Myself and my classmates are doing weekly blogs on various game media, picking apart articles and games. I’ve been reading my classmates blogs in tandem with writing my own, here’s a response to Max’s blog on the subject of open worlds.
In his blog Max talks about open worlds in video games, referencing The Witcher 3, Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition and World of Warcraft, each of these games approaches their open world in a different manner. I would agree that Skyrim tends to feel a little empty in terms of story, but some of this is simply because it is not delivered verbally by the in game characters, for example; while climbing on a building in one of the many towns I found a stool, table and some bones scattered around the place, clearly this was someone’s private lunch spot, possibly where they went to get away from the world. Skyrim may feel a little empty, but it just serves to let the player know that regardless of the mammoth tasks they are undertaking, maybe the whole world does not revolve around them.
Maxim makes the point that the invisible walls in The Witcher 3 make it feel like less of an open world in comparison to World of Warcraft, but I would disagree. In the Witcher the player is taking control of Geralt of Rivia, a defined and well known character with a rich history (even if he himself forgets it at times), there are certain ways we expect Geralt to act, Maxim mentions that in WoW the player can jump on any box or climb any hill, but Geralt wouldn’t necessarily climb on a box for no reason, and the only reason he’d be climbing a mountain is to fulfil a contract.
World of Warcraft allows the player to be whomever they want, your character is completely undefined except for the fact that they perform many great heroic deeds, it is up to the player to decide what their characters motivation is. I would argue that both these games are very well done open worlds, but where WoW presents something akin to a choose your own adventure, often going to ridiculous fourth wall breaking lengths to offer the player freedom, The Witcher 3 is providing a rich narrative and creates an open world that makes sense in itself.