You know, we never had this problem in the golden JRPG days.
If there's one thing that has become clear this generation it is that video game developers face a difficult choice about the scope of their games. They can either create a linear experience with a very strong story, or an open world experience with plenty of freedom and a weaker story.
For the most part that has been the way of things. Games like The Last of Us take us through a compelling narrative while Skyrim has us off creating our own virtual life and completely forgetting what we were supposed to be doing in the first place.
Recently CD Projekt Red was the latest developer to say they will most certainly find a way to have both an open world and a great narrative for their upcoming effort The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt . Before that I'm sure there was a little paranoia over whether or not the follow up to Mirror's Edge would survive the transition to open world.
Before we head into the next generation I think it's worth discussing games that we think struck the right balance, or at least came close.
I noticed that some folks in the community felt that Red Dead Redemption was a proper mix of story and sandbox. Personally I felt like the inFAMOUS games balanced things well since most missions were closely related to the main plot and the morality system made everything you do matter.
There's a bit of a difference between open world and sandbox in my opinion and I think the open world titles suffer a bit more in the story department. On that front it seemed to me like Dishonored made some serious headway. Still though, I think the story could have been just a touch stronger. If you take out the missions unrelated to Corvo's predicament there weren't many plot points covered overall. It was still a great game of course, even nabbing PSXE's Game of the Year award for 2012.
It's a precarious position for developers and hopefully the new hardware will make the task easier in the future. What games of this generation do you think felt plenty open and still delivered a great story?