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The Verge: Five years on, Breath of the Wild’s open world is still unmatched

I loved BOTW, but this is nonsense. It's not really an open world, but a large playground. BOTW doesn't feel lived in, connected, or alive.

It feels interactive, which is great! But it's not Skyrim, RDR2, Witcher, or any of the last three single-player Fallouts, to say nothing of Elden Ring and Forbidden West.

Great game, but the retrospective hagiography is worn, trite, and just fucking basic.
 
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Thebonehead

Gold Member
I sank around 60 hours into it before my switch died.

Lost all the progress and never went back to it after the repair until a couple of weeks ago.

Fired it up and it's a barren world. I think Fenyx has a better world teaming with things to do everywhere, let alone comparing it with releases like rdr 2 or horizon.
 
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Beautiful open world with not much to do in it other than a linear quest, which is disappointing. In terms of presentation they knocked it out of the park, considering what little hardware power they have to work with. Sound design was also great.

Badly timed article though as Elden Ring has just wiped the floor with most open world games as far as I'm concerned.
 

K2D

Gold Member
I'll take Elden Ring all day.

I'll take a game which released in 2022 over a completely different game that took big strides to break the mould of a stale genre and released 5 years earlier.

How profound.

Yikes. 'What got your panties in a twist..?'

That said.. BotW was the "game of the century", but only after master mode. Might even have Learned a thing or two from soulsborne.
 
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Filben

Member
Only that there was nothing rewarding to explore. At least it didn't feel rewarding to me when finding rubees or weapons that only last temporary. The real reward in terms of permanent progression were the shrines with the stamina and health upgrade.

Apart from that there was seldom something worth the visit and it was way too often the path to your destination that was interesting. And this, after a while, became stale.
 
Only that there was nothing rewarding to explore. At least it didn't feel rewarding to me when finding rubees or weapons that only last temporary. The real reward in terms of permanent progression were the shrines with the stamina and health upgrade.

Apart from that there was seldom something worth the visit and it was way too often the path to your destination that was interesting. And this, after a while, became stale.
While I find BotW's world much, much better than your bog standard Assassin's Creed type world, it's also miles behind Elden Ring (or my all time favorite, Gothic 2). I hope BotW 2 goes a step further in that regard, but the hardware limitations of the Switch will make it hard to do so.
 

Lethal01

Member
I highly doubt it, the open-world inspiration behind Elden Ring is obviously Shadow Of The Colossus. Ueda's work inspired Miyazaki to get into game-dev and he's clearly influenced by his work in every aspect; the minimalism, the grandiose architecture, the bleakly beautiful world design...

Miyazaki himself literally said in an interview that Breath of the Wild was the game he like most when he was playing open world games for reference. There is actually no doubt that ELden Ring is heavily inspired by Breath of the wild when it comes to design.
 

Azurro

Gold Member
theres something to be said for an open world that 300 hrs later u still see something new or learn something every time u play. Its the greatest game ever made imo. Even with all of its faults. Thats why the thought of BOTW 2....with all of our feedback could be insane

im currently playing Elden Ring. And its just not in the same league. Im sorry. I know u want to think it is. It just not.

I think the above is the value of the Nintendo IP. You can have a good or even very good game, but if you add the Nintendo IP to any of them, they become the greatest game of all time, with a massive fanbase to support that claim. It's been happening for decades. I think it's because the Nintendo platforms have a unique combination of having a few high quality games, scarcity of quality AAA content on the platform from other publishers, plus the brand loyalty from the fanbase that motivates statements like the above.
 
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Chukhopops

Member
I love Elden Ring but there’s very little world interactivity and systems, the world is a background for the action and not the action itself like in BotW. BotW is still unmatched when it comes to how many systems it handles and how they define the gameplay.

There’s very little similarity between the two in terms of game design and goals.

