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DICE: Sandbox Games Are "Boring" And "Tough To Get Into"

DICE doesn't mind butting heads with mega-blockbuster Call of Duty and in fact, they're looking forward to the challenge.

But they have some interesting things to say about other genres. After confirming to Edge that Battlefield 3 will be "a more focused, scripted experience," DICE executive producer Patrick Bach claimed that most sandbox games are really only for the hardcore and "tough to get into."

"I don’t see it as an absolute goal for all games to be sandbox games. We’ve been building sandbox games for quite some time and we’ve got pretty good at it, but I don’t see that as the only way of building games, because then we wouldn’t build campaigns at all.

In some cases they aren’t, but in most cases sandbox games are hardcore, boring, hard to get into and they are not very popular."

Battlefield 3 will undoubtedly clash with this year's Call of Duty - most assume it'll be Modern Warfare 3 - but let's not forget that Grand Theft Auto lurks in the distance. In fact, the analysts have weighed in by saying GTAV can benefit from the current shooter fascination, and Michael Pachter is predicting "massive" sales. That's sandbox, isn't it? And what about inFamous 2?

Well, to each his own. But before CoD ruled the universe, many accused GTA of being too "casual" and "mainstream," so sandbox games aren't necessarily "tough to get into." ...are they?

Related Game(s): Battlefield 3

Tags: battlefield 3, dice, sandbox games, games industry

4/5/2011 8:41:52 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (67 posts)

BTNwarrior
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 9:31:57 PM
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case in point mercinaries 2

Agree with this comment 2 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Jawknee
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 9:36:32 PM
Reply

Depends on the game. Infamous is pure gold.

Agree with this comment 16 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Highlander
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 12:32:40 AM

Infamous is story heavy. It's sandbox, but you have a tight story driving you forwards.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Victor321
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 9:52:26 PM
Reply

Uh, GTA IV, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Infamous and Fallout 3 say hi :)

Agree with this comment 8 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

NoSmokingBandit
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:03:28 PM

inFamous is the only game in that list I finished because its the only one that didnt bore me to death.

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mexgeo86
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:27:35 PM

don't forget Assassin's Creed II; it was the first game that I got a Platinum trophy for because it was _that_ addictive and fun.

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frylock25
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:28:39 PM

dont forget the assassins creed games, red dead redemption and a month from now LA Noire. throw in new vegas also.

burnout paradise could also qualify on this list of sandbox games that are great.

Last edited by frylock25 on 4/5/2011 10:32:43 PM

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FM23
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:58:45 PM

@nosmokingbandint

So I guess you'll be first in line for BF3!lol

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___________
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:32:55 AM

except GTAIV elder scrolls and fallout 3 are some of the most boring repetitive games to ever grace the industry!
especially fallout 3, you get no sense of progression what so ever and every environment looks the same!
your constantly saying to yourself wait ive been here before.
its like they created one area, then cut and pasted it 1000 times!
had a decent story, great combat but was faaaaaaaar too repetitive!

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 6:07:30 AM

Other way around for me Nosmokingbandit. But that doesn't mean the others didn't have their flaws either.
"Line man" underlined (ha!) a few.

Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 4/6/2011 6:10:26 AM

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daus26
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 10:04:07 AM

Would Final Fantasy count as sandbox? FFXIII was obviously more of a "scripted experience" and linear, and look how that turn out. I think FFX was also more linear, but that turn out pretty good.

It definitely depends how its executed. Whether its linear or not, it doesn't determine a game's success.

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Victor321
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 7:09:43 PM

@daus26

I totally agree with what you're saying :), that's why I personally love both linear games (Uncharted and MGS4 anyone?) and non-linear games (*coughs* GTA IV and Fallout 3, like I said earlier).

Like many here, I'm a diverse gamer :) (who has a very strong affection to RPGs of course...).

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SolidFantasy
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:05:56 PM
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Personally I think linear games "can be" boring. The replay value suffers because you already know how your going to beat it. Even on the 1st playthrough it feels like someone is holding your hand the whole time. Telling you where to be when a predetermined enemy jumps out and charges you. Sandbox games are fun because there's just so many more options at your disposal. What do you think of that Patrick?

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frylock25
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:25:23 PM
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i am playing red dead redemption and loving it. i personally like having some freedom in my gameplay.

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Deathstriker
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:25:25 PM
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Well the point is, the option's run out... By end game you have already done all the options.

Sandbox game's can be fun... if you really have a FULL built game. Infamous and GTA4 I Completed, the other's where boring...

