Some of this generation's "big" video games feel like time-sinks devoid of emotional impact

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armaan8014

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Edited By armaan8014

Excuse me for the odd title but I couldn't think of any better way to word it. This is something I've been subconsciously thinking about for months now, but jumping back for a listen to this soundtrack made me want to share my thoughts about this.

I absolutely love this suite - the first 30 seconds of the music bring back a flood of memories and emotions that had been built during a journey many of us took over half a decade. This is the reason I love video games, and if ever a non - gamer friend called games a waste of time or something childish, I'd laugh and think about experiences such as these.

But recently, when playing the latest AAA games, I have had the nagging feeling in the back of my head that I actually am wasting my time. Now this is not to say that video games that focus on something other than emotional resonance are "bad" or shouldn't be played, (I play a huge amount of FIFA with my friends) but when considering single player experiences that focus on world, atmosphere, story, emotion or characters, something feels off when playing games of this generation (post 2012/ 13)

Even as I write this though, I feel what I'm saying is not entirely correct. More games than ever are now being released, and many of them fully embrace the aspects I just listed. Walking simulators are a respected genre now, and point and click adventure games have made a great comeback. There are tons of games experimenting with different ideas and narrative structures. So then why do I feel like something's off?

I guess the answer would just be that the balance has shifted. Much of the good stuff in the departments I mentioned is being done by smaller, indie studios. I think my problem is, as many have already experienced by now, is fatigue with the formulaic, open world, crafting based, filler quest laden AAA games. I guess what I'm saying is thank god for indie games, but AAA games need to do some soul searching.

Horizon zero dawn - beautiful opening moments, tiring after that
Horizon zero dawn - beautiful opening moments, tiring after that

I really enjoyed the opening few hours of Horizon Zero Dawn - the setup and the story satisfied me in a way that games haven't for years. After the world opened up though, I can't bring myself to go out there and carry the weight of the world on Aloy's shoulders. The thought of firing up that game is a little tiring. Along with real world responsibilities, it makes me feel a little guilty or worried about spending time playing that. (Though I've heard the story is really good, so I'll definitely finish this game... someday)

On the other hand, if the game offers me value in terms of affecting me emotionally, I feel that's time well spent. Watching a movie that can affect your life, for instance, feels justified even when you're pressed for time.

Funnily enough, I've been catching up on the Uncharted series (on 3 now) and I'm having a blast. And even though that's basically equal to a hollywood action popcorn flick, what I do appreciate about that game is that it maintains its focus. It kinda makes me miss linear games! I bought Rise of the Tomb Raider as it's similar to the Uncharted games, and I loved the first hour or so. But as soon as the world opened up, with the crafting and everything, I kinda lost my enthusiasm.

Dammnit DAI, you (kinda) ruined everything!
Dammnit DAI, you (kinda) ruined everything!

It's funny - many of us used to ask the question "how long before the world opens up?" and now I kinda dread that moment. But I might not be crazy, I think the problem is that AAA games went to far in the other direction, and this began somewhere around Dragon Age Inquisition taking a leaf from the Assassin's Creed/ Far Cry games of that time. Map filled with meaningless clutter to do. Yeah you could ignore those activities, but when the developers focus on those parts, the other aspects suffer. The seamless, quick, action packed combat didn't help either.

As beautiful H:ZD's open world is, I still treasure my time with games like Gothic 3 and Oblivion more (I know Oblivion gets a lot of shit for basically just being rocks grass and trees, but I found it pretty beautiful and immersive) These worlds inspired me to create art - draw, write etc. Maybe that's because they felt more real (despite the graphics) because they didn't have ridiculous "stuff" to do? List of similar things spread across the world to collect, gamified patterns that would scream at me everytime I'd come across them? Sometimes a hut would just be a hut, with nothing of note in it. That makes the world a lot more immersive. Open worlds where things exist (or don't) for reasons other than player interactivity. I'm hoping the upcoming Kingdom Come: Deliverance can... well, deliver on this front (hehe) I think it might. I also love the open world in the GTA series. I love a detailed open world where activities and just existing feel natural. Rockstar are great at making lived in, immersive worlds where you can just exist.

