5 video game franchises that would be great as an open-world (and 5 that won't)
Open-world video games are quite the rage these days, as they offer up much content for the players to keep themselves occupied. With a large expansive open environment, these games rely on the player’s curiosity and exploration to get the most out of the game while also giving a sense of scale to the world, which linear titles cannot easily rival.
Several linear or semi-open video games that are great in their own regard but would be a significant improvement if they decided to take an open-world approach to the gameplay.
However, some titles only work best in their native settings and would not deliver the same feel and style if they were converted into an open-world medium.
This list includes both types of game suggestions, five of which would be great as open-world games, while five that definitely won't work in that format.
Open-world games greatly expand maps and play area
After Doom saw a resurgence in 2016, with a soft reboot and updated aesthetics, there has been much love for the new series. ID Software has seen enough success churning out a sequel titled Doom: Eternal, which even improved upon the first game in some regards and saw the action return to Earth.
Doom's red hellscape vibe with golden lighting would do wonders in an open-world environment. This game series already has a ton of grunt enemies to fight, along with some tougher variants, which are perfect for an open-world setting. Several NPCs sprinkled about the map to liven up the world, and it's nearly there.
As an open world, though, Doom should not offer up too big a map, as the same repeating environment of a hellscape flooded with lava might become too mind-numbing.
Instead, Doom should be set in a post-apocalyptic city overridden by demons but still featuring some segments of the human population. A fight for humanity’s survival could be a great starting point for the next game in the series.
It does not seem like Respawn will return to the Titanfall series anytime soon, with their ongoing success of Apex Legends and the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Survivor game. Despite this, if the developer ever returns to the series, an open-world game might be the best way to distinguish it from the generic FPS shooter genre.
Respawn has already showcased its ability to create diverse environments, either through the various maps seen in Apex Legends or the worlds from Jedi: Fallen Order. However, it is yet to release a genuinely open-world game featuring an explorable map littered with side activities and quests to undertake.
The titan mechanic could work great in the open areas, which can be used in traversal and offensive weapon mode. While this can be used in some regions of the world to provide a linear progression for the story. Throw in some great character arcs for the player and their AI partner, and Respawn’s got a great game ready for release.
3) God of War
The new God of War series has taken a very different approach from its predecessors, moving to a semi-open hub format from the hack and slash games they used to be. With the new story set in the Norse lands far north, the story has taken Kratos and his son Atreus on a long Journey across various realms.
However, the Norse saga is soon to end, possibly with the upcoming God of War: Ragnarok, or maybe the next title after that. But with new pantheons of gods already teased, the series return is already guaranteed. If it changes its gameplay style to an open-world setting, it could take the series to new heights.
As showcased in Elden Ring, it is perfectly possible to have a large expansive open map while also containing specific linear areas that serve to further the narrative. God of War has already showcased how it can weave in a linear section of the semi-open world, so taking things to a fully open one shouldn’t be too difficult.
Rumors are that 2K Games are working on a new Bioshock game, which will be a new entry into the series after 2013’s Bioshock Infinite. This series has primarily stayed in the linear game lane, occasionally opening up some levels to a greater extent. However, after nine years, it is time that the series changed things up a bit, and going open-world seems like a great idea.
There are some predictions that the game will indeed be an open environment experience, with certain job listings asking for a writer that can work in an “open world setting.” Many such fans are anticipating official news regarding the project, which is yet to have a release date.
After the first two Bioshock games were set primarily in the underground city of Rapture, and Bioshock: Infinite takes action in a flying city in the clouds, it's a wonder what environment the new game is will be set in. Regardless of what it is, if it features an explorable map, it needs to include some variety in its design.
5) Tomb Raider
While the 2013 reboot trilogy of Tomb Raider came close, these titles weren’t truly open-world games. They featured Lara Croft’s origin story and saw her become the Tomb Raider everyone knew her to be but contained only semi-open sections, which the players had some freedom to explore.
