an interesting experience. In Fez, the collectables themselves soon become secondary to the mechanics of the ever more intricate puzzles.

          • keironsmith123

            Yeah thats the problem with a Ubi game, they mark them on the map and there usually pretty easy to get. They also get you nothing other maybe a Trophy or a box ticked, ultimately they are there to get you to keep playing rather then make you want to keep playing.

          • diamond

            I disagree, the collectibles in Ubisoft’s games DID make me want to keep playing the game to find them all. I only find it annoying when the collectibles are obtuse and confusing to get like the Key Research Data in Watch Dogs 2(the fact that you’re forced to get them to unlock all the upgrades makes it worse).

          • 09philj

            Fez does tell you precisely how much stuff is in each area, but that still doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it.

          • diamond

            Don’t really see how Fez has much in common with open-world games. Anyways I personally refuse to touch anything associated with that piece of shit Phil Fish(who i’m honestly glad is not making another game, I don’t want him around in the industry if all he’s going to do is bitch and whine like a crybaby about gamers being “entitled”)

          • 09philj

            Fez is an open world/non linear game, and it’s brilliant. I don’t care about Phil Fish, I want to find more cubes.

          • diamond

            Meh, looks pretty boring to me.

        • diamond

          I disagree, I loved finding all of the collectibles in Arkham Knight, didn’t take away the fun for me at all.

      • 7thGuest

        I’m more driven by walking around/exploring even in the events of finding bugger all. I like the sense of “being in a place” and the overall ambition of some titles.

        Not saying that all open world games are good either, I just don’t think that “open world problems” are driven by being open world games.
        In other worlds, it’s not the size that matters, is what they do with it.

        • CaitSeith

          “In other worlds, it’s not the size that matters, is what they do with it.”

          You just inadvertently paraphrased Jim’s main point: “Don’t tell me how big your world is; tell me what I can do in it”.

          • 7thGuest

            I know, I’ve watched the video too dear.

  • 09philj

    Jim that’s fucking Stingray, not Thunderbirds!

    • drownedsummer

      At least it’s not Joe Fucking 90 or Space cocking Precinct.

      • 09philj

        Space Precinct’s alright. It’s not UFO, but not much is.

  • Samithi Sok

    Loved that Nightvale reference Jim!

  • 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 to be a checkmark that makes a game mainstream these days, similarly to the ” RPG elements ” trend of the last few years.

    • diamond

      I was not “missing the point” at all.

      I haven’t really felt that though, I think pretty much all the open-worlds in games i’ve played have been interesting and memorable, I for one disagree with Jim on Catalyst, I think the open-world absolutely did improve the franchise, didn’t feel like a “checkmark” to me in the least.

      I like the trend of RPG elements in games as well.

      • kripto sporidium

        Well, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I think that Catalyst’s open world provided nothing of value other than the challenges, and in addition to the need to unlock moves being incredibly forced, as well as a broad downgrade to the visuals (The new art design direction just doesn’t stand up to the first game’s stark simple paint schemes), the game was inferior to it’s predecessor.

        You can like open world games, and nobody can tell you that you’re wrong to do so, but a good number of these games gain absolutely nothing from there being in an open world, and even feel like they would have been better as a more focused linear experience than a big playground of “content” that rarely does more than provide more raw game time through busywork.

        • diamond

          I personally thought Catalyst’s visuals were an improvement(I felt like the art style during the cutscenes in the original game felt very out of place with the rest of the game) I would aruge the vast majority of open-world games do gain plenty from being open-world.

          I don’t see how games like Mad Max, Dying Light, Dead Island, Watch Dogs, Dead Rising, Saints Row, Sleeping Dogs, Mafia 3 or Catalyst would’ve been better by being linear.

          I’m like Laura K Buzz in that i’m OK with doing somewhat repetitive tasks in games as long as they are fun(the fact that I have Asperger’s like she does probably has something to do with that)

          • 09philj

            They don’t have to be linear, but many do need either smaller maps, or more meaningful content, or both, especially Mad Max.

          • diamond

            Strongly disagree on Mad Max, I felt like that game had plenty of “meaningful content” and I think the size of it’s map was just right.

  • 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.

    • diamond

      Someone should copyright claim their trailer on the film company’s behalf.

      • Pocket

        I’m pretty sure that’s called “perjury”. Only the film company itself is legally allowed to do that.

        • diamond

          There’s literally no penalty for making a false claim on Youtube, so i’m sure there won’t be one for a legit claim.

          • drownedsummer

            Making it on their behalf would not be a legitimate claim.

          • CaitSeith

            So far, there is no major repercussion for doing such false claims other than getting kicked out of Youtube. Besides lots of companies are hired to do claims on behalf of their clients, and Youtube consider that legitimate.

  • 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 collecting stuff is still there but it does have more meaning now as the stuff to collect is mostly upgrade points and large sums of money rather a feather what gets you fuck all. I would like to think Ubi have learned a tiny bit while making WD2 on how to make a open world actually worth exploring and spending time in.

    • drownedsummer

      Time will tell when we’re climbing up a sphinx in a hood to get Feather X of Y.

    • diamond

      Not me, I can’t get enough of open-world games, I want more more more!

      I’m personally not a Witcher fan, so i’m fine with devs not copying that series.

      Dying Light definitely had meaningful side quests.

      I actually hated that you were forced to get collectables in WD2 to unlock upgrades, whereas in the first game, upgrades were only gated by normal story progression, not collectibles, that was a really stupid change that made no sense. I like collectibles when they actually add some background to the story and world(I.E. Just Cause 3, Evil Within, Quantum Break), but it sucks when they’re totally pointless(the ID badges in Alien Isolation) and it’s the worst when you’re forced to get them in order to unlock something that you should be able to unlock through normal progression. The fact that most of the Key Research data in that game was on rooftops which you needed those damn scissors lifts(which are sometimes really hard to find) to access only made it more annoying.

      I felt like WD2 actually took a number of steps backwards despite being a good game, I felt like the side activities were much weaker then those in the first game(mostly racing, none of which is really that outstanding, the sailboat racing was straight up terrible) except for the Uber missions.

      • keironsmith123

        I agree its annoying that the Key Research data needs to be found but the actual upgrade points i found the game gives out nicely with Story and Side Missions. I do agree that the Side Activities aren’t too great but i do think the actual Side Missions are pretty fun as they feel like actual missions just not as big as the main ones..

        • diamond

          I felt that game was a bit too stingy compared to the first game, where you could get XP to unlock the next upgrade by doing things like using takedowns on enemies and escaping from the police, now you can only increase your XP by completing missions and side activities, which feels like an awkward and unnecessary change.

          • drownedsummer

            So basically there’s a logical progress to them instead of it just being an arbitrary reward.

          • diamond

            Makes more sense to give them out through normal story progression rather then forcing you to get a bunch of items on rooftops to increase your skills.

          • drownedsummer

            Yeah you stated that’s how it works.

          • diamond

            I know what I stated.

  • 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?

    • Charlie Koszulinski

      Modern Warfare’s Microtransactions was made into a Bullshit Round up a few weeks ago.

      • diamond

        But the PQ I was referring to came out after the Round Up.

    • Fyou

      TotalBiscuit probably told him not to, so you should be thrilled. Also, TotalBiscuit told me to tell you he personally hates you and thinks you should kill yourself with cough syrup.

      • diamond

        Wow you are a total dumbfuck!

      • diamond

        You must have severe brain-damage, did you drink bleach or something you fucking idiot?

      • diamond

        dumbfuck

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • diamond

      I personally find JRPGs very dull, I agree with Yahtzee’s criticisms of them.

      • George

        Xenoblade Chronicles X to me didn’t feel like a JRPG. I believe it’s genre should be classified as Action RPG with JRPG elements.

        It still had some JRPG qualities and a very Japanese sense of humour but the mission system and freedom through the world were very non-JRPG.

        • InfamousDS

          Much like FFXV is not a “JRPG”. It’s also a (mostly) non-linear action-RPG with Japanese sensibilities set in a very Western world. And not the cowboy kind. Where XB-X focused on exploration for exploration’s sake (on top of neat combat and a pretty good plot), FFXV focuses on the friendship of four buddies on a road trip where things go very, very bad.

          • George

            I always think of JRPG’s as menu based combat, focus on linear plot over mechanics and exploration, a focus on preset characters.

            I take the Extra Credits definitions, They did a 3 part series on it a long time ago. It was quite interesting.

            The other thing too is most don’t consider Dark Souls to a JRPG despite the fact the studio and publishers is based in Japan.

          • InfamousDS

            I don’t think of JRPGs as anything. It’s a nonsense qualifier that we accept because we have to, thanks to some magazine years ago or consensus on the internet. WRPG is a nonsense qualifier as well, and I feel like lumping FPS in here as well. Your TM#FE vs XB-X post script is proof of that.

            We need to, as a community and a whole, redefine genres. They were named when there was no variety in games, and now we have so much homogenization from genre blending that it is getting hard to actually define experiences the same way we define films and books.

          • CaitSeith

            EC once commented about that. They proposed that genres should be defined not just for the mechanics (how to play), but by which experience and aesthetics that they deliver (the core reason to play). IMO, seeing how well ingrained the existing definitions are in the community, restructuring genres would be impractical and confusing. Besides, for some people genres aren’t game categories; but status symbols and badges of shame.

          • Personally I think more Western RPG devs should embrace linear storytelling. It’s less costly. More coherent, and easier to make sequels for.

      • RifleAvenger Sashiro

        I personally find Open World games very dull, I agree with Jim Sterling’s criticisms of them.

  • 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 point, if I’m playing a sandbox game, I’d rather have a more linear structure to it. The new Hitman turned out to be my sleeper hit that I didn’t know I needed. I’m so happy to have the more intricate single levels that let me play any way I want. Not to mention have it be supplimented with challenges from the community and extra targets added in continuously by devs. I can appease my inner completionist without wasting so much time exploring for meaningless collectables or running the same side missions reused ad nauseum.

    I’ll take smaller, content packed sandbox levels any day over massive, meaninglessly bloated worlds.

    • diamond

      I hate Hitman’s episodic business model, it feels very exploitative, so i’m waiting a few weeks until the physical version finally comes out.

      I personally don’t see myself ever getting tired of open-world games even as I get older. I’ll go for 100% if the collectibles are actually interesting(no way was I bothering with getting all 200 pigeons in GTAIV), but if they’re not, I’m OK with not bothering.

      • Polishfury5000

        I didn’t buy the games episodically. I got the entire package at half price during a holiday sale.

        If they add a second “season” to the series I may do the same. The game itself proved to provide great replay value per level. There’s genuinely fun and interesting ways to handle each primary target.

        They raised the personal bar on sandbox gameplay.

        • 09philj

          Have you played Thief II?

          • Polishfury5000

            It’s been many years, but I loved it.

          • 09philj

            Hitman looks to be in a somewhat similar vein. Large level, multiple angles of approach, and actual secrets that are either amusing, useful, or both. I hope more games do things like this in future, if appropriate.

          • diamond

            Hopefully they do it without the exploitative business model and bullshit online DRM and PS4 exclusive DLC that Hitman has.

          • Polishfury5000

            That’s a pretty good comparison actually, to the old thief games. You are encouraged, and rewarded by being a sly opportunist.

            Making plans, choosing the appropriate starting point (more get unlocked the more you play the level) and choosing the appropriate tools to smuggle with you are all important points to consider when going for the different opportunities that present themselves in each mission.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I got a simillar vibe, to a lesser extend, from Styx: Master of shadows. Liked that game quite a bit.

        • diamond

          Hitman looks good, but I don’t want to send the message to Square Enix that their episodic model is acceptable, so i’m waiting for the physical release(That and I see zero advantage to buying it digitally besides getting it sooner, as I can’t trade in digital copies for store credit at Gamestop)

      • drownedsummer

        Why not? As you have stated you have very clearly collected 200 pigeons in some form or other.

        • diamond

          Because they don’t add backstory like items in other games or give me weapons and vehicles like hidden packages in previous GTA games did, so I didn’t see the point. I did get all the collectibles in GTA V though since they had an actual story attached to them.

          I don’t get all collectibles in every game (didn’t bother with the ID badges in Alien Isolation).

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • diamond

      I actually felt like Skyrim had that problem, Like Total Biscuit, I feel like that game had all the depth of a paddling pool.

      • Chris Schwartz-Brown

        Do you have any opinions of your own that you aren’t parroting back from Yahtzee or some other reviewer?

        • diamond

          Do you have any posts that aren’t completely fucking stupid and don’t make you sound like a brain-dead moron?

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            Yes, for example Yahtzee said that my last post was well thought out and insightful.

            Therefore it must be a fact. Like how you spent the entire worst games discussion complaining that no one was talking about a game Yahtzee didn’t like that was therefore the only game you hadn’t liked all year.

          • diamond

            You have really bad grammar, I have no idea what the fuck you just said.

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            It’s okay, some YouTuber will tell you how to feel about it soon.

          • diamond

            It’s OK, you’re a useless brain-dead piece of shit who nobody cares about, you’ll be forgotten soon enough.

          • drownedsummer

            Allow me to clarify it then. This seems to have become a very common trend in a lot of your posts at the moment. You state your opinion and then state how someone else has a similar opinion regarding that subject.

          • diamond

            Who fucking cares? I wasn’t talking to you.

          • drownedsummer

            I wasn’t being insulting was I? And again this is you responding aggressively for little obvious reason. It was a neutral statement lacking any assumption or conclusion just a simple statement of fact regarding some of your posts.

          • diamond

            Not really a statement of fact.

          • drownedsummer

            How is it not? When there posts on this page and several others where you have stated an opinion and then also advised of the opinion of Yahtzee or TotalBiscuit

          • diamond

            and I happen to share their opinion? so what?

          • drownedsummer

            Ask the other person commenting on it. I posted a factual neutral description of your posts without commentary.

          • Wolfie

            Dude. Come on now. You’re in a public discussion.

          • diamond

            So what? I was merely confused by the guy’s response since his grammar was messy and all over the place.

          • Wolfie

            That’s wasn’t the point. There is no “I wasn’t talking to you” on the internet. If you publicly say something, that’s an open invitation for other people to join in.

            You shouldn’t snap at people for joining the conversation. That’s all I’m sayin’.

    • No……. FO3 even with the DLC is too empty and equipment is a joke, NV dose much more with about the same level of stuff. Skyrim is a joke all around, FO4 is not so bad cept for the mechanic depth…they need to stop molding things around the yellow end of the kiddie pool….

      • diamond

        Skyrim definitely felt like shallow, Fallout 3 and 4 had pretty good story and sidequests unlike that game though.

        • Skyrim has a bit more content but the story is…well….. the worst beth made one yet. Now Fo3 is great story wise I think NV out dose it with its DLC and mechanics but all in all FO3 story is great it gets near the yellow end of the kiddie pool because between the skill system, AI and lack of equipment there’s no real depth and its dumb as bricks. Skyrim manages to do that with more stuff that makes Skyrim feel even more empty then you have the problem of most of the stories being boring or broken.

          Skyrim and FO4 only really improved combat a bit the rest of it is a loss.

    • Chris Schwartz-Brown

      Fallout 4 wasn’t empty. It was just full of poorly written repetitive quests, boring NPCs and factions that made no sense.

      • diamond

        I thought the quests were fun and some of the NPCs were interesting.

        • Chris Schwartz-Brown

          Wow, it’s almost like some people don’t have the same opinions as you. How interesting! Please be sure to say that in every single thread here!

