Open World Burnout

Most people rather enjoy a good open world game, hence why so many games that come out now follow that format. You could play these games over, and over again and find things you never saw or knew about in your last playthrough, you could meet characters that you didn’t know existed before and maybe get some gear or side quests that weren’t available to you in the past… They’re definitely one of the best genres for replay value. However, I found myself thinking the other day that I could count on one hand the amount of Open World games I have actually finished:

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Borderlands
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • God of War

Depressingly I think that’s actually it. However, while the list isn’t extensive, and some are definitely more ‘open’ than others, I have played quite my fair share of open world games and here are the ones that I have not finished (off the top of my head):

  • Skyrim
  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 4
  • Borderlands 2
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Assassin’s Creed 2

The three key annoying ones for me on this list are Borderlands 2, Skyrim, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am genuinely invested in the plot of these games and want to finish them, but I always get a little too into my side quests and wandering around not wanting to miss anything, only to then suffer from what I’ve been calling Open World Burnout.

This is when you get so overwhelmed with everything an Open World has to offer that you need some time away from it to play something a bit more linear, or shorter, for a while. You may come back to it later, you may play it on and off, but you need a good break from it every so often.

As the most recent example (and the inspiration for this post) let’s take a look at my experience so far with Breath of the Wild. I played Breath of the Wild for 9 hours straight once and achieved absolutely nothing in terms of plot, I was a little annoyed at myself. A) because time really flies when you play that game and I honestly believed I still had most of the day ahead of me, and B) because I could not tell you what I’d done other than run around collecting monster bits, cooking random stuff together, and finding koroks. I was just exploring and messing about and it felt like a bit of a waste. I haven’t played it for as long since, usually my sessions are max 3 hours and I have very slowly made progress but I get bored of climbing mountains only to find another bastard korok at the top shouting “Yahaha!” instead of maybe a shrine, or a fairy, or something cooler than an annoying, chunky stick chucking a seed at me. This all builds up until I need to take a break for a while. This is a problem I have in most open world games and it always annoys me. Granted some are much bigger worlds than others; Arkham Knight can’t really compare to Skyrim in terms of scale for example, and that’s probably why I actually finished it. Honestly, I do love Breath of the Wild, I think it’s gorgeous and fun in small doses but if it wasn’t a Legend of Zelda game and I didn’t have that nostalgic, loyal attachment to it I’m not 100% sure I’d still be playing it.

Korok BoTW

“Why not just focus on the main plot then?” I hear you cry. Well, wouldn’t that be lovely but every time I get a new quest I just have a desperate urge to finish it, every time I see a shiny thing I need to pick it up, even if I don’t know what it’s for but it might be important! I could be halfway to completing something big in the main quest when I’ll see something that looks like it might be interesting in the distance on top of that inconvenient mountain that will take me an hour to get to. What could it be? I must know. A temple? A crypt? *gasp* An incredible new weapon?!  “Yahaha! You found me!” *Throws controller across the room*. I just really want to know what is there, what if it’s something I’m missing or something that would make my journey easier? Sometimes that is the case but unfortunately not that often.

Another thing that I find to be incredibly tempting in Open World games is to start them from scratch, making a new character with the intention of playing it in a slightly different way. “I just need the right character for me and then I’ll finish it.” You’d have thought the largest and most obvious change would be through alignment which potentially affects the plot, choices and even the items you can acquire, but I find it very hard to play as a bad character in games so my ‘different way’ is generally playing as a different class and race, going to different locations first if possible, that sort of thing. Some games let these impact your gameplay quite well (Dragon Age is generally very good at this, especially the different races), others may simply change a little bit of dialogue but otherwise not let it effect the game at all. In that case maybe my “right character for me” is just an excuse to go back to the beginning.

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20170319205311
Shawty is my third DAI creation, and most likely not the last

Other times I just grow to really hate my character. I played Borderlands 2 as the Mechromancer (how cool is that class??) and I had so much fun with her until, frustratingly quite far in, I hit a wall. Maybe I hadn’t built her skills up properly or maybe it’s down to an insane spike in difficulty but all of a sudden I was terrible. I would get through battles by summoning my robot and shooting stuff from a distance because if I was touched by anything it was instant death. If my robot was killed or timed out I was in deep trouble and had to hide until it was ready to summon again. All while being absoloutely baffled as to how I’d gone from kicking ass to hiding and praying I’d be saved by a giant robot. Not really the way you want to be playing. The annoying thing was I’d started a new game as the Mechromancer because I hadn’t liked my original choice of Assassin, and that my friends, is why I never finished Borderlands 2.


I think that for the most part I want to start again because I get bored of running around but I’m not quite willing to give up playing yet and miss the days where side quests were just around the corner, I could learn all these new skills relatively quickly, and I was being introduced to this huge, new world before being let loose to do as I pleased. You tend to start these games near or in some sort of village or base with a fair few NPCs to get you started, but as you explore you often end up quite isolated. Then you do stupid stuff like get so unused to NPC interaction you accidentally back-stab an innocent guard thinking it must be an enemy because you didn’t realise you were near a town and now you’ve got a bounty on your head, alarms go off, you can’t sell anything. Disaster.

