10 Best Open Worlds in Video Gaming

The open world format has become widespread across countless game series, becoming almost a standard for a sales success. Unlike the restrictive nature of linear gaming, open worlds allow the developers to go full out in creating expansive and interesting gaming worlds. However, this also means each publisher has to strive to create something new that has never been seen in gaming. We’ve seen this trend increase with Ubisoft’s open world output, and EA follows closely behind. Not every developer succeeds at creating a great or unique world, as it is a difficult process. Across the more recent games I have picked out 10 open worlds i consider to be both some of the best and also those to feature unique and interesting content. These 10 open worlds offer countless hours of entertainment, which makes their respective games a worthwhile buy for any gamer.

Wasteland – Mad Max

Mad Max by Avalanche studios gave us a glimpse of a violent apocalyptic world where oil and scrap essentially serve as currency. The designers’ vision created the best representation of a wasteland occupied by forces of a powerful warlord with the end result accomplishing the death of said warlord. However, Mad Max at its release seriously experienced open-world fatigue players developed through endless sandbox game releases. But apart from the game’s repetition and some gameplay flaws, Mad Max’s desert world truly stole the prize. The game’s large map provides plenty of diverse environments and unique landmarks to discover, although its melee combat could be much expanded upon. Eliminate endless outposts, scrap collection and retain the excellent car combat, and Avalanche studios has potential to further flesh out the world. Mad Max’s beautiful but deadly desert is a place worth revisiting with the good old Interceptor vehicle.

Seoul – Agents of Mayhem

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Volition gave us something new with their futuristic setting in Seoul for their Agents of Mayhem release, and the city’s existence in this list is based upon its unique futuristic setting that we rarely see in video games (Mirror’s Edge is the only example I can think of). Although we would have loved to be able to use the superpowers of Saints Row 4, Volition needed to ground the series back in reality with an open city to explore. Agents of Mayhem may not have lived to its hype, but it is a solid open-world action game and its unique setting makes it one of the best gaming locations to experience.

Hong Kong – Sleeping Dogs

Back in 2012, Square Enix published the most unique setting in video games at the time – a city far distant from the regular fare of US-based locations. Its detailed representation of Hong Kong culture allowed the game to be as immersive as possible. It is always fun to explore new cities, and Sleeping Dogs is a perfect game to delve into Hong Kong’s culture with both its story as well as its beautiful setting. Add to that the HD resolution textures given to us on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One releases, and Sleeping Dogs still holds up graphically well since its release in 2012. Although Sleeping Dogs 2 is unlikely to ever happen, other developers should explore unique cities, perhaps Singapore or Dubai as emerging settings to create genre diversity.

San Francisco Bay – Watch Dogs 2

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Gamers don’t often see a representation of San Francisco in gaming, but Watch Dogs 2 did the best one yet when it delivered a sizeable map of the Bay area to explore. We further got to see famous landmarks and cruise down wide roads while completing an entertaining plot that also carries a series tone about our increasingly digital world. The original Watch Dogs also deserves a mention for its Chicago setting which goes unused, but it is definitely the sequel that gave us one of the best open world games to get immersed in. The Bay area in Watch Dogs 2 accurately represents the digital world and contains plenty of quirks to reference the darker side of Silicon Valley.

Los Santos – Grand Theft Auto 5

No one is capable of creating the massive cities to the scale Rockstar are masters at, and GTA 5’s Los Santos and the surrounding county prove the point perfectly. Los Santos still shines in detail on current platforms, especially if you option for the PC version which looks spectacular. Rockstar went multiple steps further, and crammed in as much detail as possible to produce one of the most intricate open worlds where its easy to get lost for a full day’s worth of a gaming session. The expansive nature of the game’s world and of course the series signature gameplay still make Los Santos an entertaining trip to return to. That is unless you concurrently play GTA Online and are permanently stuck in the wacky world of Los Santos.