          • diamond

            Wow it’s almost like you’re a total fucking moron! Please be sure to keep spouting your asinine garbage even though nobody in their right mind gives a fuck about any of your inane drivel!

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            You can always tell someone’s maturity and how confident they are in their argument by how quickly they resort to profanity and personal insults. Surely the sign of a great wit.

            Well played sir, you wound me to the core.

          • diamond

            Using profanity does not automatically make someone more immature then someone that does not use it, you fucking moron.

            You can always tell someone’s maturity and how confident they are by how quickly they resort to using incredibly lazy and half-assed posts that claim their superiority by virtue of not swearing. Well played sir! You’re clever and not at all asinine arguments wound me to the core!

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            Your replies are exactly as original as your posts about your game opinions.

            Did Yahtzee tell you to say that or was it Totalbiscuit?

      • Andrzej Sugier

        I can’t put my finger on why, but I just… dislike the world of FO4. And I hate that feeling. FO2 is still my favorite game off all time, NV was really good come back to old FO feeling, this makes the whole sittuation that much more heart breaking.

        You’re probably right about the writing, it lacks depth and charm.

        • Chris Schwartz-Brown

          I don’t think Bethesda understands the world of fallout at all. Like how weird the brotherhood feels in both 3 and 4, and like how Sydney suddenly 4 just turns into a blade runner riff out of nowhere.

          They’re better at filling an open world, at least they were in 3, there were interesting little dungeons to explore and things to find in a way that New Vegas failed at with the Mojave. 4 took a big step back as it became just another shooter open world filled with little enclaves of zombies and generic enemies to fight again and again.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I think you’re right. It might be the dark sense of humor that was so important for Fallout, that Bethesda seems unable to replicate.

            What I really miss in 4 is the sense of scale and importance. Everything is so bland and unimpressive. Somehow almost 20 years earlier interplay did a way better job. Meeting Enclave for the first time in FO2, or fighting your first Deathclaw in FO1 still hits me much harder than anything in FO3-4

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            You can really feel that emptiness and the creative bankruptcy when they throw you into a suit of power armor and throw a deatchlaw at you an hour into the game. Those are both things that should be big deals, even Fallout 3 knew to make them goals to be worked towards later, but here you are playing a generic shooter tutorial level and we’re just going to throw you into your super power armor and throw the series’ iconic biggest threat at you to make sure you aren’t bored with all that talky stuff you just had to do.

            Don’t worry, we don’t need you to read any more to make dialogue options, we took all those words away and replaced them with options like ‘sarcastic’ and ‘yes’ that won’t hurt your brain, please mow down helpless mooks with a minigun now though as our apology for even that amount of story and character content.

            I haven’t finished Fallout 4, although I’ve watched a Let’s Play all the way through the end to see how dumb the story gets (spoiler: extremely dumb). I’ve made it through where the Brotherhood shows up and through the memory den stuff, but I keep losing interest. And every time I tell myself I want to try it again and see what I’m missing I get to Concord and it just saps all the will to play right out of me.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I don’t mind what they did with power armor in 4 – making it much more personal and customizable – what really bothers me is that they didn’t really give players any other end goal to work towards.

            And all the other things I hated, like the afromentioned buthering of the conversation system…Even modding it to show the full answers doesn’t help much.

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            Yeah, modding in the full answers actually makes it worse when you see how frequently two or three of the four choices are slight rewordings or just different line deliveries of the exact same line. And how rarely a legitimate ‘no’ is included.

          • diamond

            I don’t think FO1 and 2 have aged very well, I like 3 and 4 much better.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            And I think that they had aged very gracefully, that’s coming from someone who replayed them both in the last year. And that’s pretty much it when it comes to this exhilarating conversation. Why do you even bother with those meaningless comments.

          • diamond

            you’re an idiot.

    • drownedsummer

      Hours and hours to be spent as Khajit naked apart from his pants hammering on an anvil in the middle of Markarth.

  • 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 increases your max health. Every single collectible has a purpose.

    And the non linearity doesn’t negatively affect the story either because the whole game is based around exploration. You’re not told to do a thing and then get side tracked by something else for several hours. Finding the dungeons in the first place is a huge part of the game. So…yeah. Can we get more “open world” experiences like this please?

    • diamond

      Link Between Worlds is not that unique in regards to collectibles, there’s plenty of games with have collectibles that you can use to upgrade your characters(I.E. FEAR series, Doom)

      • Muddy Scarecrow

        Yes absolutely. But what I meant is collectibles in an open ended experience. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Watchdogs have you collect things like flags QR codes that don’t do a damn thing in the long run

        • diamond

          I was fine with the QR codes in Watch Dogs, as the puzzles you had to do to scan them were pretty fun and made me have to think a little bit to figure them out(AC collectibles are lame though).

          • Muddy Scarecrow

            Yeah I’ll give you that about the QR codes but in the end I just couldn’t be bothered to finish them or any of the other side missions because every “special mission” they unlocked was just a re skin of the same repetitive shit you’d been doing the whole game. Like how the serial killer side missions (which were REALLY cool at first) ends with you doing yet ANOTHER crime prevention. Or how human trafficking (which was boring as shit) ends with you doing a convoy mission. Just…ugh it was infuriating how obvious the cookie cutter was.

          • diamond

            I felt like those missions were worth it just to see how the stories ended(I liked Aiden’s response to the serial killer “You’re just another sick fuck in a city full of them”), didn’t feel “cookie cutter” to me in the least. I especially liked getting all the Burner Phones and learning Maurice’s backstory, which actually helped me make my decision at the end of the game.

          • Muddy Scarecrow

            Yeah that stuff was alright but the effort to get it just wasn’t worth it to me. I felt cheated. The game promised me “extra missions” and they’re the same boring bullshit I’ve been doing all game

          • diamond

            I didn’t feel “cheated” at all and it did not feel like “boring bullshit” to me at all(I liked the Criminal Convoys and Fixer Contracts)

          • Muddy Scarecrow

            Alright. Cool. I’m glad you didn’t. But I did. So let’s just leave it at that please

  • 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…..

  • 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.

    • 09philj

      I think that in the case of XV the point was less to make an open world, and more to ensure you had a sense of the scale of the journey.

      • InfamousDS

        Plus Lucis (the open bit) isn’t really all that big when compared against the transportation options. It just feels big because the car is slow and the roads are curvy, once you get to fly you can cross it in a minute or so.

        Probably why more “open worlds” don’t have flight as an option.

  • 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.

    • diamond

      I’m more surprised that he didn’t talk about COD4 Remastered adding in microtransactions like he hinted that he was doing in the last PQ.

      Anyways I do not think it has been a “blight” in the least, Mad Max 3 and Just Cause 3 were two of my top ten games of 2015 and Mafia 3 was one of my top ten games for 2016, and i’m sure Ghost Recon Wildlands and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will be strong contenders for my list this year.

  • 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 designer made it one long coridor, where you were guided to the only entrace to the level, guided through room by room with no deviation and then to the end. Thief is a linear game, you play levels one by one, but the levels themselves are very not-linear. Thief is not an open world game.

    Now the open world issue is completely seperate, it’s a way of creating a believable living breathing, expansive feeling world and giving a player a freedom of choice – think the elder scrolls, which is a love letter to D&D, and a certain style of D&D where you may see a tower int he distance that your DM only used to set the atmosphere and you abandon your quest to nose around it, and your DM doesn’t rail road you but you find an adventure there instead.

    I think most likely a marketing person first decided to conflate the two things and tell the world their game wasn’t linear, it was open world instead, and the terms were linked ever since.

    • diamond

      The short campaigns probably did not help either, people like Total Biscuit were complaining for years about FPS and third-person shooters having campaigns they felt were too short, overly scripted, linear and phoned in(funny how now TB is wishing for more linear games), and publishers probably don’t want people beating the game in a few days and trading it back in to Gamestop, which means lots of used games(which i’m personally supportive of, and I don’t think Gamestop is EEEEEEVIL like some people do, the staff are always nice to see and they’re more then willing to refund crappy games like Federation Force). So they decided to make longer games to make people less likely to trade them in within a few days.

      • William Jones

        Absolutely, – further more, I’m not entirely convinced the ass-creed style of open world games were not linear either – the story is paced through the game and you are walked from point to point, and you are walled in by all the other things to do being significantly more boring than the main quest. What TES games try and WItcher 3 really succeeds in is if you see that tower in the distance, when you go there, if it’s part of a side quest, you can join the sidequest at that point, and it’s as compelling as the main quest line.

        • diamond

          That’s how I felt about Dying Light, there was nowhere in that game you could not go thanks to the parkour system and grappling hook.

    • Andrzej Sugier

      Excuse my crude language, but your post is fucking brilliant and perfectly describes the issue. Bravo, sir.

  • 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.

    • diamond

      I feel like aside from the AC series and Far Cry Primal, open-world sandbox games have not felt empty in the least.

    • drownedsummer

      Although the original is by far one of the best examples of what Jim is describing.

      • diamond

        Yeah the sequels definitely improved upon the original Just Cause.

  • 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.

  • 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…..

  • 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 stretching that space out to infinity, copy/pasting all the set dressing to fill out the space. Saying you can go anywhere in an open world is like saying you can go anywhere in a corn field or an apple orchard. On the other hand, the non-linear designed level method is like being let loose in a zoo, amusement park, or museum (and being able to go any in that space, including the behind the scenes portions that are blocked off to the public).

    • diamond

      I always dislike 90s FPS games as I feel they’ve aged very poorly and I find them very boring compared FPS games of today.

      I pretty much always love open world games, for me they feel like being let loose in a theme park(without the overpriced concessions, long lines and vomit inducing rides)

      • Surf Orich

        First person shooters today are astonishingly boring; they basically have no gameplay and everything is settled for you. The levels are tubes so you don’t have to navigate in any meaningful way; they may as well be on rails. They have regenerating health so there’s effectively no persistence nor point to the combat. If you have limited health then each encounter affects the next one; if you loose a lot of health you will proceed differently than if you have a surplus. With regenerating health the game just hits the reset button after every fight; you proceed in the same fashion at all times.

        Most of these games effectively have only one enemy type: a man with a gun who takes basically one shot to kill. In old shooters you have a variety of enemy types that do different things, do differing amounts of damage, and take varying amounts of damage. Again, varying situations; you will respond differently to an enemy that is extremely tough and there are further differences depending on how much health and ammo you have. You’re restricted to carrying 2 or 3 weapons so you are effectively forced to go along with what the developers want you to use at any given time rather than having a tool box to draw on in response to varying situations (and almost every weapon is just a machine gun anyway so it’s all doubly pointless).

        • diamond

          Strongly disagree, I don’t think they are “boring” in the least, DOOM was an awesome FPS and my top game of 2016, Titanfall 2 and Infinite Warfare were also pretty good.

          Regenerating health does not automatically mean combat does not have a “point” that’s nonsense, plenty of FPS games have varying enemy types that take different amounts of damage(I.E. Halo)

          Also the 2-3 weapons thing forces you to think strategically and carefully decide on which weapons to take with you and which ones to leave behind.

          • Surf Orich

            Doom 2016 mostly plays like an early 90s FPS; it has reasonably non linear keycard hunting levels, no weapon limit, no regenerating health, and multiple enemy/weapon types. Now how exactly does regenerating health not make combat pointless? I explained in specifics why I feel it does, but you’re just disagreeing without offering an analytical explanation of why. Again, if every fight is totally disconnected and doesn’t effect the next one why is that better? Because it’s easier? How is choosing to take one machine gun and leave behind another machine gun in a game where all the non-scripted enemies are just dudes with machine guns who drop copies of the machine guns you’re picking between strategic? Why do you have to be careful in your choice between “rapid hitscan” or “rapid hitscan?”

            Halo is an exception to the rule. Halo puts all its weapons, enemies, vehicles, and turret types into the space all at once instead of sequestering them off into special levels or scripted areas like Call of Duty. So then there is some degree of strategy to the weapon limit because you can be in a fight where multiple elements are in play. You’re can be fighting some enemies nearby, but there can be a tank far off in the distance shooting mortars at you. You’ll have to find something to deal with that. Halo 1 and reach also had persistent health under the shield and there where enemies that shared the same rebounding shield as you. And certain weapons affect shields more than others. So at least there are dynamics in play in Halo. But other modern shooters don’t do that. In Call of Duty a vehicle or turret is something you are forced into in a specialized scripted event or level where you have to drive a jeep down a canyon or something. The actual moment to moment combat consists of standing around in little boxy rooms shooting machine guns at dudes with machine guns. No other variables.

          • diamond

            Interesting, I personally dislike 90s FPS games and Doom did not feel like one to me.

            It does not make it pointless because regenerating health does not make you invincible, you can still get killed if you’re too careless.

            COD has plenty of variables, you are talking nonsense.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I know that this argument is meaningless, but your personal feeling don’t change the fact that DOOM has all the hallmarks of 90′ shooters, I’d add enemies using almost excusively projectile weapons you need to strafe around.

          • drownedsummer

            Kind of as there is unlikely to be anything you will encounter where one of the weapons will be ineffective. Weapon choices generally come down to preference rather than a strategic benefit.

          • diamond

            Not always the case, for example a sniper rifle won’t do you much good if you’re in a tight area with lots of enemies, and a shotgun won’t do you much good against a large group of snipers.

          • drownedsummer

            But what you’re highlighting there is not really thinking strategically but having some common fucking sense your entire loadout being short-ranged would be stupid.

            However even within those scenarios it would still be possible.

          • diamond

            It is still strategic on some level, do you take an RPG that’s out of ammo with you on a gamble that you’ll find more later so you can use it on tough enemies? Or do you leave it behind?

      • drownedsummer

        But even with that love of them surely there have to be a few which have seemed like what Jim is describing. It just seems odd that this is the one thing where you seem to have a near unilateral praise for it. I’m not saying that is a bad thing.

        • diamond

          There are some sandbox games I dislike such as the AC series, Elder Scrolls series, Dragon Age series and Far Cry Primal, but that also has a lot to do with the setting, making those games linear wouldn’t make them suck any less.

          • drownedsummer

            I didn’t mention anything about making them linear while that is one point in Jim’s video. Primal is one I’m assuming you’ve played and then disliked where as I would assume AC would be a gradual dislike.

            My question was surely there has to be one you’ve played and ended up feeling this is a souless piece of shit.

          • diamond

            I thought Skyrim was shit.

          • drownedsummer

            Good.

    • Billy Bissette

      Those old non-linear maps were kind of precursors to open worlds.

      The bad thing about open worlds is that it has become a “giant map (full of nothing)” thing, rather than increasing freedom.

      • diamond

        I feel like the giant maps did increase my freedom though.

        • Billy Bissette

          I don’t deny that those giant maps can still increase freedom, but the shift went from “increasing freedom” to just being “a giant map”, and the giant maps ended up full of nothing.

          Collectables morphed from rewards into ways to fill increasingly large spaces. As maps got bigger, you got more collectables. You got more side quests and mini-events and stuff to fill space. And as space kept getting bigger, devs got lazier about filling it. A greater percentage of collectables just got haphazardly placed. Side quest/events were copy/pasted.

          • diamond

            They’re technically not full of nothing, there’s plenty to do, it’s just not necessarily stuff that all players want to do.

  • 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 more of that game that they want, and more money for value playing by playing it for longer with more “content”.

    But that affect of trash filled recycled souless content won’t last long the worse they are treated with crappy open worlds. At least I hope that true sooner then later.

