With the release of Breath of the Wild, many gamers have felt it is going to change open world games. Breath of the Wild has done things that many gamers have desired in open-world games for years. Hopefully, future game designers can learn from the critically acclaimed game. With that said, here are the 4 things open world games can learn from Breath of the Wild.
Freedom from the Start
Many open world games start with a simple tutorial telling you the controls and how to navigate. In Breath of the Wild, this tutorial lasts only for a few minutes while other games are in a tutorial mode for much longer. One example is in Grand Theft Auto 5, one of the main features advertised was the ability to swap between the three main characters. The player is not able to utilize this feature until they are a few hours into the game. In Breath of the Wild, you finish the tutorial in 10 – 20 minutes and you are immediately given everything you need to explore.
Open world games from this point on should no longer hold player desire back just for the sake of a story. If this is done, you not only alienate some players but remove the “open” in open world.
Shockingly most open world games actual feature a linear structure. Whether it is forcing players to follow a dotted line or using a mechanic in a certain way, most open world games do not allow player creativity. In Breath of the Wild, the runes you receive allow you to not only complete specific obstacles but allow you to experiment within the world itself.
Giving the player this freedom to experiment with certain mechanics allows further discovery. That discovery is what makes many open world games rewarding. It’s sad that many open world games have become predictable rather than unknown.
No Blimp Icons
Need to find something to do in your open world? Don’t bother exploring and discovering, just use the trusty blimp icons!
Another factor many open world games utilize to say their game has variety is using blimp icons all over the map. In games like Far Cry, whenever the player climbs a radio tower they immediately somehow discover all the “fun” things to do in the section of the map. In Breath of the Wild, when you climb the tower it only reveals the section of the map, no icons. Without the icons, it further encourages the exploration and making the satisfactory feeling of discovering something such as a shrine or stable feel great.
Open world games should take this risk in trusting the player to find these activities themselves.
Learn to Maintain Freedom Throughout
Most open world games today do not retain the feeling of the “open” world. Many force restrictions because of elements of the story interfering and remove the openness. A factor in this is designers fearing that players will not know what to do or where to go. Where in Breath of the Wild, once the player is let loose the player can go anywhere. They can even go to the final boss of the game if they feel confident enough!
This fear that players will not figure out where to go is understandable, though. Once the player has the game, they will do things that the developer maybe didn’t intend. But seeing this as a negative is what holds back many open world games. Allowing players to enjoy the sandbox and be given the freedom to enjoy their world is what makes open world games amazing. Let’s just hope Breath of the Wild makes this impact and open world games learn from this.