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
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
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
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
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.