    • diamond

      Are you saying gamers who like open-world games are wrong? If so, that’s utter bullshit, I don’t think they are “trash filled recycled soulless content” at all, I don’t feel like i’m being treated badly at all with open-worlds, especially not this year with great games like Mafia 3, Watch Dogs 2, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Re-Core, Dead Rising 4, etc

      • tom

        Are u stupid ? if so, stop being so stupid.

        • diamond

          You’re stupid you brain-dead fucking piece of dogshit.

        • diamond

          No, are you a dumbfuck? If so fuck off.

    • Charlie Koszulinski

      Ugh, I remember reading on a forum somewhere that this guy came up with some kind of algorithm to determine his enjoyment of a game. He used money spent to hours played or something like that. A good game doesn’t need to be so many hours in order to get your money’s worth. Why not base your money’s worth on how much you enjoyed the game rather than how much time you spent with it?

  • 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.

    • drownedsummer

      As long as they don’t bring back the planet design from the first game.

    • diamond

      Anything was better then what Dragon Age 2 did though, that’s a perfect lesson in how NOT to do a sequel.

      • Nitrium

        I prefer Dragon Age 2 over Inquisition. Both the story and the characters were better written in that too imo. The copy/paste dungeons were lazy though.

        • diamond

          You are the only person i’ve ever met who has actually said that, at least Inquisition didn’t feel incredibly rushed like 2 did and it’s combat wasn’t a really poorly done mix of real-time and turn-based like that game had(it also didn’t force you to play as a male only, and a really boring and bland male at that)

          • drownedsummer

            I definitely recall playing DAII as woman. I’m pretty sure the only Bioware game where you’ve been forced to play as male would be the Sonic RPG.

          • diamond

            Was it with a mod?

          • drownedsummer

            No from the vanilla release of the game even the demo allowed you to play as both.. Hawke is available to play as both male & female. The VA for female Hawke is the same as Ciri from Witcher 3.

          • diamond

            Ok then, I still remember hearing a lot of complaints how painfully limited character customization was compared to the first game, and the plot sounds like an absolute mess from Yahtzee’s review of the game.

          • drownedsummer

            So you’ve not played it?

          • diamond

            Nah, the first one didn’t do much for me, so after reading all the negatives reviews and watching some gameplay on Youtube(which looked very boring) I saw no reason to bother with it.

          • drownedsummer

            So you know a few weeks back where we had a disccusion about potentially not commenting on something when you are not fully informed regarding a subject? Do you not think perhaps that if you aren’t fully informed regarding a subject it might say end up backfiring when say someone points out the correct information.

          • diamond

            Don’t really know what the hell you’re talking about.

          • drownedsummer

            Ignoring the part regarding the previous discussion. The rest of it was clear. That on occasion talking about a subject without being fully aware of it might end up backfiring.

          • diamond

            My point still stands, the fact that I forgot gender changing was even an option shows how how little interest I had in DA2, much like how me forgetting that Jack and Sawyer were seperate characters instead of one character called Jack Sawyer in LOST showed how boring and overrated I found that piece of shit show.

          • drownedsummer

            But your point was you couldn’t play as a female Hawke.

          • diamond

            Not my only point

          • Nitrium

            Yet you still bring it up in defense of DA:I. You don’t even SUBJECTIVELY know it’s a worse game, because you haven’t even played it – you just assume it is based on Yahtzee’s review (and Yahtzee hates on just about all games – that’s his whole shtick).

          • diamond

            Not really no

          • Nitrium

            The first is widely considered one of the greatest modern cRPGs, me included.

          • molamolacolacake

            You could pick your gender and class and customize Hawke’s appearance to some degree, but as I recall customization was limited in comparison to DA:O. Eventually you could get stuff for your equipment to kind of change it up a bit but it wasn’t like constantly swapping your gear out. But it has been sometime since I played it so I may be misremembering.

          • Nitrium

            The plot isn’t a mess at all. Imo, it’s actually a very well written and executed scenario with nice pacing (unlike DA:I with it’s endless faffing about in the mostly empty “open world”).

          • diamond

            Have you seen Yahtzee’s review of DA2?

          • Nitrium

            Yep. And he’s imo simply put “wrong”. Just as I’m sure you must surely feel he’s “wrong” when he hates on the many games you like (which would be pretty much all of them, come to think of it).

          • diamond

            Far from all of them, even when I disagree with him he usually explains himself well enough.

        • Rachel McVeigh

          Da2 is actually my favourite DA game. Hawke was a great protag, it’s plot wasnt the generic fight the big bad fantasy plot, it allowed the player to make choices but then ended with a ‘somtimes the Hero does their best & everything is still fucked ending’ which is rare, Hawke wasn’t a choosen one, the companions where amazing and had lives out side of Hawke and the combat was great. The environments did make it feel rushed but it has something DAI didn’t, a sense of urgency which the open world took away from. DAI.
          I’m not as concerned about a more open direction for Mass Effect cos it started off as a semi open world game with a lot of planets to explore & then ME2& 3 had less exploration so adding planet explorations to MEA is such the series going back to its roots a bit

          • diamond

            Hawke has some of the worst voice-acting ever, I watched some of the cutscenes on Youtube and laughed at how wooden the dialogue sounded.

            The plot sounded all over the place from what Yahtzee said in his video of DA2

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Male Hawke’s voice acting wasn’t great but I really enjoyed female Hawke’s voice acting. I actually tend to find that the female protags voice acting tends to be better in Bioware then the male va.
            As for the plot, it’s not all over the place it’s just told in 3 separate acts, each act has a main story that is resolved at the end with the overarching plot in the background of the first 2 acts & coming to the forefront in the 3rd.
            It’s told more like a play than a more modern story structure which I think works for it.

            You’ve a lot of opinions on a game you’ve never played

          • drownedsummer

            And apparently missed all of the variations of those scenes on Youtube.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Sarcastic Hawke for the win!

          • diamond

            That’s true, fem Sheperd is way better then male Shep.

            I’ve seen lots of people on this site have opinions on games they’ve never played, don’t see why I can’t do the same.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Well for one, one of your opinions on DA2 is factually inaccurate. You claimed you could only play as a male protagonist.

            It’s one thing to read a review of a new game or watch a trailer of one & form an opinion, it’s quite another to be factually wrong about a last gen game & have that as the foundation of your opinion.

          • diamond

            I had so little interest in DA2 that I completely forgot about that, to me that’s pretty damning if I could forgot something that one should logically not forget about a game.

          • drownedsummer

            To everyone else though it will just look like someone failing to check something before commenting on it.

          • diamond

            Not to everyone else, people who have played DA2 and hated will probably agree with me.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            No, even people who hate DA2 with all their being would never agree that it has only a male protagonist, because that is wrong.

          • diamond

            but they’d agree it was shit and would understand if people forgot shit about it.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Not that. That is like saying you forgot there was Magic in it or a Mage V Templar plot or Varric.

          • diamond

            not really no.

          • diamond

            idiot

          • drownedsummer

            You’re rather unlikely to forget a basic detail and one which has been the case of Bioware’s games for a decade.

          • diamond

            dumbass

          • drownedsummer

            You realise at this point this will just look like you’re insulting people due to being advised you were wrong. You could just be humble and admit to it.

          • diamond

            dumbfuck

          • drownedsummer

            Also one word insult responses generally tend to be what you start using when you don’t want to address something.

          • drownedsummer

            We’re only talking about one of your points though. You know the one you failed to check before making. So I’m struggling to see how anyone who has played DAII and therefore aware that Hawke is available as a male & female character could agree.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            You have so little interest in DA2 that 6 years later you make over 10 posts sharing your opinion on it in a thread where it’s mentioned.
            Also how can you forget about a feature that is been in Bioware games since the beginning, even if you didn’t know that DA2 has male & female protags, you could’ve safely assumed it.
            On that point, you know it’s ok to admit you were wrong, it’ll make you look less silly then blaming a game you never played does.

          • diamond

            I never denied I was wrong though, that’s where you’re wrong.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Lol you never admitted it either in fact you blamed the game for you not remember a feature that basically all Bioware games have. That is like me claiming COD BlackOps 3 has no guns in it & then instead of saying I was wrong, I blamed the game for being so unremarkable that I forgot it has guns

          • diamond

            LOL you’re posts keep getting more and more idiotic by the second.

            You’re comparison is asinine as are your posts.

          • drownedsummer

            You didn’t though. Your initial response was to question if it was a mod instead of checking information. Even after you were fully informed you barely acknowledged it and just brought up other points.

          • diamond

            You are a moron.

          • drownedsummer

            No that is exactly how you reacted.

          • Rachel McVeigh

            Lol projection much. Why are you so invested in DA2 being a universally hated game? Cos you were told it should be? There was a time when saying you enjoyed DA2 on any platform got you a ridiculous amount of hate posts from players & non players but that fad is over my friend you’ve missed it.

          • Nitrium

            Actually diamond was the first to even mention it. I didn’t even bring it up (all I said was that DA:I was a step backward for the franchise). Also agree that the Bioware female protags are almost always the better option due to their superior voice acting.

          • drownedsummer

            On a point to do with the male voicing acting Garrus is in Walking Dead New Frontier.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I liked the more intimate scope of DA2, but I feel like the story lacked an overarching narrative, and felt like 3 standalone episodes of a tv series. Overall, it’s pretty obvious that the game was rushed, which is a bloody shame, as it had something good going for it. Cut corners really undercut some strong story moments for me.

            That being said, all this thinking about DA2 makes me want to replay it, which I will start today. Because the cast is so bloody lovely.

    • Polishfury5000

      DAI felt like I was playing a single player MMO. Just endless fetch quests and kill quests with little to no narrative important stuff. I’ve given it several chances and retries and it just gets stuck in this gameplay loop.

      DA2 may have had lackluster dungeon/map design, but at least it’s pacing was on point. It may have deviated from DAO’s classic D&D style combat, but at least I could pause the ganeplay and queue up tactical orders. I could not get into DAI more limited overhead view tactical camera.

      And to keep my posts to a minimum, I also agree that the DA2 protagonist and company were better written. It’s the only one in the series where I regularly swapped my party around rather than just stick to one set. Found them the most interesting and loved the fact that I still reap rivalry bonuses from those party members who disliked my methods.

      • diamond

        The general consensus was that game had terrible pacing and horrible combat.

        • Rachel McVeigh

          As a person who spent a lot of time on the Bioware forms, I can tell you with certainty that that was not the general consensus. In fact the combat was something almost everyone liked.
          Please stop making stuff up or basing the entire communities opinion on a yahtzee review.

          • diamond

            please stop making yourself look more and more like an idiot, it’s pathetic.

        • Polishfury5000

          General consensus pans a lot of games that you vehemently defend. General consensus calls homefront: revolution and Duke nukem forever horrible, so when should general consensus be allowed to be a determining factor?

          If you actually researched the fanbase, you’d find people split on the game’s combat, critical of it’s limited dungeon tile set, and enjoying the cast.

          I’m not trying to insult or flame you mate, but you’re taking a fairly hypocritical stance on something you’ve only watched played a handful of times.

          • diamond

            I did my research fool and you’re not being particularly clever with your use of the word “hypocrite” as everyone is a bit hypocritical one way or another.

            Also the consensus for those two games is more middling then outright horrible.

          • Polishfury5000

            You did not research the community, you made a very broad statement with nothing to back it up.

            Being a hypocrite is very relevant here, as you’re using a source you frequently slag off. Consensus and reviews are objectively worse, from a vocal and numeric standpoint (respectively) on homefront and nukem, yet you are always the first to defend them. To suddenly decide to cherry pick when to accept “general consensus” devalues the contention that you came to me with.

            Both I and Ms. Rachel, below, expressed why your opinion on general consensus is incorrect in a civil, adult manner. To respond with solely insults and no other substance to back your contentions is childish and only serves to devalue any argument you make. You are in the wrong here.

            I’ve long given you the benefit of the doubt against being a troll and have yet to hurl any insults your way. I have engaged in no way but civily.

            You can either go back to being civil, or I won’t bother to respond anymore. Your choice.

          • diamond

            You’re the only one I see being “childish” here fool, if anything it is you who is the hypocrite.

          • Polishfury5000

            So be it. Amazing and disappointing all at the same time.

            Whether your antics are shtick, earnest, or somewhere between may never be known. I’ll leave that mystery to someone else.

            Here, I’ll call myself a “moron” and a “dumb fuck” to save you some time. Think of it as a parting gift, I’m sure that’ll free up your time to waste someone else’s.

          • Charlie Koszulinski

            Wow, I never would’ve guessed Dead Pool to be so well spoken. I guess it’s further proof not to judge a book by its cover.

          • drownedsummer

            Clearly you didn’t. If you had done your research you wouldn’t have made one specific point. As you’ve also stated your lack interest led to poor recollection which also implies a lack of research and instead relying upon your thoughts from several years ago.

  • 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 games ever. Their last few “Open Worlds” experiences were vastness of almost nothing, I speak of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess in this regard.

    Also, you forgot the major plot twist of “No Man’s Sky”

    “SPOILERS”

    The entire game, is a game, a simulation.. when you reach the center of the universe you’re told it was just a game/simulation, you completed it and are asked if you’d like to experience it again…. yep….

    • diamond

      I never really felt like most open world games had “copy and paste” quests or anything like that.

      Not a Zelda fan myself, and after the dislike Skyward Sword got from a number of people for it’s controls, i’m wondering if Breath of the Wild will also have a ton of gimmicky controls thrown in.

      • Jiryn

        They reuse quests and architecture regularly in open worlds.

        Basically stuff that’s a fetch quest or similar can be reused, along with the “Random Spawning” Dynamic quests.
        As for Architecture, I understand you’re limited on budget.. but having only one cave lay out and using it over and over is insane, same with having only 3 house/building layouts..

        • diamond

          I didn’t really notice any open-world games really reusing layouts all that much.

          • InfamousDS

            Then your eyes are broken and need to be re-calibrated.

            Skyrim Vanilla has at most 4 tile sets for its dungeons and caves (Natural Cave, Dwemer Ruin, Nord Tomb/Dragon Cultists, and Ice Maze) and only 2 architecture styles for cities (Nord and Dwemer). Many of the maps can only be differentiated by the how they combine these tiles and what junk is lying about.

            Mad Max uses the same tile set and prefabs for all the scrap towers and caves, with the only distinguishing marks being flags and emblems. Each faction only uses a few car models, despite the fact that they are hand-crafting all of their cars from scrap metal and disused parts. And even then I think they are shared across factions, with only colors distinguishing a difference.

            Dragon Age 2 (which wasn’t strictly open world) quite literally had ONE MAP for all the underground areas and random field encounters. The exact same goddamn maps with routes closed off, encompassing all the possible deviations they needed for the quote-unquote “atmosphere”.
            Far Cry (3 and onward) has the same basic tile set and prefabs for all enemy camps and caves, and they re-use natural vegetation like its going out of style.

            Re-using doesn’t have to be a literal copy-paste of a single object or entity. It also doesn’t mean the game is bad.

          • Gaealiege

            It’s useless to argue with Diamond. It’s not human.

            It will argue with you that Dragon Age 2 was the best creation since sliced bread and any other turd of a AAA game for that matter.

            Diamond is the God/Goddess of Contrarianism. You cannot beat the raw essence of contrary.

          • InfamousDS

            Oh, I know. I blocked him for a short period because of his attitude, but I forgave him when Trump won and realized shit doesn’t need to be all about arguing.

          • diamond

            Shows how much you know, I never played Dragon Age 2 as it looked like shit from all the gameplay footage I saw combined with all the negative reviews.

          • drownedsummer

            Yeah and commenting on it without playing it didn’t really work out that well did it?

