Although I’ve only played a handful of games this year, Elden Ring stands out to me as the best, thanks to its fantastic setting and other features. Games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Fallout and Far Cry have always appealed to me. Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 are games I’m eagerly anticipating from Bethesda, but there is one thing I’d want to see them do differently.
The fact that games with worlds as expansive and complex as Zelda and Elden Ring are even possible astounds me, but they are still constrained. While they are certainly spectacular, the fact that everything was constructed by hand means that crossing them on a bike doesn’t take all that long. I wish businesses would make better use of procedural generation instead of simply hiring twice as many employees to work on expanding existing worlds.
I blame the prevalence of this phenomenon in independent video games for giving it a poor name. True, it can make pretty generic regions, but that’s only if you’re making dungeons, which you probably want to be complicated. However, I find it far more valuable when describing landscapes. Something like Minecraft comes to mind, where the environment keeps going on and on and on but is generated as you play.
In both Elden Ring and Zelda, one of the most excellent parts is discovering a hidden treasure and having the overwhelming sensation that you are the first person to ever find it, despite the apparent fact that you are not. But think about it if you were! Pretend everything you discovered and investigated in that universe was made especially for you.
That’s a fascinating idea, and I take assuming Bethesda is hinting at something similar for Starfield. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction games, but I’ve heard that Mass Effect featured something similar but to a much lesser extent. I’d like to see this in more open-world games, so players aren’t limited to visiting the same few locations repeatedly, making even the most significant games feel cramped.
It appears that Starfield is still using primarily outdated technology, so I’m holding out hope that The Elder Scrolls 6 will finally make good use of procedural generation and maybe even other components of artificial intelligence technology. Everyone has witnessed the rapid development of AI-generated artwork, and I believe this has tremendous promise for video games.
The settings can be more realistic and the wealth hidden in more fascinating and intricate ways if the AI is good enough. Still, eventually, it will also need to be able to construct non-player characters, both physically and in terms of conversation. Implementing eerily lifelike chatbots into a game should be straightforward, particularly with the help of cloud computing.
It’s possible that AI-generated weaponry, animals, and foes would ensure that no two encounters would ever be identical. My ideal video game would be a vast universe to discover, not just a series of predetermined paths through an elaborate amusement park. Though we’ve had a taste of what it could be thus far, I’m hoping that as we fully enter the next generation, we’ll see much more.
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