Tag Archives: open world games

What Separates Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn From Other Games?

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With lots of hype comes lots of scrutiny. As of this writing I haven’t touched either Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Sony’s Horizon: Zero Dawn, and before I (or you) do I think it would be good to examine that scrutiny and think about what each game needs to do to rise above it. Continue reading

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Can Ghost Recon Wildlands Be The Next Step In Mainstream Open-World Games? [Open Beta Impressions]

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I’m not one for open betas but Ghost Recon Wildlands is one game I’ve been cautiously optimistic about pretty much since Ubisoft first revealed it at E3 2015. I have high hopes for it, for what it could mean for open-world games going forward. As of this writing I’ve only tried the beta for a few hours but I think the game accomplishes some key things I want to see in more games, even if this game doesn’t nail everything perfectly in the end. Continue reading

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On Modern Open-World UI And World Design

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The games I’ve been playing recently have mostly been open-world games or games where you have to find objectives on large maps, and in all of them that has necessitated things like mini maps and waypoints. I’ve posted at least once before about how much I hate waypoints because they can break immersion. Gamasutra however published this past April an excellent article laying out the drawbacks of waypoints and how we got here. I implore you to at least read the first few lines. Continue reading

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Far Cry 4 vs Metal Gear Solid V

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Until I could rent it on PS4 a game I’d been curious about was Far Cry 4. I’ve made more than one post about it or mentioning it along with my hopes an fears about the game, but never went and bought it. I found a lot to like in Far Cry 3 but generally wasn’t enthusiastic about how safe and conventional its design felt compared to the flawed gem that was Far Cry 2. A bigger reason though is because in a lot of ways, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the Far Cry game I’ve always wanted. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Survival Games (The Long Dark)

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I’ve never played survival games before: the ones that sort of took over Steam Early Access and got popular with streamers like Rust, DayZ7 Days To DieArk: Survival Evolved, or The Forest. I’ve never even played Minecraft for any significant amount of time. Right before the recent Steam Summer sale ran out I saw The Long Dark for $7 and decided to give that a shot since it seems to be the most highly praised one.

After a few hours and a couple lengthy attempts to survive in its sandbox, what I see here is a pretty well-formulated simulation game, even if it isn’t entirely my kind of thing. Though I am now wondering if other survival games might have a flow that is more my kind of thing. Continue reading

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Can Mirror’s Edge Stay Mirror’s Edge?

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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is pretty high up on the list of games for which I’m cautiously optimistic but afraid of their AAA publishers ruining with formulaic AAA game stuff. The latest details on it (along with the delay) have got some people scared, but I still want to maintain hope. The things EA and DICE seem to be doing can still be done without compromising the core of the game, but it’s a question of what the execution is going to be like coming from a publisher like EA. Continue reading

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Exploration So Far In Elite Dangerous

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I just crossed the 60-hour mark in Elite Dangerous and even though I don’t consider myself qualified to fully critique it or games like it, I think it’s time I at least put down some observations and general things I’d like to see Frontier Developments improve or change. If you’re one of those people who are still curious or pessimistic about No Man’s Sky, this post might help better inform your expectations of that game.

Even though I’ve done a few posts in the past on PC space flight games, I’m still not really “in-tune” with that genre. I don’t have a great idea of what fans of the “Fight, Trade, Explore” style space game expect from Elite Dangerous or games like it. I don’t know how it scales up compared to games of the past or similar games being made today. More importantly, I haven’t really interacted with other people playing this game so I don’t know what the common grievances have been. Elite Dangerous feels a lot like what I experienced in Frontier: Elite II but with more accessible controls I guess. Still, after 60 hours I find myself wishing for certain things in Dangerous. Consider this a critique with some suggestions from an average newcomer to the series and genre.

Everything I’m about to say has mainly to do with exploration in Elite Dangerous. I haven’t really done trading or bounty hunting at all so I have no idea how those aspects of the game have turned out. I’ve spent pretty much all my time exploring and scanning star systems, so I’m just critiquing what that experience feels like here. Continue reading

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Is Open-World Fatigue Even Real?

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After coming off all these massive open-world games from 2015 like Fallout 4Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, part of me thought I’d spend the beginning of 2016 taking a breather with smaller, more focused games. I was wrong. Open-world fatigue seems to be spreading among people who play all the big games, but I don’t really feel tired of them yet as I start the first Witcher 3 expansion, continue on through Elite: Dangerous, and prepare to start Grand Theft Auto V. With Elite specifically I don’t think I’ve gone over what separates the latest entry from other open-world games (a lot). Continue reading

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What “Ancient Egypt” Actually Entails For Assassin’s Creed

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I don’t intend to go really deep into speculation about what the recently confirmed upcoming Assassi’s Creed game focused on ancient Egypt will be like. I kind of just want to bring up some details about the setting some people might not realize, details that separate it from just about everything else the Creed games have done up to this point.

