How to Navigate Open Worlds When Your Anxiety Leaves You Disoriented


Games like ‘Breath of the Wild’ invite us into lands of endless possibility—but what happens when you can’t decide which way to go?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Aaaaaaaahhhh this was great, Rebecca! As a fellow anxiety-haver I totally understood this, even though I didn’t have the same trepidation going into Breath of the Wild. In my case, I found the game not pressuring you to meet the main objectives constantly was refreshing, as it allowed me to set my own pace, but I see how overwhelming its sheer scale and numbers can be.

I think the only open world game to trigger similar anxiety was Fallout 4, because certain settlement quests—i.e. the only aspect of that game I really cared about—were timed. I coped by straight-up avoiding Preston so he wouldn’t give me any more missions and just building up my base defences as much as possible.


Those are some pretty interesting ideas on work with an open world game. I kinda unintentionally do those things since my way of think is about breaking things down so I guess with people who see the whole picture it gets overwhelming.


Was literally struggling with this in botw last night!


I am semi actively playing 2 open world games, Mad Max and ME:Andromeda, and have paused playing Watch Dogs 2 and Fallout 4. I also don’t want to start the Witcher 3 yet because of what is on my queue.I don’t want to rush through these games so I find myself dipping in and out of most of these games. I appreciate Rebecca putting a spotlight on what I have been feeling the past 2 years about gaming, guilt and indecision especially in regards to open world games.


Breath of the Wild has a fantastic world that does a lot to alleviate this sort of thing for me. Even though Zelda tells you to hurry at the beginning of the game, I never felt any pressure to do any of the main objectives right away, and I didn’t even free the first Divine Beast until about 20 hours in. Even though the enemies can be hostile, the atmosphere between encounters is gorgeous and serene, and I’ve found it to be a really great self-care game for that reason.


BotW was actually the first open world game I’ve been mostly anxiety free with! The large open spaces felt really good to be in, I felt like I had the space to just be in a world without all the noise and crowding that usually comes with these games. The other big thing is that I was able to move around the world without constantly having to be on edge about things like accidentally running over pedestrians or totaling a car and needing to steal another one.


The climbing in the game was a huge component of that, too. I never really stressed about how I was going to get up a giant mountain, because I knew I could always just scale it. The elimination of the “invisible wall” was totally liberating.