Elden Ring elevated the expectations for future open-world games to heights not seen before, but that doesn’t mean studios won’t rise to the occasion. Since its release in February, many gamers have had a similar experience: Elden Ring has ruined other open-world games. Despite this more pessimistic outlook, there’s plenty of hope that the video game industry will innovate and studios will continue creating engaging open worlds – but even with Elden Ring‘s example, it won’t come easy.

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Most mainstream talk surrounding Elden Ring is centered on its unique Soulslike approach brought to an open-world format; however, the game also has traditional elements that other popular RPGs have used for years. Aspects such as fast travel, a mount (vehicle), an upgrade progression system, looting equipment from chests, and a large map with different regions are some key elements of the experience. But FromSoftware also ventured away from other typical parts of the open-world formula: the studio took out a journal guide. It made enemy encounters tough, with no option to change difficulty settings. Elden Ring breaking convention made developers unhappy because it wasn’t the cookie-cutter way of creating an open world. While these studios considered Elden Ring a purposeful attempt to change the long-running and easy-to-read format, FromSoftware was ultimately doing what it had always done, only now enhanced because it was brought to a new setting rather than its usual compact level design.

Related: Elden Ring Desperately Needs A Lore Book

Instead of anger and pessimism, gamers and studios should look at Elden Ring as a future ideal that will help further perfect open worlds. Formulas that were used in the past (and are still in use) from Ubisoft, CD Projekt RED, Rockstar, and others need to be revamped but keep individual identities alive. Each formula has outdated elements that can take a lot of beneficial pointers from Elden Ring.


Ubisoft’s Open Worlds Would Benefit From A Revamped Quest & Enemy System

Ubisoft’s format dominated the gaming world for a time, and for a good reason – it worked well. Open-world video games are the studio’s specialty. It’s made them for a long time, and they’re not stopping anytime soon, which is evident by its future open-world Star Wars game and ongoing franchises. Its more popular series, Far Cry, Tom Clancy, Assassin’s Creed, and younger ones such as The Crew and Watch Dogs all follow unique but fairly similar patterns. In each game, players learn most gameplay mechanics in the introduction phase, then transition to the larger parts of the open world where a map and fast travel points take them where they need to go. Simultaneously, players follow a linear narrative where some antagonist must be defeated by the end, and a journal guide is present at all times in case some happen to lose their way or forget what’s going on in the story.

Overall, Ubisoft has a good foundational formula, but it’s old, especially since every game follows roughly the same patterns, which is where Elden Ring‘s design philosophy could help out. The main areas of improvement for the studio lie in its lackluster enemy types and exploration incentive. Elden Ring has horrifying enemies with countless moves and attacks that mix up each encounter. Even though Ubisoft hasn’t created a dark fantasy game like Elden Ring, it can still learn a lesson from the frustrating but rewarding experience of defeating tough enemies and bosses. Additionally, Ubisoft needs to follow Elden Ring‘s lead and stop telling players exactly what to do and where to go on the map. It totally takes away the incentive to explore, which is a shame because most games have such beautiful open worlds that can’t be fully enjoyed. Instead of sparking wonder, the locations become a place to go to complete quests.

CD Projekt RED & Rockstar Are Better But Still Have Similar Problems

CD Projekt RED’s most recent open worlds in the Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 have a staggering amount of detail and depth, which has been built up from both in-game and external resources such as Thronebreaker setting up the Witcher narratives. Still, the games fall into the same trap as Ubisoft’s journal guide system, essentially walking players through the entire game. Understandably, studios want an index or journal for players to have additional contextual information about the big open worlds they’re playing in – even Elden Ring could benefit from that. However, the cost of treating games like a to-do list rather than engulfing players in a narrative of exploration isn’t a worthwhile trade-off. That doesn’t mean that CD Projekt RED’s open worlds, the Continent and Night City, don’t evoke a sense of wonder, because they do – but it might be better if the Witcher 4 took a route more geared towards Elden Ring‘s open-ended guide principle.

Related: Predicting The Next FromSoftware Game After Elden Ring

Rockstar’s open worlds are arguably the best after Elden Ring. They do many things right and stay away from most of the monotonous and overused elements that other games fall into. Aside from RDR2‘s life-like 8k ray tracing mods looking practically real, Rockstar’s games allow players to discover the open world naturally rather than through a series of tasks. Though ​​​Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption have better open-world settings than many games, they still possess imperfections that Elden Ring mastered. For instance, Red Dead Redemption 2‘s world locations are spaced out far from one another, making traveling on a horse frustrating at times. In some instances, it can take over an hour of real-time to travel to a quest and complete it, depending on how far away Arthur is. Fast travel is available, but the points are scattered around. Elden Ring‘s Sites of Grace, on the other hand, allow for a travel system that seems to perfectly balance time, the wonder of exploration, and progression.

There’s no doubt that Elden Ring solved the boring open-world problem, but that doesn’t pay justice to the other successful franchises who’ve paved the way and given gamers enjoyable experiences across their various fictional universes. Rockstar, CD Projekt RED, Ubisoft, and others deserve credit for their contributions. However, it’s now time these studios head back to the drawing boards and revamp their open-world formats by studying everything that makes Elden Ring‘s world so special.



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