Content of the article: "My theory on why I liked a certain open world game while getting bored of some other ones"
I know this has been discussed a lot but this topic has been on my mind recently and I've been formulating my thoughts around this.
I recently played two open world games – Ghost of Tsushima and Maneater. Now both of them are very different games. Plus Maneater shouldn't really be held up to the same standards (and is a pretty fun albeit mindless game). But I realized that I got a very similar feeling of boredom after having played them for a bit. After more thought though I think it's because both games share the same pitfalls. Meanwhile I really enjoyed Breath of the Wild in great part because it avoids the issues that I'm gonna list below:
Repetitive side quests In both GoT and Maneater, once you've done a certain type of side quest, you've done them all. I've been clearing the Mongol camps in GoT and its dreary doing the same dance 20/30/40 times. It becomes a bit more fun when I get a new ability etc. but then it becomes mundane quickly. Maneater made the issue even more stark – go here and kill 10 fish, go there and kill that predator, rinse repeat. All of this gets boring for me after only a couple of times. But BotW managed to keep things fresh with side quests. Sure, not all of them were amazing. But I really liked the idea that many side quests were unique. I couldn't tell what to expect before I started. Many of them told stories I still remember. I think my next point is very closely tied to this.
Killing as the dominant/only gameplay mechanic Again, both GoT and Maneater suffer from this, with Maneater making the issue much more obvious. IMO many games would be better off if the only option to solve any problem wasn't just – "kill X". Unless it's a souls like game, killing gets boring for me after a while. If I'm killing a 1000 enemies, and that's most of the gameplay, I'm eventually getting bored. It also makes side quests much more predictable. I know that in 95% of cases, if I start a side quest in GoT, it'll involve killing some people and that's about it. Sure, the story beats around it would be different, but the core gameplay would be the same. Meanwhile if a game has other systems that are fully fleshed out (like puzzles, physics, speech etc.) and allows you to come up with your own solutions to the problem at hand, it keeps me engaged much longer.
Insufficient sense of organic adventure Finally, I noticed that as I was playing GoT (didn't expect this from Maneater) I would come across special looking spots, e.g. someplace with statues and flowers and think there might be something interesting there. But there wouldn't be anything. The game world feels rigid. There's defined spots where adventure happens, and the rest is just filler. Meanwhile BotW succeeds in creating the illusion of a more organic world. You never know when you'd run across something that will turn into a side quest or a collectible. It helps you stay in the moment and pay more attention to the world around you. Sure, in GoT you'll randomly spot a bird or fox and could follow them. But then you run into the same issue as point 1. If it's the same gameplay loop, I'm done after 10 times.
I understand that making games is hard work and an amazing amount of effort would've gone into making any of the games I talked about. At the same time I think BotW devs went above and beyond to handcraft unique puzzles, side quests, and collectibles, and to implement a deep and dynamic physics system. I wish more game devs made such efforts but I know its not always possible.
- It’s weird, the side quests in this game are… fun
- is repetative
- My love of games has been rekindled by skipping the side quests and ditching the guides
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