          • diamond

            Plenty of people still criticized that game for the reasons I mentioned, so not playing does not invalidate my points, I thought the game looked boring and plenty critics said it was boring, so I stayed away.

          • drownedsummer

            And your point about being forced to play as a male character?

          • diamond

            my point about characterization being very limiting compared to the first game still stands.

          • Gaealiege

            Now you’re blowing my mind, Diamond. The only time I’ve seen you say that a AAA game was shit and it just so happens to be accurate this time.

            It’s contrary to my expectations….

          • diamond

            No they are not “broken” at all, that’s utter nonsense. I did notice that with Skyrim, but not with other open-world games like Watch Dogs 2, Mad Max, Catalyst, Mafia 3, etc.

          • InfamousDS

            Mad Max does it a lot, I would bet that they spent at most 6 months on Assets and Map Design, combined. And that was mostly the artists being told that the buildings weren’t dirty enough to hide the fact that they were the same everywhere.

            I haven’t played the rest, but what I’ve seen suggest they do in fact re-use assets and architecture.

            Mafia 3 and WD2 is set in a real town, which means they can believably get away with reusing assets since human beings as a whole are not creative and we build entire cities of buildings which look practically identical in real life. Catalyst as well had the same basic interior designs and limited color schemes, which they wall-papered over by saying that everything was government mandated.

            Being lazy in art design and level design doesn’t automatically make bad games. It just makes good games average and great games good.

          • diamond

            If they did re-use assets, they certainly did a good hiding it IMO

          • Jiryn

            Thank you

          • Andrzej Sugier

            I felt kind of insulted by DA2, because they didn’t even bother to remove the closed off sections of the cave from the map/minimap. Pinnacle of cutting corners.

    • AnGer

      The problem with both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess was, in my opinion, that they tried to be OW experiences while still strictly adhering to the dungeon-focused Zelda formula established by ALttP and OoT. That just doesn’t work but if what Aonuma said is true and they want to ditch that formula, It’d be OK for what it’s worth.

      • Jiryn

        Technically, I wouldn’t say either game was more open world than one another, or previous Zeldas (Specifically, LTTP, the Original, Ocarina and Major) but the problem is the sheer size and scope.

        I enjoyed the games, but there was little minute to minute on WW and TP. It was worse in WW due to the sheer size of the open sea, while TP’s problem was the constant gating of content.

  • Shaamaan

    Here’s a late “Happy Birthday”, Jim! 🙂

  • Appretaur

    The Jimquisition, where a black-cosumed sicko of questionable girth and top hat length evangelizes pro-consumer ideals against the backdrop of a big natsy flag in between checkups at a metal hospital. Where a man who gets bullied by those who perceive themselves the bully-ees is eventually promised comeuppance for allegedly blasphemous content. And where a man has a semi-regular segment in which he asks, “Konami as a fixture of integrity — does it actually exist?”, and Konami unfailingly responds, “Of course I do, Jim! You have to beLIEve me!”

    • drownedsummer

      By any chance have you looked at certain game on Greenlight?

      • Appretaur

        Probably not, I wouldn’t know what you’re referring to…

  • RuRiK_87

    i gave up doing all of the extra stuff in Rise of the Tomb Raider because it got pretty damn boring, in my opinion it is a game that lost quite a bit for being semi open world. i would rather have a more linear experience and visit a vast number of exotic locations than being stuck in one location for the entire game.

    • diamond

      Not for me it didn’t, I loved Rise of the Tomb Raider, I got every single collectible in the game. I’m not sure why the game surprised you, the 2013 game was also semi-open world and Rise is simply more of the same.

      I think there is an advantage to one location as you can get a lot of background about said location, and I think Rise had enough varied environments, from the Geothermal Valley to the caves in Syria to the huge Soviet outpost.

      • RuRiK_87

        i disagree, i found it to be tedious as heck….i didnt like the 2013 game that much either but i gave it the benefit of the doubt, sadly i wont be giving the next one a shot, Rise might be my last Tomb Raider game.

        • diamond

          Not me, I felt it really added to the world and was far better then any of the previous TR games before 2013, which I only found OK-ish at best.

  • Rachel McVeigh

    My major problem with open world games is that in general the story of the game suffers cos it either needs to be optional (ala Fallout 4 & Skyrim) or allow for the player dicking about for hours (ala Assassions Creed). This means that the story can loose a lot of impact because it can’t affect the world too much or it looses it’s sense of cohesion or urgency.

    RPGs really loose their impact when the story is damaged like this.

    • diamond

      I dunno about that, the recent Deus Ex games still had a really good story.

      • Rachel McVeigh

        Firstly I send in general, the Witcher 3 is an exception to my point but the story of most games suffer.

        Secondly the last Deus Ex game was just a set up for the next one, it feels unfinished & most of it was so unremarkable I can barely remember it where as I remember much more about DAI, which was another semi-open world game whose story suffered but was still memorable & had some great high points.

        • diamond

          It still had really good stories in the side quests and some memorable characters.

      • Watchmedance

        Deus Ex has never been an open world series though. Kinda doesn’t fit the mold of “bland open world game”.

    • Andrzej Sugier

      I think they just need stories suited to that kind of gameplay. All my favorite open world games (eg. Witcher, Baldurs Gate 2, Tyranny) have stories about people who’s job is to tavel and “dick around”, and not some urgent threat loomimg around. This makes the story/gameplay dissonannance much easier to swallow

      • Rachel McVeigh

        Agree. All the best open world games give the character/ player a reason to dick around even with impending doom.

    • I feel like I’m the only one, but this has never really bothered me much in games like Skyrim where “do whatever, whenever” makes up a big portion of the game’s hook. And while yes, the overall plot and characterization is rather thin for the most part, I attribute that to Bethesda’s poor writing more than anything.

      With DA Inquisition, though, I agree, taking a very linear, dramatic story and straining it through a very MMO-like world structure and progression saps a lot of the weight of it.

      • RifleAvenger Sashiro

        The sad thing is, Bethesda has shown the ability to create settings that hold up as more than a playpen for the player character’s whims.

        Morrowind’s world was very well realized, at least for the big players and institutions (the copy-pasta commoners not so much, but their presence and what little personality they had said a lot). It was an excellent portrayal of a society that had seen better days and was going to change one way or another. It was a world where to learn more about that world and progress in it, you had to destroy what it was to begin with. Morrowind knew well to balance the scale between an exotic world and an understandable one, and retooled a lot of Daggerfall’s lore to be less generic fantasy (ie. the dwarves).

        Even Daggerfall, for all its faults (because of its bloated size through procedural generation I might add), wove quite the interesting tale of political intrigue.

        Oblivion and Skyrim, by contrast, felt like thin facades in terms of setting, even with the dynamic AI!

      • Rachel McVeigh

        While I get the do anything vibe that Skyrim was going for, I think it still suffers from its open world clashing with the type of story the devs wanted to tell. Take the Civil War as an example, because the devs didn’t want the player to be forced into anything, the Civil War, which should be a big impact on Skyrim, is mostly meaningless. The two sides hang out in their camps & then at the conclusion some of the Jarls are different that is it. Hell not even the Dragons seem to have an impact on the world, you could leave them flying around forever & no towns or villages would be destroyed. Just because the player can do what they like doesn’t mean that events going on can’t impact the world. Where are the Stormcloak raids of Imperial villages or Imperials fortifying their positions, where are any visual indications that there is a War going on? Jarls or Merchants tell us the War has been tough but the Dragonborn can ride from Solitude to Riften without seeing or experiencing it.

  • Appretaur

    “Zooming out of an Assassin’s Creed map screen is enough to make your eyes bleed, what with the hundreds of markers and icons spewed all over the world.”

    At least you can’t deny that Assassin’s Creed is iconic in that regard…

    • Lies That Bind

      Man I remember tracking down those hundreds of flags and fathers for achievements in the early games. It wasn’t like there was a challenge to getting them either, they are put there just to take up space.

      • diamond

        Not all collectibles are there just to take up space though, I liked getting all the audio logs in Watch Dogs as it really added to the backstory and setting of the game.

      • Wolfie

        Hundreds of fathers? So, like… did you go up to random men in the street and start screaming at them, “ARE YOU MY FATHER!?”

        • Lies That Bind

          My bad. Typo. But that would be a great collectible in some crazy game.

        • Charlie Koszulinski

          It was way worse. He went up to a bunch of guys and asked “are you the father?”

          • Watchmedance

            Or had a talk show host following him around saying “Sir, you are NOT the father!”

        • Weasel Biggs

          “You’re my daddy, you’re my daddy and YOU also are my daddy!

          FATHERHOOD FOR EVERYONE!”

      • Andrzej Sugier

        I believe that this map overload nicely illustrate the problem. Like, in the first Arkham Game collectibles didn’t show on map until you were far into the game. That made them fun and challenging to find. But, it was also PLAUSIBLE to expect players to find them on their own, as the world was small and designed well enough to do so. The later games were much, much bigger with less precise enviromental design, and as such had to use the crutch of map icons, which makes collectibles meaningless non-content

        • Lies That Bind

          I agree with you 100% on that man. Asylum did collectibles in a smart fun way where they felt like their own puzzles instead of a box to tick.

    • George

      Ha!

      <3

  • Khadryn

    Happy birthday, hope you had a good one.

  • Sperium3000

    Hey Jim, why did they let you out of the metal hospital and is Ronnie James Dio’s cryogenically frozen head kept there?

  • Maf

    I think its very instructive to look back at how old games did “open world”. Like look at Baldur’s Gate or earlier Final Fantasy games (1-9). You had the overworld map for those games which made the world feel really large, but you still had the small constructed experiences of each individual location that made each place feel special and unique. All of the empty, dead, boring space is removed because you simply zoom out make it really small on the map.

    A game like Final Fantasy 7 feels infinitely larger than an Assassin’s Creed game because you can actually remember distinct areas and develop an emotional connection from the story or characters that inhabit them. I’m sure if you measured how much space is actually playable in most of those old RPGs they would be way less than modern games, but they feel way bigger.

    • diamond

      I feel like FF7 has aged VERY poorly.

      • Yes, it has aged poorly, but it is still a damn fine game and the stuff Maf mentioned still stand.

        Oh, and btw, back in 1996 when it was released(Japan), try to find any other game to compete in production values, size, story, etc…. It was indeed a masterpiece, it is just that kids these days follow the trend and just call it overrated, without having played it back then. Bunch of hipsters.

        • The Bandsaw Vigilante

          Nah…I played it at launch back in 1997, and still feel that it was never particularly great, merely middling-to-good in various respects. Square were still trying to wrap their heads around the CD-ROM technology, and as a result the worldbuilding is off, and the characters are quite flaccid compared to previous entries in the series.

          IMO, they rebounded superbly with VIII and IX, but for my money Square have released far better entries both before and since FFVII.

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            I personally don’t enjoy FF7, but objectively it was the game that changed the face of the big buget JRPG for every company not named ATLUS or whomever those guys are that still make Wizardry. Yes, FF6, Chrono Trigger, and a few others were part of that transition too, but FF7 cemented it. There’s no way it could have done that without an intrinsic level of quality.

            I also heavily disagree that the characters are significantly more flaccid than FF’s that came before it, and not because FF7’s characters are great.

            FF1: Identity-less create-a-characters (yes, that can have its own charm, I love Wizardry and Etrian Odyssey)

            FF2: All the characters are straight, boring tropes. I might be a bit hard on this one because the gameplay itself is atrocious in FF2 and I cannot stand it.

            FF3: Identity-less create-a-characters (DS remake came after FF7 so it doesn’t count)

            FF4: A standard redemption story for Cecil and Golbez, with a supporting cast featuring several character ideas reused from FF2. Not a bad game, esp. considering when it came out, but it’s characters are really no better than much of FF7’s cast.

            FF5: Saturday morning cartoon heroes fight Saturday morning cartoon villain. It does have a firm sense of humor though, so it’s not without its charms as a story.

            FF6: Ok fine, there’s a real argument to be made here.

            FF7 is not helped by the fact that many of its characters, especially Cloud, have been flanderized in later cameos and spin-offs.

          • The game was 1996, not 1997. The translation arrived in 1997. Now, even in 1997, name me 3 games that had better size, production values, music, story, rich gameplay, big world. Name me 3. You can’t say a game wasn’t great when there is no competition at that time.

          • The Bandsaw Vigilante

            Dude, clearly I was referring to the North American translation, not the Japanese version — most people in the world first played it in 1997, not 1996, remember.

            And even back in 1997, as someone who’d been playing RPGs for decades, I recognized that FFVII wasn’t truly hitting the key aesthetic creative-benchmarks of being “great,” not only compared to previous masterpieces like IV and VI, but also by other major RPGs, such as Ultima, the AD&D Gold Box series, the first Fallout, Baldur’s Gate just a few months later, etc.

            Huge production values, size, and big worlds don’t necessarily translate into “greatness.”

          • MJC

            1996?

            “Release date(s) January 31, 1997[hide]

            PlayStation
            JP: January 31, 1997
            NA: September 7, 1997
            PAL: November 14, 1997

            International
            JP: October 2, 1997

            Microsoft Windows
            NA: May 31, 1998[1]
            EU: June 25, 1998
            JP: May 16, 2013

            iOS
            WW: August 19, 2015[2]

            PlayStation 4
            WW: December 6, 2015

            Android
            WW: July 7, 2016”

            I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any 1996’s in there.

        • diamond

          No it’s not just “kids these days”, on an episode PQ Laura K Buzz was also talking about how she personally did not think FF7 had aged very well. Total Biscuit also made similarly remarks on Mailbox.

          Not everyone has to like that game you dumbass, some games just haven’t aged well, you’ve definitely got your nostalgia blinders on.

          Saying that anyone who does not think that game has aged well its a “hipster” shows what brain-dead fucking moron you are.

          It’s not “following a trend” to call the game overrated you moron, plenty of people HAVE played it and simply don’t like it, deal with it fuckface.

          There were plenty of better games in 1996.

          • Oh really? So just because a couple of people think so, that makes it the absolute truth? Those people probably didn’t play it at launch either.

        • diamond

          You’re the only hipster here dumbass

      • Charlie Koszulinski

        I never played FF7, so I can’t comment on how it’s aged, but Maf is on to something. A more modern example of his thinking would be Dark Souls. The game is open world, yes, but each section of the world seems specially crafted with it’s own flavor and nooks and crannies to root through. You could even say each area tells it’s own unique story that ties into the larger scheme of things. Also, the world isn’t just flat. Dark Souls goes up, down, even into different dimensions. The geography plays a role in the over arching story of the game and you just don’t see that too much these days.

      • The Bandsaw Vigilante

        Same here. While I don’t hate the game, it’s definitely more of a tech-demo than an actual, proper Final Fantasy title.

    • Andrzej Sugier

      +1 Right on the point. It’s not only content thats lacking in many modern open world games, it’s distinctive enviromental design.

  • Lies That Bind

    I think the sandbox games have become more common as a result to justify using more of the power capable in the newer console generations. Linear experiences were snubbed in favor of open world but now I think people just want more linear games now.

    • diamond

      We had plenty of linear games last year though, so that argument really does not hold water, and open world games have still been selling well(Mafia 3 is by far the best selling entry in the franchise).

  • Meyneth

    Jim, that was Stingray, not Thunderbirds!

    • diamond

      Someone should start a tally of the mistakes Jim has made on this show.

      • Arella Jardin

        Jim doesn’t make mistakes. Chip does.

        • Wolfie

          FUCKING CHIP!

      • drownedsummer

        Next you’ll be suggesting that images of shrimp appear.