Australia – Forza Horizon 3

Didn’t you ever want to blast across Australian outback in a hypercar the likes of Lamborghini Aventador or cruise by the beach in a BMW M5? Regardless of the answer, Forza Horizon 3 has the best racing playground in the entire history of arcade racers. With diverse environments, weather effects and a ginormous fleet of cars to take out for a spin, Australia shines in Horizon 3, and also happens to be another underused setting for video gaming worlds. For a racing game, Australia is an absolute paradise to navigate around, and Horizon 3’s extensive career mode will sink many hours of free time into driving around a diverse and beautiful island. Paired with 4K and HDR (if your rig can handle it), Forza Horizon 3 is up there with the best looking games in 2018.

Rook Island – Far Cry 3

The setting of Far Cry 3 still remains memorable, and Ubisoft haven’t given us a better setting for its explosive shooter series since (perhaps the state of Montana will be a more fun playground). Rook Island is a joy to explore and still looks good in 2018. I had a hard time deciding between Far Cry 4’s Kyrat and Rook Island, but Far Cry 3 still remains the best title in the series to this date and continuously returning to it, I have yet to get bored from replaying the game. Whether you explore it at day or at night, Rook island is filled with enemies and wildlife, but thankfully the player is provided with some really effective means of personal protection. Time to stock up on some sweet firearms and make another trip to Rook Island just in time Far Cry 5 takes us into the depths of Montana.

Entire world – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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I use part of Velen’s map to show the detail crammed into the world

It is simply staggering how much detail CD Project Red have been able to integrate into the massive world of Witcher 3, which currently boasts the largest gaming world in gaming outside of the MMO crowd. Prior to its release, most wondered if the developer could deliver on their original promise of an expansive world, excellent story and meaningful side quests. They’ve not only done just that, but also gave us one of the most diverse and graphically beautiful worlds in gaming, especially if you happen to own a powerful gaming rig. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt still shines after its release, and the expansion packs that followed gave us a new setting of Touissant and further made the game extremely replayable while we sit around in the wait for Cyberpunk 2077.

Andromeda Galaxy –  Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Andromeda Galaxy combined not only gave us one of the prettiest locales to look at, from the excellent space effects to detail of each of the game’s open world locations, but also transitioned the Mass Effect series into the Frostbite 3 engine, which gave designers ample of room to create an expansive RPG while retaining Mass Effect’s core gameplay and story elements. Although its execution was not ideal, and Mass Effect: Andromeda suffered from tech issues as well as from the lack of depth of its open worlds, the experience combined gave us a glimpse of a potential direction for the series to follow, as soon as EA can perfect its Frostbite 3 engine. Andromeda is not only a new galaxy for gamers to explore, but its worlds offer a certain level of appeal that is bound to differ between gamers. The Andromeda Galaxy makes it on this list because of its unique lore, but mainly due to the combined beauty of its open worlds that create a great-looking game.

Egypt – Assassin’s Creed: Origins

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Only a small part of the vast AC: Origins map

Ubisoft finally gave us a setting most of the series fans were dying for – Ancient Egypt – and what a marvelous world it is. Accessible from the get-go, you can travel from the great city of Alexandria all the way to Memphis, however the game’s RPG focus effectively constraints the map based on character level. Still, unlike the ironically ghostly map of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, AC Origins boasts a detailed representation of Egypt with all its landmarks and secret, which enhances player immersion by providing a wealth of content. Yes, AC Origins inherits the enemy outposts found in Far Cry series, but they are still fun to do and the beauty of Ancient Egypt takes away from all that hassle. Luckily, Assassin’s Creed Origins features a robust photo mode to take beautiful screenshots of its breathtaking world.

 

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10 Game Sequels Likely to Happen

There are many venerable game series that gamers would love to see new entries in and I’ve come up with a 2-part series for sequels I consider many gamers to be anticipating highly to hear about in the nearby future or within a few years. This list specifically (and its second part) focuses on game franchises that have seen large economic success and some also enjoy the backing of mega game publishers to have a high potential of happening in the not too distant future. I explain why many would have a reason to anticipate these sequels as well as how developers could improve these releases to deliver exceptional quality entertainment. This list of 10 anticipated sequels is structured in no particular order and discusses each game on its capacity to happen. Among endless sequels in the gaming market, these are most desirable for many as these franchises and IPs don’t appear too often.