A really immersive world (Gothic 3)
A really immersive world (Gothic 3)

But as I said, there are plenty of (relatively) smaller indie games doing good things too. I was really impressed by the Quick Look for Observer, for instance. Only yesterday I finished the first episode for Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and felt quite involved in that game world. I enjoyed my time with it and felt it gave me some value for the time it took. Now I'm looking to jump into a recent game called The Last Day of June. I've played these two games on my 4-5 year old laptop, while I see less of my new PS4 - which can play all those powerful new games - without feeling a tinge of guilt about spending my time on something non - fulfilling.

The living, breathing world of GTA V
The living, breathing world of GTA V

And at the same time, despite the indies, I'd love for the big AAA experiences to deliver those kinds of experiences that maybe only big budgets can. Sweeping epics like the Mass Effect series (we're not gonna talk about 4) can maybe only be delivered by bigger studios.

Felt pretty good to play this
Felt pretty good to play this

Ironically, my blog post probably lacked focus and my thoughts might be a little scattered (and at times possibly self contradictory) What I mainly mean is, though, that there's something missing from the bigger games nowadays, and they feel a little hollow. Maybe it's just me growing older, or maybe we need a big game to buck the formulaic trend. What do you think?

Edit: I should add, other features that make all these games feel similar and fatiguing would be quest markers, quest trails, and the worst of all, the variations on the "detective vision" that many games have. Detective vision works for some games like Hitman, but others don't need it at all. That's a feature that needs to be phased out slowly. For example, Rise of the Tomb Raider could completely do without it. The shapes of objects you can interact with are enough to give you an idea of what you should do. The Uncharted series doesn't use it, and is so much better for it. Instead it uses clever level design tricks to guide you.

Edit 2/ tl;dr:

To clarify, I'm not saying that video games that focus on something other than emotional resonance are "bad" or shouldn't be played, I'm only talking about a recent trend in single player story driven games. What you may call "open world fatigue" and discussing that the previous approach these types of games used to take seemed to work better than the approach that many games take now (everything placed in the open world for gameplay reasons, a predictable, formulaic feel, quest markers/ trackers, detective vision)

As pointed out by me saying something feels off, I don't have answers. I've just felt something and I'm trying to figure out what that may be through discussion.

It's not like I hate video games or I'm complaining. I love the medium and I'm pretty grateful for the progress we've made! But I also feel it's good to continuously judge and discuss what doesn't work in something you love, to avoid stagnation. In terms of design, the aspects I mentioned have become somewhat predictable.

This guy's video touches upon similar sentiments but explains it far better than I could!

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Draugen

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Eh. There are big video games with little emotional impact in every video game epoch. I don't think this one is different than the ones that came before it. There are games that packs an emotional punch, and ones that miss completely, or don't even try. I'll agree with you that this impact is dimished in games like Dragon Age Inquisition, when the world is too big and empty, and it takes too long between beats, but when you bring up Horizon Zero Dawn in this, you lose me completely. I've 100% that twice, it's the only game I've even platinumed, and I'm playing it through a third time on Ultra Hard. That game, for me at least, is hugely impactful, and while it doesn't tell a particularly new story, it tells an old one really well, and it makes me care. But that's just a difference of opinion. I tried and quickly got bored of Gothic 3 years ago, for instance. If The Witcher 3 is not immersive enough for you, I think I'm just too different from you see your point. :)

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armaan8014

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#2  Edited By armaan8014

@draugen: About Horizon Zero Dawn, you're right, I've heard good things about the story and I loved what I saw from the opening few hours, and I'm pretty sure there's more of that in the coming hours. The opening had an impact on me, and I like the characters and the presentation. The problem I have with that is the weight of the open world and its tasks that come along with that story that I want to see. It makes me reconsider whether I have the energy to play that at any given time or not.

TW3 is probably an example of open worlds done right, with stuff to do and meaningful, story driven side quests, which is why I mentioned the game. I wasn't saying that it is soulless, but only that it didn't quite grab me like TW1 did. Maybe TW3 is a different topic from what I was discussing here.

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mrfluke

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#3  Edited By mrfluke

Some ways its that your getting older and the type of expectations you have for some of the types of games have changed (especially in how you say you prefer the witcher 1 over the witcher 3, your the first person i've ever heard say that),

but also in some ways its different strokes for different folks.

Pyre was the last indie game in a long time in which i was moved by a smaller scale game, while the Witcher 3 and even Yakuza 0 had me watery-eyed and both have some of the best character work in my opinion in years.

