Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a compilation of old games, but playing through it for review recently felt like a breath of fresh air. That's because I feel like we're currently gripped by open world fever, where practically every major release has a sandbox element of some kind. I'm not opposed to this type of gameplay style – the likes of Shenmue II and Burnout Paradise are among my favourite ever releases – but I am getting a bit tired of all of the traversal and padding that's become commonplace in titles of this type.
For me, the beauty of open worlds is that they give you the freedom to go where you want and do what you like – but sometimes it's nice to be directed and taken on a roller-coaster ride. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves clearly demonstrates the advantages of this; the game's ebb and flow is expertly devised – it knows when to go big and when to dial things down. It's harder to achieve this kind of pacing with a game that gives you the freedom to explore its boundaries, and typically the story telling and set-pieces suffer as a consequence.
But while there are both advantages and disadvantages to sandbox games, I feel that the bigger problem recently is that there are just too many of them. This year alone I've played Dying Light, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – and there's still Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Fallout 4, and Just Cause 3 to come. Of those games I've only finished two – Dying Light and Batman: Arkham Knight – and I skipped a lot of content to make it to the ends. While I'm looking forward to giving it a go, I doubt that I'll ever see the credits roll in Fallout 4.
There's something to be said for releases that offer a more authored experience
And that's fine – it's more an observation of where I'm at as a gamer in a period where I'm getting decreasingly less time. But much like I wouldn't pick a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style novel to read every week, I think that there's something to be said for releases that offer a more authored experience. I can't tell you the number of times that I've gone to play The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain lately, only to talk myself out of it. It's not that they're bad games, but I just find them both extremely fatiguing.
CD Projekt RED's critically acclaimed role-playing game does a lot that I like, for example, and is clearly successful in creating a world that feels alive – but when huge swathes of gameplay involve roaming the lands and travelling to quest markers, I can't help but question whether it's being respectful of my time. Maybe I should be soaking up the atmosphere and submerging myself into my surroundings rather than trying to critical path it, but I simply don't have the time to listen to what every single NPC has to say.
And again, I'm not criticising the game; I understand that interacting with everyone and everything is a part of the beauty of the experience – but it's not something that I have the stomach for. I feel similarly about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – a title that delights when you're infiltrating self-contained strongholds, but really tests my patience when I'm trekking across wide expanses of desolated desert trying desperately to reach the next marker on my map.
But this is practically every big budget game now: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Far Cry 4, Mad Max, Grand Theft Auto V, Mirror's Edge Catalyst – I could go on and on. It's not a problem, I will continue to play and enjoy titles of this ilk immensely, but when something a little more direct like Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection comes along, I think that I'm going to end up enjoying it that bit more. It's not that I'm anti-open world or anything – it's just that I appreciate it when a title shows me all of the best bits, rather than leaves me to find them for myself.
Do you find linear games refreshing in this current sandbox climate, or are you a big fan of the freedom that open worlds can provide? Go big in the comments section below.
Are you growing weary of all the open world games? (100 votes)
Yes, I'm looking for something a little more authored
Meh, I'll play a great game regardless of structure
Not at all, I love the freedom found in sandbox releases
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