10 Things We Can’t Resist Doing In Open World Games

Some habits aren't easily broken.

Posted By | On 16th, Aug. 2022

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Open world games are more ubiquitous than ever, and it’s cleat at this point that their popularity isn’t going to wane anytime soon. The sheer breadth of options and content they provide simply cannot be matched by most other genres- but even in spite of all those options being available, there are some things that, one way or another, almost everybody finds themselves doing when playing open world games. Most of them are silly things that have become so common that we barely even register at this point- and here, we’re going to talk about a few such things.

SURVEY YOUR SURROUNDINGS FROM VANTAGE POINTS

This is, of course, a central mechanic in plenty of games be design, from Horizon to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and so many others, but even when this is something that you don’t necessarily have to do, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. Standing atop peaks or on top of towering skyscrapers and looking out at the map stretching out beyond us can be an exhilarating feeling. Especially in something like the aforementioned Breath of the Wild, where the map itself seems to be designed around that idea, standing atop vantage points to survey your surroundings can be quite a striking experience.

FALL OFF GREAT HEIGHTS ON PURPOSE

zelda breath of the wild

We all do this. Don’t even lie. While the addition of a glider in new age open world games has made jumping off of great heights less, shall we say, fatal, even in games without a glider, the first impulse for anybody as soon as they get to a high vantage point is to… jump off. Yes, we know the fall will kill us, damn it, but the thrill from seeing the ground rush up those few seconds is a vicarious excitement we can’t really get in real life now, can we? And ultimately, isn’t that what video games are about? About getting to do all sorts of stupid and crazy stuff in a safe sandbox environment that hurts no one else.

CLEAR OUT ALL THE MAP ICONS

assassins creed odyssey

Almost nothing is more annoying than an open world map or compass flooded with icons. While HUD markers and icons do have their QoL and accessibility benefits, many open world games unfortunately use them as a crutch in lieu of actual game design (which is what makes us appreciate games such as Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring that much more). A decade of having to go through a shocking amount of open world games designed this way has led to an almost Pavlovian response in many players, that of wanting to clear out every single icon littering your map, no matter how banal or trite or repetitive the activity associated with it is. And at times, in the process probably getting burned out from open world games entirely. What a shame.

TRY AND REACH UNREACHABLE PLACES

ghost of tsushima director's cut

If you’re playing an open world game, you’re going to want to see what the limits of the world are. That comes with the territory- is there any way to get beyond this chasm? How far into the ocean can I swim? What is on the other side of these mountains? While there are some notable open world games that quite literally do allow you to go anywhere, and generally shy away from the concept of unreachable places, in general, we want to try and do that in every open world game there is. And so, we try it every time we launch another one of these.

TRY TO GO ON A LAWLESS RAMPAGE

Grand Theft Auto 5 - Xbox Series X-S, PS5_06

Again, the whole appeal of open world games is trying to go up against the limits in an environment that promises to be limitless. Which is why the impetus for many (if not most) players when playing open world titles is to try and see how many rules you can break, and for how long. From killing innocent civilians to destroying every single thing in sight, Grand Theft Auto has raised an entire generation to treat open world games as an invitation to go crazy, and as a result, we continue to do exactly that in every new open world game we boot up. Speaking of which…

TRY AND DESTROY ENVIRONMENTS

grand theft auto 5

Testing the limits of an open world setting can take many different forms. You can test its geographical borders, or you can go on killing sprees, both of which we’ve mentioned above. Another destructive way to go about it is to try and destroy the game’s environments. Proper destructibility remains rare in games to this day, and yet, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from blasting rocket launchers and grenades at buildings in open world games anyway. And when the game you’re playing is something like Red Faction, where destruction is very much the point- well, that’s a treat in and of itself.

MESS WITH THE NPCs

red dead redemption 2

This is very much tied to a lot of the things that we’ve just spoken about- though of course, trying to mess around with NPCs isn’t exclusive to open world games by any means. A lot of it is just curiosity, and trying to see how NPCs will react to different things and actions by the player, while oftentimes, we just do it for the heck of it. After all, why not, right? Again, games like Grand Theft Auto and the many crime-based titles that it has inspired have hammered this instinct deep into a millions of players, to the extent that for quite a few, the first reaction to seeing an NPC is thinking of ways to try and make life miserable for them.

OVERUSE FAST TRAVEL

Horizon Forbidden West

Fast travel is probably one of the most crucial features in any open world game, though given how much of a staple it is, it’s no surprise that we hardly ever pay it any mind. As useful as it is though, oftentimes, it’s very presence makes fall into patterns that seem to revolve around it. If a quest needs you to head someplace that isn’t awfully far away, if there’s a fast travel point anywhere around it, chances are, you’re going to end up using it- even though you’re probably not saving more than a handful of seconds (especially if the game’s not too good with its load times).

Of course, that’s not always the case. Speaking of which…

NEVER USE FAST TRAVEL

marvel's spider-man pc

Every so often we come across games where the simple act of moving around is an absolute blast, where getting from point A to point B is so damn fun that it can make even the most mundane act of traversal an absolute blast. In games like these, we get every chance we can get to engage with those movement mechanics, which, of course, means skipping fast travel entirely. In games like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales, for instance, you’ll hardly ever be compelled to use fast travel, which in something like Forza Horizon 5, that so often feels like it’s very much missing the point.

ENJOY THE DAY/NIGHT AND WEATHER CYCLES

forza horizon 5

One of the greatest joys of playing an open world game that has a day/night cycle is watching the time of day transition from day to night (or vice versa) and how that changes the world, from music to the enemies you may encounter to what new quests might become available and more. Similarly, getting caught amidst a weather event in games that have those, like a dust storm in Horizon Forbidden West or a furious blizzard in Red Dead Redemption 2, can also be quite a mesmerizing experience.


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