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Games that reward player exploration have ruined gaming for me.

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So my favorite game series of all time are any of the entries from Dark Souls and Fallout (yes, even 76. Please wait to kill me until after the discussion). However, I feel that these games have sort of ruined my expectations for exploration and player reward in gaming. Allow me to elaborate.

I realize that different entries from these two series may have their flaws, but when focusing on discovery and world exploration, these two series knock it out of the park (in my opinion). Without going into too much detail, I feel entries from both series know how to provide so much to the player when he/she goes out of their way to explore every nook and cranny in the game. Whether it be weapons, armor, or even subtle details on story/lore, I can’t help but feel these series just know how to do it best.

With that, however, I feel my enjoyment of single player games has suffered due to being “exposed” to these entries. You always hear people say Dark Souls has spoiled them from enjoying other games for them, but I feel a lesser spoken aspect it can “ruin” or “spoil” is player discovery. Thinking back on my first play-throughs of the Souls or Fallout series I would just naturally check every corner of the maps due to the fact that I felt there was a reward behind every corner. Do I think EVERY game should have this? No, of course not. But it’s hard to find a reason to explore a giant world given to you when there’s little incentive to do so…

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For example (and a controversial one, maybe), I feel that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a great game, but offered little to no incentive for the player to explore the beautifully crafted Hyrule. It was the biggest Hyrule from a Zelda entry yet, but what else besides the shrines were there to see? Korok seeds? That’s great and all, but both get real stale real fast. Another example I feel is Grand Theft Auto V. A beautiful imagining of Los Angeles that just feels empty and hollow. Barely any buildings can be entered, and the whole north side of the map is just flat out unused, save for a few and brief side missions? Like…why? I’ve got a couple more examples but I’d just be listing off my personal tastes at that point.

Let me just clarify, I am not harping on any of these games. They are all great in their own way and all offer much more different experiences than the other; but it still strangely leaves me feeling disappointed that these open worlds don’t offer much for the player to enjoy or see.

What do you think? Do you feel game developers should fill up their worlds with those small details/rewards for a player to discover? Or do you think that it would just be tedious fluff put in to make the world seem like it has more to do?

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