  • all screenshots are of the previous entries these games are supposed to be sequels to, all images are credited with a source link

      1. Dragon Age: Inquisition 2

Dragon Age: Inquisition wasn’t a perfect game, but it brought the series back to a great start by setting the game in an open world. Aside from some apparent flaws however, Dragon Age: Inquisition was a solid entry in EA’s fantasy RPG series and a direct sequel or another game set in the universe would further flesh out the world of Thedas. Dragon Age: Inquisition 2 makes perfect sense to happen, and all BioWare needs to do is iron out some glaring issues and improve the gameplay to have a sales success on their hands. Keeping EA’s Frostbite 3 (or perhaps Frostbite 4 is around the corner?) engine would give the sequel the same beautiful look of Inquisition, and BioWare has full potential to expand further on the open-world gameplay mechanics.

      2. Max Payne 4

Rockstar’s reinvention of the Max Payne series with the third title brought us something to look forward into the future of the franchise as Rockstar could bring us another quality release with Max Payne 4. Given Rockstar is busy with Red Dead Redemption 2, it would be a long while until gamers hear any news of another Max Payne title and its unknown whether the publisher plans to continue the series at all, but the quality of Max Payne 3 that Rockstar brought us warrants for people to look towards a sequel. Perhaps bring the series into the open-world or give players a twist on existing mechanics of Max Payne 3, and a sequel is bound to be an economic success. For now, though, there’s Red Dead Redemption 2 to look forward to, and hopefully that title eventually makes its way onto PC.

      3. The Elder Scrolls 6

It’s been almost 7 years since the release of Skyrim and Bethesda has been hard at work to bring back or continue their staple franchises with Fallout 4, 2016’s Doom and a sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. Along with that, Skyrim has been re-released with multiple editions that now span every available gaming platform including the Nintendo Switch. They even released it in VR – that’s how much Skyrim was a success in gaming. However, at this point gamers are dying to at least hear an official announcement of The Elder Scrolls 6, since so far we’ve only heard slight rumours of its potential existence and Elder Scrolls Online hasn’t exactly delivered on its multiplayer potential. With a 6th title in the excellent RPG series, Bethesda can top its own success at delivering another quality RPG release. Given the commercial success of The Elder Scrolls 5 and its widespread release as an RPG icon, a release of The Elder Scrolls 6 makes perfect sense in the near future.

     4. Trials Fusion sequel

Trials Fusion has not been released too far ago, and RedLynx studios even released a wacky spin-off in the style of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon since the main game’s release (coincidentally named Trials of the Blood Dragon), but it doesn’t mean the gamers this niche title appealed to can’t dream of a potential sequel that would further explore the unique world and gameplay of the Trials series. The futuristic spin of Fusion gave us the best environment design yet and it would be nice to retain that style in the sequel, but a more grounded version similar to Evolution wouldn’t be a bad one either. RedLynx has no need to change the game mechanics of this series, but expanding the trick system of Fusion could be one of the ways to improve upon that entry.

     5. GRID 3

Following 2014’s GRID Autosport, Codemasters have intensely focused on refining their F1 racing series, with F1 2016 and ’17 coming to earn the titles as the best entries yet in Formula 1 racing. Further, Codemasters effectively rebooted their Dirt series with excellent Dirt 4 and Dirt Rally built on a brand new racing engines. In 2018 or ’19, it is a perfect time for Codemasters to refine their track-focused GRID series, with perhaps a GRID 3 in the works. To produce an excellent sequel, Codemasters could build another GRID entry from the ground up using a new engine. Following from either free-form racing fun of GRID 2 with diverse modes or the track-focused GRID Autosport, Codemasters have potential to achieve great success with their once famous racing franchise. Perhaps a new entry is just around the corner, but so far we haven’t heard any official news regarding GRID 3.

