As much as I enjoyed my first trek through Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game left me a bit soured with regard to open-world games. Surely the feeling is only temporary, but as I search for something to take its place that’s not Borderlands 2 (so fun!), I find myself avoiding anything that resembles an open-world experience (even though Borderlands 2 does kinda, sorta fit that bill). The dilemma, though, lies in the fact that I’ve woven my way through some fantastic sandboxes in the past, so why not pick one to play again or for the first time? Why not choose an open-world game that gives players freedom, provides an excellent story and a beautiful (or beautifully dangerous) environment, along with substantial or unusual side quests that are worth pursuing? Once I started looking at my options, the floodgates opened. I eventually came up with many more than five games, so for the purposes of this list, I chose to approach it from the “desert island” angle, picking five games that could satiate my open world tendencies forever and ever. Narrowing things down was a challenge, it goes without saying. So here are my top five favorite open-world games, in no particular order.
Grand Theft Auto IV
The GTA series is a rather polarizing one, but for me, GTA IV remains a milestone in my personal gaming history. It was the game that introduced me to the series, and it delighted me for months on end. Niko Bellic’s story may not have been the most invigorating, but the sights and sounds of Liberty City made up for the main story’s shortcomings. It’ll always have a special place in my heart and in my gaming collection.
Red Dead Redemption
I’ve blathered on enough on this site about my undying love for this Western melodrama in game form, so I’ll refrain from being too loquacious. Everything about this game is right for me. But most importantly, it’s just open-world enough to feel immense without also feeling empty.
Saints Row IV
Having now played through the second, third, and fourth games in the Saints Row series, the thing about SRIV boils down to two words: unadulterated enjoyment. It’s a game that revels in its own ridiculousness as much as it celebrates stellar and solid gameplay. Much like GTA IV’s Liberty City, SRIV’s “virtual” city of Steelport is chock full of secrets and goodies just waiting to be uncovered by intrepid players.
Fallout: New Vegas
Much like with Red Dead Redemption, I’ve no shortage of love for Fallout: New Vegas. Having only played it for the first time earlier in the year, it quickly shot to the top of my favorite games list generally, let along favorite open-world games. For lengthier prose in which I effuse profusely about how wonderful this game is, you can click here. Suffice to say, Fallout: New Vegas is an all-around masterpiece.
I’ll admit that when creating this list, those first four games popped out immediately. When it came to picking the fifth game, I had a lengthy list to wade through that included the like of Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. But in the end, I had to go with Xenoblade Chronicles, a beast of a game that’ll chew up and spit out even the most hardcore among us. But, it’s also one of the most amazing and eye-opening games I’ve ever played. Yes, it’s difficult and dense at times, but there’s no denying the sheer magnitude of the game itself. Ambitious, unforgiving, and yet totally worth every amount of effort, Xenoblade Chronicles is like nothing else among open-world games.
What are some of your favorite open-world games?