My recent adventures in gaming have left me wondering why some games that are open worlds fail to hold my interest, while linear games with a single story and perhaps a few subplots work for me better. This is a ramble more than a rant, and before I start, I want to make clear, I’m not saying, “This is why games like this suck.” I’m listing why they don’t work for me.
The biggest problem with open worlds is the lack of a guiding narrative. When playing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West or Uncharted: Golden Abyss, there’s never any doubt about what your goals are, and what you need to do to win the game. But a lot of open world games like Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption give you a basic intro before you’re pitched into the world and told to make your own way through the games. The story will emerge if you play long enough, or if it doesn’t, you’ll end up forming your own story from the fragments of the world that you choose to engage
Now I’ve seen a lot of people talk up these games about having “unlimited” choices, but the problem is, there’s not a real choice offered, only the illusion of choice. Using Red Dead Redemption as an example, when you approach strangers to talk, they give you jobs. You have no options in the cut-scene dialogue, and you don’t have a choice about accepting the task. Once you have a task given, it will sit on your map forever, no matter how unrealistic that may be.
An old man I was supposed to rescue lay “dying” with a gut wound. After waiting a week in game for his map icon to go away, I finally tried the mission twice and had the old man die on the way to town both times. Not from his original wound, but from the robbers who were still hanging around A WEEK AFTER THEY SHOT HIM. This is so, so fucking stupid, but game makers just love to come up with bullshit challenges like this. Other players probably think the mission is loads of fun, but I don’t have enough fucking fingers to drive a horse team, maintain their course, and also have a gun fight.
And honestly, no one in real life was able to drive a coach and shoot bandits at the same time. That’s why they had someone riding shotgun, for fuck’s sake. It’s where the fucking term “riding shotgun” originated, and in a game about the Old West, you’d fucking expect them to…I said this was a ramble rather than a rant, didn’t I? Right, I did…deep breaths. I digress, the game is asking me to be Superman as a starting mission. My answer is a sincere “fuck that.” (more…)