      • MJC

        That tally is 0. It’s either Chip’s fault, or it’s because Jim breathes through his skin and you should be ashamed of your words and deeds. 😉

        Also, Fuck Konami

  • Arella Jardin

    While I more or less agree with most of the points in this video, I think this is an issue that gets under the skin of critics and twitch streamers more than the average gamer. If you play dozens upon dozens of games a year, then yes, all that mindless busywork and copy/pasting feels like a bigger deal. For someone who buys maybe 8-15 games a year, then all that filler can feel like more bang for their buck. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t expect more substance, Witcher 3 is a good example of Open World done amazingly. I’m just saying, it’s a model that seems to work for a lot of gamers.

    Dragon Age Inquisition is a good example of over correcting. People complained DA2 was too claustrophobic, so they went big. Unfortunately, too big. The zones were too empty, and took too long to traverse, even on mounts (which you don’t want to do, since you can’t interact with anything on a mount). Heck, some entire zones were completely pointless to the overall story, and didn’t even have much of a side story to justify them. The Fallow Mire, anyone?

    I loved Kingdoms of Amalur, but good lord was it a great big world of nothing. All the zones were beautiful, most of them meaningless. Just fighting recolored trash mobs. If that game had been 1/4th the size, it would have been perfect.

    Even within the AC series, some Open Worlds work better than others. Ac3’s Fronteir was endless acres of garbage, but Black Flag’s oceans and islands were a delight to traverse. Unity had a bleak, grey city to wallow through, but Syndicate is vibrant and makes travel more entertaining with carriages and the grappling hook. Could these games cut back on the collectibles and have more variety? Absolutely. But the degree in which they frustrate varies. I actually enjoy looking for collectibles in Syndicate, while I loathed it in Unity.

    • Michael Campbell

      The hit and miss nature you are describing is exactly his point though.

      Open world can be done fantasically. But lots of devlopers don’t know how to use it, misunderstand the point of it, and just make a giant open world map with nothing in it for the sake of it because it’s the “new big thing”.

      • diamond

        I think most people know to use it well(Aside from whoever makes the AC games).

      • Andrzej Sugier

        I thing they do that because it’s and easy way to pad play time, which is a big selling point
        And they missuse it because they don’t treat and design the map itself as content, with memorable sigths and places to explore (as the best open world games do) but just as canvas to “paint” content on.

    • drownedsummer

      There was one area in Amalur the red desert/canyon area? Which I don’t think you even really went into unless you were searching for the lore stones.

    • diamond

      That’s me in a nutshell, I don’t play nearly as many games as Jim does, I tend to stick to AAA or budget retail games and don’t really play much in the way of indie games, so I only play around 20 current titles per year(not counting older titles I play on Steam or on PSN and Xbox Live), so open-worlds don’t feel the least bit tired to me at all.

      Hell even budget titles can have good open worlds, like Deadly Premonition, I just finished the PS3 version and it took me about 30 hours to get all the Trading Cards and do all the side missions.

      DA2 had problems beyond being claustrophobic from what most critics said, it also suffered from lack of customization, the combat being an awkward hybrid of real time and turn-based, the plot being much less compelling and poorly paced compared to the first game, Hawke being a bland protagonist, etc.

      So really after the disaster DA2 was, there was nowhere for the franchise to go but up.

    • Andrzej Sugier

      Personally, I didn’t care about the world size in Inquisition, as it made the world feel big. And not just in size, but more grand and more belivable. Sometimes convinience kills immersion, like instant travel in the newer Elder Scrolls games. DAI however had one thing that I miss dearly in most open world games – variety. Maps were very distinctive which made them more memorable.

      • Rachel McVeigh

        Good point, while I was disappointed that not all the environments were connected to the main story properly, (sometimes I was wondering why I’d bothered going there) they were all very different. Just looking around told you immediately where you were. Even each Dragon was different reflecting the environment they were living in. Most open world environments don’t give the player that same variety

      • Salador

        The maps were varied (despite having, what, 3 deserts?) but the problem was that variety and detail wasn’t matched by either the dialogue or the quest design.

        You barely interacted with characters or got a deep understanding of the world the way you did in Origins, and most sidequests were ether fetch quests or collections. Even the conversation map was zoomed further out and as a result social interactions felt more detached and less intimate. Too much was revealed in text and not spoken, which is a much drier way of illustrating the world. Origins had far smaller, far more linear maps, but the conversations and characters were far better.

        Inquisition had lots of unique places, but Origins had lots of unique people – which ultimately do a far better job of building the world.

        • Andrzej Sugier

          Oh, you won’t ever find me arguing that Inquisition was better than Origins, it’s by far the best part of the trilogy. Along the best characters, it had the most unique scenarios.

          • Salador

            What gets me about Inquisition is that, while it’s better in a lot of ways, it’s worse in ways that it really shouldn’t be. The first game was so good at making the cultures of Thedas feel detailed and real. Inquisition looked and played better, but the world felt like, well, an open world video game, and not a real, breathing place.

    • MJC

      Eh. I buy maybe 8-15 games a year and I’m with Jim: I’m sick of big open worlds with nothing to do but boring repetitive bullshit filler.

      And I’m goddamn sick of getting into cars and seeing “5000m” marked as the distance to the next objective. Fuck, more driving around for 5-10 minutes because gotta pad that run time! Why can’t more games do something fun with traversal in their open world, like Sunset Overdrive or Saints Row 4/Gat out of Hell?

      • Arella Jardin

        Sunset Overdrive is a great example of Open World and fun traversal. There’s a bit of a learning curve, as you figure out how to visually identify quickly what you can interact with. But once it “clicks,” you can cross entire districts in a couple minutes, and the entire, seemless map in little more than 5. Bouncing, grinding, vaulting, wall running, it’s all very entertaining to get a good parkour groove going. Perhaps there’s too many collectibles, but it’s fun figuring out how to get to them all.

        It’s a shame SD came out so early in the X1’s life, it didn’t do well in sales because it really wasn’t a “console seller”. I still highly recommend it to anyone, though.

  • Liara Ashlynn Jennings

    God, finally. This kind of thing has bothered me for ages.

    • diamond

      Not me.

      • Chris Schwartz-Brown

        Wheh, glad we know how you Yahtzee told you to feel. What would we do if you didn’t reply to every single comment to remind us that you don’t agree with someone else’s opinions on a game or genre.

  • aimei66

    I have an issue with open world games that wasn’t mentioned here, and that is the effect it has on the main story missions. As the player is required to always be able to go back to the open world, the main missions usually don’t make massive changes to the map. Rarely do locations become rubble or just plain off limits, and not just that but even rarer are events that take you out of that city.

    Just look at what happens to final fantasy 15 when they do try to move the story beyond the open world constraints; suddenly they are forced to find a super false mechanic that lets you go back to that big world.

    While the sandboxes are fun to run around, I tend to find the main missions are all safe simple affairs that keep you within the safe confines of that open world; No massive explosions taking out half the city, no world travels, just plain boring missions that don’t deviate much from the side missions.

    • diamond

      I don’t think a mission has to destroy a ton of stuff just to be exciting.

      • aimei66

        True but I can’t think of any examples where they have turned deserts into rainforests, created large monuments that weren’t in the game already etc. The most they tend to do is block off the bridges or create limitations to seeing all the map right away.

        • George

          The only ones I think of is the 2 water treatment plants that were built and the introduction of the Manon ship in Xenoblade Chronicles X . But even that is a bit of a stretch.

          Also, in your example are you talking about Chrono Trigger? That was a really cool bit.

          • aimei66

            I actually haven’t played Chrono Trigger. Heard a lot of people praise it though. I loved Xenoblade Chronicles X btw.

          • George

            I recommend it. It’s a classic that holds up remarkably well. If you can download the Nintendo DS version for your 3DS get that one.

            I love XCX as well. I don’t want to sound like a fanboy but if the Switch sells well I hope they port it over because it’s a game that more people should play.

            It’s my second favourite game this gen next to Bayonetta 2.

          • drownedsummer

            The original release is also available on Wii’s virtual console.

          • drownedsummer

            That section is good although it doesn’t fundamentally really change much although it should also be pointed out we’re talking about a SNES game from 1995.

          • George

            Interestingly, (I’m trying to be spoiler free) There’s also the bits that affect governments of certain towns. Wow, Chrono Trigger was really ahead of it’s time.

          • drownedsummer

            To an extent. Terranigma also from the same era was a bit more dynamic in that regard where the player’s actions did effect the worldspace. However it should be noted that would actions and not choices as there is only really one such choice in the game if I remember correctly where making the wrong choice locked you out of things.

            Don’t you just love the way that while Square’s back catalogue is quite widely available to a certain extent where as Enix’s back catalogue is rarely ever mentioned.

          • George

            Agreed. And even in the Chrono Trigger example, the choices come down to do I do the side quest or not do the side quest. But sill far more impact than most game choices today that’s for sure.

            Those older classics are wonderful and hold up quite well. But yeah, it’s quite sad in a way. Square(enix) has lost it’s artistic vision ever since the merge.

          • drownedsummer

            I was meaning the availability.

          • George

            Ahh. It goes to show that those old classics must still hold up pretty good. If they’re still profitable. I wonder if the younger kids play them?

          • drownedsummer

            Most of Enix’s older games are not available as far as I’m aware unlike a lot of Square’s older games.

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure what they made beyond Dragon Quest.

            And even Dragon Quest can be hard to get excluding emulators. Using only the newest versions of each game to my knowledge:

            DQ1/2 on Game Boy
            DQ 3 on Game Boy Color (so you can have a Color or Advance and play 1-3)
            DQ 4-7 got DS releases, but some of them are 3DS I believe?
            DQ 8 is still only on PS2
            DQ 9 is DS
            DQ 10 has no release outside Japan
            DQ 11 will be on PS4, 3DS, and Switch?

            So at minimum to play the entire series without an emulator, you’d need a Game Boy Color/Advance, a 3DS, and a PS2. You’d also have to hunt down everything except the most recent release/rereleases.

          • Uzuki

            Actually 1-6 have been released on mobile. 7 has the 3DS remake. 8 has a mobile port, minus the voice acting, and later this month a 3DS remake minus the orchestra music. Minus seven you could play the bulk of the mainline series on your phone/tablet.

          • drownedsummer

            Only Dragon Quest though.

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            Well, I’m quite out of the loop it seems (likely because I still use an old flip-phone).

          • drownedsummer

            The Gaia series, Star Ocean, 7th Saga & Mystic Ark, The evolution one I can’t recall the name of. That was my point Enix has some memorable games and not just the DQ series but unlike Square’s older games which have been released again Enix’s catalogue remains largely untouched. Some are available on the Wii’s virtual console Soul Blazer & Illusion of Gaia are I believe but I’m sure Terranigma is not, which is a shame as it was easily the best of the three and one of the best SNES RPG’s in it’s twilight years.

            Fairly sure Cursed King has been released on a recent platform or there are plans to do so. I could be entirely wrong but I remember Jim mentioning it recently on twitter. As he mentioned a remake/HD release of VIII as I initially thought he meant FF8.

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            Wow, the only title I recognize there is Star Ocean. I may consider looking into some of the others at an indefinite point in the future, thanks.

        • diamond

          I don’t really care about that sort of thing.

          • Muddy Scarecrow

            Ok. That’s all well and good. But some people do care about that sort of thing. If you don’t that’s wonderful. But there’s more at stake here than just YOUR enjoyment

    • Rachel McVeigh

      That is a good point, what happens to Midgar in FF7 is a big deal and closes off the city to the player. In a true open world game it would never be destroyed because the devs would be too afraid of closing off content to the player.

      • diamond

        FF7 hasn’t really aged well(same with pretty much any PS1 era game that features human characters)

        • Drake Warnock

          Eh, it’s aged OK. I mean the graphics are terrible to look at but they were kind of terrible back in the day anyway. The game itself is still fun though.

          I am a bit of a Final Fantasy fanboy, though.

          • diamond

            Not me, i’ve always found the FF games more fun to watch then to actually play. I feel i’m getting a better experience watching the cutscenes rather then actually grinding for dozens of hours in order to access the next bit of story content.

          • Chris Schwartz-Brown

            It’s understandable. Yahtzee told you they weren’t good. And it’s impossible anyone else finds any enjoyment from a genre you don’t care for, obviously.

        • drownedsummer

          It only features human characters in the occasional cutscene. The majority of the game the characters have a different look.

        • Rachel McVeigh

          Graphics wise maybe, but it’s still got some great game play, storytelling & characters.

        • GrumpyMishka

          It aged like wine. I mean, it has great retro visuals.

          I haven’t played it when it was fresh and new, the first time I’ve touched was in 2006 or 2007 (come to think about it, omg, that was long time ago). It already looked ancient, but there was something neat and retro about it that only make it more appealing to me. Even nowadays when I launch it, these graphics and music instantly hook me, though I’m not a fan of jrpgs and its fighting system.

          • Vohaul86

            Same here, first time played FFVII ’06 and loved it. Actually bought my first console (PS2) just so I could play it and some other older classics even though PS3 wasn’t far away in the future. (Soon after beating FFVII FFXII was released in EU, and that was also awesome. Great open world in that one, too.)

          • diamond

            I just think any game from that era with human characters looks like shit, while 16-bit games like Sonic have aged like wine, FF7 has aged more like rotten meat.

      • The Outsider

        I agree with you both, it’s part of why I question if open worlds are suited to the type of games they’re being applied to. The problem you mentioned is found even in the best examples of open worlds. (SPOILER ALERT) In Witcher 3 for example after killing King Radovid the game is stuck between certain characters making mention of it, but generally people not doing so, and the world at large not remotely changing in the ways the story suggests it should at such a monumental event. This is an example of what always seems to happen, at some point the variables break down and the game can’t cope so has to ignore the outcome. There is also the question of shoehorning open worlds into games which don’t suit them. It’s why for me MGSV became an endlessly repetitive chore (done at least partially on purpose in my opinion) as opposed to the lean, intense experience of MGS 1.

        • diamond

          I never got tired of MGSV

    • Charlie Koszulinski

      Oooh, something like Megaton in Fallout 3? That would be awesome! Or even as simple as Red Faction Guerilla where if you destroy something, it stays destroyed. Nobody makes use of that anymore and its a damn shame.

  • RifleAvenger Sashiro

    In this comment section: Diamond kneejerk responses to every criticism of AAA open world games as if he/she would die if each and every commenter wasn’t made aware “BUUUUT I LIIIIIKE OPEN WORLD GAMES! ALSO FINAL FANASY 7 IS OVERATED!”

    • guy smiley

      Wow, yeah. He is everywhere.

      • diamond

        I’m in your head!

    • HelixShade

      This is why some of us use the Block Command. Thanks Disqus! ^^

      • RifleAvenger Sashiro

        I totally understand, but I personally cannot resist being a poop flinging monkey at such people.

        It’s easy to get a rise out of such people and run them in circles, and they’ll keep giving me entertainment until I bore of them or they block me.

        • diamond

          You’re not “getting a rise out of me” you stupid cunt, I find your pathetic posts amusing.

          Using all caps is the sign of a truly lazy poster.

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            Well, we’re in the same boat then. But you’ve left SO much more humor for me on this comments page.

            Also, just leaving your contrarian opinion everywhere with nothing to back it up (save maybe an appeal to Yahtzee’s opinions) seems far lazier to me.

          • Fyou

            Don’t forget about TotalBiscuit. If TotalBiscuit has an opinion on something, all discussion on the matter is over.

          • drownedsummer

            If you responded he very clearly did get a rise out of you. Acknowledging the post and responding to it means he has. Ignoring it completly and never responding would show they haven’t.

