Video Games Are Too Big

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Being a gamer for a long time has its pros and cons. I found myself enjoying some games less than before and therefore, I was motivated to get to the bottom of why that is happening. I came to the conclusion that some games are just too big, for me at least. Some worlds in video games are simply too big.

The issue many games suffer from is that its worlds are simply too big, and it is the marketing point counted as an advantage. I often see “biggest world in the series to date”. I do not see this as something necessarily good. It does not mean it is bad, because it is a sign of progress, but I would rather have a smaller world that I can immerse myself in, than huge empty fields.

AC Valhalla 2
Picture via Ubisoft

Chapter 1: Worlds For Days

Huge world is a reason I was not able to enjoy many games over the last couple of years. Let’s get right into examples. I loved the setting of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and I love to explore every part of the world, but after spending 20 hours in the prologue location without even unlocking the main map, I just got tired. Exploration felt like a chore where I was just going to the next point of interest or question mark, because I did that till this moment of my playthough. I still had fun with the game, but the size of the world can often be overwhelming.

Far Cry 6 had a similar problem, but I was able to complete the game thanks to fast travel. I was just spending as much time on the map and in loading screens as in the game itself. I was playing on PS5, and the amount of time I spent on loading screens is absurd. The game is loading very fast, but I fast traveled over and over in order to experience the story. I still did many side activities, but my build for the character connected on all pieces of gear that would enhance my movement speed in order to move faster between locations.

good old times

Somehow, older Assassin’s Creed games like AC: 2 or AC: Brotherhood were some of my favorite games in the series. They had a smaller world, but the stories and history details there were very compelling and made you interested in everything around. Even Assassin’s Creed Origins as a reboot of the series gave me a lot of fun, and I was able to complete the whole game and every activity inside the map, these games kept getting bigger and bigger. Far Cry 3 the same case. I checked if it is not just nostalgia, and I had so much fun replaying these games, even though they looked worse than the newest installments in the franchises.

Bigger worlds are definitely impressive, but they do not mean that I will spend more time with the game.

Chapter 2: Size Does Not Equal Play Time

With the latest announcement by Techland about Dying Light 2 being 500 hours of content, I was worried that it might be true. Fortunately, it turned out to be well far-fetched. The game could possibly last that long if you count all collectables and multiple playthroughs.

I was glad that the world, even though it is quite big, it is understandable. Most side quests were quite interesting, and the main story was decent enough to keep me going. The highlight was the gameplay, and that is the key here.

Games that last for the longest time does not have the biggest maps. Once again, I am using Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla mainly because I have a love-hate relationship with this game. The fact that it has one of the biggest worlds in the whole gaming world, without counting DLCs is definitely a highlight, but it has nothing to do with how much time players will spend with the game.

On the contrary, most games that last for the longest time does not have the content for that amount of time. Replayability and gameplay are the two key elements to make players last. You do not need to make a huge map and give us a lot of activities, that make map unreadable with hundreds of question marks.

League of Legends Chemtank Dragon
Image via Riot Games

Chapter 3: The Good—Games That Do It Well

As an example, games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Borderlands franchise, Call of Duty franchise, Diablo franchise, Path of Exile and more. These games do not have huge maps or any type of content for 500 hours (exemplary number used by Techland in promotional materials for Dying Light 2).

League of Legends has one small map and people play it for over a decade now. Of course there are some other maps but the majority of players and playtime is played only on Summoner’s Rift. To play a game every champion it would take about 150 hours, assuming none of them would be banned, so the content itself is not that huge. CS: GO is similar in only a narrow array of weapons and just a few maps that are played over and over, and yet player play these games for hundreds if not thousands of hours.

Loot and Shoot

Borderlands, Diablo and other games with loot mechanics, character development and many various builds to try out also go well with this category. These games’ campaigns can be beaten in just 20-40 hours on average. However, you can beat the same content with different classes, different builds, wielding different weapons than it multiplies that time over and over, not to count endgame activities. The game can last for at least 500 hours, but the map is not huge and the content does not need to fill all that time.

The Witcher 3 Is Free On GOG If You Own It On Console Already 1
Picture via CD Projekt RED

Epilogue: The Right Balance

All in all. World like Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Red Dead Redemption 2 nail the combination of a huge open world with a lot of variety inside. They somehow find the right balance between size and quality. They both have worlds that in my opinion are near the maximum of size. If your world is interesting and filled with stuff that is appealing, then you do not need to put a point of interest every 10 meters or make the biggest map in the franchise. Focus on the quality and not the quantity. Even though, quantity can be a quality all in itselfit does not mean that it always should be the focal point of video games.

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