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GoatLord

Games where exploring outside the main path is encouraged

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This concept always fascinated me as a kid. Hell, even as an adult the idea is intriguing. Most games, whether they are linear or not, don't bother to add much detail outside of the main environment. But surely there are some games (probably some Doom wads as well) that give the player the option to heavily explore areas that are not integral to gameplay, even encourage it. Can anyone think of any examples?

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Grand Theft Auto. 10 bucks says that no one except the most dedicated completionist drives down every single street in every game.

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I'd imagine you drive down every street, but I bet you miss a lot of the things that are there even if you're looking out for everything. Once you know your way it'll probably be jsut the quickest routes though (or, as I favoured in Vice City, helicopters!)

Doom does tend to have extra secret areas and non-linear maps that don't always need to be fully explored in order to be beaten.

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Phobus said:

I'd imagine you drive down every street...


San Andreas :o

The size and scope of the world in that game is obscene. I don't think there will be a game of that scale attempted for a long time. There is just so much to do, and so many things you can complete the entire game and not even know about (betting on horses! multiplayer pool! shooting hoops! Delivering cargo on a freight train!)

Even just ripping around in the countryside was a lot of fun. Especially with stuff like the "ghost cars". Arghhh!

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Since GTA was brought up, it might be worth mentioning LA Noire for similar reasons, though I don't believe its "open world" to be as full of diversions as GTA's.

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Mogul said:

Since GTA was brought up, it might be worth mentioning LA Noire for similar reasons, though I don't believe its "open world" to be as full of diversions as GTA's.

Mafia, too. Though again it's nowhere near as vast as GTA.

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Mr. T said:

San Andreas :o

The size and scope of the world in that game is obscene. I don't think there will be a game of that scale attempted for a long time. There is just so much to do, and so many things you can complete the entire game and not even know about (betting on horses! multiplayer pool! shooting hoops! Delivering cargo on a freight train!)

Even just ripping around in the countryside was a lot of fun. Especially with stuff like the "ghost cars". Arghhh!

Very fair point, although I tend to forget San Andreas as I personally didn't like it at all. After how cool the 80s mafia florida was in Vice City, the whole ghetto setting of the start of SA didn't gel with me and the whole "Sims" mechanic part of keeping CJ in shape and all of that eventually put me off the game (much fun as it intially was to be 300lbs of flab AND muscle)

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The Lag said:

morrowind.
arcanum.
deus ex.

now.


Really any of the five main Elder Scrolls games. I've burned through thousands of hours wandering around in them. Fallout 3 and New Vegas are similarly huge and full of things to find. Bethesda games are generally full of things you never need to see to win, including entire regions. Special mention goes to Daggerfall, which is just so outrageously huge that I had it for years before discovering some of the texture sets for cities.

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i've tackled many extremely massive rpgs, but wizardry 7 always makes me curl up and weep in despair. there is such a thing as too big.

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FFIX for sure. Plenty of places and side quests to investigate . Zelda OoT as well, just to name some obvious ones

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Test Drive 3. You could drive inside a barn and see a cow. True story.

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Violator said:

Call of Duty

Not sure if you're being ironic or not, but finding the intel in the Modern Warfare games is fun, especially in CoD4, where they unlock cheats.

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Once upon a time, Metroid, and Castlevania. But both series have now devolved into linear GoW-style combat crap where they don't have time to program in anything special like secrets.

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Quasar said:

Once upon a time, Metroid, and Castlevania. But both series have now devolved into linear GoW-style combat crap where they don't have time to program in anything special like secrets.


Metroid has no secrets? Wait what? Other M was a one-off piece of crap, but the series has been uber-solid otherwise. Not a Castlevania fan so I can't say anything there.

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GTA 3 saga (especially San Andreas)
Any The Elder Scrolls game
STALKER probably, seems big enough..can't get into it enough to test that theory though X)
Unreal also has some explorable parts here and there, but nothing to crazy.

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I'll add to the record that I've probably driven down every street in GTA San Andreas at least twice. There was a time when I knew the entire state like the back of my hand. GTA V is supposed to be set in Los Santos, but I'm hoping they pull a fast one again and reveal later that it's all of San Andreas again.

Speaking of GTA, I've been playing through IV again and I think I can safely say that I prefer San Andreas' nag mechanics way better than IV's phone where everyone in your contact list calls you every ten minutes crying about how you don't spend time with them. My IRL friends aren't anywhere near as whiny and I haven't spent time with most of them for months.