Also lmao at people still trying to bring Horizon in the discussion, just give up already guys
 

Lethal01

Member
I think the above is the value of the Nintendo IP. You can have a good or even very good game, but if you add the Nintendo IP to any of them, they become the greatest game of all time, with a massive fanbase to support that claim. It's been happening for decades. I think it's because the Nintendo platforms have a unique combination of having a few high quality games, scarcity of quality AAA content on the platform from other publishers, plus the brand loyalty from the fanbase that motivates statements like the above.

It's the value of a great game that keeps forcing people to make excuses for why everyone else loves it .
"they never played an MMO before"
"They only play Nintendo consoles"
"they are blinded by fanboyism"

Perhaps, they are normal people like you and Nintendo tend to include elements that they value? Obviously what makes something "the best" is gonna be different for everyone, but I think you have to close your eyes pretty hard to not see any valid reasons some people would consider it the best.
 
I love Elden Ring but there’s very little world interactivity and systems, the world is a background for the action and not the action itself like in BotW. BotW is still unmatched when it comes to how many systems it handles and how they define the gameplay.

There’s very little similarity between the two in terms of game design and goals.

Also lmao at people still trying to bring Horizon in the discussion, just give up already guys
Man, I just imagined an Elden Ring 2 having puzzles in the open world which you have to solve by manipulating physics like in BotW. Idk whether it'd be a good fit for the game but it surely sounds intriguing.
 

tassletine

Member
What a strange, strange timing to write something like this... 🤔
Not really. It's just comparing the biggest leap forward in open world game design in recent years (Zelda) to those that came after it.
Horizon does the same old, (copies from other titles) and one expands on that Zelda blueprint -- Which is more about gaming the entire world than sending you to places where you *might* find some gameplay.

That it's taken five years for someone to do that with an adventure game (Death Stranding took risks but not many in this area) shows us clearly how stagnated the industry has become.
 

K2D

Gold Member
BotW post MM dlc > Elden ring >>> BotW pre MM-dlc

Master mode should have been normal mode and available from day one..!
 

Azurro

Gold Member
It's the value of a great game that keeps forcing people to make excuses for why everyone else loves it .
"they never played an MMO before"
"They only play Nintendo consoles"
"they are blinded by fanboyism"

Perhaps, they are normal people like you and Nintendo tend to include elements that they value? Obviously what makes something "the best" is gonna be different for everyone, but I think you have to close your eyes pretty hard to not see any valid reasons some people would consider it the best.

I've been playing Nintendo games for decades, dating back to the NES. My opinion doesn't change at all, I think it's the potency of their fanbase that labels the next Mario, Zelda, or Smash the best game ever, rather than any intrinsic qualities of the games in question.

I saw exactly the same claims about Ocarina of Time. Best game ever, revolutionary, etc. Nice game, fun, an 8/10 or so after playing it to completion and getting all the hearts, it's the Nintendo IP that pushes it further.
 
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Yoboman

Member
Look I love Elden Ring but it nowhere near matches the sense of adventure in BOTW.

The epic scope of climbing a tower to look for the next tower. The unrivalled thrill of climbing a wall with PS2 textures for 2 minutes to reach a korok seed. There is nothing in Elden Ring like finding an incredible weapon you then don't use because it will break in 3 strikes
 
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ChoosableOne

ChoosableAll
Oh, that shrine music came to my mind, I hated it so much. Generally, it was a boring game. Same old OOT/Skyward Sword combat mechanics plus gliding, sliding, climbing.

Let me show you a better Botw game. It uses only the cool parts of BOTW. You can slide and glide all day too! Climbing needs some bracelets though.

 

K2D

Gold Member
Look I love Elden Ring but it nowhere near matches the sense of adventure in BOTW.

The epic scope of climbing a tower to look for the next tower. The unrivalled thrill of climbing a wall with PS2 textures for 2 minutes to reach a korok seed. There is nothing in Elden Ring like finding an incredible weapon you then don't use because it will break in 3 strikes
When I was met with towers in BotW, my first though was - oh noo.. Not Far Cry/Assassin's Creed all over again!