Last edited by Deathstriker on 4/5/2011 10:26:01 PM

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Geobaldi
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:26:54 PM
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It all depends on what the genre, and/or goals of the game in question is in my opinion. There are loads of sandbox games that I love to play due in part to the freedom element. Linear games are pretty good as well for the most part, but I do get tired of riding on rails through an entire game sometimes.

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tes37
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:31:16 PM
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I like boring sandbox games. They're way more fun than boring first person shooters.

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Deathstriker
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:34:07 PM

I like how you sad that...

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:37:15 PM
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I love a good sandbox game.

Some of my most fun times was doing marathons on FarCry2, GTA4, The Saboteur, & inFamous, just to name a few.

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kraygen
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:44:35 PM
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Sandbox > FPS any day of the week.

Infamous, RDR, Just Cause 2, The Saboteur, GTA(all of em), TW2, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, prototype. . . and etc, etc, etc...

Tons of popular sandbox, sure there are tons of popular FPS, agreed, but to say that sandbox is boring, what sandbox is he playing?

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Vitron
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 8:48:49 AM

Just your regular- The Sandbox.

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Milonakis
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:51:04 PM
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Sandboxes have a lot more to offer in general, but focus is important in alot of games. Personally I like my shooters focused, unless theres an rpg element to it like fallout, or something to be gained by searching things out.

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MadKatBebop
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:54:04 PM
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I like sandbox games but I do kinda find some boring after awhile. I don't play RDR or Infamous as often as I use to because it does kinda feel like I do the same thing each time I play, but I still do like them very much. But I also feel the same way with most FPS aside from the HL games and Crysis 1-2.

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Nickjcal
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:58:35 PM
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If there's enough content that's interesting and makes you want to keep coming back then yes. But a game like Just Cause 2 where unless you create your own fun it just wears away in time. IMO Borderlands is one of the best sandbox games around.

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Kangasfwa
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 10:59:08 PM
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For everyone saying most sandbox games aren't boring, I ask you this: How much time do you waste traveling from point A to point B?

Personally, I find it rather frustrating when I'm constantly harassed by random enemies in a field when all I'm interested in doing is getting to the next mission.

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MadKatBebop
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:10:58 PM

I understand what you mean, that is kinda of annoying.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:39:44 PM

If the traveling is fun then I don't mind. It was pretty fun wondering around on horse back in Red Dead. It was a lot of fun just running around Empire City. Assasin's Creed is the only sandbox game I got extremely board with traveling.

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:51:54 AM

Traveling in Just Cause 2 and Infamous is just as much fun to me as anything else. A lot of sandbox games have a quick travel system though, so it usually isn't an issue.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Vitron
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 9:28:13 AM

Yes, your general sandbox games are indeed boring. However, inFamous proved otherwise. Every second of the game was pure enjoyment.


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FM23
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:02:56 PM
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GTA's, RDR, Infamous, Fallout 3/New Vegas, Assassin Creed, Red Faction Guerilla, Dragon Age, Demons Souls, etc. Sandbox games aren't boring, they are just repetitive...just like FPS's. They all repeat the same mechanic in new enviroments. FPS's are even more repetitive because you do the same thing over and over...shoot moving targets. KZ2/3, BF2, CoD...the multiplayer hides the repetition of the core game really.

Seriously, after hearing them say this...I hope their campaign rivals the unpredictability and freshness of Uncharted 1 and 2. Really, I feel that comment was very ignorant or just purely subejctive material they should have kept to them selves. Now I want to see them fail and reproduce the same repetitive material FPS's offer.

And how aren't sandbox games popular?...if anything they kept me interested in gaming, not FPS's. The only FPS I truly loved was Bioshock.

Now sandbox game that suck include Saints Row, Just Cause 2, and Borderlands (not so much, but up there). All these games featured little to no story. Just Cause 2 was jsut horrible.

I can't name any FPS's that have blew me away outside of Half Life, Bioshock and KZ2. Sandbox...well you know the rest...

Last edited by FM23 on 4/5/2011 11:10:28 PM

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:54:32 AM

Well to be honest, Just Cause 2 wasn't ever meant to have a moving story. The whole thing was just meant to be fun. I personally found the story to be quite funny.

The gameplay was just flat out fun.

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 6:16:50 AM

What Kray said. JC2 was the most fun sandbox game i have played. It was known from the start that fun and non-seriousness was it's game.

Why does everything have to be serious and realistically story driven? It's exactly what's over flooded our industry. We need the fun factor back.

Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 4/6/2011 6:17:57 AM

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Lairfan
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:08:22 PM

I would rather have a high quality fun game than a low quality one like JC2. Plus, JC2 gets incredibly repetitive if you don't try to mix it up at all. The devs didn't throw any variety in, its up to the player to do that, and if you're playing a game for fun you don't want to have to screw around with making the game fun. That's just my take on it, but still.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:08:59 PM
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What sandbox game did DICE make?

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Jawknee
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:41:17 PM

Their multiplayer modes are kind of sandboxish in Bad Company 2. Some of the maps are HUGE. I often call Bad Company 2 a sandbox first person shooter.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:44:12 PM

I guess it depends on what they call a sandbox game or define one as...

I'm trying to think of one and can't. Unless they consider the older battlefield games sandbox style. They are rather large maps in the older battlefields. Even as jawknee mentioned above for BFBC2. BF1943 has a large map as well lots to do for an online mp. I don't know...

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 4/5/2011 11:46:27 PM

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:55:37 AM

If a large Mp map makes it sandbox, then mag must be one heck of a sandbox game in the eyes of Dice.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 10:14:30 AM

The older battlefield games on PC and even the map(s) in battlefield 1943 are as large if not larger than some maps in MAG. But in BF you also can fly planes, among driving vehicles and boats making the gameplay much broader with being able to use a boat in the ocean and take to the skies in a plane. I still can't answer that question, but make of it what you will...

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 4/6/2011 10:19:10 AM

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LittleBigMidget
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:19:10 PM
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I could say the same for FPS games.

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:56:08 AM

I could say a lot worse for FPS games. lol

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___________
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:24:49 AM

you could say that for allot of games, not only shooters.
i could literally count the number of non boring games released this gen on 2 hands!
most are just too serious, too repetitive, too restrictive, or all of the above!
i miss the days where games were tong in cheek.
constantly making fun at themselves, i mean why do you think duke nukem is so famous and enjoyable!?
even after the ridiculously long development time even the king himself is joking about the ridiculously long development time!
i mean, come on, you will NEVER see a trailer announcing a delay funner then DNFs latest one!
because, of course, duke never comes early!
;)

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Godslim
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 6:07:16 AM

dude there are still some bloody good fps games out there

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 @ 11:38:29 PM
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I guess that all just depends. I think it's about pacing. You can't throw the character or player in too quick because that could cause a high amount of difficulty. But if it takes too long for it to pick up and things to start happening sure they can get real boring and very tiresome. So if the pacing is right and there is a story there to back it then sand box games can be a huge treat! Look at RDR, or infamous, both very good examples of sand box games that are not boring nor hard to get into.

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RebelJD
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 12:28:52 AM
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He must have been referring to MMOs when he said "hardcore, boring, hard to get into.." the "not very popular" line looks more like a line of jealously. Sandbox games are awesome, hilariously cool at times, and easy to play.

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:58:30 AM

If he was talking MMO's he is off his rocker. Wow alone has over 10 million players and there are a ton of other MMO's with millions. It seems to me that if you take purchase price, monthly fees and all that, MMO's are the big money making genre.

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Jed
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 1:19:49 AM
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I love sandbox games. In most FPS games you just follow the story, do this, do that, and ride the rails until the game is over. With sandbox games you can put the story on hold almost any time you like and just go explore the game and whatever fun/weird/creepy stuff the devs have hidden all over the place. Fallout 3 is the best example I can think of. You can follow the mission and beat the game rather quickly, but going out and exploring is very rewarding, and can add many, many hours of fun to the game.

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:59:30 AM

Not to mention those FPS story lines tend to be shorter than a bathroom break.

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hadouken
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 1:35:02 AM
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If sandbox games are boring than I don't want to know what fun is. Besides didn't Dice copy cod? moh feels like a generic version of cod. I know moh has been out longer but that game felt too much like cod.

For some reason I think Dice will copy gta eventually.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:35:48 AM

DICE didn't do MoH. Well, they did the multiplayer, but the SP was done by Danger Close. DICE does Battlefield.

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___________
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:21:00 AM
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so in other words GTAIV!

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Nlayer
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:34:17 AM
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Some sandbox games are great fun. But yes, a lot of them are indeed boring to me. I also don't think it has too much to do with hardcore too. The ones that bore me are just not good games!

What I like, and wish more would do, is something that I don't see much of anymore. The games like Mario64, Spyro, Crash, and Sly that had a level with portals to other levels. Those games have always been at the very top of my list.

One great sandbox-ish game was Ocarina of Time. It felt like a sandbox game to a point. Although it wasn't completely free, it was what I consider the best world I've played in. There needs to be more games like that! Who's with me? *Goes back to 5th gen*

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 7:48:19 AM

Completely agree.

