The lights are on
Earlier today, we posted early impressions of one of the most talked-about games on the next generation horizon. Ubisoft's Watch Dogs promises to give players more control over a virtual world than ever seen before, as protagonist Aiden Pearce can manipulate the environment thanks to his hacking skills. If done right, it could be an exciting new feature the likes of which we haven't seen before. It also got us thinking about some of the biggest advances in the open world genre.
We'll kick things off with three advances brought to us by the father of the modern open world genre.
Grand Theft Auto - Birth of a genre
While GTA wasn't the first game to introduce elements of player freedom, it laid the blueprint for the modern open world genre. Selecting between various story missions, completing side activities, or simply going on murderous rampages were all elements that were present in the 1997 original. Its top-down view made high-speed pursuits frustrating, but the game has clearly earned its place in the history books thanks to its structural innovations.
Grand Theft Auto III - Open world moves to 3D
Gamers were able to rampage around the city in the previous two GTA games (as well as the London expansion), but it was always seen from a detached, top-down camera. Thanks to the advances made in the PlayStation 2 era, Rockstar's baby could finally be the more immersive affair that it deserved to be. Tiny assortments of pixels were now fully-animated models. Squares that used to represent rooftops were replaced with towering skyscrapers. Slivers of story told by text were now cutscenes with high production value. If the first GTA laid the foundation of what the genre could offer, GTA III was the first to present the type of 3D gameplay we know and love in 2013.
Grand Theft Auto series - Use of licensed music
Anything I say here would pale in comparison to the great piece that Matt Helgeson recently put together about how Grand Theft Auto revolutionized gaming soundtracks. Put simply, Rockstar and their team of audio masterminds have put together some of gaming's greatest soundtracks, time and time again. From the 80s-drenched Vice City to the hip hop sounds of early 90s Los Angeles, the studio always knocks it out the park when it's time to assemble some great tunes to commit drive-bys to.
Check out the next page to see how some other series helped push the genre forward.
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The open world genre is one of my favorites, particularly in the Elder Scrolls series. I can't wait to see where this goes in the future!
I love open world games.
I'm not sure if borderland is exactly what I would consider an open world game. It is too segregated by warp gates to really fit the bill. There are other things but that is a major one that really stops it from being open world, it isn't linear but it isn't really fully open world either .
Nice feature Dan!
Hulk Ultimate Destruction was one of my all time greatest superhero experiences ever. But why no Arkham City love? That place was amazing with all of the villains you met. I know how you feel about Assassin's Creed Dan, but there's not matching the historical element that it captures. And what about Skyrim? That place was just dang HUGE.
I love the idea, not only does it give you a GTA flow with the free roaming but it also grants you a LOT of creative room, a good game should be like this in the sense you have options so each time you play it it'll be different and exciting.
Why are so many open world games based in some version of New York City. Running aroun a bunch of giant buildings can get old pretty fast.
This article seems to have sparked a huge debate that boils down to what actually constitutes an "open-world" game. A few people have brought up Zelda being a pioneer of open world however I, despite wanting to give Zelda the highest praise possible, disagree because Zelda revolves around dungeons. Yes there is an open over-world but it still draws you into dungeons. I've been at GameStop and called Fable an open-world game only to be told that no it's a dungeon crawler. I feel like the parameters of this genre, if its even a genre unto itself at all, aren't clearly defined enough.
I only question it being a genre because it seems like "open-world" gets thrown onto so many things. This article, for example, used Borderlands as an example and I see that as first and foremost an FPS it has other things mixed into its video game stew but its an FPS.
What about Urban Chaos? that was on PS1 (before GTA3) and was a 3d open world/sandbox style game :D