One of my best experiences I had in BotW was straying away from unlocking towers/world map and going in blind.

Edit: lol just had a double take from reading your post 😂
 
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Majukun

Member
both it and ER have their good and bad points...elden ring is vaste and more varied, but botw was more fun to explore because of the movement options and the more simplistic geography...no awkward platforming with the horse in botw.

another thing botw has an edge over ER is the chemistry system...botw was a joy to discover also because of the multiple intricancies of the system and how it allows you to interact with the world...in elden ring you have a limited amount of said interactions, you can talk to things, you can kill things, the rest is scenery.

what ER aces though is the sheer amount of content..actual variety of enemies, different "things" to find other than shrines, etc.

all in all for now i had more "fun" with botw because he had more interaction and less frustrating parts..but in terms of open world the games are pretty much on par and both are a joy to play
 

Majukun

Member
I'll die before understanding why people consider BOTW a good game

I bought a Switch, played it for more than 10h, finished 2 Beasts ... And I think its one of the worst open world games that I've ever played.

Some of the gameplay systems/physics are great. Absolutely hate breakable weapons, but the hot/cold stuff, wind, fire, ice is awesome.

The story sucks ass, but what amazes me is that people say that exploration is rewarding / "sense of adventure"

I mean, look, look at this shit



All these blue points are shrines. Samey looking, 10 minutes puzzle rooms that reward you with a ball that you can use to upgrade stats.

You know what you gonna get exploring this map: shrines. Or some useless Korok Seeds.

To me its so obvious that Nintendo struggled to make an open world game of that size, and after designing the map, instead of filling it with interesting stuff, they just went "fuck it, shrines". And people ate it all up as "woah, so genius"

Seriously? This is the benchmark? Not The Witcher 3 with amazingly written sidequests? Or Elden Ring with some huge dungeon that you stumbled upon? Or RDR 2 filled with random encounters everywhere?

To me its the most overrated game of all time, no question
more than "fuck it" they went the mario odissey route..overabundance of "things" so that wherever you go you find something that brings you closer to the end

elden ring is much obscure, it gives you more different things but because of this diversity, that something might have no use for you..hell i'm 20 hours in and still with the starting gear because i don't find anything useful for my playstyle

both systems "work"
 

Hugare

Member
more than "fuck it" they went the mario odissey route..overabundance of "things" so that wherever you go you find something that brings you closer to the end

elden ring is much obscure, it gives you more different things but because of this diversity, that something might have no use for you..hell i'm 20 hours in and still with the starting gear because i don't find anything useful for my playstyle

both systems "work"
How does Korok seeds brings me closer to the end? And sure, with shrines you can upgrade your stats, which is useful ( kinda lame reward still), but 120 of them?!

Put 15-20 bigger shrines and fill the rest of the map with interesting NPCs giving you some interesting quests, that reward you with better equip or at least with some cool story. Would make Hyrule feel more alive ("oh but the apocalypse happened", I know, but there are people out there)

120 puzzle rooms, what the hell. Is this The Witness?
 

Clear

Gold Member
Shadow of the Colossus is an empty husk of a world where you follow a marker, nothing about that compares to Elden Ring. BOTW on the other hand is all about showing landmarks and points of interest without makers and guidance and then having to go there to check it out. Elden Ring's dev team has obviously studied games like BOTW and Skyrim, and its design philosophies are very similar to BOTW in its exploration.

Colossus came out in 2005, on PS2! So of course its bare-bones - it was incredibly incredibly taxing on the hardware just to do the giant scalable enemies as evidenced by a frame-rate that today would be considered wholly unacceptable.

That being said, Ueda's visual design philosophy is an undeniable influence on every single title Miyazaki has had a hand in. Storm Ruler from the original Demon's Souls is pretty plainly inspired by SotC, the architecture of Boletaria in that game really had no counterpart as close as that of the Fortress in Ico.

