Big Open World Games or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Games (thoughts)

Viking simulator

OK, title is a bit click-baity, sorry. I just wanted to talk about how games are not finite things like a movie or a book. Finishing Tetris, for example, is a dumb thing to even think about, as you never finish Tetris the game, but you finish a game of Tetris. Very big difference. Difference that seem to pass right through some people minds.

A few weeks ago, I was watching one of my niece (she’s 10) dabbling in GTA V (just driving around and I was there at all time, of course) and I noticed how this game is so easy to pick-up and play. She’s not familiar with using two sticks at the same time yet, but after 10 minutes, she was driving between cars at full speed through virtual LA streets. That’s when I really understood why this series is so popular, especially among younger ones. Driving, in and out of itself, is just fun. So you don’t really have to go on a mission to have fun, like in many other games: getting to that mission marker in a car IS fun, as many unexpected stuff could happen on the way. Obviously, you’re also learning to drive different vehicles while navigating to your objective and that could be fun to some too.

Making big jumps, killing and being chased by the cops is also part of the fun.

Okay, yeah, many games have some fun mechanics and you could play them forever if you want to, I know. But big open world games like GTA or the Assasssin’s Creed games, to only name a few, have this appeal of “finishing them is not really the point”, because they are just so big and many will probably never get to the end. So these games just have to lure you with stuff happening at every corner and be fun to explore and learn their mechanics, that’s just how they get you and I think that’s fair. But many people still feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content they’ll probably never see. And that had me thinking : so you won’t play a game at all if you could’nt finish it ? But to me, games are not like movies or books ? And even then, I’ll say that I often don’t finish books and stop movies or series mid-way through if I’m bored. If the game setting interest me, it’s enough to get me to try it.

I just recently erased my BOTW save, after a year of doing shrines, and began again. The game felt new again. It amazed me.

And then, I got back to the last Assassin’s Creed game : Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. One of the biggest (if not the biggest) offender of the “too big to finish” genre. Ubisoft is pretty much churning out “Witcher 3 games” content wise every year or two. To be frank, I’m the kind of mad man that still have Origins and Odyssey fully installed with DLC, just in case I get the urge to immerse myself in these worlds. But Valhalla, that game totally change my mindset about those games.

And I was pretty much done with the game, almost exhausted by all the markers on the map(s). I’ve bought it a few months ago, played it and just dropped it after sinking 40 hours, telling myself I’ll never be able to finish it. But then most recently, I wanted to play a bit of a chill game, just riding around collecting stuff, and found Valhalla the perfect game for that (RDR2 is also a really good one I recommend). I was like : “man, this game is so fun, I don’t want it to end…”. Riding with the sun in the corner of the screen, godrays piercing through the branches and grass all around me was so relaxing. I was playing the game, but not pressuring myself to do missions and stuff here and there. I was just playing and adjusting myself to get the most fun out of it and it felt good.

Suddenly, all the tiny markers felt fun to go to, then I searched for treasures and did some side-missions. Side-missions are a bit different from most games, because there’s basically no incentives to do them, so you could totally ignore all of them like random encounters. But now that I finally let go of the idea of finishing the game, I wanted to see all these tiny handcrafted stories. I found some of them really funny, some others sad or touching. And now that I’m exploring and doing some quests again, also progressing the story bits in between, I may finish this HUGELY huge game in a year or two while having fun all the way through. If not, I’ll just drop it without a second thought. But maybe I’ll get the DLC (the next one looks interesting) that adds hours upon hours of content, if I feel like it. And then, I’ll be ready for the next one Ubi.

These worlds are just so good to explore casually. So why not changing your mindset too and get some fun out of these big games and stop worrying about 100% them ?

Maybe 1% of the playerbase 100% them anyway…

Yeah, you don’t want to know how HUGE this game is…Just play it.


I just finished all the England main story line arcs except for the Order one which im about halfway through. Current play time is around 65 hours and this is without doing 90% of the side content. Have only done the Raids and all the Viewpoints so I can fast travel.

Valhalla is a massive freaking game to where it’s just ridiculous. It’s just too much but what makes it worse are the gameplay/combat changes. Power level is worse than the levels that were in Origins/Odyssey, you can’t craft arrows, you can’t sell/dismantle weapons and gear, there’s no way to “mark” enemies which makes the point of stealth and assassinations useless, there’s no actual waypoint system except for the compass which means you can’t turn it off, too many treasures, items, etc. are tucked away behind these annoying barred doors puzzles and whatnot which would be fine if it was here and there but it’s almost like every single of them, skill tree sucks, abilities are meh because they’re the same as Odyssey but now, you have to find them via Books of Knowledge and I have other complaints as well.

Sorry for the rant. I 100% completed Origins/Odyssey but I have zero interest in doing the same for Valhalla. It’s just too freaking much and when you factor in all the complaints I have listed above, it makes me feel even less compelled to do all this other stuff. Out of 7 completed games for this generation, I have Valhalla ranked 6th only ahead of Gears Tactics. Considering that last Fall, I was pegging Valhalla as my 2020 goty, this is a huge disappointment for me. Haven’t been this disappointed with AC since Unity.

