Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring emphasize two unique open-world designs

For a long time, open-world games were often designed in one way: the Grand Theft Auto path. In this, players are given missions related to the overall story, proceed to the starting point of the mission with no linear path to follow, and complete the mission by demonstrating skill in one or more playstyles. In the meantime, the everyone was free to explore and find other tasks, often unrelated to plot or technical skill. Since most open-world games followed this formula, they were often seen as Grand Theft Auto clones. Forbidden Horizon West and Ring of Elden are the latest examples of how the formula has changed in modern times.

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Open-world games have grown exponentially since 3D began Grand Theft Autos, becoming one of the most important genres in the industry. Many of the trends GTA created series were enhanced, modified, or set aside for mechanics that diversified a specific title. Over the past few years, two distinct game styles have redefined what open worlds can be. These are story-based open-world games, illustrated by Horizon Forbidden West; and skill-based open-world games exemplified by Elden Ring.

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History versus skill


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Forbidden Horizon West and Ring of Elden are categorized in the same “open world” genre, but have very different design philosophies. They play as polar opposites to each other, but also both reject the main tenants of the genre itself.


Assuming these games play like their predecessors, Forbidden Horizon West puts a heavy emphasis on the story in order to engage the player. Missions often serve the plot, and optional tasks serve to enrich the world or add extra detail and motivation. Exploration is rewarded with more information, while skills are only really tested closer to endgame missions, optional tasks, and endgame content.

On the other hand, Ring of Elden resembles previous titles from its developer emphasizing challenge and combat. There are few optional tasks and missions; exploring the world is the main task. Rewards are often a way to progress further via RPG elements such as stronger stats, better gear and weapons, and other upgrades that serve to make Ring of Elden‘s combat more effective. Playing the game is its own reward as opposed to Forbidden Horizon West, where the story is the reward. That’s not to say combat and gameplay are inferior in this approach, but when a gameplay upgrade is achieved in Horizon it’s often plot-related rather than something players seek out in the world.


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Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring compared to other open world titles


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Where cars were once the primary means of navigating open-world games, various means of transportation have been explored, from horseback riding to Red Dead Redemption at the web swing in Insomniac’s Spider Man Games. Forbidden Horizon West once again uses esoteric and creative ways to travel the world, intrinsically tying it to the story. Titles like Ring of Elden occasionally use the environment to reveal world-building details, and the inclusion of horseback riding will allow for faster movement, but transport is treated as a reward via unlockable shortcuts. Instead of the player increasing their mobility, the world becomes more accessible to match the increase in player skill.


Another aspect that has been de-emphasized is the “open” aspect of the world. In Grand Theft Auto games, optional tasks were often unrelated to the overall plot. The reason for this was that a whole world existed outside of the overall plot. Warring mobs, real estate tycoons and plans for revenge were everywhere, but none of that mattered to the big city as the NPCs had their own lives to live and society carried on no matter what. result of the given action. GTA story. The main plot was the focus of the player’s attention, but not the world’s.

The two approaches in Forbidden Horizon West and Ring of Elden lead to the same consequence. Due to the plot-driven philosophy of Horizon, the whole world is working to enrich the story without any other life really existing outside of its confidences. Likewise, because the world is part of the main game loop in Ring of Eldenthere are few opportunities to include distinct playstyles, threatening to break the seamless gameplay loop.


In some ways, this opened up the genre to many possibilities that the sandboxed description doesn’t do justice to. However, it’s debatable whether these games are open worlds, rather than non-linear action-adventure titles. Ultimately, these games go at player pace, so it’s up to the player to decide which February 2022 release they prefer. Whether it’s a story-driven game or a challenging experience that can be conquered at its own pace, the industry offers something for everyone.

Forbidden Horizon West releases February 18, 2022 on PS4 and PS5.

Ring of Elden releases February 25, 2022 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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