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A lot of talk about Eco, not much on the article! For my money, it's off the mark. The 'freedom' in open world games is mostly an illusion, and we seem to be getting away from it, as the technological demands increase. Generally the only freedom is the order in which you undertake the pre-scripted missions. Years ago in Morrowind, you could kill quest giving NPCs and wreck the story, but in Fallout 4 all essential characters are weirdly immortal.

Your 'choices' are overblown. For example, in Far Cry 4 you have the option to kill a character or not (on the orders of another). In your report, you refer to them as having been "taken care of". You can't even change the dialogue. Your reward is a different epilogue movie. It's all more choose your own adventure than choose your own War and Peace. You can see the game designers dilemma - why expend massive effort on branching paths when any given player will only choose one? Far Cry 4 also had an amusing bug - you could also choose to destroy a temple or not. However the bug meant the game would show you the non-destroyed model when past a certain range, suddenly popping to the correct model as you approached. The mask literally slipping!

Even non-open world games stuggle to provide meaningful agency. The much acclaimed Walking Dead allowed many choices, from which all resulting divergences were soon neatly resolved funneling the player to exactly one ending.

Honorable mentions : Fallout New Vegas, which offered so many options it almost collapsed under its own weight, and until Until Dawn, an interactive horror movie in which every single character can live or die.

Your examples are all AAA titles, where the expectation is one of voice acting and highly polished animations, etc. It's pretty difficult branch plot lines when you carry such a high cost of production. Perhaps one day, computers will be able to improvise voice acting, plot lines and art. Until then, if we want any semblance of real openness, we have to stick to relatively low-cost of production / algorithmic / generated content, like Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress, No Man's Sky, etc. These games are all limited in many ways, but at least use the player's imagination to fill in the gaps in creative ways.

For sure, but I would class those more as "sandbox" games, which the article specifically includes. But as always, indies are where the interesting experiments are!

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