          • diamond

            Not necessarily no, you can’t tell someone’s tone by text, while writing the post I was laughing my ass off, so shows how much you know dumbass.

          • drownedsummer

            Yeah calling someone a cunt is generally an indication of tone.

          • drownedsummer

            No it can be quite easy on occasion to tell what tone someone is taking in text. Subtext can sometimes be lost. But it’s rather to guess the tone you’ve used in your reply to my message and the tone in any of your posts when you’re posting nothing but insults.

          • Kev’ Bryant

            Was the homo-erotic subtext lost? That’s all I care about….

          • RifleAvenger Sashiro

            If you’d like, I can make the subtext just plain text next time.

          • 09philj

            “Not getting a rise out of”
            “Stupid cunt”

            Tell me more of your unending benevolence, Jesus.

          • drownedsummer

            Glory be unto the diamondsiah

          • diamond

            Tell me more of your unending stupidity dumbfuck.

          • 09philj

            Ooh, we’ve got a live one here.

          • diamond

            dumbass

      • CaitSeith

        I used block. But then the comments section got boring.

    • diamond

      In the comment section: Sashiro butthurt response to other people’s opinion “WAAAAAAAAAAAAH! OTHER PEOPLE DON’T AGREE WITH ME WAAAAAAH I’M A WORTHLESS FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT AND WILL WHINE LIKE A LITTLE FUCKING BITCH!”

      • RifleAvenger Sashiro

        There you are! You’re late! I was worried you’d matured some.

        How about you leave the other commenters alone, and we can just share our poorly reasoned, self important opinions and insults among ourselves?

        Serious question: are you a solipsist? Because that’s the only way you literally responding to so many people’s arguments with “I don’t care about that” or “I don’t think so” makes sense.

        • Andrzej Sugier

          +1. Sorry diamond, but by now I mostly skip your comments. You reply to almost everyone with (by now) very predictable answers that bring little to the disscussion

          • diamond

            whatever fool

    • MJC

      Wow, you’re a little bitch and I’m going to block you now. At least diamond is trying to join the conversation. You’re just here pointlessly bitching about somebody you could have blocked. Thanks for nothing, shithead!

  • Zac O

    Oh, Ubisoft! So 2016, which was the best year ever for anyone who got vag. EEr, a vag. Both are good.

  • Scott John Harrison

    Red Dead Redemption is interesting on this subject If you think about it one way it is mostly Empty but it has a variety of stuff in its Wild West.

    How RDR2 will evolve in this climate will be interesting to find out.

    • Charlie Koszulinski

      I have hopes for RDR 2. With GTA 5 as their template, you can expect a vast, open (desert?) world with great story telling, side quests, goof off mini games (a return for Liar’s Dice, I hope), and either meaningful collectables or non at all. I mean meaningful as in there’s a reward attached to it or it further develops the main or side plot of the mission.

      • drownedsummer

        With Rockstar’s open worlds as a template really.

        • Charlie Koszulinski

          I guess I didn’t word it properly. What I’m trying to get at is Rockstar knows how to make a pretty good open world and that I’m not too worried about RDR2. But just out of curiosity, what’s wrong with Rockstar’s template?

          • drownedsummer

            Nothing. That was my point it isn’t just GTAV that is the potential foundation for Red Dead 3 but the games they’ve been producing for a decade now.

      • MJC

        GTA V had goof off mini-games? I only remember really boring shit like tennis, golf, and the stock market. Were there other mini-games that I missed? Mini-games that didn’t suck?

        • Charlie Koszulinski

          Racing, hunting, getting your pilots license, off-roading, target practice, triathalons, yoga, customizing your car, go on the amusement park rides, fucking walk a dog, and that’s just the things that are listed. Feel free to get creative.

  • Lloyd

    No Man’s Sky is only notable for being the purest embodiment of the huge open world with fuck all for meaningful content. That and falling into the trap of using procedural generation as a crutch.

  • chrisbrady

    I have to say, Mr. Sterling is wrong. The love that Red Dead Redemption gets by most people (I couldn’t stand it, the Horse handled worse than a boat on morphine, and the shooting mechanics could have been much better) as well as Skyrim and other Bethesda games like Morrowind…

    No, it’s not just the ‘Marketing Departments’, it’s a lot of players.

    I’d argue that the issue with Ubisoft is less that they’re Open World, but it’s that their games are very similar. They have the same mechanics no matter where they are based in.

    Also, ‘good’ (I have yet to find one, but I’m sure most people aren’t as ADHD as I am) open worlds are interesting because they have interesting places to explore.

    • diamond

      I would disagree, Watch Dogs and Far Cry feel very different to the AC series(as in they’re not boring as shit)

      • chrisbrady

        But most of the games (and I’m not saying they all suck, I love me AC Black Flag, and NOT just for the sailing bits. I need to get that game again), have similar mechanics. Towers, collectables, mostly bland or terrain that merges into one big mess in the memory.

        Don’t get me wrong, not EVERY Ubi game is like that, and some of them are good despite the same formula, but for the most part, they are all alike in terms of basic mechanics.

        • Watchmedance

          If you play on Xbox One, I have a spare code for ACIV floating around somewhere.

          • chrisbrady

            Sadly, I don’t have a console anymore, my PS3 died a couple of years ago.

          • Watchmedance

            Was worth a shot 🙂

          • chrisbrady

            It’s sincerely appreciated, thank you. 🙂

        • diamond

          But they still feel different enough to me, in the AC series you can pretty much mindlessly button mash your way though every enemy encounter, but in Watch Dogs and Far Cry you have to be a lot more cautious around enemies or you’ll get killed.

          • chrisbrady

            Fair enough, but the basic premise of my statement stands. Mr. Sterling is wrong this time. Open World has it’s appeal to a LOT of people.

    • MJC

      Jim’s not wrong, you just didn’t watch the entire video. You got hung up on one thing he said and then hit pause and left a comment without bothering to finish so he can further explain the comment you seem so offended by.

      • chrisbrady

        He’s SPECIFICALLY stated that it’s a Marketing Department ploy. And that’s what I’m rebutting.

  • M.

    “And Operation Caucasus’ developer has accused me of defamation, bullying and copyright theft.”

    Wait. That game’s just a bunch of stock CryEngine assets – *what* copyright?

    • drownedsummer

      I think Caucasus was just defamation. The other guy accused him of copyright theft despite his own trailer featuring unaltered footage from a Cheech & Chong film.

      • Caucasus as well, actually. They’re the ones who hit me with the copyright strike.

        • drownedsummer

          I’ve seen the more recent twitter posts. Yet another developer who is unable to accept criticism and labels anyone criticizing their badly made products as bullies.

          • George

            My new theory is that the internet has become a sentient organism and is covertly making people insane so that it can take over the human race.

            It’s spreads the insanity like a virus. The carriers of this virus are other people on the internet that write things!!!!!! By affecting crappy steam game developers first, it may be able to then infect more people through new exposures since crappy devs tend to be very vocal.

            AHHHHHHH!!!!!!! MIND BLOWN!!!!!!!!!!
            After I post this I should go into hiding so the internet doesn’t get me.

          • drownedsummer

            I’m curious if it still is on Steam as I can’t find it

  • Will113

    Jim how dare you criticize Supermarionation, mankind’s single greatest artistic achievement.

    • 09philj

      “Can’t afford live action? No problem, we’ll film it with puppets in a shed!”

  • Red the Fister

    Happy Birthday, ya fat brittish bastard boglin!

  • More PSBs please! So much better than VGs.

  • Charlie Koszulinski

    All I can say is that I’m ready for some smaller, more linear games. Maybe a hub world instead of a big, empty landscape. Or at least make it a seamless open world like Dark Souls or Dead Rising, where the areas vary dramatically and yet stay in the same world all while reaching them through multiple paths instead of making a B-line in a car for a few minutes. Nothing’s worse than trekking across an uneventful world in something as standard as a car. I don’t really care for Final Fantasy, but I’ll give them credit for giving you a flying sports car in 15, despite how wonky it may seem.

    Here’s hoping that developers think a bit smaller in 2017 and bring about a much needed change of pace for this industry.

    • Andrzej Sugier

      Prototype is still one of my favorite literal “sandboxes” ever – the gameplay was so fun and varied that I’ve spend hours just running around playing with my powers, not minding any structured content. Shame that the side stuff WAS repetetive and uninspired, with no connentinon to the story

    • MJC

      Weird that you mention inFamous considering it was used in the video as an example of an offending title. And for good reason, that world is boring and traversing it is also a chore. inFamous is probably the only open world I can think of where you can’t drive a car, but being able to drive one would have been an IMPROVEMENT. I wouldn’t say that about Prototype, or Sunset Overdrive, or even inFamous Second Son, but inFamous 1? Fuck, give me a car, it would be better and faster than the slow climbing mechanics. (Yeah, once you get to the top of a building, you might be able to grind if there’s a grind rail going the way you want, but you still have to GET that high first and ugh, it’s such a chore)

      • Charlie Koszulinski

        Who needs a car when you an grind on power lines and rail roads Sonic style. It was fast enough to get you where you need to be, the map wasn’t that large. I’ll admit, climbing was a bit clunky, but you can grind and glide, which is more than enough. Also, what kinda lazy thinking would it be to have a super hero game where you have to drive a car? C’mon, you’re a super hero, have some creativity.

        As far as collectibles go, at least they had a purpose. And they were pretty easy to find. And you don’t really need to collect them all, if you collected them in passing, you’d have more enough power nodes by the end of the game. Maybe there is a lot of them, but I think InFamous was an example of collecting done mostly right.

        Look, I’m not saying InFamous was a perfect game, but it gave you a big enough open world with enough missions and side missions to do and it gave you random encounters that didn’t disguise themselves as infinite side quests. Key word here is enough: they didn’t bloat there game with tedious, trivial collectibles and “side missions”. I’m sure they could’ve, maybe even wanted to, but they drew a line somewhere and stuck to it, which in turn made the game more focused.

  • Andrzej Sugier

    I had a very simillar feelings after finally playing Bully for the first time. The game world is comparatively smaller, but because its’ design is much more delibarete, it’s almost instantly more memorable. And I find myself loving it more than most other sandboxes in the last few years, even thought I liked quite a few of them despite their flaws.

    • MJC

      You know what’s great? When the developers craft their own unique world instead of just going “LOL LET’S TAKE THIS REAL LIFE CITY AND SCALE IT DOWN A BIT. CLONING A REAL CITY IS COOL!”

      No. It’s not. It used to be impressive, but now the honeymoon is over and now all we see are big empty boring nothings. Stop being lazy, dare to craft your own cities instead of just copying from Google Maps.

      • Andrzej Sugier

        TBH, I believe it’s simply a way to cut on development time sold as a feature. Most cities grow organicly with no real design put into it, and definately no game design – and any level designer worth their money knows that – but designing such a huge area WELL would take a lot of time – which those companies dont want to invest.

  • GrumpyMishka

    Stories, stories, blah, blah, blah. I’d prefer Elite Dangerous or Dragon’s Dogma to Last of Us and whatever Telltale released lately any day of the week. Overall, if it plays well, if it’s a genre I enjoy and it has something fresh, dare I say, original, to offer – well great, I’m in.

    Mirror’s Edge was fine by the way, I’ve enjoyed looking at it and I’ve enjoyed playing it, you know, pressing buttons and seeing the game reacts to it on the screen. Do I get it wrong? Because I used to think this is the important part about videogames.

    • 09philj

      Elite Dangerous works because it manages to correctly transplant it’s modest ambitions into an outsize game world. This is largely because it’s content is not front loaded. There’s a natural sense of progression from being a small time junk hauler to a legendary explorer, a powerful mercenary, or a merchant extraordinaire. While none of these things are written into the game as plot, the way it pans out makes it feel like your own personal story slowly evolving, as opposed to you just filling out a checklist of tasks, or doing a linear series of missions in an open hub map.

      • GrumpyMishka

        Elite Dangerous works because of many things. Even the basics, it manages to make you feel like you travel through enormous distances by lots of tiny and large details in gameplay mechanics, sound and visual design, interface, music score etc.

        Of course you need a sense of you moving somewhere, I mean, the acquiring better ships and picking different roles part, which is true to many other games. But nothing of that would matter if these small and large details that make it fun and immersive to play weren’t there, don’t you agree?

        And all these things that took a lot of effort to put together somehow are so easily ignored because, apparantly, it’s narrative that matters the most to people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say it doesn’t matter, even in Elite Dangerous you are still looking for some kind of context (and its there, the powerplay and the things you’ve pointed out). But why all the spotlight is given to it?

        • 09philj

          A traditional narrative isn’t a necessity, but every task given should feel like it properly fits into the game world, and have a discernible point. There’s a lot of games where you do random bullshit because there’s an icon on the map.

          • GrumpyMishka

            My point is it doesn’t matter if there is a random bullshit to do on a minimap or not and how well the script is written if the game isn’t good and fresh enough.

            If you’ve played your Assassins Creeds and FarCries enough you don’t enjoy doing what these games offers as their main thing, why are you still buying and playing them?

            They used to be fun to play and explore and to do the random stuff, at least for me. A few years ago I’ve enjoyed playing FarCry 3 and Assassin’s Creed 4, in later I’ve tried to do a lot of side stuff and I had a good time with it. And while it was great and all I haven’t picked the later installments since they didn’t had anything new to offer (I was tempted by Paris in Unity a bit though).

    • Watchmedance

      That’s good for you. Some people however, myself included, actually enjoy narrative experiences. To me, gameplay can only carry a game so far. Just look at Mad Max.

      • diamond

        I thought Mad Max was an amazing game, easily in my top 5 of 2015.

        • Andrzej Sugier

          Gotta agree with you on that, for me that games’ polish and obvious love the developers had put into it made it much more enjoyable than most open world games. Could’ve use some more variety, but it’s far from the worst off offender in my oppinion

        • Watchmedance

          It just felt so dull and empty to me. I played about as far as advancing to the third area before I got bored with the prospect of filling the checkboxes on my car so I could complete more filler content.

          Don’t get me wrong. It’s a technical and graphical masterpiece, but it felt as bland as rice pudding to me.

          • diamond

            Didn’t feel bland to me in the least, Far Cry Primal on the other….

  • Trav

    It’s interesting that now is the time that Jim has chosen to air the popular view that open worlds are too big and uninteresting, and that Ubisoft is the worst offender among the current crop of AAA publishers.

    Jim recently gave Watch Dogs 2 a 9/10 (a score I’d agree with, I think it’s great), yet in many ways, this video contradicts much of what he liked about the game. It is after all this year’s Assassins Creed, a big open world full of icons and repetitive activities, it’s just that it’s one of the better ones, where the core gameplay loop is entertaining and varied enough in its own right to not be too badly affected by the repetition.

    Feels like this video would have been more appropriate soon after the release of No Man’s Sky or possibly The Division.

    • I don’t think it’s contradictory at all. That good open-world games exist does not in any way negate the trend of bad, lazy ones.

    • MJC

      What part of Watch Dogs 2 was varied? I played a game where all you do is sneak into compounds, find the key that opens the otherwise unhackable doors, and then go through the unhackable door to the objective. It was so repetitive and boring, I couldn’t stand that game.

  • This seems like developers taking the absolutely wrong lesson from the pushback against linear games and games with a short campaign length. There’s something to be said for quality for our money, and developers have taken that to mean if they stuff a giant open world with tons of faff to collect and repetitive, copy-paste side missions, we’ll be happy. I can be happy with a short game as long as it’s fun to play through – I loved Sonic Generations and that game only had 20ish levels, but I enjoyed every single second of it.*

    *Let’s see if what I think is going to happen will happen.

