We Need More Linear Single-Player Games, and Less Open-Worlds

Almost every game nowadays is either a soulless multiplayer games-as-a-service title, or a giant open-world experience. This needs to change.

Uncharted 4 2
More Uncharted, less Horizon. | © Naughty Dog & Sony Interactive Entertainment

Okay, so we're going to take on a bit of a lighter tone in this week's column. Last week was, understandably, a bit morbid, but it was also an important conversation that we needed to have. Instead, this week we're going to talk about an all-too-familiar phenomenon in gaming: the curse of the absurdly long and disjointed open-world game. Every single franchise seems to be falling foul of this curse, becoming infected with overly drawn-out plots that stretch on for as many miles as their ridiculously bloated open worlds. It's incredibly darn frustrating to be unable to engage with and experience the great stories and gameplay that come with games like Horizon: Forbidden West and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla without first wading through all the nonsense. That's what I'm here to address.

Some of the "Best Games of all Time" are linear single-player games that take you on an adventure. They're often action games that give you enough freedom to explore whilst still delivering punchy stories that don't overstay their welcome. Games like The Last of Us that feel no need to give you some overly bloated open world and instead focus on delivering good, heartfelt stories. The worst parts of Uncharted 4 were those unnecessary open sections where you could wander around and find collectibles. They were boring and unnecessary, and broke the pace of the game. Some of these big open world games basically end up being all-that and very little else.

You see, Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt both did the open-world story game justice. The thing is, not everything needs to be flippin' Red Dead. I am sorry, Ubisoft, but the openness of the world in games like Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood were enough, we don't need to explore an environment that is modelled after the entirety of medieval Britain. Honestly! Games also don't all need to take one hundred hours to complete. Some of us don't have the time for that s**t and just want to get on with the story, discover cool stuff and have a good time. We can go to those big open world games for those experiences but, when you get a game like Halo Infinite, it makes you wonder "Why do they feel that they need to shoe-horn in an open world here?". Just make a good campaign, damnit! Is it that hard?

Halo Infinite is actually the perfect example as, whilst I had a great deal of fun with it, it seemed to completely ignore the idea of actively telling an engaging story. The entire thing was a bit bizarre to be honest, it was all a little bit tedious. Engage in an interesting piece of narrative exposition, go and do a bunch of tedious open-world style quests (things like "Activate these three towers" and "Go and activate this thingy now") before entering another section of narrative exposition. The best parts of Infinite's campaign were those story sections and, regardless of how fun the open-world was in itself, it just kind of seemed, well... pointless.

Now I understand that this is an opinion that will surely draw the ire of many hardcore fans, but don't worry, I'm now going to s**t on an entirely different genre of games. Multiplayer games-as-a-service titles. Well, actually, multiplayer games in general. Not everyone wants to play them. Not everyone likes sitting and grinding for weapons with friends. I am not saying that it's a bad thing, I am just saying that not everyone wants to play those games, and it seems that everything is either one of these f**king things, or some overly bloated bulls**t open world game. Honestly, the last game that felt like it was the right size, and not a multiplayer game, was a f**king Indie game.

There's Nintendo games like Mario Odyssey and s**t but even that has open-world aspects. It is literally infecting every corner of this market. Where's Killzone? Where's Uncharted? Where's The Last of Us? Where's God of War (well, there's one of those coming out later this year as well)? Where's a game that perhaps offers the exploration but does not make it mandatory for you to wade through knee-level s**tty side quests to merely progress to the next story-note? It's so tedious and it's so sad, because I used to love open-world games and I used to love multiplayer games, but everything seems to fit into one of those two bloody categories, and I am frustrated. So frustrated. Oh so frustrated. I'll stop complaining now.


Other Columns that you should check out...

In Times Like These, Video Games Are Our Saviour

Horizon: Zero Dawn Was A Snooze-Fest, Yet I'm Hyped For Forbidden West

Did Nintendo Just Redeem Themselves?