#1 Edited by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

Are there any modern rpgs that still use big open world maps? The only rpgs I can remember from the last few years that use them are the Penny Arcade rpgs and Lost Odyssey. What happened to all of the huge worlds and little character models, the airships, and the boats?

Edit: I thought that I would try pulling up some of the points other users made in the comments so that it is a little easier to follow the discussion:

@geraltitude said:

I guess this is obvious but the problem with overworlds is they tend to clash with realistic visuals. One solution could be to change the downscaling ratio. So, if in most RPGs we could say the overworld represented cities and towns at 1/100th the size (for example) maybe 1/50th the size would look better for realistic RPGs.

Ultimately you want to the overworld representation of any given place to be emblematic of it but when it looks too small it starts to look silly. Imagine a knight as tall as Minas Tirith standing next to it. Kind of lame looking. FFVIII actually does have some "larger" representations if memory serves me right: Esthar is pretty big, isn't it? Looking at screenshots of Ni No Kuni, it looks like it has more middle sized representations of places too.

Another solution would be to really lean on vehicle travel for exploration. You can imagine a world that is "to scale" so that running around on foot takes ages, but maybe you have a super fast vehicle that flies around. This way big open spaces aren't just grind-a-thons or boring nothingness.

@kiddynamo04 said:

The biggest problem with the loss of an over world is the fact that it has eliminated iconography in gaming.

Icons are images that are used to represent information, and thusly can communicate more quickly than words or pictures. In Final Fantasy 1, one man represented your entire party. A clump of trees represented a forest. A few tiles of sand represented a building represented an entire town. Thusly, for the story to say "the Light Warriors walked through a dangerous forest and into a peaceful town" took all of 2 seconds to communicate.

The overly literal state of gaming these days means that it takes a million years to communicate simple, uninteresting information, or else it has to be communicated through cinema instead of gameplay.

Suggesting that games have "evolved past" the need for an overworld or icon-based gameplay is like saying films, with long-take cinematography, have "evolved past" the need for film cuts.

It's a way of communicating information that should be used and not forgotten.

@darji said:
@brodehouse said:

Either render everything in the world at proper size or create little levels that connect everything together Final Fantasy X style.

Actually, Wasteland 2 basically has an overworld map that you travel across and get into random encounters. Though you're a tin star and not a sprite.

Totally agree. A world map destroys immersion of the world. And I really hope FFXV also has no world map bu rather a HUG Eopen world environment including airships etc.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (35825 posts) -

@thatpinguino:

Do those even count? Aren't they better examples of a Linear Overworld? Anyway, I'm guessing they went out the door when open world games took the fun of exploration and combined it with a consistently sized world. I can't imagine the association with JRPGs helps too much, given the reception they enjoy in the West.

#3 Posted by Superkenon (1353 posts) -

They've been phased out as though they're an outdated mechanic, which is... fair enough, I guess. As much as I love 'em, I can't make a good argument for why they should exist, other than how great it is to become intimately familiar with a game world, down to all of its continents and archipelagos.

But maybe that's a good enough reason??

#4 Edited by alanm26v5 (434 posts) -

I remember being super bummed when Final Fantasy X didn't have an overworld, but that was more out expectation from the series than it actually needing one.

#5 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@superkenon: I totally think that half the fun of those early rpgs was exploring the world map and finding all of the secrets hidden throughout. I mean I wouldn't have had half as much fun playing FFVIII without finding things like Cactuar Island and the Deep Sea Research Facility on my own. World maps really gave a sense of exploration without having to resort to the dungeon-by-numbers stuff that Fallout and Elder Scrolls use.

@video_game_king: I would definitely agree for the third Penny Arcade game, and Lost Odyssey only has a little bit of over-world stuff.

#6 Posted by Superkenon (1353 posts) -

@thatpinguino: I'm definitely with you on that. Some titles manage to avoid the issues of linearity even without the world map, but yeah, by and large, their omission has just meant RPG's becoming a lot more about the critical path, with not as much waiting to the side.

Not that the World Map is an absolute necessity for games to achieve that sense of exploration we want... but they're a great means to an end.

#7 Posted by Xeiphyer (5593 posts) -

What about Ni No Kuni?!

#8 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@xeiphyer: I haven't played Ni No Kuni, but from what I saw of it, the world map was a random encounter-fest. Is there side stuff and exploration to do there or is it a bigger corridor full of monsters?

#9 Posted by Yummylee (21204 posts) -

The removal of the world map in the Tales series is coincidently enough where they begun to decline. Just saiyan!

Although both Graces and Xillia (Haven't played Dawn of a New World, but I hear that's kinda crummy as well) have many, many such issues unrelated to their lack of a world map as to why they're mostly mediocre... But the removal of a beautifuly detailed world ala Vesperia certainly didn't help!

#10 Edited by SavePoint (100 posts) -

@thatpinguino: There are no random encounters in Ni No Kuni. All of the enemies are visible and will charge at or run away from you. The world map is an actual world map, no corridors - it is big and open and there are items spread out around to find. Ni No Kuni has a ton of side quests and exploration. Highly recommend it!


