I am a huge fan of open-world video games. These are the type of games that make you feel as if you are embarking on a grand adventure. And instead of constantly attempting to lead and force you in a certain direction all the way through, open-world games give you the freedom to explore, take your time, and take in the experience more at your leisure. Would I want every video game to be open-world? Certainly not. Many games have benefitted from being linear and containing a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end. I’m thankful that those games do exist as well. But I will say that there is nothing like playing a good open-world game.
If you’ve ever had the privilege of engaging in the worlds that make up games such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, then you know what I’m getting at here. All of these games have a main story that is advanced through a variety of main missions. But you are not obligated to only engage in the main activities. It’s almost as if the developers made the games for you to create your own journey where you take in the world and make what you will of it. Some gamers find these types of games boring because they don’t know what to do with all of the freedom the games provide. But if you like exploring and creating your own adventures, there is no better type of game.
So how do I play these enormous adventures? My first priority is to explore. As I did when I restarted Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, the moment I left the Shrine of Resurrection at the beginning of the game, I spent hours just wandering around. Because Breath of the Wild has a day/night cycle, it’s nice to see the world during the day, at sunset, at night, and during the sunrise. You come to appreciate the beauty of open-world games when you witness completed day cycles. And you also really value the work that the developers put into the NPC characters when you notice the differences between how they behave during the day versus at night. It’s only when you take the time to explore that you become aware of those types of details. Sometimes you also get the opportunity to test your limits as you may come across a place that is meant to be visited later. This becomes all too apparent when an overpowered enemy can slay you in one strike.
Next, I spend a significant amount of time engaging in side missions when playing open-world games. I’m not in a hurry. Let’s take Cyberpunk 2077 for example. There are a plethora of side missions in the game. I love doing side missions, as long as they are purposeful and help players to familiarize themselves with the game world. But sometimes, I do tend to get too caught up in the side activities to the detriment of advancing the main story. I appreciate that the side missions of Cyberpunk 2077 help to familiarize you more with Night City, introduce you to more characters, and help you to obtain items you normally wouldn’t have gotten from main missions. It’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Along with the side missions, I highly value side activities in open-world games. Breath of the Wild allows you to cook and tame horses. Red Dead Redemption 2 will have you participating in card games and Dominoes. In Skyrim, you can enroll as a mage student in the College of Winterhold. And in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you have the flyting battles you can engage in throughout the map. An activity that involves cadence and wit, flyting was one of my favorite surprises in Valhalla. The best open-world games always make sure that the player has plenty to do no matter where the player journeys.
I will admit that because of the scale of open-world games, they can sometimes prove difficult for a gamer like me to finish. It has nothing to do with the difficulty of the game, but everything to do with there being so much to experience. Sure, I probably could still have a wonderful experience just focusing primarily on the game’s main missions, but it wouldn’t be the same. The Far Cry series does a tremendous job allowing you to experience memorable moments outside of regular and side missions. In Far Cry 6, I’ve laughed myself silly when seeing a wolf attack an enemy soldier out of nowhere. Years ago in Far Cry 4, some of my best moments came when I wasn’t on a mission. Riding an elephant and taking out enemies on the road and then deciding to let the elephant loose within the enemy stronghold was amazing. I took out some enemies myself but mainly watched in delight as the elephant proceeded to take out a whole group of enemies and ended up inadvertently liberating the outpost for me.
The main goal with open-world games should be to have fun. So I’m never in a rush to finish the game. I’m okay with that. The fact that I have so much freedom in these games is worth the price of admission alone. Each of the crazy moments that I experience from scenarios that I create as I’m exploring is much more rewarding for me than even the achievement of completing the game. That’s how I play open-world games. And that is why I have such a good time.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE OPEN-WORLD GAMES?