The Biggest Problem with Triple-A, Open-World Games: "They're Boring as Hell"

Megalith

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“I don’t wanna do my video game chores”: the alleged monotony of Red Dead Redemption 2 has driven The Outline to publish an opinion piece arguing that many of the latest big-budget, open-world video games are technically impressive, but their scale and grandeur is merely a ruse to hide their shallow, dull gameplay. The author admits repetition is fundamental in gaming but claims RDR2 and other “Real World Games” have taken tediousness to a whole new level, in which players are forced to perform tasks implemented merely to inflate the length of a game.

This is the standard experience of playing a so-called Real World Game, which other than RDR2 includes games like Horizon Zero Dawn (2017), and No Man’s Sky (2016) before the developers actually made it interesting. It’s a genre that prizes size over depth. It’s usually open-world, pretty easy to play, has a medium-length main quest that’s typically bolstered by an endless series of pointless side quests and collecti-quests (Collect every trophy! Capture every animal! Step on every plant!) to bolster its total playtime. A Real World Game also prizes supposed verisimilitude at the expense of fun.
 

PenGunn

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This is where Bethesda stepped up and gave us Fallout 76. Everyone shit on it because it was not like the old ones. After 500 hours and 160 levels across 3 chars the game is opening up and I play every day for a few hours. Its not at all boring. All open world events run themselves and the howls of rage when 3 Scorchbeasts jump you is very funny. "The game should not do that man". That is a gift for me. ;)
 

Viper87227

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I've been saying this for years. I'm surprised to see RDR2 as an example though. That game is incredibly well made, narrative driven game wherein the boring shit like crafting and hunting are 100% optional (aside from early missions that serve as a tutorial of sorts). In fact, I'd call RDR2 a pretty great example of what open world games should be. Ubisoft is the biggest perpetrator of this bullshit trend. Far Cry has been the same boring rinse and repeat experience since the second game. Watch Dogs is another "me too". Wildlands turned a classic tactical shooter and turned it into a generic ass snooze fest that i'd argue is one of the least inspiring games they've ever made. Division was ok... the concept wasn't for me but at least it felt a little less like a rehash of what's been done before. Even Assassins Creed, the only Ubi franchise I still hold any regard for, is getting tedious. Origins was a great step in the right direction of becoming a real RPG, and in typical Ubi fashion, instead of taking 3-4 years to further evolve that into a worthy successor, they rehashed the same game with a new coat of paint and pushed it on us a year later. Odyssey does a lot of things really well, but it's way bogged down with so much boring, pointless shit that's nothing more than grinding for the sake of grinding. There's a good game in there somewhere, but there's a lot of shitty game trying to pad it. Open world games can and do work very well when developers dedicate the time and resources required to do it well. When you start releases sequels every 1-2 years, they start to lose their charm with each new iteration.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Maybe if you are a goddamned child with the attention span of a gnat.

I'd argue these are some of the best games out there over the last 15-20 years.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series, Fallout 3, NV and 4, Dying Light, Prey. These are all on my top list.


It's no secret that attention spans have gone through the toilet though. Just watch a movie from 30 years ago and watch one today. They used to spend way more time on good character development. Now it's just wham bam action scene after action scene, because the retards get "bored". :(
 
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Danny Dawg

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I prefer the open world games but for me, they have to be in the first person. I don't mind fixed route first person games like DOOM or FEAR. . . but I gotta walk around and explore. Especially when I want to disconnect for a few hours.

Metro Exodus seemed to be the first game in awhile that was in the middle of fixed route and open world and it worked for me.

Maybe I am just an old timer, but I don't need a game to give me an instant win .. .I have no issues walking around for days trying to find it or figure it out.
 
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Horizon Zero Dawn is my favorite game in years so not sure I totally buy in.

HZD is complete opposite of what they were talking about, it was well done and a combination of Linear with open world, not to mention you would get your arse handed to you by various big baddies. They did a good job with they OH CRAP run run run factor, and I'm having a hard time remembering how many repetitive task there were, I know the trials with the logs etc were fun and didn't seem like a go here get this and come back x30


GTA V, RDR, RDR2, Witcher 3 were all very boring. Even the fallout games suffered from this late game when you were god like, before that though very addicting.