Environment affects it too. Generally you will be sent to every area on the map in the main plot for some reason or other and there’s always one which is bigger, boring, and just that bit more grueling. In Breath of the Wild when I was running through the desert it seemed to take ages to get to the Gerudo town, I just started to feel a little brain dead and fantasied about when life was simpler and the environment was lusher at the beginning of the game. I resisted and stuck with it though. It might be something about deserts, in Dragon Age: Inquisition it’s always the Hissing Wastes area that kills me off. It’s an absolutely huge desert, probably the largest area in the game, but there’s almost nothing there. Luckily the thought of traipsing endlessly through The Hinterlands again is usually enough to put me off. Not always though.

Hissing Wastes
Just look at all that NOTHING to explore

I am always in awe of those that can thoroughly explore these worlds, finish the game within a reasonable amount of time and apparently not suffer from burnout. Maybe I just have a short attention span. I still enjoy them though so while I may be incredibly frustrating to watch play an open world game at least you know that deep down I am actually enjoying it in my own way. I really need to finish off Inquisition so that I can start on some of the expansion I bought ages ago. Before I do continue with the plot though let’s investigate the top of that suspiciously shaped mountain… “Yahaha! You found me!”

Do you suffer from Open World Burnout? Do you often restart your game? Are you a fan of open world games or do you avoid them?

A Shout Out to NPCs

We’ve all got our favourite video game characters. It’s very easy for me to go off on a tangent about my personal favourites, as I have many a time on my blog, you can’t read more than two posts in a row without seeing something about Link or Kratos. While lamenting the fact that I’ve probably exhausted all I can say about my favourites for now I had a particularly inspirational moment where I started thinking about NPCs: The Non Playable Characters that make up the world you’re in. Some can be good, some can be bad, some you can get weirdly emotionally attached to, they all have their place and without them the game would be very boring.
I started off writing a “Top 10 NPCs list” but to be honest with you it was all characters from the same old games I play: Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Dragon Age… Just different characters. I always talk about the same games, which isn’t a bad thing really as they’re all good, I just need to get a bit more variety going on, that and you’re all probably like “oh, Stardew Valley, wasn’t expecting that, it’s only been a week since she mentioned it”. Very aware of this, I reached out to a couple of my geeky friends (and my gamer dad) to get some of their input on theor most memorable NPCs. I thought I’d only get a couple of suggestions… My phone would not stop beeping all evening, it appeared I had touched on something they found pretty interesting. As a result I now have a diverse list with some games that I’ve not even played on it! I haven’t even ranked them because I haven’t played some of these games so I can’t really say, also I didn’t want to deal with texts from friends that helped me out with the post saying stuff like “what do you mean you ranked Shadowmere after Busty Barmaid???” so to avoid this, not only are the in alphabetical order but but I have put them in two categories: Main Characters and Background Characters. I mean, I can’t put Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII on the same list as Noober from Baldur’s Gate, even if they are both NPCs. I’ve also put who chose them in brackets.

Also, as everyone kept saying Portal and Undertale I’ve eliminated them as options because it’s wasn’t really fair to the other games.

We’ll start with the big kahunas, the Main Characters.
These are all the NPCs that have impacted the story of the game in a major way.

Alyx Vance – Half Life 2 (Gary)

“In 2004 you just didn’t have facial animations as good as hers, but she was also an audience surrogate as your character is mute so she basically talks for you and you manage to build a relationship with her even though you don’t say a word and you end up genuinely caring about her.”


Aribeth de Tylmerande – Neverwinter Nights (Me)

She may not be particularly sassy or have any memorable lines but when I was growing up Aribeth was one of my feminist icons. Seeing a woman in a leadership position in this absolutely massive game was wonderful and I was fully invested in her story. If you need more convincing just look at that armour she’s wearing, verging on impractical maybe but so fierce. Absolute Queen.


Claptrap – Borderlands 2 (Everyone)

Claptrap was a huge breath of fresh air, as was the whole Borderlands series really but everyone agreed that we are focusing on Borderlands 2 specifically. Claptrap clumsily guides you through the game sounding like he’s having a great time when he’s actually being incredibly sarcastic and kinda depressed. That’s all part of his charm though! If you knew him IRL you’d probably find him extremely annoying, as many of the game’s other NPCs do, but he really does come out with some gold:

“Well done, minion! Your ability to walk short distances will be Handsome Jack’s downfall!”

“You may wonder why I don’t just take a replacement eye from one of these broken Claptraps. Two reasons: firstly, because me and my eye have been through a lot. Secondly, because shut up.”


