Have you ever really thought about the significance of fast travel? What an imperative luxury the mechanic is to any adventure? To migrate instantaneously from the snow capped peak of a secluded monastery, buffeted by an incessant snowstorm. To the boundary of some tranquil river. With the sun’s gleaming light reflecting off it’s cool surface, as a delicate cascade of water ripples over the jutted remains of a once rooted tree. RPG’s, in all of there singular variations, imbue the user with a sense of freedom. They portray these world’s as an unfurled canopy. Exposed for you to survey its verdant pastures and replete in unknown dangers. Emphasising this huge interactive terrain that is just aching to be discovered. Only for you to select your preferred destination and completely disregard the journey. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I should be opposed to the curtailment of fleeting exploration. It is a very frenetic means of traversal, one that by design circumnavigates the natural fluidity of an open world game. But its such a necessity. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing more satisfying than the fortuitous discovery of some abandoned treasure, guarded by undead pacifists wielding rubber swords, and possessing bone density as brittle as the world’s sanity. But the ability to magic one’s self to a more desirable location at a whim is a most provident means of exploration. Just think about Skyrim, a region bloated with dense, labyrinthine cave’s, that requires a significant chunk of time to explore thoroughly, that even the most dedicated and ardent of explorers would consider utilising an idle method to reduce the labour of forced rambling.
Your mind after a time begins to rebel against the monolithic expanse that’s more intimidating than it is liberating. Besides, if you really start to explore every little nuance, you begin to notice the cracks in the veneer of even the most polished of world’s. Revealing the shallow, surface level autonomy you actually have, especially when you encounter an npc buying groceries from a mage in one town, and the same “individual” lamenting the loss of his goat in a tavern that’s a one minute fast travel away. In many ways the interspersed intrusions of automatic traversal actually illicits greater immersion. It negates the inevitable stagnation that occurs from the repetition of travelling from one errand to another, briefly engaging in a minor grievance, before setting off to some far-flung corner of the map to vanquish the specified adversary. I doubt I would have finished half the RPG’s I have if it wasn’t for fast travel.
Hmm, not for me. I played hundreds of combined hours of Elder Scrolls, same for Fallout 3 and 4, The Witcher and all other open world games – especially Red Dead Redemption 2. For me, the travelling is so much of a part of the game, it immerses me in the world, and I hate using fast travel as it kind of breaks the spell. The only exception is when I’m coming towards the end of a game and want to get it done, but even then, that’s a very rare example. I just finished Death Stranding and didn’t use the Fragile travel points once, unless forced to by the story.
Recently, I DID use fast travel in Horizon Zero Dawn. About half way through the game I was so bored with the dull, empty world, but was enjoying the story, so literally fast travelled between every mission to race to the end.
So overall, I’m glad it exists, but usually I wouldn’t go anywhere near it.
Exploration is as integral to an open world game as gun’s are to FPS’s. I used to relish Red Dead Redemption’s environments. Galloping half way across a map to start a mission, only to find that I’d have to come all the way back. It was very rarely that I’d fast travel anywhere.
A point I didn’t address about the convenience of fast travel though is time. The constraints of work and family responsibilities means I’m not really afforded the time, nor the energy, to explore these densely populated world’s with the same enthusiasm that I once did. Though I wish I could. Perhaps that should be an indication that I shouldn’t be playing them anymore, but I’m a sucker for an open world game.
Thanks for the comment. Always nice to get perspective on the thing’s I enjoy, but rarely get to talk about. Cheers.
Oh absolutely with you there, these days I find myself checking ‘How Long To Beat’ before committing to a game! I find I can really only do a couple of those big open world games a year, and have to be very selective. Nothing worse than getting 15-20 hours in and realising you’re just not enjoying it! I remember as a kid relishing the idea of some 100 hour game and loved JRPGs for that very reason. Nowadays, there’s loads I’ve missed out on. I only really get to play a couple of hours on an evening if everyone else has gone to bed, so it’s very slow progress most of the time. Maybe I should consider using fast travel more? I suppose the trade off is immersion vs practicalities and actually maybe being able to play more games… Certainly a thought.