A reader compares features such as Spider-Man’s traversal and Side missions of The Witcher 3 to see how you can make the ultimate open world game.
Inspired by a recent podcast discussion and my current play on Elden Ring, here are my favorite elements from open world games over the years. My only condition is that I never picked the same game or franchise twice.
Best Combat – Batman: Arkham Knight
The Batman: Arkham series set pretty standard in terms of combat, and the Freeflow system was the blueprint for others to follow. Ignoring tank battles, for me Arkham Knight added subtle little changes to improve on the already winning formula, like putting Robin and Nightwing in the mix, and some variety in stealth combat. Honorable mention of the Elden Ring, though.
Best Traversal – Marvel’s Spider-Man
So many contenders for this award. Getting down on the highway in GTA 5, with the sea on one side and skyscrapers in the distance, is great, as is Elden scurrying across the Ring between the Lands on your horse Torrent. I also love the gliders in Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But my overall winner is Spider-Man. Walking around New York never got old and for me, who can’t even wear spandex, let alone a superhero, this is about as close to being Spider-Man as I can get.
Best Side Mission – The Witcher 3
A lot of people I know consider The Witcher 3 to be one of the all-time greats. Personally, I find it overrated. The combat isn’t great, the menu is shocking, the crafting system is confusing to the point of being a hindrance and I have no idea how Gwent works.
What I get though is side content. Characters like Bloody Baron are great and I really enjoyed all the short stories, especially the short stories like the woman with the lost frying pan. There’s even a side-by-side mission that manages to fit an entire subtext about a tragic love story between two gay men. The game manages to convey more narrative and emotion in five minutes than other games in twenty-something hours.
To be honest, I would be happy if the next Witcher took place in small villages and Geralt was talking to the villagers without a fight.
Variety of Things to Do – GTA 5
GTA 5 is almost eight years old now and is still relevant today, which is a pretty impressive achievement. My love for the game has waned in recent years but I still think it’s great to give players ways to spend their time.
Many games have beautiful scenery and settings to watch but then they are empty and devoid of life.
In GTA however, outside the main mission, you can play tennis, golf, darts, watch movies, do yoga, go hunting, go for a bike ride, compete in triathlons , parachuting, compete in off road races or maybe try and hijack a plane or oppose certain characters in many strange and wonderful ways.
Best World – Red Dead Redemption 2
It was a difficult choice. One that Alden Ring almost won. Red Dead Redemption 2 is not my favorite game. The missions all feel very similar, and the controls and gameplay seem to have evolved very little since GTA.
However, it’s hard to blame the level of detail and craftsmanship on display. The game looks beautiful and was pretty unmatched at the time. The amount of wildlife and how accurate it looks is just astonishing.
Not only that, though, the characters seem to react like real people at times and the way you encounter the spot depending on the time of day and other variables add to the feeling of the real world.
It’s not just the western setting in which Rockstar excels, you just have to compare Night City with Los Santos to see GTA 5, despite its much older age, miles ahead of Cyberpunk 2077 when it comes to living in the open world. It’s about experiencing.
Best Visual Style – Elden Ring
Elden Ring isn’t as impressive as other games graphically, but the variety of different monsters and enemy types, with different landscapes, from snow-capped peaks to tall green grass, and majestic castles and crumbling ruins are amazing. The world of Elden Ring is truly a sight to behold.
Best Weapon – God of War
The Elden Ring has the best variety of weapons, but overall the best weapon is definitely the Leviathan axe. Powerful and versatile it can be used for melee and ranged combat.
It sounds weird to say but it almost feels like it has weight, like you can imagine how it would feel to hold it in your hand.
Best Innovation – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
To me, Breath of the Wild is one of the greatest, if not all Greatest game of all time.
There is so much to love in the art style, traversal and exploration.
The best part of the game for me is that it has many things that make it different from other games. I know many Zelda fans lament the lack of dungeons but personally I loved shrines. I wish more games had puzzle elements.
I also love how certain objects can be used in unexpected ways, such as using stasis on an object and hitting it with a weapon to create force and propel Link through the air. I’ve also seen videos showing people using a similar trick with remote bombs, alas I never got the right timing when I tried it myself.
There are many other minor gameplay quirks that make the game unique. Sneak up on a bandit camp and replace weapons with korok leaves so that enemies can be blown away by a gust of wind, by dropping metal weapons next to enemies during lightning storms, a flame sword or similar to protect them. Be equipped with basic weapons. Out of the cold, there are a lot of little things that make this game kind of unique.
matc7884 by reader
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