Are Open World Games Too Big?

This post was originally meant to be about open world Ubisoft games. I went back and thought about it some more and I added some other open world titles into the mix. So now it’s more about Open World games in general, but let’s still talk about Ubisoft since the post was inspired by the upcoming Far Cry 6.

Ubisoft Games

Ubisoft is a mega publisher of games. They have brought us everything from big open world franchises (Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and everything Tom Clancy) to smaller indie titles (Child of Light and Grow Home). They even bring new titles into the mix all the time (Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and the upcoming Riders Republic).

I want to talk mainly about large open world games, games like Far Cry 6 (releasing next week on PC and major platforms). I haven’t played a Far Cry game since a little bit of Far Cry 4. I gave it a good amount of hours before eventually dropping off. I also haven’t played any Assassin’s Creed titles since Odyssey and a little bit of Black Flag before that. I only played Odyssey as part of a Google Stadia test — plus a few more hours when they gifted me the game with my progress. I purchased Black Flag for the pirate ship battles and ended up quitting after only a few hours.

Although these games are well made, fun and full of content it’s always hard for me to stick with them. I mostly get overwhelmed by the story, quests, side missions and everything else there is to do. These games are just full of open exploration. If a huge open world game’s narrative isn’t enticing enough or based on some big IP that I love (Marvel or Star Wars) I need some kind of guidelines to keep me interested. Otherwise I may just go for the next new shiny game.

Back when the first Assassin’s Creed games were released I was excited to dive into these big, story-filled worlds (and those hay wagons too). The stories were exciting, mixing history with sci-fi. The combat, stealth and sneaky parkour were all extremely fun. Today, there are just too many big open world games — the Assassin’s Creed games were being released bi-annually at some point. There’s just not enough time for all of this. There are way too many games to play and not enough time to play them all.

Slightly Open World?

Ghost of Tsushima – PS4

When open world games were a new thing there were few to choose from. One or two of these games would drop each year. Today, we have one or more big open world games coming out each month. But we also have some that give you an open world story on rails. Ghost of Tsushima was full of stuff to do, and the game handled it very well by not giving you everything all at once. There were a few storylines to follow and to complete at your own pace. If you were really into one story, you could make your way through that one for a few chapters before jumping into another one.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – PS5

Insomniac has done well with it’s two Spider-Man releases thus far. There are challenges, side quests and missions all over Manhattan. You also have your main story to complete. There were only a few main story missions in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, however, there were enough side missions and quests to make it feel almost as big as the original Marvel’s Spider-Man. When completing my second play through of Miles Morales for the platinum I noticed how short the actual story was.

In Insomniac’s other recent release, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, there are multiple planets to visit. Once you’re done with your main quests you can move on to the next one. You can also stick around and continue searching for items and more, or you can come back at some other time to search for those extra bits.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo Switch

One game that I wish I had gone about completing differently is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which I’m still not done with). Breath of the Wild does a cool open world thing where it gives you just a small piece of land to start with (used in many open world games). You unlock new areas of the map by climbing to the top of towers. Instead of exploring one small area at a time, I went for all of the towers to unlock the entire map (wrong move). Now, anytime I jump back in I have this giant overwhelming map to search through. Many of the Ubisoft open world games use this style too.

Far Cry 6

As a Cuban-American I’m thinking of giving Far Cry 6 a chance — I was born in America, but raised by Cuban immigrant parents. After seeing many mixed reviews from Far Cry 6 preview events I’m excited to see what the game is for me. I want to see what feels culturally familiar and what doesn’t. I have never been to Cuba, my parents left when they were teens, so I have a mix of Cuban/American upbringing. I’m also very ready to see Giancarlo Esposito as Anton Castillo.

I hope this game isn’t just like every other Far Cry game I’ve played so far. I don’t know what exactly it is, but something always makes me want to move on. Maybe this story will keep me around a bit longer.

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