Revisiting Los Santos: The Rise of Open World Games and the Fall of Linear Games

By: Sarah White

gta 5

Games are getting bigger and bigger every year. Every game developer is trying to “one up” the other in every way. After replaying GTA V for the PS4, I realized that bigger games almost always leads to bigger map sizes. Many games, even if it is not labeled explicitly as open world games, do give a large degree of freedom.

I’ve always liked open world games, ever since I was fascinated watching my stepbrother play GTA: San Andreas at an age where I probably shouldn’t have been watching it. I was just enraptured by the sheer amount of freedom that was in the game. You could choose what you looked like, what you did, you could go just about anywhere. From someone who primarily played Nintendo games at the time, the map for San Andreas was almost unfathomably huge. There was never that kind of map-size in any Mario game I played. And there wasn’t that much freedom to customize in any Zelda game I played at the time. After that, I’ve always leaned towards these open world games. There were games like Spiderman 2 – which I often rented from Blockbuster just to swing around the city of Manhattan, which again at the time was a large map. But I never really and truly experienced an open world game until I got my Xbox 360.

I fell in love with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as soon as I put it in the disc tray. I felt the same way about GTA V – although I wasn’t a big person for shooter games, or killing innocent people manically because I always have a conscious when I play games. It still blows my mind the amount of detail that went into both of these games. Both of these games are damn near visual masterpieces; they paid attention to the finest details of your surroundings. And you can pretty much, genuinely, go anywhere you want too, and the quality of detail is the same. The fact that this detail is distributed evenly across these monstrous maps blows my mind. I love it.

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But as I said earlier, with games getting bigger, a lot of games have inadvertently become open world games – not because they wanted to make a freedom filled game, per say, but because they wanted to make something bigger and better than anyone else. Granted, I don’t think you can ever get any bigger than Minecraft as it’s the pinnacle of the open world concept. But regardless, I haven’t seen a linear game in a while – the industry is almost all non-linear. What was once a space genre is now flooded with games, as almost every game that gets released falls into the criteria of an open world game.

If you take a look at the website A-List Linear Games by giantbomb, you’ll notice that the majority of these games are fairly dated, with the latest game being released in 2010 – over five years ago. So what does this mean for gaming? Are they trying to phase our linear games and go exclusively non-linear? Or will some companies continue to make linear games, like some gamers love. At this rate it looks like linear games are going to be a thing of the past soon, but who knows.
In the mean time, if you’re looking to play some open world games, I’d personally recommend Batman: Arkham City, Red Dead Redemption, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, GTA V, as they’ve got lots of nice plot and optional side missions with many hours to waste exploring their maps.

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