When Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment recently announced their plans for a Star Wars open-world IP, gamers’ minds buzzed with the possibilities. Ever since Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed back in 2007, they have been launching open-world games on a regular basis. At this point, it’s safe to say that they have the development process down to a science. Sure, some of their open-world games are arguably better than others, but it’s worth noting that they’re good at what they do. With that said, it’s not to say that jumping into this genre raises concerns. Especially when it involves one of the hottest properties on the planet. Because let’s be honest here, Ubisoft can do stellar work, but sometimes they tend to get stuck in a rut.
Even though there’s very little known about this game, there are some hints out there that garner excitement. This Star Wars open-world adventure will use the Snowdrop engine, which will deliver a fresh experience like never before. What the Snowdrop engine basically does, is that it makes the development process much more accessible for smalls teams of people. Therefore, they can build entire worlds with less hassle and half the time. Another Ubisoft property, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, is using this engine, and seeing it in action gives gamers a good taste of what to expect. So, with this engine being used with this open-world Star Wars project, will it enable the developers to be more innovative or will they rely on the same old tropes?
Although everyone has their preferences on what to expect, there’s no doubt that all the players that have been playing open-world games for the last 20 years are seeing a pattern. In general, open-world games are basically a giant laundry list of things to complete. So, after a while, it becomes a literal chore to play through. It feels like a long checklist of activities to mark off. Needless to say, making an immersive and unique open-world title isn’t easy. There’s no question that making a thriving environment that’s full of activity and gameplay is no easy feat for any developer. The following is a list that hopefully Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment take to heart to ensure a fresh experience.
Avoid Scavenger Hunts
It seems like every open-world adventure always has a slew of collectibles to find. Running around the map and scouring every nook and cranny can become brain-numbingly tedious. It’s about as much fun as an Easter egg hunt. Here’s hoping that Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment will take another approach to avoid this side activity. Maybe random fleeting occurrences to where, if quick enough, players can catch the loot that’s running away. Something like a droid holding a package, or maybe an exploding ship up in the sky dropping cargo. Have the collectivism be less stagnant and more organic and exciting. Perhaps having the items come to the player for once. Things like a bounty hunter (who’s clearly holding what an item that a player needs) are being annihilated and looted after a duel. Perhaps robbing a Tusken Raider camp at night or hijacking a ship mid-flight for specific loot and collectibles would also be a good alternative.
Avoid Meaningless Side-Quests
Even though players can point out some rather memorable side-quests in open-world games, most of them have little impact. In all fairness, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey had some rather poignant ones, but the rest are just “fetch quests” and “escorting missions.” These have been done to death and here’s hoping that the side-quests in Ubisoft’s and Massive Entertainment’s Star Wars project will have more weight. Maybe certain quests will open up short-cuts to other parts of the map, or introduce an NPC that can help out when called. Completing a quest for some loot and XP isn’t really cutting the mustard anymore and players are yearning for something more.
Avoid Mandatory Level Scaling
Love it or hate it, level scaling has been a relatively new concept for Ubisoft’s open-world ventures. It was especially prominent with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, but a little better in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The purpose of it was to crank up the challenge and have enemies level up along with the character. This was inserted in the game to keep it from being “too easy” in the sense that an upgraded character can stomp out lower-level enemies. Level scaling kind of made the map felt limited due to the constant barrage of suped-up enemies attacking. If nothing else, perhaps Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment can implement this as an option that level scaling can be toggled on or off. This, by default, will render the game “easier” or “more difficult” for players to try out.
Avoid Generic a Skills Tree
There’s definitely a sense of satisfaction when unlocking a new ability in a skill tree. However, once everything is unlocked, there’s really nowhere else to go. Perhaps it’s time for a more “organic” progression system. In Jedi Knight: Outcast, Kyle Katarn gradually got stronger as the campaign marched on. There was no XP or a skill tree to mess with. It all felt very natural. For this open-world Star Wars adventure, certain weapons should get easier to use the more you use them. Thus, a player using a certain ability regularly will automatically increase its stats the more you use it. Meanwhile, the other weapons and abilities that players don’t generally like will remain “sluggish” and “weak” due to the avatar’s inexperience in using them. It’s no different than using a muscle for the first time and having it get stronger as time goes on. A concept like this would be welcomed and will add more depth to building an avatar the way players want.
Avoid Using a Single Map
There’s no doubt that Star Wars is ripe with exotic locations to explore. Ubisoft can craft some beautiful-looking maps, but being stuck on just one planet would be a wasted opportunity. The technology is now available to travel from one place to the next with ease. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt had the entire map broken up into explorable regions. Perhaps this method could work. Hopefully, the entire galaxy can be explored with a customized ship and players can poke around in a little bit of; Hoth, Endor, Tattooine, Mustafar, Coruscant, and new and original areas. Of course, this all depends on which era this game will take place.