The real key though is the sparseness and spaciousness of the overall worldview. In which the goal is primarily to make the player feel small and vulnerable at all times. This is achieved not only through geography and architecture but as part of the whole game design - signposting is kept to a minimum, mechanics are kept obscure and unexplained, world-building is delivered ambiently without recourse to narrative progressing cinematics or dialogues.

Part of this is a strong "show, don't tell" principle. Navigating towards a visible landmark has been a part of the series since day#1, because it doesn't require an open world to implement as a key element, just strong well thought-out level design. In actuality, past the challenged of technically implementing a play-space of great size, from a design perspective an open world actually makes it easier.

The bottom line is what we see going from Demons' through Dark Souls up to date with Elden Ring is the same principle applied across increasingly large scales. Philosophically nothing has changed.

These worlds are not playgrounds. They are meant to oppress and confound, which is why Miyazaki has always been adamant about there always being a certain brutal beauty to sweeten -or at least mitigate- the feel.

Zelda has very little to do with it.
 

Bragr

Member
Colossus came out in 2005, on PS2! So of course its bare-bones - it was incredibly incredibly taxing on the hardware just to do the giant scalable enemies as evidenced by a frame-rate that today would be considered wholly unacceptable.

That being said, Ueda's visual design philosophy is an undeniable influence on every single title Miyazaki has had a hand in. Storm Ruler from the original Demon's Souls is pretty plainly inspired by SotC, the architecture of Boletaria in that game really had no counterpart as close as that of the Fortress in Ico.

The real key though is the sparseness and spaciousness of the overall worldview. In which the goal is primarily to make the player feel small and vulnerable at all times. This is achieved not only through geography and architecture but as part of the whole game design - signposting is kept to a minimum, mechanics are kept obscure and unexplained, world-building is delivered ambiently without recourse to narrative progressing cinematics or dialogues.

Part of this is a strong "show, don't tell" principle. Navigating towards a visible landmark has been a part of the series since day#1, because it doesn't require an open world to implement as a key element, just strong well thought-out level design. In actuality, past the challenged of technically implementing a play-space of great size, from a design perspective an open world actually makes it easier.

The bottom line is what we see going from Demons' through Dark Souls up to date with Elden Ring is the same principle applied across increasingly large scales. Philosophically nothing has changed.

These worlds are not playgrounds. They are meant to oppress and confound, which is why Miyazaki has always been adamant about there always being a certain brutal beauty to sweeten -or at least mitigate- the feel.

Zelda has very little to do with it.
I can see an influence from Colossus in the art, but not to the extent that you proclaim through the gameplay and design philosophy.

All of these games learn from each other, Shadow of the Colossus learned from the older Zeldas and the newer Zelda learned from Shadow of the Colossus. The vastness of the map from Colossus is clearly something BOTW looked at.

Soulsborne is built around how the enemies push the player. That's why they change enemies so much, every time you learn the pattern there is a new enemy, keeping the player on their toes and invested in every fight is core Souslborne. This is completely different from Colossus.

In Elden Ring, the way you explore is very similar to BOTW, not Colossus. The way you see an area of the map in-game and not through quest markers, and have to explore it to figure out what its there, is pure BOTW. That's what BOTW pushed forward.

Every time a developer makes a new game, their team studies games in that genre. And compared to any other open-world game, the design of Elden Ring is closest to BOTW. It's the exploration incentive combined with the Dark Souls art and combat encounters, mixed with a massive amount of location variety.
 

Lokaum D+

Member
Didnt SotC did all that before BotW ? No markers (if i remember it was a guide light no ), free clibing, go where u want, staminia bar etc etc ?
 
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Fake

Member
the witcher 3 is barely a fkn open world, the good thing about that game is the quests but the open world is trash and the mobility even worse, even the last two assassin's creed have better open worlds.

