With the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One imminent, game developers are looking to raise the bar with open-world games. These kinds of games are nothing new of course, I first remember cruising through Liberty City with Grand Theft Auto III and I was absolutely blown away. From there it just got better, with games like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Infamous, Red Dead Redemption, and most recently Grand Theft Auto V to name a few. So, suffice to say, I’m a big fan of open-world games. And as we approach a new generation filled with new ideas and hardware, the possibilities for open world games has me pretty amped for what’s to come.
Here are particular next-gen open world games that have already caught my eye:
5. The Crew
While not a huge fan of racing games, The Crew definitely came onto my radar after watching the announcement trailer at E3 this year. Releasing sometime during the first quarter of 2014, Ivory Tower and Ubisoft are aiming to not only make some noise in the racing genre but the open-world one as well, with even some RPG elements thrown in for good measure. The game sees players race across the United States and for the first time ever you can drive from coast to coast in the open-world, which the developer says would take roughly ninety minutes. What’s even more impressive, that, no doubt, is because of the next-gen technology, is that there are no loading screens whatsoever.
The campaign can be completed alone, or online via matchmaking. Despite this, Julian Gerighty, the creative director for the game has called it “a role playing game with large-scale multiplayer elements,” also stating that the multiplayer is not separate from single player, and will be totally seamless. All this being said, The Crew is definitely as a must try game for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC when 2014 rolls around.
4. Tom Clancy’s The Division
At E3 earlier this year there were a lot of surprises in store for gamers. But when Ubisoft Massive came out onstage with their seven minute gameplay demo of The Division, with Tom Clancy’s name attached, people, myself included, were blown away. I think a lot of people expected something in the way of a first-person shooter like Rainbow Six or even a stealth adventure like Splinter Cell.
What was shown was something else entirely. The Division, on the surface, does look like a Splinter Cell game, but is actually a tactical, open-world, online RPG.
From the opening moments of the demo it’s made apparent what the premise is: a devastating pandemic has hit the United States. Most of the footage from the demo seemed to imply the action taking place in New York, and one by one, basic services fail. In a matter of days, society is in total disarray, and from this chaos, The Division is formed.
As part of The Division, you harness state-of-the-art technology: both networked and prototyped. You can loot foes and get items to craft to pieces of gear for your totally customizable agent. By broadening the scope and creating an entirely new IP, Ubisoft is going to bring in a new type of gamer. I’m not a big first-person shooter fan but I am quick to fall in love with a good RPG, particularly an open-world one, and The Division looks to deliver on that front.
3. Infamous: Second Son
Having played Infamous and Infamous 2, I’m pretty confident Sucker Punch has hit their third home-run in a row with Infamous: Second Son. That’s what a good reputation as a game developer will get you these days.
The third entry does bring a status quo shift along with it, a new protagonist and a new city. This time players are given Seattle, Washington as their playground while assuming control of Delsin Rowe, a 24-year-old graffiti artist with no real direction in life. After witnessing a bus crash, he comes into contact with a conduit, the super-powered beings from the first two games, which awaken his own dormant conduit abilities.
The gameplay so far, seems to indicate that Delsin’s powers stem from the ability to control smoke but Sucker Punch has stated in interviews that he actually has the ability to absorb the powers of other conduits. I think this change was for the best, you still get the Infamous experience but this feels a bit more fresh (even though I’d be perfectly fine with playing another chapter in the saga of Cole MacGrath). Other gameplay mechanics seem to remain intact; the parkour elements are still present as well as are the good/bad alignment that affect the outcome of the game. As with previous installments, Infamous: Second Son will release exclusively on the Sony’s home platform (this time PS4) in February of next year.
2. Watch Dogs
Ubisoft is keeping busy, and making another appearance on my list. This time, it’s the upcoming, open-world cyber thriller, Watch Dogs. Just mere seconds into the first gameplay footage I got an immediate Grand Theft Auto vibe, a very good thing, as GTA is one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, and one of my favorite series in gaming.
There are so many things that are intriguing about this title and I think it’s going to be a huge surprise for people. Creative Director Jonathan Morin noted that Watch Dogs is designed to “go beyond the limits of today’s open world games.” Though it may give off the GTA vibe, like I mentioned, you can tell it isn’t going to be just another clone. The developers are genuinely trying to bring something new to the table.
The concept of the game is built around information warfare. We play as Aiden Pearce, who can hack into various electronic devices tied to Chicago’s Central Operating System (CtOS). He’ll be able to: hack into people’s cell phones, trigger malfunctions with equipment to cause distractions, and even hack traffic lights to cause accidents.
Another awesome aspect of Watch Dogs is an incredibly unique multiplayer element. It consists of a one-on-one interaction between two players, in which one player secretly joins the single player session of another player. The first player (the one who enters the second player’s world.) is tasked with finding the second player, who is initially unaware of the other player’s existence (they are given no notification whatsoever). This sounds fantastic on paper and I hope the mechanic is executed well. Ubisoft clearly has faith in this IP as its been in development since 2009, and they’ve actually built a new engine, called Disrupt, specifically for the game.
Watch Dogs is one of the few games on the list that is actually going to be released on this generation of consoles while also being released for all the next-gen platforms, hitting the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U on November 19, 2013 and on the PS4 and Xbox One on November 15th and November 22nd respectively.
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Metal Gear Solid series is a franchise that many hold dear. The unique stealth gameplay revolutionized the industry and considerably raised the bar for the stealth games that came after. It’s last console entry, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, came out for the PS3 in 2008, and I was completely blown away. To this day, I’d probably still say it’s one of the finest games of all time but now, the next installment, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, looks like it could top it. It promises to be the most ambitious title in the series yet, and for the first time will be an open-world experience.
From a gameplay standpoint Metal Gear Solid V will offer a base-building feature that allows player to develop weapons and items from their home base, much like Peace Walker did. The player is also given the ability to access their base from their real-life smartphones. Another new feature is a day-night cycle that runs in real-time, meaning that depending on how quick you traverse through the levels, you might end up at a location during the day, whereas it might be more beneficial for it to be night. Another first for the Metal Gear series is the feature that allows the player to choose in what order the story events take place by selecting missions in any order they like, and yet still understand the encompassing story by the end. To further cement MGS V as an open-world experience, you’re also able to drive various types of vehicles like planes, helicopters, and motorcycles into mission areas.
Story-wise the prologue kicks off shortly after the events of Peace Walker in 1975 and the player once again controls Big Boss A.K.A. “Snake.” From there the action shifts to 1984 where Snake forms a new mercenary group, the Diamond Dogs. Now assuming the codename “Punished Snake”, he ventures into Afghanistan. Along the way, he becomes reacquainted with his former rival Revolver Ocelot.
I’m confident that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will blow me away just like its predecessor did but with all the new gameplay elements being introduced I think it’s going to throw the gaming community through a loop with its greatness. It doesn’t have a release date yet but it was revealed to be coming out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 first and then Kojima plans to polish the rough edges before the release on the PS4 and Xbox One at an unspecified time in the future.