Atomic Heart is an upcoming action role-playing game set to release on February 21, 2023. The game is set in an alternative reality of the 1950s where the development of robotics and advanced technology during the Second World War have reshaped society, replacing human labor with robots. As Major Nechaev, you’re dropped into the Soviet Union, specifically Facility 3826 where robots have gone haywire.
The world of Atomic Heart certainly sounds intriguing, but just how much of it will you be able to explore?
Is Atomic Heart open world?
The simplest answer to this quest is… sort of? Atomic Heart is being billed as an open-world title. And while you are free to explore Facility 3826, there are some limitations.
Speaking to IGN, the developers called the world of Atomic Heart “quite large,” but acknowledged that the focus of the game is the narrative. They explained that a completely open world “doesn’t always work well” as the ability to freely explore a massive open world can distract players from the story.
Game director Robert Bagratuni explained:
"We were aiming for more narrative consistency here, but not to turn it into a huge map with points of interest where you go from one issue to the next, completely forgetting about the story.”"
To that end, Atomic Heart’s world is sort of split. While there is an open world to explore, main story missions will take players to what sounds like linear dungeons — areas that have been carefully crafted around the narrative of the closed secret facility. Once you complete a story mission, you are popped back out into the open world, where you can continue to explore until you decide to launch the next main mission.
Talking a bit about the open world portion of Atomic Heart, Bagratuni teased “many interesting territories” and “hidden optional locations.” In typical open world fashion, you’ll have to make an effort to find these areas which can often contain something of value to help you on your mission. Additionally, exploring this open area will help flesh out the world of Atomic Heart to help you “understand the plot more deeply.”
While story missions and the main open world are separate in their design, Atomic Heart will not have any loading screens. So in that sense, it’s pretty open.