Worse part about Valhalla and perhaps other massive open world games is that they want to keep following/copying BOTW which im sorry, that game is damn overrated and I don’t want to waste minutes upon minutes looking for every little shit in the game. I want to waypoint it and collect it and move on. This does not make exploration better. It makes it worse because it kills the pacing, tends to bore me and is very tedious to where im like, fuck this, im moving on.

I like open world games but I prefer the old school Ubisoft setup of Black Flag/Rogue and Far Cry 3/4. Just so much fucking better than what it is now. And one last negative which also applies to Origins and Odyssey, I hate all the freaking loot everywhere. Just give me a set amount of treasure chests ala Black Flag/Rogue and call it a day.

Sad part is that if Valhalla copied Odyssey in regards to combat/gameplay/structure, I would be loving Valhalla because the world is great, audio is good and I enjoyed all the story arcs and characters.

Out of 35 open world games that I have played and completed since 2012, only Valhalla is the one game in which I have no desire to 100% the game. Majority of those 35 other games were 100% completed and the few that weren’t were all 90%+.

The structure of Valhalla completely kills my interest in completing the game 100%. Way too many things aggravate and frustrate me in Valhalla. I will start the Wrath of the Druids expansion Tuesday since that appears to be very small in comparison and said to be pretty good. Despite all the combat/gameplay issues of Valhalla, maybe I will be more enticed to 100% the expansion.

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Yeah, OP millions and millions play the way you suggest, and they have fun until they don’t and then move on to another game without cursing the bloat, or filler content, or fetch quests or any other aspect of the game. Reviewers and forum types are the ones who melt down, but there will be games that are more streamlined for them, and others that won’t be and that is that.


I dont mind bigger open workd games. Red dead 2 for example but I like shorter games as well. It’s nice to be able to beat a game in 5 to 15 hours. Especially when I work all the time and have kids. I can’t play a gient game like persona 5


I think I’m done with open world games until BOTW2. It’s a genre I have no time for anymore unless it’s top tier. It’s why I’ve been completely done with the AC franchise.


AC is a series I never got back into after black flag, it just became just another game for me which lost the essence of AC games, which is actually being an assassin. I played origins for 3 hours and dropped it. I played Valhalla for 4 hours and then dropped it. I just miss the old formula

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Great post OP. I think that part of the pressure people feel around open world games is because of how quickly games release, there is pressure to complete it. If we only got on game the size of AC:V a year, I’m sure we would take the time to smell the roses.

Totally agree that these games are at their best when you take a few hours to just do what you want and let go of the time pressure that’s in the back of your head.

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Well said @Jeans. It’s cool that you’re in a good place & enjoying your gaming.

Personally I always loved big open worlds but Valhalla was the one that finally got to me & in the end I simply couldn’t go on. It’s just so big & so repetitive that I gave up after finishing the whole Asgard story arc.

The way you describe your playtime with Valhalla is something I recognise though. It’s how I enjoy gaming. I’m not in the least bit interested in “beating” or “completing” a game. I’m interested in the experience of playing it.

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I dont mind open worlds but the content has to be good or decent enough to make it worthwhile. Valhalla was simply not that to me.


Thank you for your replies guys. It’s really interesting and I know that I may not convince you all, because people want to play many games and may not have as much time as they want. I get that feeling.

I get that people want to play these big games and rush through it like it’s a linear adventure game, but really, you’ll have a bad time if you do that with Valhalla or BOTW or any big open world game. That’s why I think some people burn out on these games, because they don’t play them with the right mindset. It’s like reading all the Harry Potter books in a month…It’s overkill ! No one in its right mind do that.

And I’ve done that before with Witcher 3, RDR2 and Origins and many other games. I enjoyed my time going from missions to missions, trying to do as much as possible in the least amount of time, but that’s just too much for me now.

So that’s why “do what you like” is the motto here, because if not, you’re just wasting your time on story bits that aren’t the core of these open-world games. Story missions are basically a way to guide you and invite you to explore the map in these games.

I love Valhalla because I can explore anywhere on the map and find interesting stuff. If you take a few hours to explore a zone, you get rewarded with some equipements, beautifully handcrafted sceneries or small pieces of content that you can easily miss if you rush to the next objective. And I really like finding chests now. Some are well hidden, but if you pay attention, it’s not so difficult to find them. But you have to take a few minutes to think and find how to get to them like it’s a puzzle. And I really like that in that game, because in Origins and Odyssey chests were just lying there and picking stuff up became a mindless task pretty quickly.

Really, Valhalla is a well crafted game with some interesting content, but you just have to better pace your play sessions. The game is supposed to last you a year or two (or more), but seeing people saying that they have already finished it, I’m a bit puzzled tbh. I’m pretty sure the devs didn’t expect you to get through it in a week or two, even though they know some people will…

For me, Valhalla is the perfect example of how YOU have to find experiences that are meaningful to YOU, or you’re probably wasting your time.

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For me I’m very picky on open world I think witcher 3 and breath of the wild are 2 open world games that I absolutely loved I know 343 said its not but infinite is semi open world if done right infinite might be another one for me it has to have engaging quests and content for me to get into it and fully complete it which I did with breath of the wild and witcher 3

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Valhalla is a game where I love dropping it and picking it up again weeks later. It runs so well and has sooooo much content that it’s always something fun to play. If I tried to do everything before playing other games I’d hate it, but it’s nice to always be an option.

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