Why There's No Room for Suburbs in Open-World Games

The other day I was replaying The Crew 2, driving from Texas to San Francisco in my silver 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR. After passing through the epic canyons and peaks, I finally arrived at the glistening Pacific. Looking at my GPS, now barely 3 miles away from downtown San Francisco, I was shocked to still be seeing dense redwood forests and not, say, suburban Millbrae. Then in a flash, I was finally amidst skyscrapers. But when I looked in my rearview, there were the redwoods I barely left behind.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kxvn4/why-theres-no-room-for-suburbs-in-open-world-games
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The lack of suburbs in games definitely struck me, as someone who lived in a suburban area for most of their life (in the past 5 years though it has experienced rapid vertical development and it is rather unrecognisable as the same place). I thought Xenoblade X was interesting as a massive open world game with a small city hub. I think the Wii U’s technical limitations meant that hub had to be less dense than what was expected in 2015, and so, we have a suburb in an open world game. Here’s the map of New LA’s residential district in Xenoblade X:

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I believe it’s modelled after Beverly Hills or maybe a similar kind of area. I’m not too familiar with real LA (I visited once but didn’t really touch on the suburbs at all), but in any case, here’s a neighbourhood with big lawns and backyard pools. There’s a big church, some tennis courts, and a nice little park. There’s really not a lot to do here, which as the article points out, is a big reason stuff like this gets cut pretty quickly, but honestly I kinda just like vibing in a chill neighbourhood like this when the rest of the open world is full of giant aliens trying to kill you.

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