Remy Rant: How Open World Games Have Gotten Too Big For Their Own Britches
I have learned I need direction in life. And directions. I need directions. If I am not told where to go, and instructed slightly on what to do, I float around, aimlessly. In my own life, this has resulted in being lost, proverbially and otherwise, for long chunks of time. Life has addressed this slightly by putting GPS into everything. Basically, my phone is the one thing that can keep me from mistakenly driving into a river, or some similar scenario. You wouldn’t think that the best way to open an article about open-world video games, yet let me explain why it’s perfect. Growing up, when I first started playing games, they went from left to right. That was it. Could you get lost? Well, in most early games, no. Even an idiot like me could figure out where to go next. Even the old NES games that went in all directions (think overhead view like the original Legend of Zelda) still kept things on a relatively small scope. But as game systems have progressed, so have games. Mario 64 was the first example of 3D gaming I really remember playing, and ofcourse, I was constantly lost. And that wasn’t even an open world game, but that set the tone for me. When granted sudden bursts of freedom, I am a lot like a dog in the sense that I will wander blindly for hours and then it will slowly dawn on me how lost I am, but it will already be too late so I will just perpetuate it. Now apply that idea to a game as large as Skyrim, or Far Cry 3, and you see why there is a problem. And the biggest problem, this shit is like crack to me. Delicious, virtual crack.
They are called sandbox games for a reason. When you were a kid, what were you allowed to do in the sandbox? Pretty much anything you wanted. It was a box full of dirt for kids to play around in. Some would just marvel at the freedom and roll in it. Others would build castles and mini construction sites. The thing is, it was whatever you wanted it to be. While some may adore the level of freedom that grants them, it is curse to me. The problem that factors into this is a slight case of OCD, paired up with some ADD. Do you even realize how many letters that is once you mix them up? I was too impatient to count, but I am pretty sure that is, like, a hundred letters or something. And that is why these games overwhelm me. You see, in open world games, the maps you use often have little icons all over them, and said icons are jobs you can do, or side quests. Sometimes it is even hunting, which has proven a huge distraction for me in games like these.
For you to fully grasp how utterly distracting this all is to me, allow me to show you the map for the game I am playing right now, Far Cry 3.
Another thing you need to understand about that map is that is not to scale. The actual size, in rough square miles, of that island that is open to you in Far Cry 3, is 310 miles. That is not a joke. Granted, a good deal of that is ocean space, but even then, you can swim and the ocean is fully open to explore as well. And ofcourse, having slight OCD means I want to get rid of all the little icons on the map, which often means exploring them, or looting them. This can be hours and hours of walking around, doing stupid aimless shit for non-essential characters, and yet I cannot stop. And in a bitter twist of irony, the main objective you often have in games like this is often very far from your starting point. This means, for someone like me, there are about a hundred mini-quests between me and that objective. Guess who is going to have to stop and pretty much attempt every one? I will give you a hint, me. While this may seem like a first world problem, allow me to explain why it’s an issue to me and my loved ones.
I game at midnight.
I realize that, in itself, may seem odd, but the truth is, with this blog, and my Unreality gig, and my Stylequirk gig, and my SoManyMp3s gig, as well as my other random freelance work, I have no time to breathe. The only time I really have to myself is after all the work is done, and the lady is in bed, and the english muffin pizzas are in the oven (midnight snack, fothermuckers). So if I sit down, and start gaming at around midnight, with the intentions of playing “a few missions” and then calling it a night, what happens when you never actually get to the main missions? Well, if you have OCD and ADD, you keep playing. Yup, there’s the rub. Midnight turns to five a.m awfully fast in such scenarios. Oh, poor me, I know.
So what about the Grand Theft Autos, Remy? Those were huge, open world games, how did you fare with them? Honestly, I never finished one of them. Seriously. The closest I came to beating one was San Andreas (even though Vice City was my personal fave) and even then, by the time I got to the final leg of missions, I had played the game for fifty plus hours. Think about that for a second. Fifty plus hours. And I STILL did not beat the game. You want to know the only Rockstar game I have ever finished? Red Dead Redemption. And do you know why? Because that game was, without a doubt, one of the greatest fucking games ever created, start to finish. Show me someone who didn’t finish that game, and I will show you the kind of Nazi who slaps babies for fun. That connection makes no sense, whatsoever, but you are reading a Remy rant. What did you expect?
