-The term "open world" here should not be mistaken for "Sandbox." I hope to foster discussion about open world games like Skyrim, the Far Cry series, etc which while very open still rely on narrative to drive the game.
-Just want to start a discussion, get the opinions of others on the matter. Don't mean to troll.
I emerged from a sewer beneath a gleaming white city to shining sun, green grass and still blue water. My Emperor was dead. He claimed he'd seen me in a dream, that I was destined to save the Empire. Demanded my release from the Imperial Prison. His Blades were reluctant, at first, but they did as their Emperor decreed. Like that I was free.
And doubly so. A new world opened before me. Seemingly boundless, and full of opportunity. I could go anywhere, do anything. Become anyone I wanted.
The year was 2009 and I had only just discovered PC gaming, and with it, Oblivion and the modding scene. I had never experienced open world games prior to this. Ditto with mods. Together the two captured my attention, and I lost some 500+ hours to Oblivion, Fallout 3 and FONV. Not. Counting. Modding hours. I was awed by the scope of these games, the number of activities available to me.
Fast forward to 2012. Bored to tears with Skyrim. Granted that's after 150 total hours. But the last 50 of that were a slog to finish a Main Quest that was as hollow as it was forgettable, in the end. Made myself do it, hoping it would get better. It did not.
For the last 3 years I have roamed numerous open worlds. The Fallouts; TES; Far Cry 2 and now 3. Even EVE Online (the best and worst of the bunch, depending.) And in the end the conclusion I more and more begin to reach is this:
Open world games are a failed experiment.
Simply put, there isn't anything compelling about an open world game. Maybe I just lack imagination, or the right sort of it. Maybe I demand too much of my games. But where once I could not wait to turn over that next stone, find that next treasure chest or hidden idol or fetch that better weapon or armor set, now...now, I am bored. I am tired. I have come to realize that whether its a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a tropical island or a fantastical Scandinavia, it doesn't matter. Fetching...fetching never changes.
And in the end, after half a decade or more of open world games, this is what we have to look forward to, judging by the last 5 years or so: Endless skinning of animals for ever larger containers, better leather armors and healing potion. Errand running like some Fed-Ex delivery man with a weapon, crisscrossing the same terrain a thousand times to run Macguffins to and fro like some hapless, lost little kid desperate to supplement his allowance so he can purchase a game with more compelling content.
Maybe I just lack the proper perspective. Perhaps its me. But I do find the vast majority of open world games utterly soulless. Dull and predictable marathons of errand running that are more a metaphor for working at UPS than for power and "coming of age" tales so popular in fantasy literature.
So tell me, RPS community, how do you feel about open world games. Their future. Their past. Do you have any hope they will find some way to offer more compelling content, more emotionally evocative moments or meaningful tasks? Or like me, do you look back on the last few years, and realize that that hopeful feeling you had upon emerging from the dark linearity of walled-in tunnels is lost forever, blotted out by the realization of the tedium that is open world gaming?