Open World Games: Is Bigger Really Better?
Is Having the Biggest Open World Map Really a Good Thing?
Since the inception of the open world game, developers have attempted to push the limits of size. With gaming technology advancing the way it is (with things such as procedurally generation), the ability to create huge open worlds is a reality. Of course, a balance must be struck between the size of the game world and the amount of content that’s available to players. After all, what is having the biggest open world map when there’s absolutely nothing to do in it?
But is bigger actually better? Some games have managed to deliver exciting experiences in a relatively tiny package. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, for example. While others with more area then could ever be explored end up suffering a bit because of it. Let’s take a look at some games that succeeded, and others that may have missed a bit.
No Man’s Sky
When is comes to open world games, No Man’s Sky may have the biggest open world map every created. It isn’t just an open world, it’s an open universe. Due to its procedurally generated content, the game can produce a staggering 18 quintillion different planets! Every single one of these planets can be explored. Obviously, that is more than anyone can hope to explore in a lifetime. That is one of the main selling points of the game.
Since the game concentrates on the sheer amount of space available to explore, it does fall a bit flat in the “things to do” department. Critics and gamers recognized the achievements of the game, even if it can be a bit repetitive. However, if you love exploring open worlds, No Man’s Sky may be for you.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
I’m hardly objective when it comes to this game, but it is considered one of the greatest video games ever made. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt boasts a massive open world (anywhere from 29 to 52 square miles depending on who you ask). It can easily take hours upon hours to explore. But, its successes don’t end at the size of its gaming world. The Witcher 3 is completely immersive with enough content and things to do to keep gamers occupied well past the 250+ hour mark.
Random encounters, side missions, monster quests and Gwent (a card game that can be a standalone game) are just some of the things that make the open world of the Witcher suck you in and keep you there. Despite the fact that only 27% of gamers who own the game have finished it (a testament to the amount of content available), The Witcher 3 definitely keeps you coming back for more.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Wildlands is a departure from previous games in the series. Its predecessors were far more linear, while Ghost Recon: Wildlands attempts to tackle the open world for the first time. The result is one of the biggest open world maps out there (400+ square miles). At its best it is breathtaking.
In some ways, Wildlands falls victim to the same issues as No Man’s Sky (but not to the same extent). There is so much area to explore, but not enough engaging content to fill it. That’s not to say the game is boring, it isn’t. The gameplay is actually fun and is everything you’d expect from a Tom Clancy game. The only issue is that the open world is too big for the story’s britches. There’s still plenty to enjoy.
Red Dead Redemption 2
To be honest, we could have taken our pick of just about any Rockstar game and the result would have been the same. Rockstar helped define what open world games are, and so it’s only fitting that they should continue to ship excellent open world games with a staggering amount of detail. Red Dead Redemption 2 is simply the latest in a long pedigree of excellence.
Building upon its predecessor, the open world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is titanic. While comparisons are still being made, it’s possible that it is the biggest open world map Rockstar has created. However, that’s not what people are talking about. The praise of the game revolves around the level of detail and sheer amount of things to do. In some minor ways, the game may be immersive to a fault, but its place among the best open world games ever made is guaranteed.
So, it bigger always better?
While this question is one based more in opinion than fact, one thing is certain. The size of the gaming world should not be the main selling point of the game. It can be a happy side effect, but what gamers are really looking for is immersive gaming worlds with tons of things to do. If the game just so happens to by the biggest open world map every created, then that’s fine too!