#11 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@savepoint: Then maybe the person I saw playing was just doing really poor job of avoiding battles. Isn't that game 40-60 hours long?

#12 Posted by SomberOwl (629 posts) -

Ni No Kuni and that upcoming Richard Garriott game Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues.

#13 Edited by wjb (1621 posts) -

Great. Now I have that Paula Cole song stuck in my head. Thanks.

Also, despite Ni No Kuni being hot garbage (troll), it's overworld looked really nice.

@thatpinguino: It took me almost 45 hours to finish, but I did practically everything save for a few side quests involving me hunting down and catching specific enemies. I'm sure you can finish the game in less time; it's fairly reasonable for a JRPG.

#14 Posted by fisk0 (3766 posts) -

Didn't Dragon Age: Origins have a World map, albeit a limited one in the style of Baldur's Gate where you just saw a map with clickable locations on it?

#15 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@fisk0: Yes, but when I think of world maps I mostly think of the big world- small character variety a-la Chrono Trigger or FFVII. There are plenty of games nowadays that use a literal map as a sort of level select menu.

#16 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5134 posts) -

I think Ni No Kumi fits your criteria.

#17 Posted by Scrawnto (2433 posts) -

@thatpinguino:

It sounds like Wasteland 2 is going to have a world map sort of like that. Fallout and Fallout 2 had maps that were like abstracted versions of those, but Wasteland 2's seems to split the difference. Who knows whether that game will be good, though.

@yummylee:

I was going to mention the Tales series, but the last of those I plays happens to be Vesperia. I'm bummed to hear they took that out!

#18 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2859 posts) -

I was thinking about this the other day while fantasizing about an FF1 remake that looked like Amano's drawings. Would they have an overworld? Or would everything be to scale?

I guess this is obvious but the problem with overworlds is they tend to clash with realistic visuals. One solution could be to change the downscaling ratio. So, if in most RPGs we could say the overworld represented cities and towns at 1/100th the size (for example) maybe 1/50th the size would look better for realistic RPGs.

Ultimately you want to the overworld representation of any given place to be emblematic of it but when it looks too small it starts to look silly. Imagine a knight as tall as Minas Tirith standing next to it. Kind of lame looking. FFVIII actually does have some "larger" representations if memory serves me right: Esthar is pretty big, isn't it? Looking at screenshots of Ni No Kuni, it looks like it has more middle sized representations of places too.

Another solution would be to really lean on vehicle travel for exploration. You can imagine a world that is "to scale" so that running around on foot takes ages, but maybe you have a super fast vehicle that flies around. This way big open spaces aren't just grind-a-thons or boring nothingness.

#19 Edited by believer258 (11563 posts) -

Shin Megami Tensei IV has one, though that's a handheld game.

They might seem unnecessary at this point, but there is something awesome about looking down at all the world's geography from on high. A map like Skyrim's seems like a good compromise between wanting this and complaining about all of the problems with characters becoming as big as the buildings and mountains they're walking into.

Online
#20 Posted by KidDynamo04 (28 posts) -

The biggest problem with the loss of an over world is the fact that it has eliminated iconography in gaming.

Icons are images that are used to represent information, and thusly can communicate more quickly than words or pictures. In Final Fantasy 1, one man represented your entire party. A clump of trees represented a forest. A few tiles of sand represented a building represented an entire town. Thusly, for the story to say "the Light Warriors walked through a dangerous forest and into a peaceful town" took all of 2 seconds to communicate.

The overly literal state of gaming these days means that it takes a million years to communicate simple, uninteresting information, or else it has to be communicated through cinema instead of gameplay.

Suggesting that games have "evolved past" the need for an overworld or icon-based gameplay is like saying films, with long-take cinematography, have "evolved past" the need for film cuts.

It's a way of communicating information that should be used and not forgotten.

#21 Posted by ShaggE (6292 posts) -

They're over by the cowboys.

#22 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

The last one I can think of is Mass Effect 3? Maybe 2? 3 definitely let you fly the Normandy around as long as you weren't traveling between systems, though there was a gameplay reason for it.

But this is stretching it. Does "overworld" count when you're in space?

#23 Posted by KidDynamo04 (28 posts) -

The last one I can think of is Mass Effect 3? Maybe 2? 3 definitely let you fly the Normandy around as long as you weren't traveling between systems, though there was a gameplay reason for it.

But this is stretching it. Does "overworld" count when you're in space?

I should say so. I think an overworld is anytime you are controlling your character in the world, as opposed to your character in an environment.

For example, in Super Mario 3, you control Mario in the Mushroom Kingdom, and then you control him in a particular level. Therefore the Mushroom Kingdom parts are the overworld. In Mass Effect you control the Normandy flying between planets, and then you control shepherd ON actual planets. Therefore space would be the overworld.

#24 Posted by Veektarius (4540 posts) -

Hey, you know what game you all aren't mentioning? King's Bounty.