I think AAA games are getting there in having more of an emotional punch in their games, but its not gonna be in the way that appeals to everyone's tastes. and also by a result of gameplay getting standardized, the way they can continue to surprise will be in improvements in story-telling.

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armaan8014

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#4  Edited By armaan8014

@mrfluke: Yeah I plan to give TW3 another shot. I played that on my old laptop and had very low fps, will be getting it for the PS4 soon. I also had my experience soured by an overly excited friend, but that's another story. Guess I'll know how I feel about that game when I try it again. I probably shouldn't have mentioned it in this topic as it doesn't quite fit what I was discussing.

(Edit: went ahead and removed that part as that one sentence wasn't really on the same topic, but was creating confusion instead. My unresolved feelings for TW3 are probably a topic for another post :P)

I'm watching the GB east Yakuza 0 playthrough, halfway through it and loving it. Can't wait to see the end. But I feel that it may still be sticking to its philosophy and style from its previous entries, which keeps it from feeling like the rest of the big open world games I mentioned?

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OurSin_360

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#5  Edited By OurSin_360

I dont care much about emotional impact honestly, only emotion i need is fun. I do think the obsession with vast open worlds has been diminishing the fun in these games. If the story is the engaging part of a game, then running around doing side quests hinders from that rather than addimg to it. Sometimes the side quests are the engaging part, and running around the sandbox is fun and often times the story gets in the way of it. I just dont think narrative and open world mix all that well besides maybe a small handful of games.

I often would much rather hop on a game and either beat it in a couple days or hop on and just have fun with it now and then, feeling like i have to complete 100hours of fetch quests and tower unlocks doesnt do it for me anymore. I play alot of diablo type games now and mission based stuff like xcom.

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Deathstriker

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#6  Edited By Deathstriker

I think this gen is lacking narrative/story games that are somewhat movie-like: the God of War series, The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, Mass Effect trilogy, MGS series (MGS5 barely had a story), even Gear of War is more narrative than most games nowadays. You're more likely to get a sandbox or grind than a good story... Naughty Dog is kinda the last dinosaur in that regard. Not every game needs to be deep or emotional, but that option should be there for those of us who want it. There are Telltale games and they offer that, but those are hardly interactive.

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deactivated-6050ef4074a17

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I feel like my amount of time with games has definitely been way more polarizing in terms of length these last couple years. It's not the sort of thing I've actually kept some sort of record of, so I can't say definitively this has been the case, but I increasingly feel like I'm either spending 50+ hours with a game, or like 4 hours, and fewer big games that appeal to me feel like they're inhabiting the in-between. Some games don't bother me in this (Persona 5, my timer on that was absurdly long and I felt like I could've kept going for another 40) but I'm playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild right now, and even though the game is absolutely lovely, I'm just so fried on lengthy, sprawling game experiences because everything else is doing that that it's dulling my ability to appreciate it.

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@armaan8014: yea if a friend is overly overly glowing about it, it maybe created overinflated expectations, and then with low FPS you probably didn’t get to fully enjoy it, (I’d also recommend the hearts of stone dlc for the game also when u get around to it)

And hey, if you still end up liking Witcher 1 more than 3, then more power to ya.

As for yakuza and the point you raised, I think I misread your post then? If so I apologize

As I took it to mean it was bumming you out that a lot of open world games don’t take time to develop their storyline and characters and fill their worlds with “busywork” quests to then that’s how I raised Witcher 3 and yakuza 0 as games who take care with the story and make their worlds feel lived in

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RetroMetal

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I've never gotten an "emotional impact" from playing games other than the joy of playing them.

It's just a hobby, to me.

It could be that I grew up playing games since like the mid/late 70s...

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Quarters

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#11  Edited By Quarters

Yeah, I can agree with that. Games have become way too obsessed with just having a bunch of stuff to "do" to make players feel like the game is full. A prime example of that is Mass Effect: Andromeda. While I actually like the meat of the game's main missions and loyalty missions, all the busy work they force you to do to pad out the runtime is just insulting. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a short, focused game with a strong story.