Far Cry 2,3 etc were all very repetitive.
 

deaedius

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I find myself always veering off of the main quest in open world games, I am glad they allow a gamer to have the freedom to chose what they want to do when they play. If they find it boring then stay to the main quest or major side quests and move on to a different game when complete, if they find any of the extra's boring that would be on the gamer not the game.
 

seanreisk

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series, Fallout 3, NV and 4, Dying Light, Prey. These are all on my top list.

Holy shit, all on my short list of favorites.

Different people have different mindsets. My housemates used to accuse me of being deliberately boring when I played certain video games, such as Commandos 2 where I liked to carry all the enemy soldiers back to one huge, steaming pile of Nazis-in-underwear. I'm not saying anyone else should play this way, but I am saying that 'boring' is subjective - some people don't like watching NASCAR unless there's a crash. I remember playing an old school game called 688 Attack Sub. Played properly, you could sit at your computer for 10 minutes or more without touching the controls, switching from station to station to see if the enemy fleet was going to find your sub as you drifted away under a thermal layer. I don't think you could make that game today.

What I hate are game companies that skimp on content by building multi-player and PvP shooters. The only PvP title to interest me in years is Hunt: Showdown, and it interests me because it has real atmosphere.
 

Spidey329

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He's not wrong on many titles (GR: Wildlands was a copy/paste bonanza). The chores in RDR2 were completely optional depending your play style and most of the levels/missions had some uniqueness to them. The game is long even just doing the story missions straight through. The side missions really only gave you cash and honor/dishonor, but upgrades for the most part remained optional and the upgrades you'd need for later game content was provided in the story missions.

But other titles (mainly Ubisoft made ones) tend to copy/paste the missions (especially the side missions), so once you're past a quarter way, you're just doing the same exact mission in a different environment with slightly different enemy character models. TheDivision #1 suffered a tad from that as the side missions were identical otherwise. It's lucky the environment was so good that it helped a ton. Ubisoft also tends to make you do the side missions to level up your character progression so that you can survive the later end-game enemies.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Holy shit, all on my short list of favorites.

Different people have different mindsets. My housemates used to accuse me of being deliberately boring when I played certain video games, such as Commandos 2 where I liked to carry all the enemy soldiers back to one huge, steaming pile of Nazis-in-underwear. I'm not saying anyone else should play this way, but I am saying that 'boring' is subjective - some people don't like watching NASCAR unless there's a crash. I remember playing an old school game called 688 Attack Sub. Played properly, you could sit at your computer for 10 minutes or more without touching the controls, switching from station to station to see if the enemy fleet was going to find your sub as you drifted away under a thermal layer. I don't think you could make that game today.

What I hate are game companies that skimp on content by building multi-player and PvP shooters. The only PvP title to interest me in years is Hunt: Showdown, and it interests me because it has real atmosphere.


Shakey-Breakey


How you played Commandos 2 is a lot how I played the Deus Ex series, on one of the highest difficulty settings, necessitating what must be tedious to some, stealth appropaches, dragging and hiding bodies and taking down enemies one by one, rather than running in guns blazing like in the easier difficulties.

I never played 688 Attack sub, but I remember seeing it in the catalogues back in the day, and recall being interested. I definitely spent a good amount of time in Silent Service II back in the DOS days, and that had many similar long "plan and wait" moments.

I've never played Hunt Showdown. I'd give it a try, but I just don't have the time for multiplayer games anymore. :(
 

Dekoth-E-

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This is where Bethesda stepped up and gave us Fallout 76. Everyone shit on it because it was not like the old ones. After 500 hours and 160 levels across 3 chars the game is opening up and I play every day for a few hours. Its not at all boring. All open world events run themselves and the howls of rage when 3 Scorchbeasts jump you is very funny. "The game should not do that man". That is a gift for me. ;)

No, everyone shit on it because it is a shitty game.
 

horrorshow

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Big companies figured out you can throw huge teams behind an open world game and churn out the dollars....