The land of the Pharos is a pretty different setting for a Creed game. Other than the original title, this codenamed “Assassin’s Creed ‘Empire'” would be the first mainline one not centered on western civilization. That not only potentially brings an entirely different color to the main Creed games, but also opens it up to a much greater span of history. Continue reading

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Why I’m Optimistic About Assassin’s Creed Unity

It’s easy to understand that a lot of people are “Assassin’s Creed-ed out.” Despite that, the information we have so far on Assassin’s Creed Unity is just interesting enough to make me want to at least pay attention to the latest franchise entry, yet again.

The franchise, and arguably Ubisoft games in general, have gotten increasingly formulaic since around 2009 (Assassin’s Creed II to be specific). It seems like multiple Ubisoft games from multiple franchises have followed the same formula: experience points to collect, skills to upgrade, things to craft, an economy system, and much of the time an open world with a map full of icons to travel to. The AC games have become annual with their own tried-and-true formula of hay barrels, backstabbing, tailing missions, and other automatic failure stealth missions. If you actually pay attention to what we know about Unity though, it seems like it might try to make the most fundamental changes to the series’ formula since the original game.

Reddit actually has a pretty great, fully-sourced list of currently-known facts about the game. Most of it seems to be tidbits from interviews. What intrigues me is Ubisoft is apparently willing to sacrifice long-standing elements of the AC structure — a structure that I think has gotten bloated over the years. I haven’t played my copy of Black Flag yet (which I was only interested in because of the pirate theme), but if you ask me Assassin’s Creed III could have had half its content cut and maybe gone for a more focused, more polished game. Did running the Assassin’s guild and building a homestead need to be in there? Again? I’m not saying Ubisoft is taking a meat cleaver to the formula for Unity, but it sounds like they’re taking a good look at what really still needs to be there and what doesn’t.

Most importantly, it looks like missions in Unity will be more open-ended. What I and a lot of other people hate most about AC games is stealth missions like the tailing sections where getting seen once or not doing something in a specific way results in an automatic fail state. To put it bluntly, the AC games often seem anti-open-world despite supposedly being sandbox games. In interviews Ubisoft has said that in Unity, a tailing mission instead may start as a tailing mission, but could change into something else if you get seen or if your target is killed. The only real objective there would be to figure out what information that guy had on him, or where he was going.  Apparently you’ll also be able to repeat missions and complete them in different ways. Ubisoft is calling this “Adaptive Mission Mechanic.” This basically sounds like what I’ve always wanted AC to be, even since the original — a game where each mission is nothing more than a place and a goal.

The stealth you’ll employ in these missions has also apparently undergone a complete overhaul. If you saw the E3 gameplay presentation, I think you saw Ubisoft employ a crouch or “stealth mode” that’s manually activated. AC thus far has been about large-scale stealth — hiding in crowds and infiltrating large areas. Infiltration of small areas has thus far resulted in the aforementioned frustrating missions. Maybe Ubisoft wants to allow for stealth on a more intimate scale. I still don’t think this is going to be like Splinter Cell or Thief, but it seems like Ubisoft is at least trying to build an actual stealth game here. I have no idea how well it’ll actually turn out.

Another big change seems to be the scale of the world. Ubisoft already confirmed Unity is going to have the biggest world in an AC game which isn’t hard to understand with the move to new hardware. What might feel really different though is that Unity’s locations will apparently vary between two thirds of real-life scale (2:3), and actual real-life scale (1:1). Where locations in previous AC games have been around half of real-life scale (1:2), Ubisoft said Paris will be at or near 1:1. On top of this around a quarter of buildings will have explorable interiors. That sounds like a big leap from just running through buildings in AC3.

Traversal seems to be getting some of the most interesting changes in Unity. A big thing is that hay barrels are gone. If you want to get down a building you’ll have to parkour down there, for which they’ve tweaked the system. There will also be no guards on rooftops. At the very least it looks like Ubisoft is trying to change how AC players perceive rooftop traversal.

There’s a lot more at the Reddit link that I won’t go deep into here. The new combat and skill upgrade system sounds interesting but Ubisoft hasn’t had a lot of luck in that department over the last decade. Co-op sounds like it might be good but I’m not extremely interested. Let’s just say overall Unity sounds like it’s trying to be a true next-gen upgrade for the franchise.

BULLETS:

  • Man, I really want a new Red Faction Guerrilla game on next-gen hardware. Judging by the sense of scale we’re seeing in games like Unity, Batman Arkham Knight, and Witcher 3, it could be amazing. Just imagine what Red Faction’s Destructibility might be like on modern hardware. Oh, and as I write this I believe Guerrilla is like $2 on Steam.
  • Evo Moment 37 happened 10 years ago. http://t.co/xakbCVSu7p
  • I didn’t realize Dark Horse’s release of Blade of the Immortal reached volume 29 back in May. Volume 30 comes out in October, and it looks like Dark Horse will conclude the series with volume 31 (Samura published the conclusion in Japan in December 2012).
  • Nice article from Wall Street Journal on benefits companies for freelancers. http://t.co/boqklMRDYI
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