Open-world Games are the Future
Recently, Ubisoft made it abundantly clear that they're going all-in when it comes to open-world games. Far Cry 3 has been a huge success for them (so much so that they've kinda-sorta announced a fourth installment), but in 2014 they'll have four (so far) AAA, sandboxes coming out: Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, The Division, and The Crew.
I tried getting into the Assassin's Creed games but for some reason they never fully engaged me enough to stick with them. The Division however... that's something I've squealed like a little school girl about in the past. However, because it's not currently slated to head to the PC, it needs the vocal support of the masses. Head over to the petition page and add your digital John Hancock to the other 134,000 others.
The Crew sounds like it has the potential to take the gaming world by storm! It's a racing game that let's you tear through over 3,000 square miles of open roads, complete with Liberty City sized cities to drive through. Think of every great racing game you've ever played... set in a massive world beyond anything we've ever seen, multiplied exponentially with the inclusion of persistent online functionality. You'll be able to hook up with other drivers, challenge them... and who knows what other mayhem will be in store.
According to Ubi's CEO Yves Guillemot, a lot of their decision to bet the house on open-world games is based on having already invested heavily in the technology and expertise to build them over the last few years. All that hard work - combined with the technological sophistication of today's gaming platforms (PC and console) - has put them in a prime position to take the open-world experience to a whole... 'nutha... level.
In an extensive interview with Polygon, The Crew's creative director Julian Gerighty said,
"It's one of those things where the online aspect, the seamless aspect, the living, breathing world aspect, that is provided by the online adds so much to the experience that it's a shame to be able to say, 'OK, you can play the game, but you can't have that part of it.' It's a really key part of it, much like World of Warcraft."
Today's players want to call the shots and direct their own experiences instead of riding a railed track through a linear game. They want to team up with their friends and create the unpredictability that comes with in-the-moment interaction, which in essence makes these games replayable... indefinitely.
At last month's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) both Respawn Entertainment and Bungie hopped on the sandbox bandwagon. Respawn is releasing Titanfall, a sci-fi first person shooter chalk full of persistent multiplayer elements.
And Bungie is working on what seems to be an MMO-Shooter hybrid called Destiny featuring a "compelling storyline, competitive multiplayer, cooperative gameplay choices, wide open public combat destinations, and third-person community spaces where you can repair and rearm before going out on your next adventure."
I've always been a big MMO fan, not because of the ability to play with others and the randomness it provides, but because the world feels alive. Whenever I see a player run by I know I can reach out and talk to a real person (even if I don't). It's the sense that the world is a living, breathing organism that makes them more alluring. In the end it's a far more fulfilling and rewarding experience than playing a game where the only "people" you can riff with are NPCs.
Over the last few years we've seen shooters (like the Borderlands games, Dead Island, CrimeCraft and a host of others) borrow elements from massive multiplayer online games and use them to create a new kind of experience... one that is striking a chord with gamers. What we're seeing is a co-mingling of game types - a few strands of MMO DNA combined with traits found in today's co-op multishooters. The byproduct will be the next evolutionary step from both of those genres into something more unique, more interesting and hopefully... more enjoyable.
Will you be a part of the future, or are you happy with the way things are now? Tell us what you think!