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The_Nubster

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I'm completely with you. it's exactly the reason I haven't picked up H:ZD, honestly. The game looks beautiful and knowing who wrote it, I should be raring to have a crack at it, but seeing it in motions and realizing it's just Far Cry with a twist, my excitement completely vanished. The more that a game encourages me to do stuff, the less I want to do it. I spend my entire day checking off lists and doing busywork in an office, so I don't want to get home to another checklist, no matter how beautiful it may be.

Breath of the Wild was such a great experience for me because it didn't ask much of me. It presented me with a wonderful space, and then left me to my own devices. It was almost magical.

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thomasnash

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I'm completely with you. it's exactly the reason I haven't picked up H:ZD, honestly. The game looks beautiful and knowing who wrote it, I should be raring to have a crack at it, but seeing it in motions and realizing it's just Far Cry with a twist, my excitement completely vanished. The more that a game encourages me to do stuff, the less I want to do it. I spend my entire day checking off lists and doing busywork in an office, so I don't want to get home to another checklist, no matter how beautiful it may be.

Breath of the Wild was such a great experience for me because it didn't ask much of me. It presented me with a wonderful space, and then left me to my own devices. It was almost magical.

You should give it a go, honestly. The Far Cry similarities aren't nearly as bad as you might expect, and the worst excesses of Far Cry are mostly avoided. It's way more restrained in the amount of stuff it puts on your map, and I think with one exception you could easily skip most of it. I was also wary of it for similar reasons, but ended up enjoying it a lot.

In terms of the narrative, I agree with the OP that the opening section is great. It really drew me in and set up a few really compelling mysteries.

The game tells two stories - the "present day" story and the "ancient lore" story. The first I think quickly deteriorates after the opening segment. It has some pleasures, but I think it has the age old videogame problem of feeling a little bit like a bunch of story segments were cut up and shuffled around. The world building gets a little fuzzy and it the attention to detail of, say, The Witcher just isn't there.

The other stuff though, the story you discover about the past and why the world is the way it is, is absolutely brilliant, imo. It might not be the most original story ever, but it's told well. They never withhold so much of the mystery that it's frustrating, but they make sure there is always enough info given to maintain your interest. It wraps up in an emotionally satisfying way, that ties in neatly with the more immediate story. Best of all, it feels very complete. There are one or two loose threads that I think will be picked up for a sequel, but it's not something where you feel short changed.

This being apart from the fact that the gameplay is pretty good too!

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shivermetimbers

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I think diminishing returns is inevitable. I feel kinda the same way the OP does, but I've just accepted that big explorable world doesn't mean much to me anymore because they're pretty ubiquitous. I should also see about playing Gothic 3 at some point.

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armaan8014

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#16  Edited By armaan8014

@shivermetimbers: Have fun if you decide to play Gothic 3! It's a little dated and tough to get into, but plays similar to most Piranha Bytes games if you've played those. The music and walking around in the sunny fields is great though. I played a lot of it but didn't finish it, the experience was very satisfying though. You could also try Risen 1 for a shorter, similar and relatively newer experience.

@soulstar187 said:

I agree with you for the most part, i play alot of fighting games and ive noticed a trend with big releases (SFV, MVCI, Tekken 7) feeling way more barebones than games released years ago. I think we as players are also suffering from an over saturation of open world games with the majority of them lacking a living and breathing world. I get that feeling for almost every game this side of GTAV these days. I tend to get most of my value from indie games these days they are much cheaper and if they disappoint its not as much of a blow as paying $60 for a game and feeling like i wasted my money.

Pretty much. I think what GTA realizes is that an open world needs more than just activities to feel worth the space and time of traversing through that place. It's fun to drive your car from one mission to another in Los Santos. It's a chore to walk from one location to another in H:ZD so that you can start a mission. You know what you'll get on your journey: enemies to kill, activities to complete.

@marokai: Yeah, even good games tend to suffer from this because of the open world fatigue which has been accumulated from other games. But as you said, Persona 5 looks really interesting and I've been waiting to get that. That is the kind of open world where I feel like time would be well spent, and the game overall just looks really interesting.

@thomasnash said:

The other stuff though, the story you discover about the past and why the world is the way it is, is absolutely brilliant, imo. It might not be the most original story ever, but it's told well. They never withhold so much of the mystery that it's frustrating, but they make sure there is always enough info given to maintain your interest. It wraps up in an emotionally satisfying way, that ties in neatly with the more immediate story. Best of all, it feels very complete. There are one or two loose threads that I think will be picked up for a sequel, but it's not something where you feel short changed.

