Remember the PlayStation 2 days, where every game wasn’t an open-world extravaganza? You had remarkable experiences like Grand Theft Auto III, the Jak and Daxter series, Spider-Man 2–games where an open world made sense. Still, there was a great variety of linear and more compact titles, too.
Then something happened. Games that quite simply didn’t need an open-world started having them. Ubisoft became known for its “checkbox” games. Ghost Recon turned into a bland laundry list of random tasks.
There are still your open-world greats like The Witcher 3 or Horizon Zero Dawn, but the genre has been way oversaturated for some time. The recent PlayStation 5 event paints a brighter future, however.
Many of the titles shown were 3D platformers, action shooters, or more creative indie games. Very few of them, if any, looked like bloated open-world games.
Deathloop appears to be a stylized, competitive take on the stealth-focused Dishonored series. Little Devil Inside looks like an art piece come to life, and Oddworld: Soulstorm is bound to be a 2D platforming treat.
What’s great about these smaller games is an increased emphasis on level design. To me, a tightly designed group of stages like those in Ratchet and Clank will always be better than an empty stretch of land.
These games are a better way to showcase the PlayStation 5’s power. Show me an incredibly detailed level with engaging combat or puzzle solutions. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is doing that with its portals between stages, for example. That near-immediate switch between worlds couldn’t have been done before.
The PlayStation 5 presentation was impressive. Not only from a game perspective but from a genre perspective. If games are ready to be this creative again, I’m more than ready for next-generation to start.