Open World games that capture the sense of emptiness



  • Ocarina of Time had a sense of space and didn't force players to trudge across an unreasonable amount of empty fields or ocean. In fact the 3D Zelda game with the least distinct sense of where different locations are in 3D space is The Wind Waker because all of the geography between locations was featureless, flat ocean and all of the islands were so incredibly far off and distant for the sake of loading them in.

    Of course it's still a 10/10 game like the other 3D Zeldas IMO because it had enough metroidvanian Zelda stuff buried away on those islands. But that doesn't change the fact that denser games waste your time less and TWW literally, inarguably had nothing to do while crossing the ocean and none of the few random events were procing. You couldn't even look at your map while the boat was still moving.



  • I think of the term empty to refer to how I feel when I play most open world games lol. Sure, lots have encounter A, B and C littered on the map that allows you to do the same wonderful task over smd over again alongside secret treasure that do nothing but clog up my inventory.

    I enjoyed BotW open world and the sense of advebture but the game itself had no driving force to keep me playing.

    A game I can think of from the past was vampire the masquerade which took plave in a city. There are others I've played like this but I really feel there's a miss conception that a game needs to have a gigantic world with big empty spaces fill with superficial mechanics to be a true open world game. I would love to see the next generation bring more complexity to open world. Something like a city that allows you to freely roam and interact with NPC's and the environment in more complex ways that truly have consequences and a dynamic storyline and world.

    Anyways I still think Elder scrolls is one of the best open world games even though it's not perfect. I guess the ability to role play makes an open world more interesting to me.



  • @Haru17 said:

    and Xenoblade Chronicles are two good examples of games that have absolutely nothing interesting in their world design.

    I guess you forgot about places like Valak Mountain that have climbing, weird ice sliding mechanics, camouflaged little ice jut paths that lead to secret areas, a fucking geyser that takes you between places, etc. You're grossly oversimplifying the world to say it's all just flat areas with absolutely nothing interesting you walk through.

    Xenoblade's Bionis Leg is really just a flat field with parts of that flat field elevated into strips of land floating in the air, equally featurelessly.

    Really? Sure you're not exaggerating? Cause here's a map of that exact area that shows otherwise:
    Bionis Leg

    literally just holding forward (or holding nothing in TWW's case)

    In the case of Windwaker you change the wind direction with the namesake of the game to navigate the seas toward the direction you'd like to explore, running into things like weird shark enemies, fish that you can give bait to for filling out your sea charts, tornadoes you can later harness the power of to quickwarp around the world, boats that shoot at you, and more. There's sail time between each thing yes, but that's because oceans are like that. Kick back and enjoy the atmosphere, watch the sunrise, admire the seagulls, instead of being so impatient to get to the next thing you're pulling your hair out. And if you're really that annoyed, the HD remake of the game has this nifty item called the Swift Sail you can obtain to greatly speed up the sailing sections of the game. Or just learn to swift swim glitch like the speedrunners.

    Even Uncharted climbing is more engaging than Grow Home/Breath of the Wild climbing because you actually have to navigate instead of just hold up and wait.

    No, just no. Going along linear, set paths that are COLOR MARKED, that crumble the moment you pass them is not more interesting. I can't even tell you early game in Breath of the Wild how many times I had to cleverly ration my stamina to get up areas. Sometimes, I'd have to find ways to break one big cliff-face into multiple ascents by finding places where they was a break you could rest, often a slant just horizontal enough to catch your breath on. Other times I'd have to find other tall structures nearby my stamina could carry me up to use as a jumping and often gliding point to reach the next cliffside for me to climb up with all my stamina from the midpoint. There were points where climbing something was actually impossible without cooking some food to extend your stamina bar or refill it midclimb.

    As you progress in the game you get powerful new tools to make climbs easier, such as greatly extended amounts of stamina wheel, a certain Champion power that let's you ride the wind to quickly shoot straight up, a certain armor set that lets you quickly swim up the waterfalls that often flow across the steepest cliffs, and even an armor set that straight up lets you climb for longer. These things make you feel like you've grown as a hero and make landscape that was daunting previously exponentially easier to tread across at high speeds as you scour for secrets.

    Windwaker I get, but have you even seen a map of Breath of the Wild with all the interest points plugged in? It's insane how little you have to walk from one to the next. It might feel like you're going long stretches without something, but that just means you're barreling forward and not taking the time to analyze your environment and search for the secrets all around you. I was constantly getting sidetracked from my objective when things caught me eye. Sometimes they were nothing, but more often than not they led to cool finds, and the way you could set your own waypoints on the map ensured I never got completely lost from what I was doing before I noticed such and such to check out. Oh and if you really do just wanna barrel forward ignoring everything the world has to offer, just grab a horse man.


  • Banned

    I hear Super Mario Odyssey is pretty open and empty.

    The game leaked, right? People can't be lying about it.



  • alt text



  • @Art I am a bit worried about that.