Shocker.
 

umeng2002

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Studios saw the open-world design as a way to save money... just like "shoot & loot" online games like destiny and anthem... Just make a cookie cutter sand-box and hope players are entertained. Meanwhile CD Projekt wrote and built many, many, many interesting side stores and quests almost making the main quest irrelevant to have a fun time.
 

Derangel

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Most open-worlds are bad, it just depends on how much attention, care, and time the developers put into it. If a studio just copies the Ubisoft "barf content all over the screen" approach to open-worlds then it will likely end up being a bad open-world. On the other hand, you get the worlds Rockstar creates, something like Breath of the Wild, or the Bethesda style of open world and they work. They work because of the time and effort put into making the open-worlds interesting to explore and reward the player for doing so. Even if the reward is something as simple as a cool piece of scenery or some random bit of world building (Horizon did an excellent job of that) its something that makes the player feel like they "discovered" something cool instead of being asked to collection the 500th piece of tat from an otherwise boring landscape.
 

DukenukemX

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Games like Fallout 76, World of Warcraft, Anthem, and even Breath of the Wild use open world design as a quick money maker without actually making content. Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Witcher 3 did this successfully because the content was well thought out and rewarding. If I wander in a direction in any of those games I will find some cool, lore rich, unique reward side quest that I can easily get lost in. Breath of the Wild has lots of busy work stuff but no dungeons to explore to get a hook shot or unique ability. The best part of the game is doing the 4 main beast machine things and then the last boss. The best part of Skyrim is the side quests.

I think game developers have been taking shortcuts in finishing games by abusing open world game design. This is probably why World of Warcraft is falling apart right now as the game designers are using random generated loot to entice players while also offering them grindy content that you repeat, over and over. Classic Vanilla WoW you had fixed loot which usually had lore behind it, and lots of unique quests and dungeons to keep you busy.

Triple A gaming studios are being cheap with their game design and don't want to put effort into their open world games. So they put in repeatable grindy objectives that offer nothing but a waste of time. If it's multiplayer then they hope other players act as content, even though these type of games still require good single player content to motivate the players. What's the point of grouping with players if the content is boring and the loot is random? You jump on Skyrim so fast and install Caliente's Beautiful Bodies Edition.
 

Dekoth-E-

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But its not. Its the best Fallout so far. Have you played Fallout games? ;)

All of them and probably closing in on 1000 hours in F:NV alone. It barely qualifies are fallout much less the "best so far". The fact that everyone except an extremely delusional few hate it eliminates any argument of it not being an absolute garbage fallout.
 
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i like exploring in open world games esp in theres lots of easter eggs/lore and nice quests to keep me interested.
 

N4CR

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But its not. Its the best Fallout so far. Have you played Fallout games? ;)
At least FO3 etc you could actually get to places without being hemmed in by invisible walls due to shitty programming.
Great game for survival but with very limited play styles. I don't like to attack head on through the front gates... I go where they are least expecting and least defended. FONV doesn't usually allow you to do that, weird scripted triggers and areas you have to pass through to enable the next section etc.

And the mention of NMS, it delivered mostly what the fans wanted on day one. In fact now after all the 'there is nothing to do' bitching by COD types, you have to grind a bit more than the early game. I play it for relaxing and exploring a new place, turns the brain off for a while and its beautiful. The hype train that blew shit out of context (AMD anyone) caused most of the damage around launch. Today they have far exceeded their original promises and do not have a shred of DLC either.
 

Derangel

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...awn-to-and-threatened-by-china-trump-may-help

China is the world's largest video game market now. Prepare for their style of gaming to be the new norm, and for ours to be a thing of the past.

Now? Its been that way for years and it highly depends on the type of game you're talking about. China is nowhere near the top when it comes to consoles and full-priced titles, that belong to the US, Germany, and the UK ( in that order)
 

filip

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Ah, though he was talking about the new "mmo's" that suck, or the reskinned AAA games. I needed brakes from RDR2 (work and stuff) but that was a great game.

