Skyrim design lead Bruce Nesmith, who's now ex-Bethesda after leaving the studio during Starfield's development, reckons the iconic RPG largely kickstarted the open-world-ification of games.
Speaking with MinnMax in a recent interview, Nesmith argues: "We proved to the world that open-world games were the place to be. You can trace the explosion of open-world games to Skyrim's success."
Interviewer Ben Hanson raises a fair point, wondering if Skyrim's impact overtakes even GTA 3, another foundational open-world release. "You don't think it was GTA 3?" Hanson asks.
"I would say they were a part of it," Nesmith replies, "but I think when you play GTA games, you have a different open-world experience. They're not going for the same RPG kind of environment. Maybe they kicked the door down and we were the bull in the china shop that barged through it, I don't know. But Skyrim was definitely a big part of it, not to take anything away from the GTA guys, because they make amazing games that also changed a lot of how people felt about gaming."
Almost all of the big hitters on our list of the best open-world games were released after Skyrim, with the only exceptions being Skyrim itself, Terraria, and Minecraft, which were all released in 2011. (What a banger of a year, huh?) The genre certainly became more prominent in the past decade, but as Nesmith agrees, the impact of earlier hits like GTA 3 can't be overstated either.
It's hard to trace design sensibilities like this since the comparisons and inspirations aren't as clear as, say, the many Vampire Survivors-likes coming out nowadays. Skyrim builds on Oblivion and Fallout 3, for example, which both released after GTA 3. And now Starfield has built on Skyrim.
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