Fallout 4 Shows How An Open World Should Be Crafted
Open world games are the current ‘in’ thing. From the scrubby, yet oddly American-sounding streets of London in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, to the huge open world of Metal Solid 5, open world is the hot concept. It’s been this way for a few years now with a number of developers trying their hand at the genre. While the ambition is often grand, the results are not always that great. There’s a recurring problem with a number of games in which the game world is large, but not always necessary.
A huge open world is nothing without filling it with content and purpose. This is easily the biggest stumbling block for many games in the genre. Ubisoft have fallen into the same trap for the last few years, namely by crafting large worlds that lack purpose in places. Both the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry franchise have boasted big and beautiful worlds, but often contain more set dressing than anything else.
At various points in both games, especially Far Cry 4, players often stumble across areas which play no real role other than to fill the world. While these areas look nice, and feed into the notion of a world, it begs the question of why they’re so lifeless. Collectibles are often deployed by Ubisoft in order to try and give these kinds of areas a point, but it feels like a cheap effort.
Metal Gear Solid 5 is one of this year’s biggest games. Vast, complex and incredibly deep, it has a lot to offer. The problem with the world is the sheer amount of areas with nothing in them. There’s plenty of areas which host enemy camps to infiltrate and control, but the gaps in between are filled with nothingness bar the odd resource (collectible).
These open world experiences are still enjoyable, but when compared to a much more realised video game, things start to feel a somewhat lacking. I began to mull over what exactly make a open world compelling. It all comes down to the detail and purpose. The recent release of Fallout 4 has reminded how wonderful a open world can be, even if I choose not to follow a path or a storyline. After 34 hours invested into Fallout 4′s expansive world, I still find my self exploring and finidng new things.
These ‘things’ aren’t merely a resource to gather, or a item to equip, they’re much more than that. Discovering the various landmarks littered across the commonwealth, each with their own history and tale to tell. Uncovering the history of each building within the various ruined cities. Fallout 4′s world is designed with reason and purpose, and that’s what makes it such a compelling place to spend time in.
I can’t recall a single time in which my curiosity has been met with a empty area simply put there as filler. Fallout 4′s commonwealth oozes detail and character, every inch feels like it’s been made with purpose. It’s a stark difference from the open worlds we’ve seen a lot of recent games. The large worlds may look impressive, but they rarely feel designed for play. Stunning vistas and wonderful scenery can only go so far, engaging the player with a responsive world is key.
Perhaps the key difference between Fallout 4 and other open world games around it’s release is the dedication to the game’s universe. Every building, every terminal and every enemy is given back story and character. It’s not a simple case of assassinating yet another guard, or stunning another Russian merc, it’s more than that. Super Mutants despise humans, seeing them as inferior creatures only worth eating. Their camps are reflect their ethos, the same way raider camps boast their brutal pack like way of life. Everything, and everywhere, in Fallout 4 (and past Fallout titles) has a reason, has a history, has a place.