Anyway, back to giant games.
Let’s talk about Just Cause 2 for a second, shall we? I, personally, think this game is the true precursor to the brilliant Far Cry 3. They drop you onto a gorgeous island, and pretty much tell you to do what you want. They also give you some cool toys. Let me show you what you can do in Just Cause 2, and all of this is OUTSIDE of the main story line.
Do you see why games like this are a wonderfully awesome problem for ADD freaks like myself? Add ADD to OCD, and your head may implode.
The only other open world games that I actually finished were Saints Row 2 (because that series is spectacular), the Borderlands series (because that series is perfect) and Fallout 3, which falls into my top five favorite games of all time list, which, as of right now, is unwritten. But do you want the real kicker here? I put WELL OVER 100 HOURS into Fallout 3. Like, outside of a shitty, nine-to-five job, have you ever spent a hundred hours doing anything? Yeah, well shamefully, I have.
Rest assured, that was over an entire year, as my girl can attest to, but regardless, that is one hundred hours. That is some World of Warcraft, virgin shit. And do you know why I spent so much time in Fallout 3’s universe? Because pretty early on, every single character in the game figured out I couldn’t say no to them, so I was assigned every asinine task by every single non-playing character EVAR! I had elves sending me to tailor their clothes and shit, and like some Middle Earth bitch, I was doing it. All of it. But I liked that world (a ruined Washington DC felt like creepy foreshadowing to me) and Liam Neeson was my Dad Fallout 3. How the fuck can you NOT play through a game where Liam Neeson is your Dad? And you get a chance to avenge his death. Only a baby slapping Nazi would pass up on that.
See, you have to admit that trailer is badass.
When Bethesda made Skyrim, though, and all the world was cumming buckets over how amazing it was, I found myself quite disappointed. While I liked how fantastic the world was, I didn’t like how, much like Fallout, every single NPC had a million things for you to do. For instance, some woman has a magic sword that you need to further your game. While in a perfect world you could buy it, this woman needs a shield that was stolen from her family, so if you get her the shield, she will give you the sword. Thing is, when you find the wizard who stole the shield, he will try to bargain with you. He will tell you the shield is actually cursed, and if you want it, you need to lift the curse put on him by defeating the priestess who cursed the shield in the first place. He then tells you the priestess has a rune you need to get the shield so you can then get the magic sword. But when you get to the priestess, she tells you that the rune was actually stolen by a blacksmith to forge a mighty sword for giant killing, and you need to go find that blacksmi…argh, fuck this, kill everyone. Yes, you can do that in Skyrim. And yes, that is just what I ended up doing.
The video is not me, but it might as well have been.
The other thing about Skyrim, and other games of this size is, they are often riddled with game breaking glitches. I encountered so many bugs in my version of Skyrim, the main quest was literally unbeatable, because I had a crucial character fall through a solid floor and vanish. I wish I was kidding. So if the game world is too large to be able to make work, why the shit are you releasing the game? That is illogical, and for someone like me, with slight gamer OCD, you are thrusting us into a hell of epic proportions. I mean, look at some of these glitches, how is this okay?
Alright, I won’t lie, some of the glitches are hilarious.
This all leads up to Far Cry 3, which I am playing right now, and which is sucking the glittery marrow out of my soul. Why? Because it is an open-world game, and it’s scope is huge-ungous. You can hunt, and hand glide, and swim, and kill pirates. Oh, and on top of that, the bad guy in the game, who is an insane, drugged out psycho, kind of looks like me, or so I am told.
Wait for it….
In essence, in Far Cry 3, I am me, playing against a virtual, evil-pirate me, on a three hundred mile island that has its own ecosystem. And you wonder why I am up until five in the morning? Open world games are so big I even forgot the point of this whole rant. I think I was mad, but I am not so sure now.
Regardless, have some stunts to distract you from the fact that this rant went nowhere.
I can’t even be mad at something that allows me to be this awesome.