  • @Mbun having recently started and quitted Xenoblade Chronicles I would say that at the very beggining the world seemed interesting, but after just a couple of hours on it quickly became uninteresting and it simply seemed to be filled with terrible side quests and nothing of interest



  • I'm going to throw out a very odd choice, the Myst games. Hear me out. You can tackle the ages in any order, freely explore (more so in the later titles that allow free roaming) and encapsulate this barren nothingness of civilizations long past.

    Ian Hinck talks up Myst Online URU Live and that is an amazing example. The world has depth and lore that is Tolkien in scale and is an absolutely blast to play, explore and just relax. Nothing can compare for me in the world of barren mystery!



  • @bard91 The sidequests are a bit of a grab bag. Some are great and others are trash. As for the world, there's great stuff there, you just gotta stick with it. I imagine you got tired of interior areas probably.



  • @Mbun nope exterior as well, as I mentioned it was cool for the first few hours, and then it was just a whole lot of nothing



  • @bard91 There's lots of little secret out of the way paths to find that usually lead to cool vistas, but you really gotta poke around for them.



  • @BogusMeatFactory said in Open World games that capture the sense of emptiness:

    I'm going to throw out a very odd choice, the Myst games. Hear me out. You can tackle the ages in any order, freely explore (more so in the later titles that allow free roaming) and encapsulate this barren nothingness of civilizations long past.

    Ian Hinck talks up Myst Online URU Live and that is an amazing example. The world has depth and lore that is Tolkien in scale and is an absolutely blast to play, explore and just relax. Nothing can compare for me in the world of barren mystery!

    Good choice.



  • Breath of the Wild, that's my favorite for sure. I like how it's open vertically too, climb the highest mountain and paraglide down to some new unexplored territory. And while it definitely have lots of open world emptiness it still have stuff you can find in the weirdest places of nowhere because of the korok seeds.

    No Man's Sky is another one. I know it's not the most popular game but I've played it for almost 300 hours so far. Love it! The freedom, the farming, the impossibly huge size. I've been playing it since the launch and the hunt for that optimal home planet to build the perfect base on may not ever end for me, whenever I start to lose the interest they patch in some new stuff or my kids point on the galaxy map and say "Lets go to that place dad!" or wants to name some animals etc. I might never put it down.



  • @Haru17 said in Open World games that capture the sense of emptiness:

    Ocarina of Time had a sense of space and didn't force players to trudge across an unreasonable amount of empty fields or ocean. In fact the 3D Zelda game with the least distinct sense of where different locations are in 3D space is The Wind Waker because all of the geography between locations was featureless, flat ocean and all of the islands were so incredibly far off and distant for the sake of loading them in.

    Of course it's still a 10/10 game like the other 3D Zeldas IMO because it had enough metroidvanian Zelda stuff buried away on those islands. But that doesn't change the fact that denser games waste your time less and TWW literally, inarguably had nothing to do while crossing the ocean and none of the few random events were procing. You couldn't even look at your map while the boat was still moving.

    That's why I love OOT above any other Zelda title. It didn't really feel like a chore to get from A. to B. The game's only problem is that it was too short! :) I wanted more of OOT, than the evolutions that Zelda seem to get. I liked Wind Waker, but it felt like a chore to get from A. to B. I loved the sense of exploration in Waker, but at the same time, it was a chore. The boat section was nice, but it was also a chore. I liked that you battled a few monsters in the boat, that sense of adventure. But it required soo many tasks to get to B. I got stuck in the game because of that chore, I just gave up. I love zelda, but my patience wears thin when it's tested.



  • No mention of NieR: Automata? I thought that game did a good job of presenting a dead, lifeless world. Just very empty and lonely, but strangely beautiful as well. I loved sprinting through the sand and kicking up all the particles.



  • im not the biggest fan of open world games as their great for the first 25 hours or so but after a while becasue of their design i just get burnt out and bored. The only open wor;d game that hasnt made me feel this way was witcher 3 because instead of a random NPC giving me a quest to go kill/loot/grind for a item that said npc and his quest had a story Arc and it was enough to keep me engaged in that world and i think its the first open world game i completed the main story of.



  • @Winter-sMirage I totally get your argument. An empty environment can absolutely set the right tone for a game if it is used well. But there are a lot of ways that you can evoke feelings of isolation, loneliness, or desolation without resorting to wide empty spaces. Silent Hill 2 managed to make me feel alone and lost without having a huge game map. It just takes some creativity and time to think of other ways that you can establish the same vibe. Additionally, the large game maps that people complain about are the ones in Mafia 2, Burnout: Paradise, or Shadow of the Colossus. They are the Ubisoft titles that fill their maps with countless fetch quests and collect-a-thon trinkets so that their maps don't look as empty as they actually are.

    But at the end of the day, I don't think the main problem is actually with the games themselves but rather how their size is advertised and marketed. I can't even count how many press releases I've read where publishers or developers brag about how much bigger their game world is but fail to mention what we can actually do in that world. Every once in a while we'll get a Witcher 3 that uses their open worlds wisely, but most of the time the space they create is just for the sake of having a large space. I feel like we're back in the "Bit Wars" all over again were people care more about numbers than content.