Uncharted 4 Will Prove Once Again That Linearity Isn’t Inferior

A story-driven, mostly linear game will end up being one of the best ever. Right?

A story-driven, mostly linear game will end up being one of the best ever. Right?

It is undeniably the most frustrating and infuriating trend today: The belief that open-world or sandbox video games are simply more advanced, more progressive, and overall just better than linear games. The argument is that we only had to “suffer” through linear adventures before because the technology wasn’t there. It’s the same argument people use to claim cut-scenes are also “outdated” and shouldn’t be included in video games anymore.

It’s all ridiculous. And stupid. This hearkens back to the old adage, “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” Granted, in order to be applicable here, I think we should add “all the time” to the end of that statement. I don’t mind open-world games; in fact, I love them. GTA will always be one of my favorite franchises ever, I really enjoy the inFamous and Assassin’s Creed games, and last year’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was – and is – my favorite title of the generation so far. However, this open-world trend has gone from common to totally dominating the industry.

I like what legendary designer David Jaffe said in this recent interview:

I’ll add that there’s this trend of ‘bigger is better’ right now and it’s just so uninteresting to me. I’m not anti-open-world but I think they hit the sweet spot a while ago, with games on N64 like Mario 64 andBanjo Kazooie; there was this great blend of adventuring and platforming and puzzles. Now, a lot of these games are just so huge and there’s not much in them, sometimes just a bunch of boring fetch quests and things like that. They all start to feel the same. Like I want to build a fucking settlement in Fallout? I think so many games have become formulaic in this way, so everything is just a big action/adventure game and that’s it. I’m just fucking bored of it.

It’s most important to remember that a linear adventure isn’t “inferior;” it’s merely different. It’s just a different way of producing an interactive adventure and just because you can’t wander wherever you want doesn’t make it worse. Too many completely idiotic reviews of The Order: 1886 made it plain to me that critics actually believe the idea that linearity is “old,” and it’s just outrageously annoying. And yet, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is just around the corner and when it arrives, it will be a big middle finger in the face of all these so-called progressive gamers who think linearity is some sort of disease that we’ve “cured,” like polio.

Yes, Naughty Dog has opened the game up a bit, but it’ll still be a far cry from an open-world structure. In fact, it will probably be very much like a few of those old games Jaffe mentioned. This is why the developers in question are basically geniuses; they know they had to adapt to a changing landscape in the industry and yet, they didn’t want to abandon the core of the franchise. That’s the way all teams should approach new installments in any ongoing series, by the way: Progression and advancement without actually changing the damn genre; i.e., making the game something else.

When this game comes out on May 10, it will prove once again and beyond a shadow of a doubt that story-driven linear adventures are not old-fashioned, outdated, or inferior in any way. They’re merely different constructs and they’re just as viable as any sandbox journey. And by the way, if you actually care about the story, you better care about linear adventures, because it’s the only way to tell a cohesive, gripping story with emotional characters and other attachments. In open-world formats, the player continually loses the thread of the narrative due to the very nature of the “open” structure. If the story is to be front-and-center, as it was in The OrderHeavy RainThe Last Of UsUncharted, etc. it has to be linear at its core. Period.

I just can’t wait for Uncharted 4 to stick it to the open-world Nazis. That’s all I’m saying.

7 thoughts on “Uncharted 4 Will Prove Once Again That Linearity Isn’t Inferior”

This has always been a pet peeve of mine: Developers thinking that EVERY SINGLE GAME IN EXISTENCE needs to be open-world, or that every existing IP will automatically be better in an open-world setting, regardless of the type of game.

It’s just SO stupid and I can’t WAIT for Uncharted 4.

Yep, I’m with you. And Jaffe, as per the article.

The idea that linear is inferior or old-fashioned is just wrong, and I don’t like the fact that SO many people really do believe that open-world is just automatically better. Like it’s more progressive or some such crap. I like some sandbox games, sure, but I’ve always preferred the story and characters in linear games.

I’m so thankful that we have developers like Naughty Dog. When so many studios start doing the same ol’ same ol’ and bowing to industry trends, you get a lot of repetition and stagnation.

I think it’s funny that we now have to go “backwards” to more linear – and IMO, BETTER – games in order for things to feel fresh again. 😉

Uncharted is great BECAUSE it’s linear. I can’t imagine why some developers can’t figure this out. Just because open-world is a trend doesn’t mean it’s perfect for EVERY freakin’ genre. Geez.

May 10 is close. On that day, Uncharted 4 will not only prove why linear isn’t inferior but why Naughty Dog is head-and-shoulders above every other developer on the planet. Period.

Seems Uncharted 4 DID prove linearity isn’t inferior. 😉 It never was; a lot of people just like to say things that aren’t even close to true.

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