Not my point. My point is, for many BOTW was their first open world game, so thats explain 'why' people think 'OH BOTW created this, created that' when in fact some of mechanics BOTW get inspired by others games, with is totally fine. Many open worlds since the first one search inspiration from other to another.
 

Fermbiz

Member
You have 3 hearts and no cooked food that gives you +hearts. 4 hrs into the game and already at Waterblight Ganon means you pretty much bee-lined for the objective.

I get that it's frustrating but come on you even say you didnt talk to any NPCs lol.. it seems like you just should have stopped playing the game because it's clearly not for you. Especially if you find the shrines "stupid" .. which is a baffling thing to say outside of the "Combat Shrines".

That was me not understanding the point of the shrines and the need to prep food, have multiple weapons. It took a very long time to realize how the game is meant to be played if you want to survive.

The point i was trying to make is the game is very frustrating. Not in difficulty, but the amount of time that is wasted to get just a small reward, or barely to no story progression.
 
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Notabueno

Banned
BoTW was a revolution, and thankfully it was a Nintendo one so it was successful.

Gamers are mostly dumb fucks who won't understand what made it a revolution in a decade.

But upcoming generation of game conceptors and designers will take cues from it for Open worlds to evolve (or die eventually if it doesn't).
 
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brian0057

Member
> Miyazaki using BOTW as inspiration for Elden Ring as its fans call the former title shit.

 
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cHaOs667

Member
BoTW was a revolution, and thankfully it was a Nintendo one so it was successful.

Gamers are mostly dumb fucks who won't understand what made it a revolution in a decade.

But upcoming generation of game conceptors and designers will take cues from it for Open worlds to evolve (or die eventually if it doesn't).
Please enlighten us what made this Open World so special?

I've played tons of Open World games, even low-rated ones like The Godfather 2 but the world in BOTW fells a bit... "dull" to me.

Especially after I have played RDR2 before, which does nearly too much in his Open World and was constantly distracting me.
 

iHaunter

Member
Hard disagree. Open world in BOTW was bland and empty. Outside of some minor things you can do collecting nuts, maybe get armor, it wasn't all that impressive.
 

Banjo64

Gold Member
I don’t know. I played it on release. I’d place it in my top 4 open world games of all time alongside Elden Ring, Skyrim and The Witcher 3. I think the world itself is the least interesting thing about BotW, but the way you interact with it is amazing.
 

ANDS

Thought gaf was racist. Now knows better, honorary gaffer 2022
I love Elden Ring but there’s very little world interactivity and systems, the world is a background for the action and not the action itself like in BotW. BotW is still unmatched when it comes to how many systems it handles and how they define the gameplay.

There’s very little similarity between the two in terms of game design and goals.

Also lmao at people still trying to bring Horizon in the discussion, just give up already guys

I'm take a game they actually rewards your discoveries than a game that has a bunch of "systems" they let you fap about and not much else.

"Awesome! I can create my own updrafts to launch me into the sky. . . now if only I had somewhere to go."
 

ssringo

Member
BotW is a case of 2 steps forward, 2 steps back. Find something cool; find something lame.

Find a fun and clever little puzzle that makes you think: obtain 1 seed (out of however many) you need to hold another easily broken weapon.

Find a shrine with a tough but fun physics based sequence: obtain 1 (out of 4) balls you need to get a sliver more on your stamina wheel so you can last slightly longer while climbing that sheer cliff.

Took me 3 tries for the game to "click" and even then I only stuck with it til the end because I had nothing else to play for like a month.
 

Ristifer

Gold Member
the witcher 3 is barely a fkn open world, the good thing about that game is the quests but the open world is trash and the mobility even worse, even the last two assassin's creed have better open worlds.
How is it barely an open world when the quests, which you say are good, are a direct reflection of the world around you? If anything, these quests, which flesh out the world more and more as you go along, simply justify W3's open world above many others.
 
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