To Buy a Game (world)...

So... you'd like to buy a new Game (world) ? Questions...

Where does a person start when choosing an 'open-world' title, where their scale and stories get ever bigger, even incorporating a mix of different gameplay types and restrictions?

What will be the lasting legacy - besides explorative fun - from your time spent visiting or mastering one?

The vast world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Read this quick guide and overview to the kinds of 'open world' or 'sandbox' games available...

Many titles include a mix of linear and non-linear gameplay types often where the narrative or scenario profits from them  (as opposed to the purer open worlds). For example, a game-map might 'open up' at later stages in the game, when a character is assumed to be proficient enough to wander around the full game. 

Firstly, let's think about what kind of experience - or test - from a control-based scenario you might be looking for? Do you want to spend time solving a narrative mystery in a real-world town or countryside? Perhaps you want to just kick back in a social space simulator. Do you want an intimate involvement via a first-person POV/point-of-view, or a more panoramic, third-person adventure-based point-of-view?

Many movies inform our choice of game-worlds because so many are drawn - directly or indirectly - from movie scenarios and narratives. As games get bigger and more virtual, the more complete an experience of 'another world' seems to become, offering multiple interactive options and resonating more by the title and scenario, than by the type of game-play it offers.

However, many titles feature a focus on or a mix on the following:

Edu-tainment - Train Simulator ?

Film-based titles - may involve a mix of gameplay elements such as with Mad Max, Alien Isolation (tension and strategy)  

History - Assassin's Creed worlds of 3rd person adventure and strategic action.

Freedom - This is the lasting legacy from classic, pure open worlds such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim. The former have the realistic, modern/historic setting with a huge sense of freedom that also follows a character story. Story choices litter the game-map, while a range of side quests and unexpected content distracts you - often into the hands of the police - from the main path. Skyrim is a first-person RPG-style version; the ultimate fantasy game. These kind of titles can sit on your shelf and be re-visited for alternate routes to the outcome. Many of these stay true to complex, traditional RPGs - Role-Playing Games - with sophisticated inventory-management features that add to the feeling of progression through the world. 

Simulation - war, space, driving or flying. 

Story-based inventory shooters - Batman: Arkham Knight was a shooter with a lot of gadgets

Story-based shooters - often 3rd-person and based on movies with focus on guns, modern conflict or sci-fi and alien shooting.

Strategy/action/shooters - such as Metal Gear Solid 5, Far Cry Primal (in a historic setting).  

RPG - see Skyrim or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Character development games with inventory-management systems.

Latest releases on Steam...


Interactive narrative: a story in a game with branching storylines. 

Linear gameplay: this will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges: every player sees every challenge and sees them in the same order. 

Nonlinear gameplay: open-ended or sandbox gameplay. For example, a nonlinear game may permit multiple sequences to finish the game, a choice between paths to victory, or optional side-quests and subplots. Some games feature both linear and nonlinear elements, and some games offer a sandbox mode that allows players to explore an open world game environment independently from the game's main objectives, if any objectives are provided at all.

Open world: where a player can move freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in regards to how or when to approach objectives, as opposed to other computer games that have a more linear structure to its gameplay.

Procedural Generation: eg. fractal-based generation, such as the rendering of multiple types of planet in a space simulation. This is useful for creating large content.

Virtual Gameworlds: watch this space... 


Top 10 most memorable open-world games yet experienced... for every dusty shelf.