What you described there is the reason why I'm still very interested in completing that game! Maybe I'll rush through the middle portion of the game and try and ignore some side quests and most errands.

@kingbonesaw: Is the general consensus that Uncharted games play terribly? Oddly, I've found its combat to be way more entertaining than many other games. It's very fast, fluid and there's a sense of freedom. Within a few seconds you can take down multiple opponents by doing a mix of melee, a shotgun shot without aiming down the sights, throw a grenade at another person, switch guns and take down another opponent, all based on the enemies distance, armor, and prioritizing based on which one of them poses the most immediate danger to you. When you get in the flow of it, it almost feels like a dance.

I should add, another feature of these games that increases the problem is the variations on the "detective mode" that many games have. It works for some games like Hitman, but others don't need it at all. That's a feature that needs to be phased out slowly. For example, Rise of the Tomb Raider could completely do without it. The shapes of objects you can interact with are enough to give you an idea of what you should do. The Uncharted series doesn't use it, and is so much better for it. Instead it uses clever level design tricks to guide you.

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armaan8014

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@mrfluke said:

@armaan8014:

As for yakuza and the point you raised, I think I misread your post then? If so I apologize

As I took it to mean it was bumming you out that a lot of open world games don’t take time to develop their storyline and characters and fill their worlds with “busywork” quests to then that’s how I raised Witcher 3 and yakuza 0 as games who take care with the story and make their worlds feel lived in

Agreed, that's what I meant - Yakuza 0's world doesn't feel like a chore. Most of the activities in it add to the world that it has built, and it is full of interesting story driven side quests. (Although there are all those small street fights that even the crew in Beast in the East seem to tire of. Good thing you can throw money at them!)

But eating at noodle stands, buying items from shops rich in terms of personality (like Don Quixote), and random activities like fishing add to the enjoyment of existing in that game world, and don't feel like tasks that you have to complete.

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madladunit

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Yeah...Horizon this year was a real "wait...what am I doing with my time" moment for me. It's a cool game that looks great and has an interesting story, but 95% of the 50 hours I spent with it feel kind of.....pointless in retrospect.

It's more about my tastes in gaming these days I'd say, rather than a criticism of the game. As others have mentioned, I feel a lot happier about my memories of Breath of the Wild.

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notnert427

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While I can understand some general fatigue with open worlds, there have been many terrific, well-realized ones this generation as well, e.g. GTA V, Witcher 3, Zelda BotW, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza Horizon 2 and 3, HITMAN, Yakuza 0, etc. I just don't bounce off of the icon barf thing as hard as most, it seems. If I don't want to do some side mission or collectible, I just pass it by and go about the rest of my day. It only becomes a problem for me when the main content/story doesn't have much to offer, at which point the side missions feel like padding.

Interestingly enough, the biggest culprit, and in large part, cause of this backlash, Ubisoft, actually does a pretty good job with the open worlds themselves. The environments are arguably the best part of their games at this point, as well as their most distinguishing feature as they've all become fairly formulaic. My time with the good AC games was best enjoyed exploring the open world, so I'd contend it's more of structural/gameplay failings there than anything. I've lost myself in those worlds a bit even in "bad" AC games like III, in experiences that could be described as emotionally resonant.

Moreover, I don't really equate "lackluster open-world" with "time-sink". As I mentioned earlier, if the game world isn't interesting or worth exploring, I'll just move on. I don't have to accomplish/collect everything. A time-sink to me is a Destiny or a Dota, where the player is expected to grind endlessly on the off chance they'll hit the RNG lotto on some bullshit loot crate. Those sorts of games are designed entirely around dangling a carrot that the player is supposed to keep reaching for, and they deserve the ire for it WAY more than games with boring open worlds do, IMO.

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ALavaPenguin

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I would say my complaint would be arbitrary time sinks as the bulk of content + too many games trying to have emotional impact instead of just...... focusing on trying to be generally fun.

