The next-generation of gaming has arrived, and with it comes a whole new crop of open world games — in fact, it seems like open world gaming is going to be more of a focus than ever going forward. Metal Gear Solid V, Mirror’s Edge 2, The Witcher 3, Mad Max, The Division, Destiny, Watch Dogs, InFamous: Second Son, The Crew, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Thief, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dying Light — frankly, it’s hard to find a major upcoming game that isn’t doing the open world thing.
Of course this raises the question — how will these next-gen open worlds differ from the crop we got last generation? Obviously they’ll look nicer, but hopefully the changes don’t stop there. Developers need to use the new processing power at their fingertips to make changes that fundementally improve the way open world games play. Changes such as…
No Loading Times Ever
Open world games have gradually been getting better about the constant loading times, but given the huge slabs of RAM developers now have to work with, I shouldn’t be seeing loading times ever. Not as I run around a city, not as I enter a mission area, not after I die, not before or after cutscenes…never…f–king…EVER. Oh, and no elevators either — that s–t may have fooled people back in the days of Halo and Metroid Prime, but it’s 2014 now. We’ve figured out your game.
If I see a building I want to be able to break in and steal all it’s stuff.
Make Your World An Onion
No, I don’t mean smelly and eye watering — I want layers. If I see, say, an apartment block, I want to be able to go into it. Once into it I want to be able to break into somebody’s apartment. One in that apartment I want to be able to rifle through their drawers, check what’s on their computers and wear their underwear on my head. Uh, perhaps I’ve said too much.
No more Hollywood backlot sets posing as real worlds. I don’t care how huge your game’s map is if all the buildings are just cardboard backdrops I can’t interact with. I’ll gladly take a smaller, denser map if the trade-off is greater depth and verisimilitude. Blu-rays go up to 128 GB now guys — use that space.
Let Me Leave My Mark
For the most part, it still feels like you’re just a tourist passing through most open worlds. Oh sure, if you complete a certain mission a pre-determined change might happen in the world, but I want to be able to dictate how things change. I want to be able to blow up a building with a bazooka and have it say blown up. I want to be able to kill a hobo, stuff him in a dumpster and be able to go back and check on him throughout the game. Have I said too much again?
Games like Minecraft really allow you to leave you mark in very low-res sort of way. It’s time to give that kind of creativity to players in more fully realized worlds.