How the checklist conquered the open world, from Morrowind to Skyrim

There’s no genre like the open world for inducing choice paralysis, so it’s fitting that I’ve been agonising over how to begin this irregular article series on open world games for months. I have a lot of material, oodles of interviews with developers of all shapes and sizes – big shops like Remedy and CD Projekt, smaller studios like Ace Team and Awaceb, all holding forth on such topics as whether Elden Ring or Zelda did bandit camps better, and how you make a forest feel endless. There is so much you could talk about, so many trails heading off in all directions, but perhaps it’s best to begin with the more personal and superficial question that inspired this investigation: how did the open world game get so boring?

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