I am one of those players that, when playing open world games, sometimes just wanders the world on foot/horseback/wagon, with no destination, just to admire it. However, open worlds set in a modern(ish) city, never grabs me like a setting that is mostly wilderness or one set in a different time period. Below are a few reasons why, and let me know if you feel the same or have a different reasoning.
tl;dr at bottom
I've spent a lot of time in modern cities, and my dissatisfaction with this setting in open world games could be down to simply a lack of that feeling of exploration. Turning a corner in Los Santos has never intrigued me like going over the next ridge or sand dune in any number of games in the wilderness. Maybe I just prefer exploring the outdoors, but that is probably because I have spent so much time in real life cities. Not every city bores me though, I was interested when walking through Novigrad in The Witcher 3 or Saint Denis in Red Dead Redemption 2, so this is not simply a rural setting vs city setting dichotomy.
One defining feature of the modern city the omnipresence of cars. Pretty much every city in an open world game either gives the player a car, allows them to steal cars, or both. As someone who likes to take my time through these types of games, zipping through the entire map in a minute or two discourages exploration for me, especially playing a mouse and keyboard and unable to adjust speed very well. Additionally, a lot of these games aim for realistic movement, which is usually less interesting, even if it looks good. I still keep Assassin's Creed Unity installed because sometimes I want to just run on the rooftops of Paris and jostle people in the streets. I know Watchdogs 2 and GTAV have been compared to each other endlessly on here, but while I never finished the story of WD2, like I did with GTAV, I definitely spent more time messing around in San Francisco, and I credit that in part to the ability to hack cranes and climb rooftops.
A final factor that is easily overlooked is that it might be that I am just playing games with poorly designed cities. Like I said there are cities in games that I allowed myself to just exist in, but those cities usually do not take place in the modern day. If you have an in-game city that you love, let me know so maybe I can change my mind.
I'd like to hear if anyone else feels this way or even if you disagree and love playing tennis in Los Santos.
tl;dr: Modern cities tend to bore me because 1) I've spent too much time in cities in real life, 2) Movement through those cities is usually not entertaining, and 3) Maybe I just haven't seen a good modern, open world city yet
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