#25 Posted by Hunter5024 (5508 posts) -

Dude yeah, I don't know what happened to them but I love them, and I wish they'd make a comeback. I guess it's just easier to make a menu =/

#26 Posted by egg (1450 posts) -

overworlds = randomly triggered encounters

overworlds can stay in hell where they belong

#27 Posted by Sidoran (67 posts) -

Does Bravely Default have this? I'm looking forward to that game and yet I know little about it lol

#29 Posted by MikkaQ (10263 posts) -

The Tales games have them.

#30 Edited by HerbieBug (4194 posts) -

You can trace the decline of my interest in jrpgs with the decline of world map inclusion therein.

#31 Edited by GoliathAssassin84 (10 posts) -

What about Final Fantasy 12? In that game, it seemed as if everything was built to scale, and yet your party ran through "segments" of the game world at a time, similar to FFX or FFXIII. The difference with 12 was that those "world segments" actually looped back around and intermingled with each other, so as not to look like the trunk of a tree with only a few branches. The World Map was never available in-game, but you can pull one down from the menu like in Elder Scrolls. Yet there never was any sort of "boating or flying" over the world map like in previous titles. I mean, you had aerodromes, but they were basically like portals between cities. You could never steer the airships. Chocobos were offered for land exploration, but even their paths were very limited.

I'm confused on this... What do we call FF12? Is it a hybrid? Can we say that there are so many "segments" that they constitute a whole overworld when linked together? Or do we say that there is no overworld to be found in FF12, besides that which is hinted at in the menu map? Is FF12 just one big staged game with so many stages that it appears to be an open, free-roaming game? There's a lot of exploration, to be sure, and plenty of plot lulls to facilitate free-roam. But you can't necessarily hop a boat from Balfoneim to Mt. Bur-Omisace or any other waterside city like NPCs suggest people do.

Maybe FF12 does not have an overworld... but they've certainly built enough by-ways to travel that I don't seem to miss it. Maybe FF12 represents the current pinnacle of cross-game dungeon maps to which others like FFX and FFXIII don't even come close.

#32 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@kiddynamo04: That is a really good point, and I think that eliminating the overworld iconography either greatly stretched the amount of time required to explore and "learn" a world (Elder Scrolls/ Fallout) or eliminated that sense of geographic cohesion (the first 20 hours of FFXIII).

@geraltitude: Esthar was larger than every other town in the world, but there was a certain charm to towering over the other towns.

@goliathassassin84: I would say that it doesn't have a world map, but they XII does have things to find of the beaten path like dungeons and hidden items. Unlike X and XIII, whose maps feel like branching paths where one branch is a dead end with a treasure chest and the other branch is the correct path, XII has actual fully separate areas that are connected to the main path.

#33 Posted by SteadyingMeat (1103 posts) -

Wait, Lost Odyssey had an overworld? I remember just selecting areas from a list.

#34 Posted by Butano (1728 posts) -

Krater comes to mind of some of the more recent games.

#35 Edited by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@steadyingmeat: Towards the end you get access to a ship and maybe an airship and when you are in a vehicle there is a world map.

#36 Posted by Slag (3912 posts) -

Man do I miss these. Dragon Quest Viii might have the last great one and maybe greatest one I can think of.

#37 Posted by Superkenon (1353 posts) -

@sidoran: Yeah, Bravely Default seems to have a world map. I can't wait to play it.

#38 Edited by Sinusoidal (1262 posts) -

I also miss the world map and the sense of exploration it evoked.

I'm making a game right now that's nothing but a huge world map, that's how much I loved the world map.

#39 Posted by Brodehouse (9519 posts) -

Either render everything in the world at proper size or create little levels that connect everything together Final Fantasy X style.

Actually, Wasteland 2 basically has an overworld map that you travel across and get into random encounters. Though you're a tin star and not a sprite.

#40 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

Either render everything in the world at proper size or create little levels that connect everything together Final Fantasy X style.

Actually, Wasteland 2 basically has an overworld map that you travel across and get into random encounters. Though you're a tin star and not a sprite.

Totally agree. A world map destroys immersion of the world. And I really hope FFXV also has no world map bu rather a HUG Eopen world environment including airships etc.

#41 Posted by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@darji: I have never found a world map to destroy a game's immersion for me. I like having an oversized map with a tiny character because it allows for a sense of the whole world without making traversal take hours.

#42 Posted by kerse (2100 posts) -

I miss them, Ni No Kuni had a pretty great one.

#43 Posted by freakin9 (1084 posts) -

You got graph paper, use em.

#44 Posted by ervonymous (1297 posts) -

The later Etrian Odyssey games have overworlds but they work very much like regular dungeons.

They're great when done right and a waste of time when half-assed, Tales of Vesperia comes to mind as a recent disappointment. It added nothing to the experience, had barely any secrets and the token airship was just that. Immersion my ass, I liked hunting for Chocograph locations and throwing gems at friendly monsters in FFIX. Deathgaze in VI only worked because of the world map - it's a rude dude out to ambush you with Level 5 Death.

#45 Edited by thatpinguino (664 posts) -

@ervonymous: I wouldn't even call the Etrian Odyssey overworld an overworld, it is more of a dungeon with a different skin.