When playing LEGO Marvel Heroes I found the open world a lot more enjoyable than the missions, which were arguably too long. I think it would be interesting to see some future titles, in particular those that aren’t following a film’s plot, to focus more on open world than missions.
Whilst several open world tasks can be pretty monotonous, they also include the much more quirky and fun gameplay. Charging around town on the back of a lion is hilarious and use of the environment and lots of interesting characters (including standard LEGO civilians with odd personalities / interests) can provide plenty humour. The main mission gameplay required cut scenes to really inject the silliness that you’d expect from a LEGO game and often it was still absent.
For me a key reason why I preferred the open world gameplay is that the games, as previously discussed, are incredibly repetitive with every mission boiling down to pretty much the same “fight – press/hold B – change character – press/hold B – repeat” gameplay but with a different setting. Having me do this for a long missions starts becoming boring whilst open world gives you more variety. Do a little puzzle / press B quest, then do a climbing quest, then a race etc.
Of course the 1-2 minute long missions would hardly keep a player but unlocking 15-20 minute missions along the way within the open world (like the Deadpool missions in LEGO Marvel Heroes but decent) would satisfy this. They can also be used as part of delivering the overall story. Each of these can give time to characters and gives a good opportunity to showcase their moves and personalities.
Finally you could introduce more triggers for fights in the open world. One way would be the heat style system mentioned in my villains article but you can also have territory where spending too much time there, or running over the wrong person, leads to a fight scene – possibly as a set piece. Examples would include having goons around Oscorp, Mordor or whatever the evil guys territory is.
However despite all this, to be honest I’d be satisfied simply with LEGO games putting you straight back into the open world with freedom to do what you want at the end of missions (which should be shorter).