We need more road trip games!

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shivermetimbers

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I don't like driving and I don't like long trips, so naturally in video game form I'm super into the idea.

We have games with open worlds the size of planets with various activities dotted about the place, that's nothing new. I want to focus on games with a lot of empty space that is /almost/ bereft of fun distractions that nevertheless hooked me and I'll try and paint a picture of the so called perfect road trip game.

The Crew 2 is a AAA game through and through. The scale of the US, while obviously not to scale, is impressive. There's also surprisingly little reason to explore it. You can find loot chests to upgrade your car occasionally, but you can also get them faster and consistently better grinding races that you can fast travel to via a menu. There is however one mechanic that the game has that I'd like to point out as a focal point for the rest of this blog thing and that's the photo-op system. If you travel via freeroam you may also find pop up messages to take pictures of various landmarks and wildlife, which again while not as lucrative as farming races as a reward, at least gets to the heart of what I want out of an open road trip game. I want to drive around, soak in the environment, and if I see something interesting, I want to note it and get a reward of some kind.

That's not all I want however, a story with characters would be nice. I finished FFXV recently and the best part about that mess was road tripping with my buddies. I even have a little photographer friend who likes to take badly focused pictures of me getting my body torn in half by a goddess creature from hell. I love this guy (Prompto). In fact, I grew to love my merry band of silly men. Of the four games I'm going to talk about here, this comes as close as possible to my perfect road trip game. However, the game's biggest problem is that it wants to be a Final Fantasy game and the open world stuff is practically filler instead of the meat. The combat isn't really fun or engaging and the storyline in general is a mess of 10+ years of game development nightmare.

A lot of people didn't like No Man's Sky vanilla, I kind of thought about it as a universe spanning Pokemon Snap with a lone wanderer narrative. It's essentially a game in which you visit planets, get stuck, have to make use of your environment and of course, take pictures of wildlife and get rewarded for it. So it's basically a sci-fi road trip game instead you're going to a particular destination, you're going to the void of space and consequently, your existence. No Man's Sky's biggest problem (at least in terms of what I'm coming up with as my perfect road trip game) was its procedural generation. I want unique, cool, handcrafted vistas to discover, not various forms of mutated things.

That leaves me with American Truck Simulator, which all I have to say about it is that it's got the driving and road trip thing down pat, it just doesn't have the characters and story or photography that I mentioned. This is the kind of scale I want from a road trip game too, which unlike The Crew 2 feels more natural.

So what do we have in summary? I want an open world game with an emphasis on delivering the player a world with a decent amount of scale and 'empty' space that nonetheless has scenic views and places worth stopping and exploring. I want photography along with driving to be main mechanics here. I'm not so interested in combat. The game should also attempt to tell a story with characters that tie into the main mechanics (photography, driving and exploring). Basically a road trip game with friends where you see the sites of the world. There's actually a lot of drama and intrigue that can happen here.

So....why do I want this? Part of it is that I like the balance of the quiet and the dramatic. A game can do a LOT with silence, more than it's taken advantage of that I know of. I also just like relaxing and taking pictures, which if there's one thing AAA gaming has done right it's photo modes. Doing it with people you call friends and getting to know them along the way is just a natural fit for video games. So yeahh.

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shivermetimbers

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By the way, what I suggested is just a template, but it has potential IMHO.

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soulcake

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So you want Africa II. I really hope this genre gets a revival the switch seems like the ideal system for it they should A remaster Pokemon Snap or make a Pokemon Snap 2.

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stayflip

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Have you looked at jalopy?

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shivermetimbers

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I haven't heard of either of those games, will look them up. But honestly, the thing I want is on a massive scale and really hard to pull off. I don't just want a photography simulator, I want a good story and characters with freedom of exploration on a big scale. I doubt I'll get it, but yes, more games of similar vein I'll take anyway.

I got the idea after playing each of these games back to back and realizing why I enjoyed them.

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#6  Edited By cikame

I loved The Crew 2, yeah the characters and "story" sucked, but its mechanics were good enough to enjoy its massive open world (i skipped the first game), i spent a lot of time sight seeing.

The Crew 2
The Crew 2

This idea is why i'd love to play a Dakar rally game, but i don't think a really good entry in that series has happened yet.

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I don't really listen to the Giant Bombcast, but I looked up their episode about NMS recently and briefly in the beginning they talk about an Oregon Trail game and they mention both The Crew and American Truck Simulator, which I find interesting. So this convo isn't entirely original I guess. :P

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