There’s no disputing that the open world experience is one of the many modern pillars that revolutionized the gaming industry. You’re fully immersed into the setting, pretty much free to do as you please. There is a long list of pros: more exploration, more freedom, more collectibles, more content, and more lore. I spent countless hours playing Red Dead Redemption II and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those were two games I felt transported players into another world.
Almost every day in 2019, I’d leave work and fire up Red Dead Redemption II and ride with the Van Der Linde gang. I often ignored the main storyline to hunt animals, root out the rival O’Driscoll gang, and believe it or not, run around aimlessly until random events pop up. The ability to alter my morality scale was also fun.
For The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I chased the main storyline for a while, collecting memories and such; however, I still found myself traversing the incredible land of Hyrule when I was near the end. While I wasn’t the hugest fan of collecting Korok seeds, this game really lived up to its title. The game’s world was alive, chalk full of things to explore and interact with. Every region had things to do and side missions to unlock.
I poured hundreds of hours into those two games alone, let alone a handful of other titles also falling into the open world category. I didn’t mind investing my time because of the quality of the experience.
However, as the trend for open world titles skyrocketed over the last few years, I noticed that my backlog list also grew. The shiny, new concept of open world steamrolled over the traditional linear style experience to the point where if a new game was more of the latter, it would be criticized by the gaming community. For example, I hear critics time and time again bashing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for being “too linear”. I’ve even heard that for The Last of Us.
The many benefits of an open world can turn into a drawback, especially with so many flooding the market. If not done right, players can be yanked right out the experience when the world doesn’t react the way you expected it to, or when there are so many collectibles with little reward or point to them. Sometimes, it can feel like an unpleasant grind.
Have you ever played a game where you feel like you’re just an errand-boy (or girl!)? While it can be a fun mechanic to unlock another path or to progress, too many requests from too many NPCs can lead to groans and eye-rolls. Endless tasks can disrupt story pacing and stunt story-telling.
What about the vastness of an open world? Some feel like traveling becomes too much, even more so when the world feels so–empty. Having a large map for the sake of a huge world is disheartening.
Thankfully, these are all things that can be avoided with a proper planning and development. Even then, the sheer number of open world games has become daunting. How many worlds am I supposed to care about? As a thirty-one year old with lots of adulting to do, my free time is limited. Nowadays, I actually avoid open world games–even the quality ones– for the sheer fact they take too much investment of my time. I know I’d rush through to completion.
I recognize there are several factors when it comes to “open world fatigue,” but I definitely am a gamer who can’t keep up. It’s all too much, bloated even, to enjoy. I am of the opinion that a linear game can be just as enjoyable as an open world format as long as it focuses on quality, not quantity.
Are you getting “open world fatigue”? Do you linear games turn you off? We’d love to know, so hop onto to our Discord and share your thoughts!