A couple of weeks ago, Nazareth posted a question in the Yes or No thread about people´s favourite video games with open worlds. The selection of titles there was (understandably) quite limited, so I thought it might be a nice topic to elaborate on in a separate thread, given the sheer amount of games out there with some truly fantastic worlds to explore or traverse.
So, with that in mind, which open worlds in video games are your favourite, impressed you, and keep you coming back to the game(s) in question? Feel free to be detailed about your reasons and even post screenshots. There are no limitations in terms of genres, and it doesn´t matter if the open world is filled with stuff to do or just serves as a backdrop/setting.
To kick it off, as for myself, I´m a sucker for atmospheric settings, so as long as the game makes me feel like “I´m there” and immerses me to the point where just wandering around is satisfying enough in itself, I´m sold. Granted, I also have to be interested in the setting in the first place.
That being said, my favourite open worlds are probably those in the Mafia series. Couple that with the perfectly selected period music, and I forget the real world even exists. Lost Heaven in both the original and remake is as atmospheric and immersive as it gets, and the 40s winter version of Empire Bay in Mafia II is probably still my absolute favourite OW city ever. Such a shame that only a few missions in the game take place in that setting (thank god for Friends For Life). Haven´t played Mafia III yet, but despite the flaws it may have, I´m quite sure I´ll enjoy the OW itself as well.
As you may have guessed by the preceding lines, I´m a sucker for 1930s/40s USA settings, so the other game that´s right up there with the Mafia series is L.A. Noire. Another type of open world that serves mainly as a backdrop to the story missions, but one which I absolutely adore and love losing myself in. Being a fan of films like L.A. Confidential and Chinatown and the genre in general also helps, lol.
And if I´m talking atmosphere and immersion, I cannot not mention the STALKER series. The Zone is just a phenomenal setting to spend time in, even if it tries to kill me on every corner. Makes me wanna sit by the campfire, drink vodka, eat bread and salami and listen to guitar music every time I boot any of the games up (which, sadly, has been a while - guess I should change that).
Lastly, I recently finally managed to get into the Yakuza series and although I´ve only played Y0 so far, I can already tell the whole series will be high on my list. Being one of the handful of settings I can actually judge based on my own real-life experience, the game´s versions of Kabukicho and Dotonbori are absolutely spot on (the licensed usage of so many existing products and brands helps the immersion a lot, too).
The Mojave Desert of Fallout New Vegas is just cozy to me. If it make sense.
It’s the one open world I know fully. Every places, every roads and paths, every stories and every possibilities.
It’s my familiar, comfort open world.
Generally, most of the forest-medieval-European open world in most RPGs are just bland, uninspiring to me (growing up next to a forest, playing in actual medieval ruins as a scout will do that to you).
Big fan of long haul open world. I know that the 40 second rules is here for a reason, but man do I genuinely love when a game tells me that I will have to trek for a long time with just me, the road, the emptiness, and the scenery.
Especially if it’s flat and you can just see the whole distance. It tickles me in all the right way.
(And yes, I wish I had a machine to run Death Stranding)
Oh it does, I completely understand. While I certainly don´t know it nearly as well (only ever did one playthrough and still haven´t gotten around to do another) and prefer the Zone as mentioned earlier, the Mojave was among the most enjoyable worlds ever for me to explore. Loved every second of it and will love going back.
Lol, I sooo feel for you (plus I´m not into fantasy games, which generally use this kind of setting). Then again, I´ve recently been pretty aching to finally go play Kingdom Come: Deliverance, so I guess I´m getting homesick…
As someone who enjoys a good trek irl, I can relate. And Death Stranding is another one I wanna finally get into asap (hopefully I can run it). As soon as I get GTAV off my hard drive, it´s either that or RDR2.
Ah, most definitely (I was considering mentioning the AC games as well, but opted to stick to the less mentioned franchises). I won´t forget the first impression when arriving to Tuscany. San Gimignano with its imposing towers in the distance, surrounded by the lush fields, meadows, vines, “hills”, small settlements, the Roman theatre… The tranquility and peace compared to the bustling streets of Florence and Venice… Every time I play it, I wish the game would just allow me to lay down on the meadow and enjoy the sun and nature with some wine (lol). Settings around the Mediterranean are my other soft spot. If only the PC version didn´t have such a crappy draw distance…
I´m currently replaying Brotherhood again, and the Antico and Campagna districts of Rome give me the same tranquil vibe. Love the quiet hills covered with Roman ruins.
Mafia: City of Lost Heaven / Mafia 2 / Mafia: Definitive Edition / The Godfather: The Game
Always liked the look and feel of early 1900s America ever since I watched old Stan & Laure / Charlie Chaplin movies when I was a kid and these games don’t disappoint.