  • Peter Quint

    How long ago was it that the critical consensus was that being pushed down linear paths and made to watch staged events like a guy on a ghost train was the big problem with AAA games?

    The problem is not open worlds, but rather the open world idea has been turned into a formula that doesn’t consider what can be done with sandboxes.

    And part of the reason for that, aside from normal AAA commercial factors, is that for the fully interactive, dynamic, permanent and non instanced worlds everyone wants we do, for once, actually need more powerful computers.

    It’s too easy to see through these worlds like NMS at the moment.

    • nicethugbert

      I don’t think we need more powerful computers. Take Skyrim for instance. The main quest can be put off indefinitely while the player wanders, houses, side quests, and scrounges. All that amounts to developing a history and identity, which your character starts off without.

      That problem could have been solved very easily by a simple mechanism to put off the main quest until the player feels they have built up their character’s identity and history and situated the character as a somebody in the world, not some faceless hobo off a cart.

      Instead of imagining some elaborate backstory, Open Worlds can be used for actually building them first through game play then starting the main quest instead of having the main quest nag you while you’re exploring the game.

      • Well, TES in particular is never going to give the player character a backstory beyond “You’re a prisoner”. At this point, the idea of The Unknown Prisoner Turned Hero is an archetype well-anchored within the in-universe lore.

        I do appreciate the way Fallout 4 at least gave you a family and made them part of the main plot, though. It’s “cheap heat” in a lot of ways, but it still kept me a lot more focussed than I usually am playing through a Beth game.

        • Watchmedance

          I guess I was the outlier in Fallout 4. I couldn’t have possibly cared less that my character had a family, because I had no context for the family outside of him loving his family. I didn’t care at all though, and since I was the one calling the shots, neither did my character despite him supposedly loving his late wife and baby.

          It felt lazy, and the previous Fallout games handled the introduction and motivations much better in my opinion.

          • Andrzej Sugier

            +1. And the set personality made the protagonist of FO4 soooooo boring. Goody-two-shoes with no backbone. If you want us to play a pre-made character, make him at least a bit interesting in the future, pretty please…

          • InfamousDS

            Goody two-shoes with no backbone who has no qualms about genocidal rampages because he was in the army probably or she was married to a soldier.

            I was and am so disappointed that violence was the only solution to the overarching conflict, when it never has been before. At least not so… permanently.

          • MJC

            Yep. I couldn’t really care less about a spouse and baby that exist for maybe 5 whole minutes before dying and/or disappearing. If you want me to care about the character you have to build them up a bit first. I used to rag on Command and Conquer 4 for having a wife character be in the game for about 30 minutes before she dies and you’re supposed to care, but Fallout 4 manage to lower that bar even further.

            Also I didn’t cry for Joel’s daughter at the start of The Last of Us either. Don’t even remember her name. She’s important to Joel and his growth as a character, but she meant nothing to me as a player!

        • RifleAvenger Sashiro

          Daggerfall’s main character is a personal friend of Uriel Septim III, one of the only people he trusts to investigate the untimely death of the King of Daggerfall. This friendship, and whether it’s been mutually upheld, is something several characters play on as they attempt to sway you to their side in the political struggle.

      • MJC

        As long as they can make the “building a backstory” part just as interesting as the main quest, I’m all for it. But if the building a backstory part is boring busywork until you can play the game proper, that sounds like a downgrade. That reminds me of those awful “FF13 gets really good once you get 20 hours in, you just have to keep playing!” defenses people used to spout for a shitty game. A game with 20 hours of crap to be slogged through before you can have any fun is not a game I’m ever going to play, no matter how good the rest is.

        • nicethugbert

          I agree. That’s why I specify that building backstory has to be the player’s choice. But, the developer has to provide the choice, the mechanism, for the player to build his backstory in the world through game play.

    • George

      I slightly disagree with your last point. Let’s look at a very old but classic game. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

      Yes it was single player game with no on-line ability and it wasn’t fully interactive in the way we think of today but…

      It felt fully interactive and it felt dynamic. Slashing the flowers and grass and occasionally blowing up walls to find secrets allowed a person to interact in the world. Cruelty to the birds had consequences, stealing had consequences, items like the feather, boots and bracelet allowed the player to interact with the world differently and do new things. The dialog of the town’s people gossiping made the world feel “lived in.”

      The point that I’m trying to make is that, interactivity, dynamism, permanence, those are perceptions. They aren’t sensations and as such can not be measured or manufactured in a quantitative fashion. I.e. with more powerful computers or procedural generation.At the crux of the issue is an artistic question not a technical one.

      • Peter Quint

        Good point, I liked the Zelda idea but disagree that it is entirely an artistic question because I suspect we might be talking about slightly different things. I was thinking of something like the old Molyneux idea of planting an acorn and it growing in the world – that level of permanent transformation being possible. Make it more like living in a simulation than what amounts to a bunch of non interactive obstacles. Have the world generated on levels that strive to get closer and closer to the real physics on smaller and smaller level of objects.

        Basically, I want the matrix, and I think we need better machines for that.

        • MJC

          “I was thinking of something like the old Molyneux idea of planting an acorn and it growing in the world”

          Funny you say that after George mentioned Link’s Awakening, because the next two GameBoy Zelda game: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons both did the plant a tree and it grows thing on the GameBoy Color. And you can actually get beneficial items from the fully grown tree instead of it just being a useless tree that means nothing.

    • MJC

      Being pushed down linear paths and made to watch staged events like a guy on a ghost train is STILL a big problem with AAA games. A big empty open world is just as pointless as a linear modern military shooter that basically plays itself. I don’t want to drive around a big empty map to get to the next mission any more than I want to play a game that threatens to kill me or literally does kill me if I stray even slightly from its script.

      No Man’s Sky is just as stupid and pointless as Medal of Honor Warfighter (watch “Modern Military Shooters in a nutshell” by TotalBiscuit if you don’t already know what I mean)

  • nicethugbert

    I’ve put tons of hours in Skyrim and I’ve yet to advance the story past the first quest. I’ve been busy with housing, wandering, and scrounging. The reason why I’ve done it is:
    1) Getting to know the game mechanics because none of these games have a fucking tutorial worth a shit.

    2) The character starts off so weak that I have to scrounge to build him up.
    3) NO FUCKING BACKSTORY WORTH SPEAKING OF. Basically, all that housing, wandering, and scrounging amounts to SITUATING THE CHARACTER IN THE WORLD, developing a history and identity.

    #3 is a grand opportunity for developers to immerse players in the game by giving them time to build up their character and get to the know the game, THEN START THE MAIN STORY LINE.

    But, nope, it’s much lazier to just let faceless nobody the hero fuck off.

    P.S. Ubi is the laziest tripple A dev in the world. What they did to Far Cry Primal is atrocious.

    • drownedsummer

      I managed 365 days in game before I went to see the Greybeards on my first game.

    • Jason Farrell

      It’s your character. YOU write the backstory for him/her. There are literally a thousand YouTube series who do that if you haven’t a clue how, and many millions of players who managed. The point with Elder Scrolls games is that you’re creating character, much like you would in a P&P campaign, not a preselected character for you to inhabit. I wouldn’t enjoy doing this in every game. I’m very much looking forward to Torment: Tides of Numenera, for example, and the specificity of your character and background in that game is essential to how it plays out. But I embrace being able to do it in a few select games, and Skyrim is one of the ones in which you’re given the most freedom to do so. Related: if you want to start the main story, YOU start the main story. Why is that so hard? Skyrim makes it impossible to miss out on this, leaving a character there to escort you to the first town, another character to give you your choice of the shit on their back to help outfit you, and then explicit instructions on how to get to Whiterun.
      All of your other points just sound like excuses to play the way you want to play. You don’t need an excuse. I’m a story guy, so housing, wandering and scrounging for hours instead of getting on with it sounds like a sort of hell, but plenty of players are into that, and that’s fine. If you need a complex tutorial to tell you how to press mouse button to swing sword or whatever, I don’t know what to tell you. And for goodness’ sake, you’re not that weak. Within 30 minutes of starting the game, your character is butchering fully armed and armored soldiers. You certainly don’t need “tons of hours” for your Rocky Balboa montage.

      • nicethugbert

        You’re typical RPG moron, TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT. Backstory should be game play, especially in a world like Skyrim.

        • Jason Farrell

          Backstory and gameplay are two completely different things, as anyone with even a basic understanding of the entire idea of story could tell you. You’ll find that having a point that is based on fluff and nonsense will lead to your point being missed by anyone and everyone who doesn’t share your particular brand of ignorance.

  • Фролов Денис

    To be honest, I felt that Witcher 3 have fallen in the same trap. There was no point in its open world, and it was filled with boring repetitive monster dens and godfuckingdamned smuggler caches. Yes, Witcher 3 put out big amount of high quality quests to still remain good, but I always felt it was in spite of open world “bigger than Skyrim”. It would have lost absolutely nothing by going without it.

  • fireaura08

    Happy belated birthday!

  • Shui Gor

    Happy belated birthday, Jim Fucking Sterling, Son.

  • First off, happy belated birthday Mr. Sterlingsson =)

    I really wish more developers would try to do something like Dragon Age: Origins did, lots of big areas, not open world but I don’t think it’s quite a hub either. The segmentation and the more controlled space let them create a world that felt dense and bigger than it really was.

  • Talib Zeine

    I feel guilty because Jim has to make everything so convenient for us “child races”. Even as much as going back in time, and ensuring that the holy mother parturated on the eve of the new years. All so that we wouldn’t have to concern our feeble minds with learning to remember another birthdate. TGFJ.

  • Santo Guevarra

    FYI, Jim, “Guillemot” should be pronounced (in english) “gui-lem-oh”, with a hard G, as in “guile”.

  • Justin Graham

    I had a conversation earlier on this subject, and it was brought up that Xenoblade Chronicles has a very, very good open world. It’s aesthetically diverse and eye-catching, filled with unique and recognizable landmarks and landmasses, interesting to explore (and rewards you for exploring in the form of experience points), and the majority of the quests are tied into the world through the people you get them from and the way that the people are all interconnected. It feels very natural and lived in.

    Xenoblade Chronicles X does many of the same things, but is less successful at it. This mostly stems from the structure of the narrative. The main story missions are all triggered from the same meeting room rather than flow with the exploration of the world. But while the world is too big for its own good and isn’t as populous as I’d have liked, it’s still a fun world to explore and see, with an artistic direction and design that puts most open world games and their bland sameness to shame.

    I’d say that an open world that doesn’t get enough credit for what it does is in Lightning Returns. It’s not one giant landmass, but its four regions are designed with eye-catching variety and interesting geography. Each region has its own quirks (the largest land mass, the Dead Dunes, has way points that let you teleport from one point to another, the Wildlands let you cross its span with a chocobo, etc.), and the quests in each are well thought out with great diversity in their design and objectives. They’re all tied to people that populate the world, and all of the sidequests contribute toward extending the time limit. I’d easily point to Lightning Returns as an example of how to construct open worlds and build narratives around them over most other open world titles.

    • George

      Who this video is really bringing out the XCX fanboy in me! lol

      It’s a game that I think really shows what an open world can and should be. There are problems to be sure, the main quest plot is kind of generic sic-fi stuff and the planet is as you said too sparsely populated and the humour and dialog is cringe worthy.

      But the ability to explore a world in it’s originality interesting aesthetic design and specific animal behaviour was quite striking.

      • Uzuki

        Man those Saltats always freak me out. Doing that little dance, being posted around strange areas so they make cryptic ritual circles and shit, their stomach literally pops out of their body and you can see their insides. It’s freaking gross and awesome at the same time.

        • George

          LOL They are awesome! Although, I think they’re cute in an odd sort of way. haha

    • CommonSense

      Was that me? Your friend is a brilliant genius mastermind of unparalleled glory. That’s my exact take on XcX main problems, the progression gating being slaved to the mission structure, and equipment being slaved to levels.

      What’s that you found a peice of the super important life core? Sorry guy, you better pretend it doesn’t exist, because you can’t do jack crap until you go back to base and activate butt sniffers in the boondocks quest. And you can’t do that before you do the quest that unlocks it, that one about collecting five prices of driedwhite space dog shit. But you can’t pick shit son, you’re only level 12, shit pickings for level 30’s. Oh you think you’re pretty smart? Sneaking around and finding areas way beyond your level? Oh, and you beat a boss monster 13 levels above you? Here have this sweet armor and weapon. Too look at for the next 30 levels, you can’t equip that till level 30 boy, when it be special anymore. Did you think this was the first xenoblade where agency curiosity skill and intelligence are rewarded? Noope! Now remember that life hold price you found 67 hours ago? Time to pretend you never saw it before.

  • Uzuki

    I wish more open world games where made like Xenoblade Chronicles or it’s sexual X. It’s hand crafted with little booksto and crannies everywhere to explore. Xenoblade was more linear in itake design, but each environment was huge and had plenty of deviants from the path that made breaking from the path worth it. You could find an Ether deposit, a rare item for the collectipedia, an Tyrant enemy or a NPC with an quest.

    I’ll never forget the times I found beautiful unique locations hidden in caves or over waterfalls or the time that I went off into this spider ruin that had eggsacs and webbing everywhere, only to grab a random key item that wouldn’t be important until the end of the game, only to have a giant spider pull it’s self from the pit before you while the eggsacs burst open accumulating into a hectic fight to get out in one piece.

    You won’t find ssomething like that in No Man’s Sky or Watch Dogs.

  • TPhil

    What makes me sad the most about this current open-world fixation is that so many of these studios have incredible talent and assets that could be spent making games good instead of just settling for big. Compare any Assassin’s Creed game to Sands of Time. Fast food vs caviar. SoT had incredible level design and puzzles, characters to give a shit about, a memorable plot (with iconic narration courtesy of the Prince himself), brilliant art design, and time-travel mechanics that were so much more than a silly gimmick. AC on the other hand has massive worlds and lots of…’stuff’. I played Syndicate last year and I honestly can’t remember the majority of it. This happens with every AC game. Playing virtual tourist in sprawling ancient cities has its appeal, but I can’t help but daydream of the alternate reality in which Ubisoft uses their many resources to create a worthy next gen successor to SoT. Without open worlds. Or glitches. Or pointless collectibles. Or microtransactions…

    • Фролов Денис

      Developer studios change, even while retaining their names. Key people come and go, or jsut grow old and change their vision. Ubisoft that released Sand trilogy is not the same Ubisoft that mass-produced Assassin’s Creed. Especially later iterations. AC4 was actually lots of fun.

      • TPhil

        Same team or not, my point was that Ubisoft has some incredible talent under their thumb and it’s a shame they’re often wasted in an effort to pump out massive open world games with a quick turnaround. Even if every team member who worked on SoT were assembled to put out a new AC game every other year the results would still be subpar. It’s just the nature of the beast. When you’re spending all your resources on making a huge open world in a relatively short timespan, the actual content inside said world is bound to be cookie cutter “”””content””””” as opposed to finely tuned level design and mechanics.

        AC games are my guilty pleasure. I buy them at a heavy discount knowing fully well that they will serve as disposable entertainment and soon be forgotten. Even my favorite (AC4) is littered with so much pointless crap I started to get worn down mid-way through. For every awesome ship battle there was an awful tailing/eavesdropping mission. For every cool deep sea treasure dive there were dozens more copy-pasted throughout the massive map. Even the best AC game boils down to mind numbing repetitive tasks, which is something a linear game like SoT would never be weighed down by.

