Top 5 Open World Games: Monthly Roundup February 2018

Please see here for previous Top 5 Round Ups from 2018:
January: Top 5 Rocket League Showroom Battle Cars

Open worlds have been a significant thing in gaming recently. The early part of 2017 had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn going head-to-head in the spring. They were both grand adventures set in a sprawling and varied open world full of possibilities. I did a compare and contrast post about those two games here. Further games like Assassins Creed Origins and the recent Monster Hunter World have continued the theme.lozbotw4

Recently I picked up the Hot Wheels DLC for Forza Horizon 3 and one of the things I noticed about it is how it is less open-world that the main game I had played a year previously. The two key parts of an open world game are the ability to go where you want and do things in whatever order you want – all within reason, of course! So, it got me thinking about my favourite open world games and whether or not that aspect was what made the game great.05-02-2018_22-35-04

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (review here)
Was the open world what made it great: Yes
Hyrule is the undisputed star of this game. In fact this game in general is the absolute definition of an open world game done right. The world was so big and so varied and every single new area you came across had something interesting to do, fight or investigate. For sure, everything else was great – the characters, the story, the shrines, the boss battles – but it was just existing in the world and experiencing everything it had to offer that made Breath of the Wild so great.lozbotw2

Horizon Zero Dawn (review here)
Was the open world what made it great: No
The broken state of the world in Horizon Zero Dawn is a spectacular sight to see. It’s quite the most beautiful game I’ve ever played – see here for a post about that. But actually that’s not really what it’s all about here. Sure, you can go about things as you wish but actually the story line was so gripping and spectacular that I wanted to plough on directly through it. It’s a great achievement of a living and vibrant world, but it’s still only a backdrop for a fantastic narrative.Horizon Zero Dawn™_20170707221530

Forza Horizon 3 (review here)
Was the open world what made it great: Yes
The first Forza Horizon was a great racing game and it’s sequel opened up the world so that you weren’t tied to just the roads anymore. However, it was the 3rd edition that really got the combination right. Cars that were as fun to drive in a race as they were to just drive about the place and an absolute myriad of events and challenges to take part in dotted everywhere. This really was the definition of doing things in whatever order you want – there are always multiple options of what to do next and you can just fill your boots.08-02-2018_07-34-01

SSX3 (review here)
Was the open world what made it great: No
SSX3 took the somewhat on-rails gameplay of SSX Tricky and placed it all on three open mountains that you could descend as you wished, taking part in whatever events you liked. That was cool, and the long events that took you right from the very top to the very bottom were spectacular. However, that wasn’t the main draw – it was the spectacular tricks: doing uber tricks whilst grinding on a rail is something that has never been bettered in any extreme sports game.2018-02-08-03-35-28-1-e1518104985266.jpg

Minecraft (review here)
Was the open world what made it great: Yes
No round up of open worlds would be complete without Minecraft. Not only can go you wherever you want and do things in whatever order you want but you can even shape the world itself how you want! So, of course, the world itself is the key here. Whether it’s building your first tiny shelter, bravely venturing into the depths in search of resources or zinging about on a rollercoaster of your own creation, Minecraft is all about how you and the world interact.2017081613284700-773F9627E0AC611AA92DA55E307BD361

What about you? What are your favourite open world games? And was it the world that made them great, or something else? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sequels – Addition or Replacement?

Sequels usually fall into two camps for me. Those with storylines like adventure games or first person shooters I consider an ‘addition’ to that franchise – even if the gameplay is improved and tweaked, the story gives you reason to go back to the previous entries. On the other hand, sequels in franchises like sports games or racing games are more ‘replacements’ – they bring advances to the gameplay and give you no reason to go back. Occasionally though, a sequel will transcend these definitions and give you enough new gameplay outside of a story to be a great experience without stepping on the toes of it’s predecessor.
One such example is SSX 3.

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The game before it was SSX Tricky, which was just amazing. It was just outrageous in every aspect – the characters, the tricks, the speed, even the soundtrack. This is still the best game I’ve played in terms of pure fun – no complications or distractions, just massive tricks and massive points.
So where could SSX 3 go? There was no narrative so they couldn’t just tweak the formula and put a new story on it. What they did though, was retain enough of the gameplay – the crazy tricks and the races – whilst placing it in a new setting. Here you had a more complete structure to the events in the game, more organised tracks and mountains and just a little bit of an open world feel. It was a stunning game in it’s own right without diluting the simplicity and, frankly, preposterousness of Tricky.

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I originally played this games on Playstation 2 but have recently picked them up on the cheap for the original Xbox. I’m surprised and pleased to report that they are still fantastic games all these years later! Normally I would only consider one game in this kind of franchise for my All Time Top Games List. If I didn’t use that policy that list would be full of 6 Forza Motorsport games, multiple Mario Karts and a multitude of FIFAs and PESs. But SSX Tricky and SSX 3 are both worthy enough, and different enough, to get separate places on that list.

SSX Tricky Intro from The Gamer Boys on Vimeo.

Now I’m going to head back to Garibaldi and see if I can get back to when I could get well over 1 million points on the way down there!
What about you? Which other sequels have been great without just replacing the game before? Let us know in the comments below.