7 Open-world Game Issues Developers FaceFeb 23, 2020 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Open-world games are among the most fun and immersive titles out there, but thing is, they’re hard to create and challenging to perfect due to a number of issues.
If we look back in 2010-2019, there were a lot of open-world games that, in a way, changed the way we play. Instead of linear stories and sequences, we’re treated to large open worlds and absolute freedom. Plus, some of these games gave us immersive worlds that felt alive, making us feel like we’re part of it.
However, even if these games are revolutionary and are a huge leap in the right direction, they still have issues and are absolutely difficult to create. Open-world games are almost always never perfect on release: they need constant updates and bug fixes. For developers, they pose a plethora of nearly insurmountable challenges during development and post-release. These include:
Bugs and glitches
You can always bet that an open-world game will always have bugs and glitches. The work involved, design, and coding is massive and even if you have beta testers playing it for hours, scouring the world for places where they can fall through maps and other issues.
Skyrim’s vanilla build was cursed. Jokes aside, the game had countless issues like broken questlines, non-responsive NPCs, and objects flying across the map. Without diving deep into spoilers, a good example would be the Thieves Guild final quest which had a game-breaking bug.
The daunting world design
Designing a large world is an extremely huge challenge and requires every ounce of creativity, but one that many games managed to address. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey has one of the best-designed worlds ever created, giving us an immersive and accurate depiction of Ancient Greece. Meanwhile, Red Dead Redemption 2 recreated the western frontier of America fairly well. Finally, The Witcher 3 made us all feel like we’re actually in a dark fantasy medieval world.
The biggest concern of designing a world is to fill the empty spaces. AC Odyssey and The Witcher 3 filled the void with side quests, while RDR2 treats us with nature and beautiful cinematic experience. Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gave us puzzle shrines and interactivity.
The likelihood of a “dead” world and stupid AI
Unfortunately, even if developers managed to hurdle the design conundrum, there’s still a major dilemma: how can you create a world that feels alive? Although AC Odyssey managed to deliver a beautiful world, it still felt a little dead to me. The NPCs barely react and the enemy AI is just terrible.
Though nearly a decade old, Skyrim did well with the NPCs reacting to the events of the world. Meanwhile, GTA and RDR2 executed this brilliantly by enabling you to interact with NPCs.
Finding the right number of quests and progression
The number of quests in open-world games is just....daunting. Unfortunately, most of these quests are there just for the sake of it and you can safely say that they prioritized quality over quantity. Once again, AC Odyssey fails in this regard: the sheer amount of quests is too overwhelming and most of the time, they’re not even that good. You could say The Witcher 3 is the same, but the quests and their content are nothing short of brilliant.
Navigating an open world is hard which is why fast-travel is a mainstay in these kinds of games. Unfortunately, this option is only available in places where you’ve been, which means you have to actually move on foot or ride an animal and vehicle to get there first.
This doesn’t help if the means of travel are limited, dull, unrefined, and janky. One good example of this is Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Vehicle control is mediocre at best and your best bet to get to a destination quickly is through a chopper or a plane. The same can be said about Skyrim and The Witcher 3: you either have to travel on foot or ride a horse which isn’t exactly fun.
Games that managed to make travel downtimes fun include the Just Cause series, Zelda: BOTW, and GTA. In Just Cause, you can zipline, use a wingsuit, and like in GTA, have a plethora of travel options thanks to the sheer amount of vehicles available. Meanwhile, in BOTW, you can glide and even use the Sheikah Slate’s powers creatively to move around.
The world doesn’t react to your deeds
Even if the world is immersive, there are clear oversights and instances where it doesn’t change and react with what’s happening in the world. A good example of this is The Witcher 3. Without diving deep into spoiler territory, I got the ending where Nilfgaard won, but a certain city still had Redania’s banners hanging on its walls.
Skyrim nailed this well. If you’ve finished the civil war questline, the only soldiers you’ll see around the world are those from the winning side.
Little focus on gameplay mechanics
Finally, the focus on the world itself leads to little focus on other mechanics, particularly combat. Skyrim fails in this regard. Though it has a great world, its combat mechanics weren’t really its best. Meanwhile, GTA V’s shooting holds up well but isn’t exactly great.
Open-world games will continue to be influential and with improvements in gaming technology, we’re likely going to be in for a wild ride in the next generation. This year alone, we’ll have Ghost of Tsushima and Cyberpunk 2077 with both promising to provide an exceptional and immersive world with fantastic gameplay.
Issues will definitely continue to persist but who knows, they may be long gone in the years ahead. We hope so.