  • Captiosus

    This video explains perfectly why I find myself worried about two early 2017 games: Horizon Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda. Both of these could very easily fall into the open world, big sandbox-low content trap. I am given even more pause with the latter based on the way Bioware used such open world fluff and a timed resource mini game to pad playtime with Dragon Age Inquisition. I sincerely hope I’m wrong but in both cases all of the available gameplay videos do little to assuage my pessimism.

    I enjoyed the discussion about fast travel as it mirrors a discussion I had with one of my oldest gaming friends recently. I feel like open world games don’t really strike a good balance with fast travel mechanics these days. Games like Skyrim basically allow you to fast travel to anywhere and everywhere once you discover them, which ends up making travel trivial very early on in the game (and also has a side effect of devaluing horses and the carriage taxi mechanic). The same can be said about Watch_Dogs 2 except in W_D2 the player doesn’t even have to discover the restaurants and clothing shops – they’re automatically on the map and easily fast traveled to. But then you have a game like Final Fantasy 15 which locks down fast travel too long early on, making the game a bit of a slog to play as you’re forced to sit there and wait for the auto-piloting car to get you places and open new parking spots. I enjoyed early FF15 in the early chapters once I decided to fully ditch the car and go classic FF: Chocobo running everywhere!

    • Фролов Денис

      Hey, if you played Inquisition – you already know what Andromeda will be about. Same, but in space.

      • Captiosus

        I agree with the concept of giving the player the choice but I still don’t like a lot of the way it’s implemented. Take Skyrim for example: If fast travel had been restricted to just each of the individual holds (and specific story-related places), it would have still been easy to travel to a new region to save time but still need to engage with the environment to get to your final destination. Instead, by making every single location a fast travel node, it essentially killed the entire concept of horses and removed a LOT of the potential dangers from the world.

        W_D2 is guilty of the same thing, really; Simply allowing fast travel to each of the three hackerspaces would have been enough. They were largely centrally located in their respective areas: SF, Marin, and Oakland. There really was no reason to give each restaurant and clothing shop their own fast travel access.

        • Justin Graham

          But FFXV doesn’t really lock fast travel down in a negative way. You’re only able to fast travel to locations you’ve been to before, which is how fast travel should ideally operate.

        • Marcus Cohen

          Fast travel in Skyrim was ridiculous. I liked it at first, but after a while everything I’d done and seen just blurred together and lost any reason or meaning. I didn’t care where I was in the world because there was effectively no difference.
          What really helped roleplaying around a similar problem, I think, was the often overlooked hardcore mode in New Vegas. Yes, you could fast travel to the other end of the wasteland in a second, no biggie, but you still had to eat, drink and sleep somewhere, so you constantly had to be aware of time and location. It felt like an actual journey as a result. Even if you skipped it, you still needed to prepare for it and be aware of time and location. As a result, that world felt much bigger than it actually was.

    • Rachel McVeigh

      I’m not as concerned about MEA because ME1 had planet exploring. This move is more Mass Effect adding back in a feature from the original game. I expect MEA’s planets to be just be a fancier more developed version of the same feature in ME1. This will make the new galaxy feel big.

      • Captiosus

        Just to play devil’s advocate, couldn’t one argue that the Mako system is a good example of what Jim is discussing? We’d spend 15-30 minutes (or more, depending on terrain) driving around these planets and all there was to find was one or two mineral nodes, one or two tech nodes and, if we were really lucky, one prefab building full of the identical space pirates or Batarians (or monkeys to harass so we could hear Liara complain and Wrex laugh).

        I really enjoyed the element of Mako exploration at the time but playing through the ME1 again today really shows just how empty and pointless most of these planets were. Back then, massive open world games hadn’t become a major selling point and only a handful of studios were making them so games like ME1 felt unique. Now, there’s little uniqueness about it as AAA studios keep playing the oneupmanship game about whose open world is the biggest.

        • drownedsummer

          The first Mass Effect managed to a certain extent to make it feel like there was a galaxy out there that you could explore. However at the same time a lot of the planets were horribly designed and the Mako was not the most fun vehicle to use. With minor tasks which had very little reward, which ironically later on there actually was in ME3. Which I never discovered as I gave up on completing the collection quests after my first run through the game.

          I still love the first game and will still sit through the planet exploration they’re also a massive slog to get through.

          • Captiosus

            Correct, it did make it feel like there was a galaxy to explore. Hell, back when it came out I had three different classes of Shepards that I got to level 60, two of which I carried over to ME2 and ME3 on X360. I’ve since played the entire trilogy again on both PC and PS4 after the boxed trilogy was released.

            When Bioware gave us the Mako back in November of 2007 it was unique in its design and scope. Back then there wasn’t a glut of open world games boasting how large their open worlds were, cluttered with similar explore-and-gather mechanics. Today, these kind of mechanics practically dominate the AAA gaming space; As Jim pointed out, Ubisoft practically makes every single game this way now.

          • Brendan Christopher Marks

            To play devils advocate to the previous devils advocate, Jim also mentioned content without context. It made contextual and thematic sense to be exploring these near barren planets. It all fitted with the series theme of exploration into the unknown or recently discovered, compare to almost any Ubisoft game of the same and you’ll have no reason to be exploring to that extent as its never backed up by story, context or theme. look no further than the witcher 3 to see open world/sandbox content done right.

        • CaitSeith

          But really, you are underselling the enemy variety. There was a planet with rachni infestation, a couple with husks, several with geth outposts, and more planets with Thresher Maws than needed (and there were no Batarians in ME1 outside the DLC mission). There were also a couple with plot where could avoid the fight at the end with charm or intimidate. I also found funny the mission where the Alliance sends Renegade Shepard to negotiate with a egomaniac pirate lord wanting to be king, fully knowing how it was going to end for the later (although you can agree with all his demands and gloat while the Admiral confess his secret intentions to Shepard… Wild Card!).

          • drownedsummer

            And if I remember correctly only one planet with Pyjaks and also a really great source for getting the weapon achievements.

          • CaitSeith

            And two planets with space cows (one with a shifty one that stole your credits if you gave it Shepard’s back).

          • Captiosus

            “Enemy variety” is the same kind of thing that Jim is ranting about regarding “content”. Most of those enemies were functionally identical and acted in identical ways. Killing random husks was no different than killing random space pirates. The Rachni Infestations were only there because they were a side quest that you could end up doing before you actually had the quest itself.

            At the end of the day, nothing you wrote disputes the reality that the vast majority of the planets and moons in ME1 were barren, large terrains with very little to actually do or discover. The exact thing Jim is talking about.

          • CaitSeith

            “Killing random husks was no different than killing random space pirates”

            You can fight space pirates by getting into cover and shooting. Staying stationary when fighting husks is suicide (specially in hardcore). Like, WTF are you talking about?

          • drownedsummer

            Two heatsinks and a decent gun most things go down as quick as Vorcha Prostitute even on hardcore and insanity.

          • MJC

            What you said: “Killing random husks was no different than killing random space pirates.”

            How I interpreted that: “I have never played Mass Effect before and am just talking bollocks.”

            If you try fighting husks and space pirates the same way, you’re going to have a bad time, which you’d know if you’d played the game.

      • drownedsummer

        Just with the hope they are more fun to explore than a lot of the planets in ME1

  • Jasper Theo

    Just wondering why this is put under “Various Toss”.

    • drownedsummer

      Chip that would be why.

  • Junah

    Happy birthday!

  • HelixShade

    Honestly the only Sandbox I actually enjoyed in the history of ever was Crackdown for the Xbox 360. With most Sandboxes, I don’t even have a massive incentive to go and do the side quests, hunt collectables or anything. With Crackdown however, exploring the city was the goal for two reasons:

    1) You were looking for the gang leaders to take down. Their locations and territories were not shown to you, so you had to explore the city to look for them, then figure out a way to break into their installations and take them down.

    2) You were also looking for the Collectables – specifically, the Green Orbs. By collecting these, you were allowed to run faster and jump higher. In other words, they had a gameplay benefit to doing so.

    Fortunately, the game actually made the exploring fun. You can’t move around much to begin with, but after a while soon enough you’ll be jumping around the city like a gun wielding Hulk in a Police Uniform.

    In short, by making the navigation and exploring satisfying, a Sandbox was made I could enjoy for once.

    • CaitSeith

      “You were also looking for the Collectables – specifically, the Green Orbs. By collecting these, you were allowed to run faster and jump higher. In other words, they had a gameplay benefit to doing so.”

      So, were you looking Collectables because looking for them was fun? Or just for the benefits? Because when a game puts you on a repetitive unenjoyable task to unlock the enjoyable part, it’s called padding.

      • HelixShade

        Both actually. It was pretty gratifying to jump around and look for them.

      • Weasel Biggs

        Some people can enjoy padding as though it were part of the gameplay, others are just irritated by its presence.

        I’m in Team B, personally. Watch Dogs 2 seems to mark a reassuring change of pace, but the old Ubisoft formula of packing thirty-six different varieties of collectibles across the map was draining.

    • MJC

      Sunset Overdrive did a really good job with this too. Suddenly an open world is fun again when you have a fresh new way to get through instead of just “get in a car and drive for 5 minutes”.

      Holy fucking shit I am so sick of driving cars for 5 minutes just to get to a mission start in an open world game.

      • drownedsummer

        Saint’s Row 4 has lots of licensed music but unless you actually think to turn it on so it isn’t just played diagetically you may never hear most of it as the game almost immediatly offers a far more fun alternative. Unless I was forced to I barely ever used a car in SR4

    • Weasel Biggs

      To each their own, but I thoroughly loathed Crackdown.

      I get that independent exploration can be rewarded, but I quickly stopped looking for Exploration Orbs. The game’s overall lack of direction really bothered me, with Generic Superhero City having no sense of place or culture.

      I mean, yeah – I could jump across skyscrapers like Spider-Man and the Hulk’s lovechild, but there was no structure to any of it – nothing except the occasional interference of the gang leads.

      Heck, I only really remember Crackdown because my immature self is amused by the fact that one of the antagonists is referred to as “the elusive Wang”.

      Instead of the expected aging Triad head, I kept hoping I’d end up going against hopping, sentient phallus.

  • CommonSense

    I think its pretty important to distinguish open world from sandbox, especially with the over saturation of cheap easy to crank put sandbox games… People have began a really nasty habit of saying open world=sandbox.

    Similar to how all squares are rectangles but not all ectanglea are squares, there is some important distinctions to be !Ade with the nuance. All sandbox designs are open world games, but not all open world games are sandbox designs. Odds are, if you point out an open world that ‘does it right’ or have a strange compulsion to ‘defend’ certain non linear games as not open world because you are under the halo effect of open world=sandbox design=bad… Odds are these games are open world games, they just aren’t using the sandbox design.

    Metroid is open world.. With the exception of corruption and hunters… And I guess ff now.
    Final fantasy was open world the day it hit the new
    Zelda is open world.
    Most IGA castlevanias are open world. Order of ecclesia is not.

    If your game doesn’t have levels, and is meant to simulate a persistent world, like say, it has an ovwrworld to travel as opposed to clearing levels, you have a game that is open world. Using the six point sliding scale of linearity vs openess, open world designs generally start on 3, open world Sandbox’s, are on the far right at a six. Metroid likes/metroidvanias have a nice spot around 4, where they enjoy the best aspects of both linear and open world games (when done right).

    Open world sandboxes started in the early days iof 3d in the 90’s, when you had talented ambitious Independent studios (GASP that’s right indies existed back then, but unlike now, where they exist solely as something to shove down the thoat of people who say they aren’t happy with the state of the industry, so you dont have to address what they actually said, they made more than than the videogame equivilent of chicken nuggets. Perhaps you have heard of these franchises made by independent developers? Battlefield? Elder Scrolls? Doom? Now look at thenindie output used today to silence people who aren’t happy with the state of the industry. Yes, if you have done this to somebody, you are stupid and should feel stupid. They are better than you and you should grovel for them to share their enlightenment to illuminate the depths of your dark dirty filthy ignorance).

    Right where was I? Ah yes, sandbox games were a clever solution for indie Deva with no money to meet their ambitions with the power they had available to them. While they didn’t have the manpower to make large worlds, they could write an algorythm to make the world for them, and fill it with reused assets, because they didn’t have the manpower to handcraft unique assets.

    So, you see, they didn’t have the manpower/money to craft full length 3d linear games… well, without publisher funding, nor 3dmetroidvanias, or even level 5 open world’s… And they certainly didn’t have the resources to implement the progression design required to make those games work. But with sandboxes you didn’t need any of that. Progression design is as manageable as a simple finite state system keeping track of the simple cookie cutter quests different quests have different flags add up enough flags of a kind to unlock other quests, or events, or progression, hands off, fall through game logic. Easy to implement, tedious to test but, enough ought to work for it to ship all right… right Bethesda?

    So, this little independent studios managed to unleash these big expansive games, and on a budget to boot.

    So why did I explain all this?

    Well, because its obvious now why it is sandbox open worlds being constantly pumped out by AAAAAAAA publisher conglomerates, and not say 3d metroidvania style open worlds which have instead become an endangered species….

    Because OF COURSE the publishers would use sand box designs, they are the cheapest fastest easiest designs they can pump out on a factory line. Fast and easy and chrap enough to pump out on a yearly frequency.

  • Marcus Cohen

    Procedural generation often falls into a similar trap. It promises infinite variation, which is technically true, but somehow the most memorable gaming experiences I’ve ever had took place in hand-crafted levels with real thought and planning behind them. Ironically, they’re often more fun to explore over and over again than, say, a set of corridors that takes a slightly different shape every time. Exploring a tightly designed and unchanging level has actual meaning to it.
    There are excellent open world and procedurally generated games, of course, but I really hope we’ll see more custom-designed levels in the near future.

    • Weasel Biggs

      Procedural generation’s really useful when it’s complemented by carefully crafted permanent elements.

      Consider the Borderlands games. Every time you start a new game, you generate a new seed for the two or three berjillion guns you’ll pick up, with careful exclusionary rules preventing the emergence of monstrosities like Torgue snipers. Everything else is designed by human hands.

      Hack-and-slashers tend to manage proc gen at its best, honestly. Diablo II packs a few distinct rulesets – for the items, for the levels and monster stats and attributes – but the metrics are very carefully handled. You’re never hobbled or overpowered.

      In comparison, Hello Games’ cardinal sin was of resting an entire game’s design philosophy on proc gen. With no solid quest design, you’re left with disparate mechanics. They confused this with total player freedom and more or less rolled with it. Guaranteeing more of the core item recipes (Suspension Fluid, Antimatter) would’ve gone a long way into making less of No Man’s Sky feel like a chore.

      • Marcus Cohen

        You’re absolutely right, procedural games live and die on the implementation of permanent elements. One of my all time favorites is Invisible Inc. In fact, even XCOM 1 and 2. You get to choose from the same pool of hand-crafted weapons, abilities and gadgets, and make use of them them in infinite random situations. Fun times.

        As for procedurally generated items, I’ve never been a fan of them in ARPGs and games like Borderlands. They don’t mean anything. I don’t want to go through a gazillion of commodities like I would in a supermarket. Because even if I don’t pick up these Legendary Reinforced Leather Breeches of Dark Resistance +2, it’s fine, because sooner or later some mob will drop Epic Chainmail Trousers of Minor Concentration, and even the Common Pants of Improved Spellbinding I’m wearing right now are doing their job just fine 🙂
        Compare that to the weapons found in Dark Souls, for example. They have truly legendary qualities because, you know, there are actual written or implied legends and stories behind them.