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Membrain said:

Metroid has no secrets? Wait what? Other M was a one-off piece of crap, but the series has been uber-solid otherwise. Not a Castlevania fan so I can't say anything there.

Yeah I'm just not optimistic about the series ever rebounding from that disaster. I have a feeling that future games will maintain or even worsen the new precedent.

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To elaborate, exploration is one of the reasons I love the Gothic games. I haven't played much of 3, but 2 certainly encourages exploration. There are so many hidden caves and areas to explore. You never know what you will find. You might find some items hidden away, or enter a cave occupied by bandits that you are too strong to kill.

Another reason I love the games is that most of the game world is open to you from the start. The same can be said for the Elder Scrolls games, but the difference in Gothic games is you will end up encountering creatures you aren't strong enough to kill at a low level. This leaves a certain "I wonder what is past those tough creatures" feel to it. It's rewarding to level up, find new weapons/armour and go back to those places and finally be able to explore beyond the enemies you previously couldn't kill.

The freedom the games gives you makes for a great amount of immersion. Many quests aren't black and white in nature. Many quests offer different ways of completing them. One example is tracking down a thief. In most games, you assume that finding the thief and turning him in is the proper thing to do. But in Gothic, you have the choice of turning the criminal in, or letting him go with a warning. Both choices will have an effect on further events.

Another example I liked was in the first game. You are exploring a mine and come across a miner who openly admits to slacking off. My instinct was to go to the guard and tell him about the slacker. Instead the guard yells at me: "The only thing I hate more than slackers is a rat, get out of here".

The games really give off a "zero to hero" feel. You start with literally nothing except whatever items you can scrounge from the starter areas. Your reputation with the city/camps is nothing, so you have to work to earn your keep. In Gothic 1, you have to be careful as people won't stop at taking advantage of a nobody. An example is one guy asks you to go with him to help find an amulet he lost. Instead he lures you outside of the camp into an ambush where he and his friends beat you up and rob you. Things like that make you weary about doing the "right thing".

Another thing I love about the games is NPC interaction. Instead of having a bunch of NPC's just telling you basic information or giving you quests, you will have conversations with them. Everyone has a different personality and you will make friends and enemies on a personal level. These emotional friendships will effect how you do future quests. I found in the Elder Scroll games that there are few NPC's that you actually remember. Also in those games there didn't seem to be as a diverse personality among the people you talk to.

tl;dr Gothic is an awesome underrated series.

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I'm gonna quick-link an earlier thing I posted about micro versus macro linearity to kinda frame this in context...

I'd like to see more smaller-scale "micro-nonlinearity" in games, which (for the ones too lazy to click the link) basically translates to "the Doom-like freedom of being able to complete a level in whatever way you wish". This generally involves more open-ended construction and optional areas, as well as multiple paths that allow you to reach the desired goal (which may even be as simple as "finish the level"). Branching paths in the "really short dead-end with a secret item" sense don't really count, either. :P

Skyrim (and maybe the other TES's, though I haven't played any of 'em) is an interesting counterexample because it provides a huge, open world to explore (which is awesome) but constructs its dungeons in an incredibly linear fashion (which is not so awesome). Deus Ex showcases the kinda stuff that tickles my fancy: sub-missions allowing for small branching paths and unique playstyle. The only recent AAA game I've played that's done this well is DX:HR, actually, so they definitely did something right. :P

Rant-ish thing over. I just like having the freedom to explore not only on a big, open-world sort of level but also on a per-level level (heh). It's one of the reasons I like Doom so damn much. ;P

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chopkinsca said:

Another thing I love about the games is NPC interaction. Instead of having a bunch of NPC's just telling you basic information or giving you quests, you will have conversations with them. Everyone has a different personality and you will make friends and enemies on a personal level. These emotional friendships will effect how you do future quests. I found in the Elder Scroll games that there are few NPC's that you actually remember. Also in those games there didn't seem to be as a diverse personality among the people you talk to.


Hmm, yes. This is a thing missing from many otherwise decent RPGs. For instance, I thought New Vegas had much better characters than Fallout3, even though it still left a bit to be desired.

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Mr. T said:

The size and scope of the world in that game is obscene. I don't think there will be a game of that scale attempted for a long time.

Just Cause 2

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Mr. T said:

The size and scope of the world in that game is obscene. I don't think there will be a game of that scale attempted for a long time.


Universal Combat.

Also, Postal 2.

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Let's see..

Just Cause
Just Cause 2
Borderlands
Oblivion
Skyrim

Do those count?

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