AU Diary: Exploring The Islands Of inFamous

AU Diary: Exploring The Islands Of inFamous

Whenever I tackle an open world game, I find myself doing two things.

First, I want to explore the world and soak up its atmosphere.

Second, I want to clear areas of their side missions and any collectibles.

Both activities mean I find myself ignoring the primary quest or missions, and thus the storyline, until I’m several hours into the game. Playing through my review copy of inFamous has seen this scenario repeated once more.

The play area of inFamous is split into three islands, each one unlocked in turn. Each island is divided into a number of districts – fifteen on the first island. Each district contains at least two side mission, one for Good and one for Evil. Completing one of these clears the district of all enemies, making it a safe haven for exploration, and locks you out of the remaining mission. Choose the Good route and you can no longer select that district’s Evil option.

There are also collectibles in the form of shards, typically found attached to the sides of tall buildings and other slightly out of the way places, which serve to increase your life meter.

So I’ve been methodically working my way across the first island, finishing all the Good missions, grabbing all the shards and mopping up the scum from the streets. Occasionally I’ve had to take on a primary story mission to unlock more of the secondary tasks, but for the most part I’ve been content with just levelling up Cole’s powers.

All of which is making my life much easier when I eventually tackle the primary objectives. I dread to think how difficult it might be to simply follow the main path and ignore all the extra stuff. Upgrading Cole’s “Reduce Damage” ability first comes thoroughly recommended, as even the lowliest enemies you encounter on the first island can cut you down in no time at all with their machine guns.

I’m curious to hear how you approach an open world game. Some gamers love the freedom to go anywhere, while I know others can find that same freedom somewhat intimidating. Do you follow my example and veer off the beaten path? Or do you prefer to tick all the main objective boxes and then being to explore?


  • I’ve seen too many open world games that end after the main story (or lock you out of content) to not explore completely beforehand – I don’t like missing out on any of the story, even if its not relevant to the primary arc.

  • I’m replaying Mass Effect at the moment and have taken a similar tact as you.

    I’m systematically exploring every star system that doesn’t contain any trace of core story missions, then within that carefully scanning every planet and combing the surface of each planet that I can land on in search of mineral deposits and other stuff.

    Then, I’ll start working the main story until I can go exploring some more.

    I took a similar tact with Fallout 3 but eventually reached a point (albeit 35 hours in) when I just wanted to see the end of the game. COnsidering the permanent ending to the game, I was a little upset to see that I couldn’t go back and finish what I’d missed. However, I do plan on playing through another round once my RROD 360 gets returned to me in one piece.

    Yes, 360s still die and I’m pissed.

    I’ll probably take the same route as you when tackling inFamous later tonight, though.

  • i usually try to balance out the story based missions and the side missions.. in the case of GTAIV the side missions lacked character driven cinematics.. I find that completing the story then left the world a little bit less compelling. The side missions then feel even more superfluous. I think this can be said of allot of games.

  • I to do a similar thing for an almost identical reason.

    Power up. With Fallout 3 I don’t think I started the main plot (apart from the obligitory out the vault stuff) until I got to level 20.

    Once this has happened though, the main plot is pretty much aim, fire, kill, walk and collect treasure.

    I don’t think the good/bad side of things has been truely implemented in games though due to possible censorship backlashes. slightly bad yes, but I love open exploration games (completed everything in oblivion), with the chance to full explore a dark side. Would have loved to continue down the nuke megatown path in fallout, but truely evil sort of died there. Yes you can havest slaves, however I would have liked to see an option to wipe out the brotherhood of steel, start the eradication of humans through siding with the Super Muties.

    I love side quests. I just wish there where a lot more varity other than the “save x”, “kill y”, “stop baddies”.

  • Yeah, I tended to do the same things, in the 2 sandbox games I’ve played and actually enjoyed, Assassin’s Creed and Ultimate Spider-man, I tend to do side-missions specifically to boost my abilities, like an RPG.

    AC did quite well in that side-missions and story-missions flowed really well together and you were never so over or under-powered that story missions were a breeze or a frustrating chore.

    I did the same thing in US though less so as side-missions were rather boring. Wait! Oh yeah! I remember now! They forced you to do them to unlock the next story-mission! I did grind through more “follow the arrow, beat up thugs” missions as they would lead to to health increases, as opposed to web-swing races which just increased your swing speed. Something I find somewhat silly.

    Only when story-missions became became too annoying did I resort to going back to a whole block of side-missions.

  • Yeah im the same, i find myself doing everything possible before the main quest. Personally i often do it to get the maximum experience for my character. In some cases, such as the explorable planets in mass effect that were so repeptitive i think this can end up being detrimental to the experience of the game. But the games that get it right, where exploration is more of a reword than things like experience are some of the best points in gaming

  • i remember oblivion, being passed the necklace maguffin by captain picard, leaving the sewers and immediately abandoning the main quest in favor of the thieves guild quest, then the fighters guild, then random exploration and dungeon crawling, etc, etc.

    then i rolled a wizard and rinsed and repeated, again bailing on the main quest immediately. i repeated this process with about 3 toons before i finally hacked(cheated) my way through the main storyline just to see what happens.

    the hooks for the main plot had little influence on me and i was much happier exploring the world map and crawling through the numerous dungeons than following the plot which gave me little incentive to continue but from a storytelling and reward basis.

    every time i play oblivion the storyline of the gray fox is the first chain i complete, the story has plenty of hooks, some very clever challenges that are often equal parts puzzle and combat and a solid payoff at the end in terms of plot as well as the unique and powerful item you receive at the end.

  • Oblivion (and possibly Fallout 3?) let you do either quite happily because it scaled the main story to suit the character’s level. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable (pretty much depending on your personal approach to the game as put by the question in this post). The basic point is that there’s no point to side missions or exploration unless you’re interested in them. They’re not going to help you do the main quest.

    Personally I tend to waffle about and explore while occasionally just seeing what might happen if I do some main quest. I always worry though that some main quest event might lock out some of that exploration.

    Having said that; after a good six months of playing Oblivion I did start a new character and basically just ran straight through the main quest in a number of hours, ignoring all else as pretty scenery with no content 🙂

  • Gahhh I can’t wait any longer!!!

    Also I agree, If there is any optional stuff to do, I do it as early as possible – often leaving myself over leveled for the main quest/missions in a game

  • Generally I always like to to go straight offf the main path in order to devlope my charcter both in abilities but also in defining my role, finding the gear for the right look etc. The onlt time i stick to the main story is when the gameplay is badly designed and the main story has a more generous learning curve, I detest games that require you to finish the main quests to unlock side quests or vice versa (I’m looking at you fable 2).

  • I think it depends on the game for me, for fallout 3 I did the main missions to the stage of getting to megaton and then did exploring and most of the side quests before going back and doing two main quests (only so I would get those trophies) and then did the rest of the marked side quests before going back and finishing the story…
    whereas with GTA4 I did a fair few main missions, did a few side missions, did a few more main missions and then some more side missions and on and on until I finished the game (haven’t bothered getting all the pigeons yet or all the stunts etc)

  • last sandbox i played was gta iv. I’ve passed all the story missions and have gone back through exploring, finding pidgeons, random people, stunt jumps, weapons, and just looking around.

    I still jump into that game at least twice a week, and I bought it on launch day last year. It’s just a cool city, I think all the stuff about it being overrated is bs. With GTAIV, you feel like a tourist in new york city if you just stroll and look around, there’s so much detail and stuff to see.

    It’s a pity sandbox games (not the developers fault, but more the time/tech) are limited to wandering the streets of these places. Going inside every/most buildings should be the next step.

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