Hermes – God of War 3 (Dad) SPOILERS

“He is just so incredibly annoying, and finally catching him and giving him an agonising death is just so satisfying. The dark humour is great when he’s going off on a tangent about honour and betrayal but Kratos is eyeing up his boots and then you get to chop his legs off and steal them.”

Midna – Twilight Princess (Me) SPOILERS

I truly believe that Midna is by far the best Legend of Zelda companion. She is funny, she’s not annoying, she has the best storyline and character arc out of all the companions by far and she just looks amazing, in both of her forms. This is a princess that gets her hands dirty, she goes through so much trying to fight for her people, and the people of Hyrule too and when she gets mad she tries to take on Ganon herself in one of the most badass transformations ever. When she was revealed to be the princess at the end I was really shocked at the twist and so happy that she was still her cheeky self (*cough* Tetra).


Moira – Fallout 3 (Ben and Gary)

Slightly different opinions here, very differently expressed.

Ben: “Moira is an inventor, philanthropist and all around crazy girl. She has one of the most memorable quest lines in any game I’ve played, sending you to all corners of the wasteland to experience its delights, including but not limited to crossing minefields, exposing yourself to some serious radiation and exploding mole rat heads (delightfully messy), all to complete her survival guide. She has a unique charm in an otherwise pretty desolate world, and an air of positivity everyone else seems to lack. Plus mini nuke.”

Gary: “She’s a pain in the arse. The worst part about restarting Fallout 3 is her. She offers an interesting quest line but her voice is so grating. I tried to blow her up with a nuke and she was the only person in town that survived.”

Fo3 Moira
Unique charm or pain in the arse?

Mr X – Resident Evil (Gary)

“He’s a big hulking, stalking bastard who never stops following you and is completely invincible. He follows you throughout the whole police station. You love to hate him because everyone’s obsessed with him but he’s such an arsehole. He can’t touch you on certain levels but he tracks you in real time, for example if you’re on the other side of the station to him and you make too much noise he’ll hear you and track your approximate location. It was absoloutely genius the way it was all designed, I love it. He absoloutely makes the game and sets a new standard for horror in games.

Image result for mr x resident evil 2 remake

Navi – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Ben and Gary)

Another Ben and Gary one, I really should get them together at some point so that they can talk about their favourite games together.

Ben: “Possessing an expansive vocabulary (her words won’t leave my mind), Navi guides Link through his adventures in Hyrule with a series of helpful clues and tips; it’s almost certain the hero would have defeated Ganon in half the time if he’d only paused to listen. Watch our for her 10 hour loop on YouTube.”

Gary: “She’s a pain but she guided millions of players into 3D gameplay.”


Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII (Mike)

“He’s the greatest villain ever because you sympathise with him and his motivations. He was experimented on when he was a child and made into a soldier, so you feel for him and can understand his descent into madness. I think he was the first villain I really sympathized with and it made me understand that evil is man-made. Plus he’s badass.”


Background Characters

Busty Barmaid – Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. (Wish I could say this was one of my friends choices but it was my Dad)

Her name is Alyth Eleandra, but that really wasn’t the memorable part.

“They were just ridiculous, they defied physics and moved independantly. Whoever made her obviously had a great time, they held back in the second game though.”

Baldur's gate barmaid

Lydia – Skyrim (Dad and I)

There was no way this post was happening without Lydia. She’s one of the first NPCs I thought of and when I asked my dad for his favourite or most memorable NPC Lydia was one of the first that came to mind for him as well. She complains, she’s not much in the way of conversation, she has a knack for setting off traps and getting lost, her most likely cause of death is standing in front of you when you are attacking someone else… But we love her anyway. The world of Skyrim is just a little duller without that moment where you turn around and say, “where the hell is Lydia?” and have to retrace your steps only to find her glitching into a door in a tomb you raided about 2 hours ago.

Skyrim Lydia

Letting go of Lydia is one of the hardest things in a Skyrim player’s journey as this video from TobyGames shows (about 50 seconds in):

Noober – Baldur’s Gate (Me)

You don’t know annoying until you meet this guy. He will automatically open up dialogue with you as you pass through Nashkel and say trivial stuff like “ugh, I think I stepped in something” you’ll walk 2 steps and another box opens “What time is it?” So. Annoying. You can just turn around and kill him, which is extremely satisfying, but if you tolerate him for the whole 32 interruptions you get a nice 400 XP. Noober is definitely not an NPC that anyone is particularly fond of, but he is very memorable.

Image result for noober baldur's gate

Shadowmere – Skyrim (Mike)

“Shadowmere is the greatest companion ever. He’s immortal, he can beat up Dragons, the best part is you can ‘kill’ him (knock him out) and use him as extra storage. Also, he’s cute as.”


“Look at all the arrows that are in him and he’s still trucking on.”

Shadowmere arrows

That’s the end of my list for now, who are your most memorable NPCs? Were they annoying, funny, or just super cute? Do you agree or disagree with any on our list? Let me know in the comments, it’s been really interesting to see what everyone thought of and I’d love to hear more!