Kill Screen: Episode 4 Explores Open World Storytelling In Far Cry 3

The open world video game design has produced some of the medium’s most popular and critically lauded hits in recent times, from Batman: Arkham City to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, and of course, the Grand Theft Auto series that kickstarted the trend’s current popularity with Grand Theft Auto III in 2001.

These titles and their ilk allow gamers to immerse themselves in non-linear, user-created narratives where you can wander around at your own pace, exploring the virtual lands at your leisure and taking on missions as and when you want.

In the latest installment of our Kill Screen series, The World of Far Cry 3, we look at the open world environment of Far Cry 3 where the action is set on a Pacific island riddled with pirates, savage animals, and the many distractions a tropical paradise has to offer. But with the freedom of an open world game comes challenges for the designers, especially in the way they tell the story when everything is so open-ended, unrestricted, and so many disparate elements are involved.

“Open world games are a natural evolution,” explains Far Cry 3‘s executive producer Dan Hay in the video above. "And they’re a response to the consumer. They want variety, they want emotion, they want passion. And so the trick of open world is, yes, you build a sandbox where there are no rules and it’s just fun to play, but for us on Far Cry 3 the real trick was to tie it into something that was meaningful and personal in a story where it’s OK to go back and forth."

The game does this by presenting the player with a moral dilemma: your friends have been captured by pirates, do you man up and try to rescue them or just enjoy the splendors a tropical island paradise has to offer? The consequences of this conundrum are made even more dramatic by the fact that the protagonist is not a heroic badass who eats alien entities for breakfast, but instead is a typical young guy who’s taken time out to do some traveling—and so, the player’s actions inform, enrich, or destroy his life in what becomes a dynamic, interactive storyline.

Check out The Escapist’s review of Far Cry 3 below…

If you missed them, catch up on Kill Screen episodes one, two, and three.