TES III: Morrowind
While I like Daggerfall, Oblivion and Skyrim as well, the Iliac Bay, Cyrodiil and Skyrim can’t hold a candle to Morrowind’s Vvardenfell. It’s a perfect mixture of familiar and weird to keep you sucked in the world. Nothing like coming from a difficult dungeon from which you barely got out alive, all your equipment broken and with not enough health potions / scrolls to survive another fight and suddenly you hear this in the distance
“I made it…”
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl / Clear Sky / Call of Pripyat
While not real open worlds in the traditional sense, you can still wonder the Zone aimlessly if you so choose with plenty to see. If you’re from the ol’ eastern bloc, some of it might even look familiar.
The Witcher / Kingdom Come
The reason I’m putting these two series together is because they have one thing in common which I like and that is the Medieval Ages settings. I’m a total sucker when it comes to that. Even though the Witcher is fantasy, you can still find real world elements inspired by Polish culture. As for KC, it’s 100% medieval Czech Republic. And like with STALKER, if you’re from this part of the world, you might find somethings that’s familiar.
Assassin’s Creed: Ezio trilogy
Same reason I like the Witcher series / Kingdom Come but instead of Middle Ages, we get the Renaissance. While Force_Obscure and Rimland settled for Tuscany only, I’ll go with all the locations, from Florence, all the way to Istanbul.
Wait… you haven’t played the one game and only game that takes place in your country?!
Vvardenfell from Morrowind and the Mojave from New Vegas
If an RPG can be 50/50 between towns and the wilderness/dungeons then it has generally succeeded in making living believable world. Plus both these games while having design philosophies (and Devs) they do have alot of similarities which most of other Bethesda produced or developed games have.
Interconnected factions and stories
Decent Loot (I.E finding unique items instead of being rewarded them all the time)
More detailed history and logistics
Also I really am looking forward to the remake mods for both Skyrim and Fallout 4 as the Modders there are really putting in there all.
For Sand-Box open world
While I do find some of the game mechanics to be a chore but Red Dead 2’s world is quite vibrant with each area being unique and random encounters being different for each region and for first playthrough never quite know what to expect. Plus some fun side missions here and there (Baring the collectable ones) which take advantage of the time period the game is set in.
I gotta mention Stilwater, Saint’s Row 2. It’s rough around the edges now but it was still one of my favorites. I just love how random acts of violence can happen and escalate without me doing anything. Makes the world feel more alive.
Mafia: Definitive Edition for 1930 vibes of Lost Heaven, aka Chicago. Not a lot to do in the world itself outside of missions but I still fall in love with the scenery.
Watch Dogs 2 San Franisco is also up on my list, although that’s more to do with all the things you can do to world itself. Tons of options with hacking abilities though one of my favs is getting people arrested.
Mad Max the game. There’s a certain captivating beauty about driving through this apocalyptic wasteland desert, especially in high-speed car combat chases. It’s a shame this didn’t get a sequel.
I have to say I still love Skyrim’s open world, sometimes I will just try to get a good view of the night sky and stare at it while letting the ambient music just play. That and it has a lot to do and aesthetically I prefer it over the Mojave Wasteland.
I also love the attention to detail and the sheer variety that Red Dead Redemption II offers, how you can walk in a straight line from any point and have a chance of stumbling onto a random event, some decrepit shack or little trinket.
Also I love GTAV’s iteration of Los Santos, running over digital rich people is my favourite way of releasing stress. That or finding a 7/11 and hiding in it as I try to survive a high wanted level. Or obtaining that wanted level by blocking the GOH with a petrol tanker and blowing up as many cars as possible.
To clarify, I love all of them as well. It´s just that Tuscany has this chill-out open feeling that made it stand out for me (maybe part of it had to do with the fact that unlike the other locations, I had never heard of San Gimignano - or Monteriggioni for that matter - before playing the game)
Heeey, come on, there´s plenty of games that take place there!! (with varying degrees of authenticity lol) Most of which I also haven´t played…
But yeah, sadly. Got this eternal problem with not enough disk space, so any game above 30 GB usually has a hard time getting installed unless some other biggie makes room for it. So hopefully in the next few months I´ll be able to get around to it (unless I feel like playing one of the other huge games in my backlog ).
Well obviously not the ones made by non-Czech devs Hidden and Dangerous 2’s Czechoslovakia missions certainly do, as I imagine does Someday You’ll Return. Plus there are games with fictional settings modelled after the Czech countryside and cities, e.g. Operation Flashpoint, ARMA 2, or Hobo: Tough Life. Granted though, I imagine KCD had the biggest attention to detail when it came to recreating the place. Damn, now I really wanna play it