What is Open World? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Open-world games are all about the immersive reality that a video game provides. These are the games for people who love to explore and for people who love to interact with the world that they are being thrown into. These are the video games that provide hour upon hour of adventure and action, because every choice matters.

The exact definition of an open-world game is a video game that does not force you down a linear plot, but rather lets you explore the world and commit to quests at your leisure. It is a pretty broad definition so sometimes it is easier to give examples of games that are not open-world games. God of War is not an open-world game nor is Bayonetta. These games do require you to explore areas, but you move from point A to point B, and chances are you will never see point A again in the game. Essentially, if you are never given free time to just romp around the world without any responsibility, then the game is not an open-world game.

Okay, now that you know what isn’t an open-world game, let’s get talking about the top three aspects that make an open-world game and open-world game. To be honest, there are a lot of amazing aspects. The genre demands a lot from its developers, because gamers expect a lot from an open-world games. However, here are the top three: size of the world, freedom of choice, and interactivity.

1. The Bigger the Better!

One of the main things gamers want is a world that is massive to explore. If players can do a completionist run in less than 30 hours, then the world probably did not feel large enough for them. People want environments to wander through and they want to learn about every single obstacle and detail that the creators could imagine. Some games might be able to squeeze by with 20 hours of gameplay but they need to be an incredibly immersive experience.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • System: NS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: March 3, 2017

There are a lot of video games that contain an immense world that you are free to roam at your pleasure. The Dark Souls franchise gives you quite an expansive world. So, do the games in the Super Mario franchise, such as Super Mario Odyssey, which was a top contender to be an example used in this list. However, we are going to focus on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild, mainly because the game is everything you could ever want from one of the most legendary franchises in the industry.

Besides simply providing gamers with a large world, Breath of the Wild is featured because of the range of regions you must journey across. You have to deal with frozen tundra, volcanic ranges, endless plains, and treacherous caverns. It is practically impossible to get bored during this game, because there is so much to explore and every inch of land is extremely different.

Just as there are countless environments to explore, there are countless ways to tackle each and every area. An open-world game simply would not be as much fun if you weren’t able to romp through the area as you pleased. With that in mind, let’s start talking about the next game on this list, which is infamous for letting gamers do whatever they want.

2. I Can Be as Good or as Evil as I Want

Another thing that gamers want from their open-world games is the ability to do just about anything. In these worlds, people want to be able to play around. They want to be able to jump off cliffs. They want to be able to swim underwater. They want to be able to do whatever they want in the world that is in front of them. It’s their sandbox to rule.

2. GTA V

  • System: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, XONE, PC
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Release Dates: Sep. 17, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V is the game to play if you are looking for a world where you can do just about anything. In fact, the Grand Theft Auto series is quite infamous for being one of the first series to truly let you do whatever you want. You want to mug someone, go ahead. You want to steal a car, well, that’s the title of the game isn’t it? You want to hijack a helicopter and shoot up a business, well that’s your prerogative. Your devilish imagination is the only limit in this game. It is amazing to think that this level of control actually came out way back in 2001, when Grand Theft Auto III was released.

The fun has only increased over the years in this franchise. Playing Grand Theft Auto Online is a complete blast, because it really has become a game of one-upmanship. What can you get away with in another living person’s territory? That’s the soul of the online play.

Admittedly, there are consequences for your actions, both in the online game and older entries. However, that’s part of the fun of the game. Would robbing a bank be any fun if the police didn’t chase you afterwards? Would it be any fun stealing from another person’s neighborhood if there was no threat of them answering back with vengeance? A good chunk of the fun comes directly from getting away with your crimes or stopping someone from enacting their revenge. The larger the squad of police you can get chasing you, the more fun you are going to have. The aspect of consequences leads us to our next game and topic.

3. Cause and Effect

More recently, gamers want every single action to have a consequence. Is there really any fun in a role-playing game if you decide to be an arsonist and then don’t even have to deal with having to run away from law enforcement? Is it really any fun if the next time you load the game, the town is back to normal and no one is mad? Open-world games go hand-in-hand with role-playing because they really let you decide who your character is and what you are all about.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

  • System: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, XONE, PC
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Release Dates: Nov. 18, 2014

Dragon Age Inquisition is as much about exploring as it is about making decisions. This game perfectly combines the first two aspects that gamers are looking for in open-world games, and it answers the third demand that has been growing more and more thanks to games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and The Witcher.

People want a world that is interacting with them. People want a world that holds them responsible for the actions they choose. People want a world that feels incredibly real. Dragon Age gives players a world that is very much alive with its own prejudices, disputes, political strife, and so many more real-world issues. In creating such an environment, the creators have made a world that is full of people who feel real.

There are so many areas to explore and with each area there are people to meet and with each person a plethora of choices to make. The story you receive depends on so many little interactions, which, by the way, gives the game massive replay value. Overall, this allows players to fully immerse themselves in the Dragon Age universe.

It’s interesting to admit that the intricacy of the world actually steals a little bit of the control you have over the world. Characters are not simply going to bend to your will. If you’re a male character, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to convince Sera to have romantic feelings for you. Some can argue that this intensifies the experience, though, because everything is so much more realistic and you must actually make compromises.

Final Thoughts:

Many games can be considered open-world games. Several games in the Final Fantasy series are open-world games. Adventure platformers like Hollow Knight and The Hat of Time are open-world games. The term can apply to a lot of genres. The true tricky part of an open-world game is for the creators to understand that there is a fine line when it comes to creating a world too open. Many players love exploring. However, no one likes to feel like they don’t have enough time to properly explore the world and enjoy the game.

Dragon-Age-Inquisition-game-Wallpaper-700x394 What is Open World? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Yoko Dev

Hello, my anime peers. I’m from the states, but have taken an indefinite leave to travel while freelancing. Outside of a deep admiration for anime that started long ago, I love to read, write, and play video games. The main issue of traveling so far has been not having a console.

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