Why in the world is it always open-world?

Anyone relatively new to gaming may be surprised to learn that open world games were not always the norm. In the early days of video gaming, you were given clear directions on where to go and how to progress the story. Levels were designed in a way that allowed very little deviation from the order the developers intended. Then came the first waves of Open-World video games.

For the first time, players could giggle manically and leave your objectives and responsibilities in the rearview mirror and take off to do their own thing. After all, who are game developers to try and tell gamers the best way to enjoy their world. Now every other game out there is Open-World. You can find racing games which are Open-World and even puzzle games. The fact is that the whole Open-World gimmick has become far too popular.

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Yes, it is perfectly acceptable today for gamers to expect a huge and fleshed out environment in which to roam and frolic. This doesn’t mean however that every game needs to have a huge world with branching storylines and alternate endings based on how many golden chickens you managed to pet throughout your play through. Whatever happened to a game just telling you what to do? It’s become far too popular for games to have no particular order for mission completion. It was a brilliant innovation when it was first developed, and certainly, it fits certain genres very well, but there is absolutely no need for the saturation of Open-World games we have been seeing in recent years.

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Some of the best games of the last decade have been completely open for the player. This does not mean it is a wondrous, mythical gimmick that will magically add an extra 4 points to your puzzle platformers overall rating. After a point, it just seems ridiculous and unnecessary. Of course, the Open-world tag will undoubtedly attract swarms of young gamers to your game, but only because they have the time to spare. As a gamer gets older, he/she is likely to pick up more responsibilities than they do gamer points. Whilst we were once able to spend days on end exploring every nook and cranny of a virtual world there comes a time when we must hang up our adventuring boots.

This is not to say that there are not games which should be open-world. No matter what responsibilities you have in your life you should still be able to spend at least 24 hours faffing about in every new Elder Scrolls game. However, the desire and ability to play through a huge open world environment every time you want to play a game fade with age. At a certain point, it becomes too much effort. It should be a perfectly reasonable request to sit down and play a racing game and not be presented with 5560 square miles of land to explore (looking at you Fuel.) 

Do you believe that gaming needs to return to its roots? Or would you happily play anything Open-World? leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Written by: John Beattie

Journalist and gamer from Ireland. Once lost 3 months of my life playing Dark Souls and haven't really been the same since.

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