Some of my favorite games that came out recently where enter the gundgon, not a hero, stardew valley and nom nom galaxy. Non are AAA and they where fun to play, no brakes needed.
 

ReaperX22

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Games like Fallout 76, World of Warcraft, Anthem, and even Breath of the Wild use open world design as a quick money maker without actually making content. Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Witcher 3 did this successfully because the content was well thought out and rewarding. If I wander in a direction in any of those games I will find some cool, lore rich, unique reward side quest that I can easily get lost in. Breath of the Wild has lots of busy work stuff but no dungeons to explore to get a hook shot or unique ability. The best part of the game is doing the 4 main beast machine things and then the last boss. The best part of Skyrim is the side quests.

I think game developers have been taking shortcuts in finishing games by abusing open world game design. This is probably why World of Warcraft is falling apart right now as the game designers are using random generated loot to entice players while also offering them grindy content that you repeat, over and over. Classic Vanilla WoW you had fixed loot which usually had lore behind it, and lots of unique quests and dungeons to keep you busy.

Triple A gaming studios are being cheap with their game design and don't want to put effort into their open world games. So they put in repeatable grindy objectives that offer nothing but a waste of time. If it's multiplayer then they hope other players act as content, even though these type of games still require good single player content to motivate the players. What's the point of grouping with players if the content is boring and the loot is random? You jump on Skyrim so fast and install Caliente's Beautiful Bodies Edition.

I haven't played the Fallout series/Anthem, but I have played a bit of WoW and many years of another (likely even worse/more repetitive MMO Aion) and definitely can agree.

After playing Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4, I was extremely excited after a new switch purchase to get into Breath of the Wild. However this particular game is literally what the OP's article is talking about. I just could not get into this game! It was raved about sooo much, but I just find gaps between spaces huge, mostly no-story, and just.. Boring!? Don't even get me started on items you can't repair... >.<

I enjoyed my time with Skyrim, though.
 
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Open world games have been on the decline from the jump. Skyim, Fallout 4, GTA V all pale in comparison to their early 2000s counterparts. Morrowind, Fallout 2 (late 90s but even NV is better), and San Andreas blow them out of the water, and are still more fun to play to this day.

Triple-A gaming $100 million budgets are a mistake and hopefully a market crash is in the future
 

Delicieuxz

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It’s a genre that prizes size over depth. It’s usually open-world, pretty easy to play, has a medium-length main quest that’s typically bolstered by an endless series of pointless side quests and collecti-quests (Collect every trophy! Capture every animal! Step on every plant!) to bolster its total playtime. A Real World Game also prizes supposed verisimilitude at the expense of fun.


That's been the case with every Ubisoft game for a very long time.

Open world games have been on the decline from the jump. Skyim, Fallout 4, GTA V all pale in comparison to their early 2000s counterparts. Morrowind, Fallout 2 (late 90s but even NV is better), and San Andreas blow them out of the water, and are still more fun to play to this day.

Triple-A gaming $100 million budgets are a mistake and hopefully a market crash is in the future

It all started with the exodus of PC developers to console platforms, where games had to be dumbed down to work with a controller, and where developers thought they had to keep dumbing the games down to appeal to larger audiences. What the developers might not of realized (because they were dumb) is that they dumbed themselves down in the process and they can't simply just turn back on the more advanced thinking they had before they dumbed down their games and the industry.

Some of the biggest studios show that there's no mental complexity in the developers making their games. The writing, quest composition, and production values of Bethesda Game Studios, for example, is utterly sociopathic and the epitome of moronism. Todd Howard and the studio's writers are unaware simpletons with the intellectualism of beavis and butthead. The same goes for their marketing director, Pete Hines. It shows in all their productions and PR that their thoughts are truncated to the point that they don't really understand anything.

And in their games, perhaps most notable Fallout 3, the writing is god-awful and cringe-worthy, with nothing making sense, nothing being rational or reasonable or believable...

The Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3, Part 1

This isn't just bad writing. This is sociopathic writing where in the mind of the person who wrote it, nothing connects, everything is packaged into disparate tropes that are arbitrarily referred to and imposed upon whatever that person works on. It's disgusting and an abomination.

And the fact that Bethesda developers and execs don't catch it and say 'wait, this writing is total shit, there's no way we're going to put this into a game', but rather puts it into their games means that they're of the same condition and don't know anything above sociopathic projection. Like minds probably hire people of similar stupidity to the point that their studio is an echo-chamber of stupidity and no outside awareness-checking ever has a chance of getting into their development process and games.

I can't endure far into a BGS game because the vapid sociopathic mentality underlying most corners of their designs (not just the writing, also the voice direction and animations, though F4 saw some improvement there) is extreme cringiness on booster rockets.



Opening the Scrolls: Unpacking the Shady and Scandal-Plagued History of Bethesda / ZeniMax
 
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Flogger23m

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series, Fallout 3, NV and 4, Dying Light, Prey. These are all on my top list.

STALKER and Prey (the new one, never played the original) aren't exactly open world. Which helped both of them.

They're talking about something like Witcher 3, GTAV, the latest Assassins Creed games and whatnot. There is only so many fucking ways you can pick up a stick. It has little to do with attention spans but more to do with lazy developers. If you can't create good gameplay, just copy/paste the same half-done mechanics that you repeat dozens of times. These open world games tend to have garbage core game mechanics. Yes, even The Witcher 3's combat was shitty and a low point of the game. I will take better combat over collecting 100 crappy swords to sell for 7 dollars to help buy that decent 15 dollar sword. And I'll take well crafted maps over dozens of out posts, nests, or whatever other copy/paste set piece you typically get in open world games.

Games like Fallout 76, World of Warcraft, Anthem, and even Breath of the Wild use open world design as a quick money maker without actually making content...

Oh and this game to. Yes it was playable and even enjoyable at times but thoroughly average. The combat mechanics were severly underdeveloped, and 2-3 hours into the game everything you'd do would be slight variations of the same few things. Find new clothes. Fight the same enemy. Find a shrine. Walk here. Find a quick spawn point. Climb a tower. Little to no story. Just like most open world games.

The difference between a game like Sleeping Dogs is at least that did the core gameplay - the fighting mechanics, very well.
 

Derangel

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I haven't played the Fallout series/Anthem, but I have played a bit of WoW and many years of another (likely even worse/more repetitive MMO Aion) and definitely can agree.

After playing Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4, I was extremely excited after a new switch purchase to get into Breath of the Wild. However this particular game is literally what the OP's article is talking about. I just could not get into this game! It was raved about sooo much, but I just find gaps between spaces huge, mostly no-story, and just.. Boring!? Don't even get me started on items you can't repair... >.<

I enjoyed my time with Skyrim, though.

I completely disagree when it comes to Breath of the Wild. The world might be a lot of "empty" space but it is still filled with ambient storytelling. The game could use a couple more side-activities and maybe a couple more major locations, but I love the "lonely" feel of exploring the world and discovering different ruins and seeing how the world was crafted. Its not perfect, but I like the unique experience of an open-world game being more about the exploration than action and copy-pasted content.
 
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nay, we've just been stuck with at best mediocre AAA games for the past few years. And it doesn't look like it is going to change this year either.

big gaming corps seriously needs to go private. At least they won't be led around on their leash by the public shareholders.
 

RoXQi3x

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I've experienced a wierd process with myself on these newer open world games: I start playing the story, knowing full well that optional content may not be worth doing. This may be enjoying (Horizon) or kinda drag (RDR2, still not happy with the story), but AFTER this I start searching out the rest of the content, including power-up options and side quests. Suddenly I start gradually the game more, even if I'm just basically following a checklist - I like to se what the game creators have to offer. Sometimes, I enjoy the world so much that I 100% it! I think in the future,game crators will find ways to integrate "post-game" and "main game" better. It's like in the movies "suspension of disbelief" - in my personal favourite, Zelda BOTW, I didn't think much about game design at all, it was just fun to explore.
 
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