The games you listed are some of the best sandbox's (and they are) ever.

Zelda OOT.....can that game honestly be topped?

Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 4/6/2011 7:49:43 AM

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:39:39 AM
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It depends on the game, and how well the story is told and integrated into the game. Some sandbox games are incredibly repetitive and derivative, while others have a lovely curve for learning new mechanics and keeping you interested. Linear games have a much better focus, because of their design, but that doesn't necessarily make them more fun or less boring. It depends entirely on what the dev is capable of, and many are unable to keep things fresh for more than five hours, thus resulting in the shortness of many shooters.

Sandbox games rock, if they're done right.
Peace.

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Wissam
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 4:58:20 AM
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Some gamers find them boring. infamous was a bloody fun to me. as for rock star games I am
not a fan of them. bring on infamous 2.

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Lotusflow3r
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 6:07:52 AM
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Thd attention span of this gen is laughable.

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Godslim
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 6:09:04 AM
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sandbox games can be good yes when done well.....but can also become repetitive being the problem but there have been some great ones

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kraygen
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 12:11:05 PM

True, but you could say that of any genre. Pretty sure that if you pick any genre and a great game from it, you could easily find 20 bad ones.

Great games are just harder to achieve, regardless of genre.

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Godslim
Friday, April 08, 2011 @ 4:35:26 AM

"pick any genre and a great game from it, you could easily find 20 bad ones."
very true man

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ceedot
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 7:50:51 AM
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lol that's why GTA IV was the fastest selling game of all time in 2008.

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daus26
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 9:58:36 AM
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I agree with all of you and definitely disagree with DICE (Patrick, particularly) on this one. There has just been so much sandbox games like you guys say to say its "boring, hard to get into, and not very popular." It makes me want to think there's more to what he's trying to say. I can't make sense out of it.

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DjEezzy
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 1:26:00 PM
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While i do find most sandbox games boring, i don't necessarily agree with this dude. The only sandbox games that really grabbed me from beginning to end were inFamous and RDR. I have to say RDR is probably one of my favorite sandbox games. I loved it. Other than that, i really just don't have the time to invest all sorts of hours doing side quests and stuff. I have 2 babies and they are a handful. Nuff Said... LOL

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tlpn99
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:44:13 PM
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It can depend on my mood. I like both FPS and Sandbox games, probably prefer Sandbox just a bit more over FPS. Gotta love just wandering round a city doing whatever you want or even Wastelands like in fallout.

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Nick Maim
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 2:57:42 PM
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It takes FOREVER to get into a sandbox game for me. By the time I figure out how to get around, inventory systems, missions etc, it's like 8 hours before I start to actually enjoy the game. Case and point: Far Cry 2. Incredible game, but I hated the first 8 hours. After that it was like a violent zen experience, if that makes any sense.

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Lairfan
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:15:10 PM
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Yeah, open world games aren't popular and are SO hard to get into. That's why Assassin's Creed II sold in excess of 8 million copies (or something like that), and Brotherhood is somewhere around the same ballpark. That's also the reason why GTAIV has sold 20 million copies.

I really hope DICE doesn't turn into Crytek with all this big talk. I can handle a little bit, but if they keep putting down genres like this for no apparent reason, its gonna be hard to still like them by the time BF3 comes out.

Last edited by Lairfan on 4/6/2011 3:15:58 PM

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PSTan
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 3:55:20 PM
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DICE has been getting unusually cocky ever since Battlefield 3's announcement. Let's hope the game lives up to what they promised, and more. Making such a statement as this means they're dissing top-notch developers like Rockstar, some of whom have been more successful than DICE in the past few years. Guess we'll have to see what happens...

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Danny007
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 @ 4:54:40 PM
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Sandbox games were fun when I was a kid, but now there just not my type of game.

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Mornelithe
Thursday, April 07, 2011 @ 10:34:00 AM
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100% Disagree honestly. Sand-box games are the future of gaming imo. More choice, more interaction, more variety of NPC responses etc...

Take GTA, Crysis, Stalker, Arma 2 as examples (Not Crysis 2 puke). Being able to tackle obstacles in your own fashion. Designing your attack. Choosing how you progress through the game. These are all extremely important facets to gaming, and for extremely talented developers, can even create more variety and depth. Stalker and Fallout follow this pretty well. Your choices influence who you can talk to, who you can friend, who you can quest for etc...

Without those choices, it's literally like being on a rail. Advance forward, shoot, advance forward shoot. There's nothing random about that. And while I don't discount games simply for lack of sandbox, they tend to have to prove themselves a bit more before I'll be interested.

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