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armaan8014

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@notnert427:The Ubisoft worlds really are incredible, and because of those I've played and loved all the entries in their games. Despite the extreme amounts of stuff to do in those worlds, I feel the atmosphere and detail side of their world doesn't suffer. I love climbing on to a rooftop to find a couple of men going about fixing something up there, listen to some good soundtrack, watch the sun set over the city etc. In Black Flag I'd love sailing over to little islands and just feel like I really am there. There's a real sense of place in their worlds. I then proceed to play the main story line while ignoring half the extra content. It's weird that that series hasn't made me feel overwhelmed or distracted me from the parts I do like. Maybe that's the important thing.

I didn't really enjoy Syndicate though, the world was still pretty good but otherwise the rest of it felt pointless. The story didn't grab me and I didn't like the music. Maybe it was the light hearted tone. I didn't like 3 like many others, but I still look back at that with nostalgia because of the story that they tried to tell, and its incredible soundtrack. I'm excited for the Egypt setting in Origins, but I'm a little worried about the size of the open world. Considering that they've been inspired by The Witcher 3 and have decided to go full blown RPG means more of the game spreading all over as compared to having smaller separated off areas as smaller open worlds. Somehow, contained and segregated open worlds feel more enjoyable to me than one big land mass. Not sure if I'll play both this and Horizon simultaneously.

GTA V as I discussed above, is of course an example of open worlds done well ("I think what GTA realizes is that an open world needs more than just activities to feel worth the space and time of traversing through that place. It's fun to drive your car from one mission to another in Los Santos.") It is also a last gen game though. RoTR I'm still playing through, but I really enjoy the tombs in that game. As of now it seems to be opening small open areas one by one, with a limited number of things to do. I'm not sure if it goes full open world later. Hitman doesn't really fit with the others that I was talking about, it's just a mission area where a number of methods can accomplish the same objective. It doesn't have a huge world with multiple missions.

You're right, there are other games that are completely based around sinking time, but I never really got into those. I should've mentioned that this was only talking about single player story driven games.

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Zevvion

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Not every game has to be a narrow, story-driven, single player experience with emotional impact. I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say by ascertaining this. Are you trying to say other games are bad?

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armaan8014

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@zevvion:

As I said in the OP:

Now this is not to say that video games that focus on something other than emotional resonance are "bad" or shouldn't be played, (I play a huge amount of FIFA with my friends) but when considering single player experiences that focus on world, atmosphere, story, emotion or characters, something feels off when playing games of this generation (post 2012/ 13)

So no I'm not saying that, I'm only talking about a recent trend in single player story driven games. What you may call "open world fatigue" and discussing that the previous approach these types of games used to take seemed to work better than the approach that many games take now (everything placed in the open world for gameplay reasons, a predictable, formulaic feel, quest markers/ trackers, detective vision)

As pointed out by me saying something feels off, (and - "Even as I write this though, I feel what I'm saying is not entirely correct.So then why do I feel like something's off?") I don't have answers. I've just felt something and I'm trying to figure out what that may be through discussion.

It's not like I hate video games or I'm complaining. I love the medium and I'm pretty grateful for the progress we've made. But I also feel it's good to continuously judge and discuss what doesn't work in something you love, to avoid stagnation. In terms of design, the aspects I mentioned have become somewhat predictable.

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notnert427

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@armaan8014 said: Hitman doesn't really fit with the others that I was talking about, it's just a mission area where a number of methods can accomplish the same objective. It doesn't have a huge world with multiple missions.

I mentioned HITMAN because it, to me, does have those kinds of "living" worlds where characters interact with each other/react to you, and it's just a terrific sandbox. There's enough depth with all the various challenges, elusive targets, etc. to make their maps really interesting and non-linear, and there's a bit of Dark Souls-y fun to be had in figuring out layouts. I don't know about "emotional impact" because the game's tone is mostly silly, but I did have those cool environmental epiphanies every time I noticed some new map feature, and I found myself repeatedly amused by the ambient dialogue. The maps also fit the kind of contained and segregated open world you're describing, as does the structure of Rise of the Tomb Raider.

For me, this stuff comes down if it evokes that childish sense of wonder or just makes me often stop and take notice of something interesting/pretty during my playthrough instead of just mainlining objectives in a completionist aim. That's when a game world becomes good to me, and this generation hasn't been devoid of them if you ask me.

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veektarius

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Emotionally empty doesn't bother me. Take Forza Horizon 3 as an example. That's a game that clearly has too much to do in it. Being a completionist in that game is insane. But that doesn't make it a bad game. The reason it's better than other open world games (like AC in particular) is that the repetitive activities are actually challenging and entertaining and not just mindless motions you have to go through to check a box.