      6. Dying Light 2

The original Dying Light is perhaps the best zombie game you can currently get, and Techland continues to support the title up to this date with free content update and DLC releases. Dying Light’s unique blend of Dead Island and Mirror’s Edge gameplay created a really fun experience, and I’m just one of the many people who keep replaying Dying Light for its fun open-world action mechanics. A sequel that retains all of the original’s gameplay and presents a brand new setting is totally acceptable to see in the next few years, however Techland could also improve on all of Dying Light’s flaws and give us a world greater than the two districts of Haran available in the original. The developer should have all the funds available to produce a quality sequel, and a repeating partnership with WB Games could further assist with the development budget. Many gamers are all up for a similar sequel that would expand on all elements of the original and deliver an even better story and improved gameplay.

     7. Saints Row 5

This title is a tricky entry on this list, mostly due to the question “How do you top the insanely fun action game with wacky superpowers and entertaining missions of Saints Row 4?” To their credit, Volition gave us something new with Agents of Mayhem – a new IP that loosely blended Saints Row lore into a Saturday morning cartoon-style plot. It will be a few years till gamers hear of Volition’s next planned release, but a Saints Row 5 has potential to be in the works. It is up for debate what the next entry in the series would do, be it a grounded experience in the scope of Grand Theft Auto or another superhero-style action game, but a full new entry into the Saints Row series would be welcomed by lots of gamers around the world. In my personal view, Volition needs to take time to develop an in-house game engine before moving on to Saints Row 5 if it hopes to compete with the likes of Watch Dogs and Grand Theft Auto. With that said however, Saints Row has always been a unique franchise where sense of humour and fun gameplay prevail over the graphical detail of most major releases.

      8. Rage 2

Rage was a fairly unique shooter that introduced an open-world and RPG elements into id Software’s regular shooter fare, however the game never saw any large economic success due to some major flaws. None of those were deal breakers on their own, but the game’s overall execution did not match to the original vision of a post-apocalyptic open world in a first-person shooter with RPG elements. With Bethesda’s recent economic success and the frequent release of new titles in the publisher’s series, Bethesda should consider taking another stab at its currently shelved IP and perhaps come up with a fully open world shooter with a scope of Fallout or the Elder Scrolls series. Although Rage didn’t receive acclaim upon its release, it was still a fairly unique and enjoyable shooter experience set in a somewhat brand new setting. With both Bethesda’s and id Software’s recent successes, there’s no obstacles for Rage 2 to happen, and hopefully average sales of 2011’s Rage haven’t forced Bethesda to can the series for good. Another attempt at this unique IP has potential to produce a really solid open-world shooter so perhaps Bethesda could bring the IP back in the near future.

      9. Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 is the most likely entrant in this list to happen, as Gearbox not too long ago teased a prototype of a potential sequel based on the Unreal Engine 4. With Borderlands 2’s release in 2012, it is a good time for Gearbox to focus their efforts on producing a brand new entry into the series. Give us even more guns, a better loot system and for god’s sake get rid of that horrible user interface, and most fans of the series would be perfectly happy to see a new release, and will in fact give Gearbox a much needed recovery from the Aliens Colonial Marines scandal that still haunts the company to this year. With that said, Gearbox appears hard at work on Borderlands 3 except they keep it very silent, but a major sequel to Borderlands 2 (not counting the Pre-Sequel entry) would be highly anticipated by many gamers who enjoyed the series. All Gearbox has to do is improve further on existing game mechanics and better yet, introduce an entirely new setting for its RPG shooter series.

     10. Burnout Paradise sequel

This one would be a highly desirable release for all kinds of racing fans, as this stunning crash spectacle has been absent from our systems since 2008’s Burnout Paradise. Criterion games have then changed direction after their average reboot to Need for Speed: Most Wanted and announced their branching out to other gaming genres. What followed since was an announcement of a new IP that immediately went silent, however Criterion has continued contributing to every new Need for Speed entry since then. With their involvement with racing games, Criterion games should consider developing a new Burnour Release that will follow up from Burnout Paradise’s formula. Criterion’s spectacular crashes have been present in every Need for Speed release since 2010, but nothing compares to intensity of Burnout Paradise and its constant fare of detailed crashes. Nothing is as satisfying as seeing your car crumble to bits after a head-on collision at 200 mph. Criterion should consider bringing gamers a new Burnout release to remind the gaming market of the unique flavour of the once popular series. Another partnership with EA and potential use of Frostbite 3 could bring the best Burnout game yet.

