I've taken a bit of a break from my usual FPS'ing (if that's even a word; and I still do play a bit but think of this as a brief hiatus) to step back into Bethesda's world of Fallout: New Vegas, and I find that every time I step into this world, or ANY Bethesda game, I lose track of time. Its 6:00 p.m. and you start playing for the evening; do a few missions and look up at the clock which tells you its 10:00 p.m. and, again, you've only done 3 or 4 missions. Bethesda must have stock in Vegas or something because tons of people experience the exact same thing. "Where does the time go?" Well sir or madam, it went to going through hell and half of Georgia (or Nevada in this case) just to get one item or kill one specific thing. And by all means am I not saying its a bad thing, in fact quite the contrary. People love this sensation of immersing themselves into a world and losing themselves in said world for hours on in.
My first experience with this sensation has to be Skyrim. I had heard of the Elder Scrolls franchise and even before Skyrim I had gotten Fallout 3 (I'll come back to this in a minute) but never had played the previous entries like Oblivion or Morrowind. Skyrim was my first, so I go into it with an open mind. Sure I love dragons (who doesn't?) and I'm all about the swordplay and spell casting, but 'oh my Jesus is this place friggin huge,' was one of the very first thoughts that came to mind. After the initial hand holding mission you're left on your own. They give you the option of doing quests and by doing those quests you find new places and even more quests; and it hasn't ended since (Some places took me an hour to walk to before my dumb ass realized there was a fast travel system). I thought this was a genius move, in a world with linear stories and gameplay to have it abruptly end after 7-9 hours. I'm days (actual 24 hours spans) into this game and I still haven't found everything or completed every quest; this game will bring out your inner completionist. Even with new dlc, I have to put Skyrim back in its case and give my other games attention. This is normally where my Halo ,Black Ops 2, and Borderlands 2 usually come into play. But as I said before, I also have Fallout: New Vegas, which is like going from Caesar's Palace to The Bellagio (just as good, but you're still gonna be in there for awhile and not even realize it).
My first experience with the Fallout franchise was Fallout 3; and yes, while it did have the same exact effect a la Skyrim, after awhile I felt as if I was aimlessly roaming the wilderness, thinking to myself 'where the fuck do I go now?' To be honest, I don't think I gave Fallout 3 a fair shake, and this was a 2008 Game of The Year. Yep, I turned down one of the hot chicks at the dance. Mind you, this was 2010 and it was easy for me to move on to something like MLB 10: The Show, Killzone 2, etc. But in the same breath, I got Red Dead Redemption that year, which is open world as well (just not on the same scale as a Bethesda game, in my opinion) and I thoroughly enjoyed it; up to the bullshit ending.
So I think I was turned off by Fallout 3 because I'm (or I was, still slightly am) a creature of habit. Its really easy for anyone to let the game carry them to where they need to go, give them a linear storyline and hold their hand on most missions. But I think that it took Skyrim for me to learn that linear gameplay and stories are just not as fun. I love the fact that I can go into a game like New Vegas and get missions, on top of other missions to do and it keeps you in there to the point where it is addictive. 'I'm kinda hungry, maybe I should make myself a sandwich. Wait....what's that? You want me to find these people all around the city? And then you want me to spread them out again only to have me search for them one more damn time? I'm your Huckleberry!' Its so simple, yet complex. You can have a linear game where there is a definitive A to Z or you can have a non linear game where there is an A, A1, A2, A3, A4 to Z28. Yes there is an endgame to Fallout New Vegas, and it is possible for you to get there the quickest way you know how, but that robs you of the immersion you can experience by just simply going off the beaten path every once and while. Take your time, smell the roses, talk to people because if there is one thing I've learned from these games its that NPC's are really needy and lazy so there's no lack of shit to do because they don't feel like doing it themselves or, for some reason, can't (again, not a bad thing, I love having shit to do!).
So if you get anything out of this post today, my advice, try an open world game. Get out of your comfort zone and actually guide the story and gameplay yourselves. If you like it then look for other open world games, if not that's fine as well. To be honest, I'm now excited for Fallout 4. Excited doesn't even begin to describe it; if any gaming news outlet says anything Fallout 4 related, even a teaser, I feel happier than a retard at Chuck E Cheese. So I will go back and get Fallout 3 and experience it with a fresher take. So when the day comes, whether it be this year or the next, I'll be ready to unwrap the plastic off of a Limited Edition Fallout 4, pop that bad boy in my Xbox, hit start and wait to hear Ron Perlman say his famous words........................"War........War Never Changes."