If a game is going for emotional impact, on the other hand, having too much content that seems mechanical and superfluous can take you out of it, I guess. But in that case it's mostly on the player to know when he's tired of grinding and wants to advance. Same as any old-school RPG.

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#26  Edited By Ravey
@zevvion said:

Not every game has to be a narrow, story-driven, single player experience with emotional impact. Are you trying to say other games are bad?

None of that was implied:

  • "This is not to say that video games that focus on something other than emotional resonance are 'bad' or shouldn't be played."
  • "When considering single player experiences that focus on world, atmosphere, story, emotion or characters"
  • "As beautiful H:ZD's open world is, I still treasure my time with games like Gothic 3 and Oblivion more. I also love the open world in the GTA series. I love a detailed open world where activities and just existing feel natural."
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armaan8014

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@notnert427: Yes, I think this whole discussion may have branched into two different directions without me realizing it - 1. What makes a good open world (discussion about games like Hitman) and 2. Are bigger games moving their focus from delivering on (among other things outside this discussion) emotional impact (such as Mass effect) to delivering on just more quantity of content (like Dragon Age Inquisition)

I apologize for not being very clear. But I wasn't very sure what my beef was myself either, so that was bound to happen.

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armaan8014

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#28  Edited By armaan8014
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deactivated-5b4a957513e44

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It's funny someone brought this up because I used to complete videogames all the time. I think it has to do with a combination of things; growing up and not having as much time as you want, and games wasting too much time with emotional resonance rather than solid gameplay.

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It does feel like a lot of the big AAA games that come out are chasing the "because this is a popular feature" pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Like there is no reason for something like Mass Effect to have a big open world other then a bullet point on the back of a box.

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armaan8014

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It does feel like a lot of the big AAA games that come out are chasing the "because this is a popular feature" pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Like there is no reason for something like Mass Effect to have a big open world other then a bullet point on the back of a box.

That's pretty accurate. Games putting in features because they're popular rather than fit the game

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Dizzyhippos

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@dizzyhippos said:

It does feel like a lot of the big AAA games that come out are chasing the "because this is a popular feature" pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Like there is no reason for something like Mass Effect to have a big open world other then a bullet point on the back of a box.

That's pretty accurate. Games putting in features because they're popular rather than fit the game

Dont get me wrong Mass Effect CAN have all of the things that made the first 3 games great AND an open world but if you have to sac one for the other the open world is clearly the one that you ditch in that case.

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Sounds like you're not into some prevalent gameplay trends. Nothin wrong with that, but I don't know what to tell you other than, you know, keep doing what you're doing and playing the stuff you do like.

I don't think it's quite fair to say they're devoid of emotional impact though. Ignoring story bits (cutscenes and big story encounters where you'd expect some manner of emotional impact) and considering emotion when it comes to general gameplay, it seems that some bigger games have swapped out a tailored linear experience designed to be engaging in a particular way, out for an open-ended field of play where you as the player hopefully engage with the sandbox's elements and the systems around them in a way that makes for engaging (and hopefully emotional) gameplay.

You can still have really exciting and compelling moments during that kind of thing, but if you're thrown into a sandbox and told to go have fun when all you really want to do is to read a book or watch a movie or act out a scene or explore a trail, there's only so much you can do. Worse still is if the elements and systems in place aren't even enough for someone who actually enjoys playing in a sandbox.

Two different approaches to gameplay, both still requiring thought towards how the elements in place would attract and stoke the interests, attention, and imagination of the player. Some games do it well, others less so, and some people are more into one approach and others into another.

Seems like when it comes to open world games you place a high value on discovery, rather than just being directed towards "stuff," as you put it. While Oblivion did (if I remember correctly) surface nearby points of interest, you still had to root them out rather than climb atop a tower and have them all given to you one batch at a time. It also sounds like that sense of discovery you appreciate on a smaller or more generalized level as well, eschewing in some cases arbitrary pointers and second sight highlighting for more intuitive designwork that naturally guides you towards finding your way forward or sussing out objects of note.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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As games get “bigger” they take fewer risks. It’s a shame but it happens. There are more little games with a lot of heat than ever before though so it pans out.