 

Gear Club Review – Most expansive racer on mobile yet

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Developer: Eden Games; Released: October 14, 2016

Reviewed on: Razer Phone, Android 7.0

*I’ve tested the game on Android and have no reflection on the features available in the Nintendo Switch release

Google Play

Gear Club established itself among the best games on the Google Play Store and for a good reason: the game offers a wealth of content for a free-to-play game title and doesn’t necessitate any spending, which brings incredible value to mobile gamers in a no-cost to enter game package. Among racing games especially, Gear Club stands out on mobile as one of the most detailed games available to play and features extensive detail for a free title, which is impressive given its one of the fairest economies in free to download games. All of the features add up to measure this game against the likes of it on the PC platform and one that stands out on the mobile market as one of the best entries to play.

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Gear Club comes from Eden Games studios, a name that might be familiar to some for those who played the Test Drive Unlimited series that used to be a major innovation in open-world racing, that is until Forza Horizon kicked it right off the market. Gear Club in turn takes a lot of inspiration from Test Drive Unlimited, although its scope still lacks an open-world format. Instead, we are presented with a wealth of single player content with potential for replayability, in what is the biggest racing game on iOS and Android by far. Gear Club sports an extensive single player campaign that is distributed across a large overworld and a vast array of cars available to choose from. Further, Gear Club has potential for a fun miltiplayer experience with its limited run events and a fully fledged challenge mode to race other people, however I haven’t delved into those to a significant extent. To those looking to kill time over long flights, Gear Club is one of the best games for it, although beware of free-to-play progression systems set in place. The game is free to download, and all content is available for every player, however its progression has a curve to it that is reflective of most free-to-play games. Overall, however, Gear Club includes an expansive single player campaign along with detailed graphics into one of the most fair free-to-play economies to be seen in mobile gaming so far.

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Gear Club features one of the most expansive worlds on mobile, even if it lacks openness in its direct sense by being set across a vast map of closed championships, which happen across jungles, deserts and even towns. The world map is designed to be unlocked through progression, so events gradually become available as the player earns stars for career wins and the game goes on. To this extent, there is a plentiful amount of cars to be unlocked that span multiple car classes. Although it is nearly impossible to acquire all the cars in the game by default, each class features multiple sweet cars to select from. Each of the cars is further upgradeable on different stats, and each can also be visually modified to add flavour to favourite rides, and the game’s progression features unlocking different facilities for car upgrades. All of this adds up to an extensive career mode, which is not only centred on events, but also backs up the content through an expansive system of upgrades.

To pay for all that, the game’s rewards system needs to be fair enough to avoid a “pay to play” criticism of many free titles on mobile, and Gear Club rewards players enough to avoid currency walls in its progression. The player never feels forced to spend money on the game, even if the progression becomes slower as more upgrades are demanded by career events, and obtaining multiple cars early on is easy enough to expand the progression curve to multiple vehicles. As such, Gear Club’s very liberal economy provides players with the means to enjoy the game with no requirement for spending real money on it, which plays to the title’s strengths. Overall, I never felt forced to pause the game even when pressured by upgrades, and I’ve always had a car available to race in a championship. Although Gear Club appears specifically designed to be played extensively through a smart economic system, there is enough content to warrant multiple gaming sessions.

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The graphics are really detailed, and although Gear Club is still not on par with modern PC titles, it delivers sharp textures and rich detail in all its cars and environments. Given you have a powerful phone to play it on, Gear Club is stellar in its presentation and performs really well on high-end flagships. It looks especially stunning on the Razer Phone, and looks smoother on the UltraMotion display, however any 2K phone will provide high levels of detail. The game’s rich colours expose further detail and textures are some of the best you can get on mobile so far, which helps the game deliver on many of the positives discussed above.

In conclusion, Gear Club is an appealing value proposition for racing fans, and delivers an in-depth experience equivalent to the simulation detail of Real Racing 3, all of which is available for free as long as the player has patience. Paired with the vivid detail, Gear Club presents one of the best game experiences available through the appstore. Finally, the game’s fair economy guarantees no obstacles in campaign progression and the wealth of content will have players coming back for more.