What is the difference between Metroidvania and open world? Isn’t the first one basically a 2d open world game?

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If I would have to guess, Metroidvanias must be explored first and usually you have to get to know the map as it is not revealed to you at first. There could possibly be more platforming/ jumping around in Metroidvanias vs open world which could be just a flat terrain. Which ones have loading times and which don’t? I haven’t played too many Metroidvanias but I played for example Darksiders and that COULD qualify as a 3d Metroidvania, but also as open world, I don’t know. Can anyone who played a lot of these explain?

In: Other

Metroidvanias are *usually* defined in terms of mechanical progression: while the player must explore the world at their own pace and can head off more or less whichever direction they want the later areas of the game tend to be inaccessible from the start by mechanical means: the player can’t access them without first unlocking some power, movement options, or skills that enable them to reach the new areas. An example would be a ledge that is too high for the player to reach until they have found double-jump somewhere in the world that allows them to reach the high ledge and move to the area behind it. However double jumping will be a permanent part of the player’s moveset and will allow them more mobility. Thus the world and how you traverse it constantly changes as you get more and more moves and skills that change how your character can move.

Open worlds tend to be, well, open. You can get more or less everywhere if you want, and if sections of the world are locked they are locked behind story progression, not mechanical progression. The player generally won’t discover mechanics that enable them to more easily access new areas, but instead will complete quests or missions that open the new areas up. An example would be a city that the player isn’t allowed in to until they have earned the guard’s trust by killing ten orcs in the mountain or whatever. Once you’ve done that you can just go in to the city whenever, and the guard or his orcs don’t really factor more in to how you explore.

Metroidvania is an action combat 2d platformer (like Hollow Knight, for instance). Open world means nothing in this context. Its like comparing Mazda Miata to cars.

No, a metroidvania is specifically a game where unlockable abilities are used to gate progression. E.g. you see a gap that you can’t get across, but later on you unlock a double jump, and realise you can use it to return to that earlier area and cross the gap.

In most open world games, the entire sandbox is unlocked from the start, and when it isn’t it’s usually gated by story progress rather than mechanics.

Another key aspect of Metroidvanias is that they’re nonlinear, there will be multiple areas you can visit at any one time, rather than a specific intended order

Metroidvanias don’t have to be 2D but most of them are. The only 3D metroidvania I can think of are the Metroid Prime games. Maybe Arkham Asylum would count, although from what I remember it tended to be more linear and there wasn’t much freeform exploration. Dark Souls and Bloodborne have some of the elements but I’d call them Metroidvania inspired rather than true metroidvanias

This question is kind of wonky because people haven’t really nailed down 100% objective definitions for either of these terms. For example, in a Retronauts podcast about Metroidvanias, one host vehemently argued Super Mario World meets all the criteria they came up with for a Metroidvania to point out the difficulty of defining the category. (That podcast is relevant because the host is, as far as he can tell, the first person to publish an article with the word “Metroidvania”.)

If I had to define it, I think I’d start by saying “open world” is a “bigger” category than “Metroidvania”.

When you say “Metroidvania” people tend to think of some very specific games, and the ones without “Metroid” or “Castlevania” in the title are built to make you think of them. This is predominantly focused on 2D side-scrolling platform games. (I’m not sure if *Metroid* Prime counts and don’t want to get into that discussion.)

When you say “open world”, a lot of different games come to mind. They’re predominantly 3D, but 2D examples of open world games like *Grand Theft Auto* exist. While the name implies you can go anywhere in the world without restriction, a lot of games are called “open world” even if they block your progress. That’s why I say this is a “bigger” category: I can think of games with very different ideas and implementations, like *[Prototype]* and *Goat Simulator*, but the differences don’t affect if they’re “open world”.

So I’d argue a Metroidvania IS an “open world” game, but not all “open world” games are Metroidvanias. People expect a Metroidvania to have item upgrades that unlock parts of the map, but that’s an optional trait of open world games.