Open World is the Future of the Racing Genre

Zac Cameron,

June 10, 2018 4:35 PM

As our technology improves, it's time to embrace the trend of Open World Racing games as they strive for a more realistic experience.

One of the many reveals at the very recent Microsoft press conference at E3 2018, was the latest offering from Playground Games, Forza Horizon 4. Looking to bring a wild new experience, the game is set in Britain, and features a wide variety of vehicles to drive around in, from the standard super cars, to dune buggies and bikes, to what even looks like a hovercraft. While the vehicles may seem a little ridiculous at times, the driving seems to be as smooth as ever, as Playground Games continues to improve on their core experiences.

What strikes most out of this new teaser, however, is the open world nature of the game, with players driving around in full view of each other even when not actively engaged in a race. This is a marked improvement from the old days of picking a car, track, and then just teleporting to the location to race. Having the world feel open and alive is a large part of what makes successful simulation games, well, successful, as no-one wants to be the only inhabitant of a desolate world.

It’s all well and good to have incredible detail in your games, but when the world feels empty, is there any reason you’d want to stick around? Some of the most fun I’ve ever had with racing games involve just cruising around, not in a race at all. Back in 2006, playing Test Drive Unlimited for the first time blew me away, after I was cruising down to the beach and was rapidly overtaken by someone in a Ferrari. Just the ability to show up and have impromptu races was a treat, compared to the standard racing games I was used to. The experience only improved with my personal favorite, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, as I practiced my drifting skills in the windy mountains.

The Forza Horizon series offers some of the best looking racing games out there, but having an empty world diminishes the enjoyment that comes with driving a super-fast car around the streets of some far off country. I’ll most likely never speed through Britain in a kitted out sports car, but I can do that in a game, and I can show that off when the game becomes open world.

I want to feel like there are people around when cool stuff happens, rather than being locked into a single track experience

There is a time and place for everything, and I’m a huge fan of the beautifully crafted single player games that are being showcased this year at E3. However, when it comes to racing games, I want to show off and drive fast with friends, and Open World is the future of that for me.

(All images via Microsoft)


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