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Where have the "linear-centric" games gone?

The term "Open-World" seems to be thrown around the industry a lot, and I question does it need to be??

(please note that this article is from my blog, dated July 31st. that can be found here - https://k1ngj1m.wordpress.com. All views and opinions that are expressed are my own)

Recently, I’ve been playing some very big releases of 2015;

  • The Witcher: Wild Hunt
  • Arkham Knight
  • and just to kill a few minutes – Far Cry 4

What do all three of these titles have in common? – The Open-World Experience. 

Something that I feel is becoming shoehorned into every “AAA” title that is being released this generation… This is awesome for the consumer who likes to get as much “bang for their buck”, and even more importantly, the gamer – hours upon hours of content to just get lost in.

Great right??

For me this imposes a concern, or at least an observation – and some questions along the way;

  1. Does every game need a massive open world?
  2. Does a game need a massive open world experience for it to be a success – or at least, appeal to the consumer?

One of my favourite games so far from this new generation has been The Order: 1886, and i’d like to tell you why.

*braces for the Internet of hate…*

For the un-initiated, The Order: 1886 is a game by Ready at Dawn Studios. They formed in 2003 from former Naughty Dog and Blizzard developers, and primarily worked on PSP titles such as Daxter and God of War: Origins Collection – among many more awesome games. The Order (as it is more commonly known) is their first title for the Playstation 4 and a superb experience.

Its primary focus was to tell a story – a bad ass story about – *spoilers* the Knights of the Round Table and their descendants – and create the world around its characters. And in all honesty i think it did this exceptionally well, what would you expect from ex-Naughty Dog guys right :). It didn’t need to create a massive open-world, filled with side quests and a billion other ways to interact with friends. It just needed to tell a story – and can I just say, what a story!!

Another reason why I loved the game, was that it game me a sense of satisfaction – of completion. 

The Order’s campaign was a comfortable 8hrs – for me anyway. Sure you can probably find someone who has completed the game in under 20min (ok a slight exaggeration, but you get my point) but can you really appreciate the game, and take in what it was meant to give you if you are obsessing at the stopwatch sat next to you? I guess it comes down to what you want from your experience.

When finishing the campaign, and seeing how many trophies/achievements I had unlocked I was amazed, another run through and I could platinum this game – and so I did. How many of this type of calibre game can you say you can easily do that in a weekend?

As said above I felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement that I rarely get from most other triple-A experiences. I simply don’t have that much time (yet) to dedicate to trophies, and so I don’t.

The Order, to me is a fantastic game and a fantastic experience to anyone who wants to see games as an “art form”, and not following a growing trend in the industry.

Of course it’s not the only game that is available that is only a linear experience, and can give you that same sense of achievement for not much time to consume;

  • Journey – Thatgamecompany
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – The Astronaughts
  • and of course Telltale’s various games.

These games are (in my opinion) linear centric experiences, and I wish we had more of them. Yes they do reward you for wandering off the beaten path, and finding collectables, however it’s not fully part of the experience or main objective – and more importantly it doesn’t matter if you find them or not :)

As I’ve mentioned previously, it depends on the experience that you wish to get from the games that you play… Me, I love getting lost in a story, in a world, in a character and that includes Open-World games as well as the “smaller” linear experiences – I believe these are just as important.

If you are reluctant to play The Order: 1886, because you’ve read the reviews or scrolled down to the bottom of a review and seen a number that is less than a 7 – then I encourage you to pick up this fantastic experience. It’s awesome, and is something that is not to missed for this new-generation of games :)

Jim

(what are your thoughts? let me know in the comments)

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