However, with a new game in development, an open-world environment similar to the design of Horizon Forbidden West will perhaps bring a new aspect to this age-old franchise. The game would not need to change much from the reboot trilogy in terms of mechanics, though, as hunting and foraging could still play a big role.
As Lara Croft’s whole deal is adventurous action, some aspects of Guerilla’s Games’ title, the expert free-form climbing mechanic, and exploration of ruins would be a great foundation to build upon. Combat could mostly remain similar to the reboot trilogy or may be revamped entirely, depending on its feasibility in the open world.
Open-world games also have their limitations
Being a stealth game series, Dishonored would not work in an open-world setting. Imagine players trying to get the Ghost achievement but being spotted by some random NPC on the map. This achievement won’t work in an explorable open map, which would break tradition for fans of the series.
Developer Arkane has done its best work so far, with large, unconnected yet open-ended levels of Deathloop, which they should stick to. It gives the perfect level of balance by being free enough to encourage players to use their powers and engage enough to keep players occupied.
In a fully open setting, there will not be much to do in the nonlinear areas of the game. The promise of a stealth game would fall apart at this point, which is precisely what happened with the Assassin’s Creed series.
2) Resident Evil
Resident Evil Village gave fans a certain kind of open world with the large village area where players get to roam around in, at times. However, some of the best parts of the game were the isolated sections in the Dimitrescu Castle or the Beneviento Mansion. And despite the game's success, many still prefer the horror-filled experience from Resident Evil 7.
Therefore, a fully open, explorable world would be wasted in the Resident Evil franchise. After all, open environments tend to result in repeated encounters, which eventually will detract from the horror experience, which is RE’s primary wheelhouse. It is also relatively harder to do proper scares in an open environment.
Entirely linear or semi-linear experiences are the best way to get a good Resident Evil game going. The survival horror aesthetic is the series' strongest point, and they should stick to that to deliver the best at what they’re good at. Other zombie games are set on an open map if players are in the mood.
3) The Last of Us
Speaking of other zombie games, The Last of Us is another series whose strength lies in its storytelling capabilities. However, this aspect is heavily limited in large-scale open-world games, which cannot fully embody certain emotional moments, either due to cutscenes not working out as well as expected or simply because enough attention to detail for the motion capture is not given.
In linear story-driven games, The Last of Us series has shined spectacularly. Developing a fully open setting with the same caliber of graphical detail, character design, and storytelling is quite near impossible. No one would enjoy Ellie having a touching moment with Dina while a clicker stumbles around in the background.
Technological issues aside, The Last of Us’ gameplay design is primarily based on stealth sections. As already discussed earlier, stealth games are not the best candidates to turn into an open, explorable setting.
4) Life is Strange
Life is Strange games are some of the best interactive drama branching narrative games out there, along with many titles from Supermassive Games and Telltale. The most recent LIS game also featured a hub area, where much of the story takes place. However, it still had other sections, which also carried out many story elements.
This entry into the list exemplifies how an open-world setting does not work for interactive drama games. Due to the branching nature of the story of these games, based on player choices, it would be quite a headache to program all the different possibilities into an open sandbox.
The Life is Strange series is excellent where it currently stands, delivering an emotional story with several different endings, told through an artistic style now distinct to the franchise. No fans of the series want to see it change anytime soon.
Valve will probably never make a Half-Life 3, maybe because they are happy to let fans create their fan-fic about protagonist Gordon Freeman and how he finally retired one day, went back home, and got eaten by a stray headcrab. They are keen to keep the series running, as evidenced by Half-Life Alyx, a VR game that follows Half-Life 2 character Alyx Vance.
Wherever the series is heading next after this VR exclusive, many fans are unsure if they want it to be an open-world setting or not. The latter consensus, though, seems to be that an open environment would detract from the linear FPS structure it is well known for.
While moving on to new ideas is always a good thing, it is important to note that Valve does some great work at its linear levels. This includes some great environmental storytelling and a well-paced narrative. As such, Half-Life might be a good idea to stick to its well-detailed levels instead of an explorable map.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.