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I’ve been thinking about the Different styles of “open” world game design...

WellSheet

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I’ve been on the hunt for the “right” game lately - and i have tasted quite a few in my pursuit - and, I’m sure I’m absolutely LATE to this party, but I’ve started analyzing the different types of “open” world game designs I’ve come across...

you’ve got your HUGE, SPRAWLING, checklist laden games like Assassins Creed, Far Cry, GTA, Skyrim, Fall Out et al.

then you’ve got the more interconnected, Metroidvania inspired games like Souls-likes, God of War 2018, Metroid Prime trilogy, Darksiders, Hollow Knight...

theres games that dabble too...Immersive games seem to try and find a balance between density and scale; Prey 2017, Dishonored, Deus Ex, Bioshock even...

then there’s even games that just tip toe - The Evil Within 2 or The Last of Us 2 had certain levels that were “open” in quasi nature.

what do you guys feel is optimal? What FEELs the best?

As boring as I found Red Dead Redemption 2, it likely was the closest thing to having a consistently unique and varied gameplay loop within a BIG open world.

to me, Metroidvania like games are the best balance as they seem to being unique set pieces and secrets, exploration and the like all while giving you a sense actually exploring...

I was wondering what games and styles of open world you all considered top-notch!
 
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R6Rider

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The type of open world depends on the game. The open world in the Mafia games is completely unnecessary IMO and the same for LA Noire.

One of my favorite open worlds this last generation was Watch Dogs 2. The city felt great, the size was perfect, and there was plenty of stuff to do without it feeling cluttered.
 
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Sander Cohen

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It’s really never about that with me. I don’t care what concept you use as long as the game is great. All of those are good and I enjoyed various games from all of them.

RDR 2 is best game of all time but I won’t say every game should copy its open world and mission style. You do you. Worst scenario would be uniformity and everything looks the same.
 

Lethal01

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It really depends on the game and they can all be great, but that's a boring way to not answer. If forced to choose.

I love the idea of a huge sprawling interconnected world but when I get it I just feel like walking a straight line through a world that's nothing but gorgeous yet bland Backdrop to get to a spot that the map told me is important.. Horizon Zero Dawn, RDR2 and Ubisoft games are good examples of this fuck up.

So I prefer they go big but only if they can do it as BoTW(which has issues in other areas). Where I can't do a single thing without seeing something that makes me go. "That looks interesting I need to check it out real quick before I get back to this quest" and then getting their efficiently while also grabbing stuff on the way is at least more engaging than just walking while enjoying scenery. The fact that you can climb in that game also makes the terrain far more interesting since it makes devs use the verticality of it more, and every little hill is a tool which makes the whole thing feel like an actual level.

Once I experienced how great BoTW felt because I can stop at almost anytime and see something interesting to go to. Literally every other open world suddenly felt worse, fake and underutilized. It's got flaws but I wish every open world aimed to get this right from here on.

Another nice thing about giant worlds is you can easily put God Of War/Demon's souls styled areas inside of it and get the best of both worlds..

Final Fantasy 7 Part 2 with a BoTW level open world is my dream game but I know that making something smaller and interconnected like god of war/demon's souls is far easier to get right. But that just doesn't feel like real exploration to me.
 
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GymWolf

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The fact that horizon, dishonored, yakuza 0 and gow2018 were some of my goty already tells you that i onestly love all the variations of open world\sandbox games.
 
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MetalRain

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Recently I've spend some time with Valheim, it has that huge open world, but like Minecraft it's so devoid of "content" that you kind of have build your own relation to every nook an cranny otherwise it feels too empty. It is refreshing after playing years of Ubisoft open world games, but I'm not sure if it's quite optimal either.

Other kind of "open world" I've been playing is Arma 3, mostly Sa-Matra King of the Hill mission. While world is wast, open and quite detailed, mission itself is very focused. Objective area moves constantly so you don't get bored same way you can in some Call of Duty maps.
 
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WellSheet

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Another game I think did the style of exploration and varied quest design right was Control

I know it’s not an open world game - per se - but it felt built out just enough that when you entered into a new zone/section there was all these secrets and encounters just waiting to be found; whole areas and side quests were hidden if you didn’t dig around enough.

I also think Arkham City deserves a nod too for how it balanced its quests/unique side content within the framework of an open world
 

sublimit

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Kinda off topic but i'm really curious to see how FromSoftware will tackle Open World design with Elden Ring. From what we know so far i think we'll see some really fresh things.
 
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WellSheet

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Kinda off topic but i'm really curious to see how FromSoftware will tackle Open World design with Elden Ring. From what we know so far i think we'll see some really fresh things.
Yeah! I’ve been curious also...

I wonder though, they have such fantastic world design with the souls-series (even DK2 I think-) style of quasi-open/interconnected Metroidvania-esque design that going FULL open world ala Assassins Creed may be a step back in their ability to craft such fantastic places in terms of architecture...

I do believe one of the rumors when Elden Ring was being floated around a few years back was that they were essentially creating an open-connected hub world that stretched and inter-joined numerous different themed “kingdoms” that the player could, at their own will, choose to tackle...those kingdoms were more like big levels in a souls game; shortcuts, interconnected and the like...
 
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sublimit

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Yeah! I’ve been curious also...

I wonder though, they have such fantastic world design with the souls-series (even DK2 I think-) style of quasi-open/interconnected Metroidvania-esque design that going FULL open world ala Assassins Creed may be a step back in their ability to craft such fantastic places in terms of architecture...

I do believe one of the rumors when Elden Ring was being floated around a few years back was that they were essentially creating an open-connected hub world that stretched and inter-joined numerous different themed “kingdoms” that the player could, at their own will, choose to tackle...those kingdoms were more like big levels in a souls game; shortcuts, interconnected and the like...
We really need to see and learn a bit more before we're able to discuss in a meaningful way but i don't think it will be as open as the recent Assassin Creeds or Witcher 3 for example. I actually think Miyazaki even said so in an interview. He said that there will still be some interconnectedness but on a much larger scale. I think this will leave even bigger room for meaningful exploration if it is done right. And there's also the online aspect that makes me want to see how it will work out in such a world and if we will see some new things done with it just like they did with the online features back when Demon's Souls came out.
 
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WellSheet

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We really need to see and learn a bit more before we're able to discuss in a meaningful way but i don't think it will be as open as the recent Assassin Creeds or Witcher 3 for example. I actually think Miyazaki even said so in an interview. He said that there will still be some interconnectedness but on a much larger scale. I think this will leave even bigger room for meaningful exploration if it is done right. And there's also the online aspect that makes me want to see how it will work out in such a world and if we will see some new things done with it just like they did with the online features back when Demon's Souls came out.
I’d love to see the scale of the world increase, while keeping the density and interconnectedness...

imagine having multiple moments over the course of the game like Firelink Shrine...or like Forbidden Woods - Clinic. That specifically is what came to mind when you said on a larger scale
 
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sublimit

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I’d love to see the scale of the world increase, while keeping the density and interconnectedness...

imagine having multiple moments over the course of the game like Firelink Shrine...or like Forbidden Woods - Clinic. That specifically is what came to mind when you said on a larger scale
I think some areas will be like that but not all of them. I'm not sure at this point if this is considered a rumor or if Miyazaki confirmed it but we know that there will be some type of overworld with huge open areas that look a lot like the Highlands of Scotland or the Forbidden Lands from Shadow of the Colossus. These are the parts that make me really curious of how they will tackle open world design and make exploration meaningful and interesting...
 
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