Welcome to Respawning’s Games Club! The purpose of this is to get a bunch of us together every Monday to allow us the chance to chat shit about whatever takes our fancy in the world of video games and discuss what we’re currently playing.
Since we can’t seem to get enough of Far Cry, and with Ni no Kuni II’s expansive world gracing our eyeballs, we’ve decided to honour those open expanses – Those sandboxes where potential is limitless… Our favourite open worlds…
My favourite open world has to be Grand Theft Auto V’s San Andreas. Whilst I also hold some other worlds in high regard (Notably Skyrim, GTA IV, and GTA: San Andreas), V’s interpretation of the Golden State just feels so well realised to me. They’ve successfully condensed a lot of different environments – poor urban, rich urban, rural, woodlands, desert, industrial – together in a way that you don’t feel whiplash driving through the world; it’s not suddenly one thing then another, every area slowly transitions into each other similar to how the real world handles things.
The painstakingly created advertising, the variety in civilian and civilian interactions, the sheer abundance of wildlife and small but vital details all make San Andreas a joy to explore in general, let alone tear apart in a symphony of chaos. The online mode’s also allowed the community to exploit the map in awesome ways it’s creators could never have anticipated, too.
For me, the one open world that always has a soft spot in my heart lies with my first foray into open world gaming… Vvardenfell, from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – With a range of different climates, locales, floral life and even some extreme fantasy locales like the mystical Tel Mora, or even the bizarre and curved structures in Balmora – Everything from the odd alien-like creatures, to the scattering of ancestral tombs, to the dark and foreboding shadow of the Red Mountain all play into a bizarre sense of progression and tension as you circle around the great volcano.
Even the way that indicidual towns and cities, like Seyda Neen, Sadrith Mora and Pelagius are crafted lend themselves to each being unique in tone, familiar in structure and built off a series of landmarks and recognisable features – Something modern Elder Scrolls titles seem to forget. I’ll never forget Vvardenfell, my bizarre mushroom-infested homeland.
Open world games have always been my favourite genre due to the feeling of creating your own story and being able to live another life. That immersive feeling you get without loading screens, the endless possibilities of discovering something new from a single house to even an easter egg, everything feels fluent and seamless… When done right that is, and a game I feel did that right was Horizon Zero Dawn. Not only was this game breathtaking but everything felt as if it had its place and the fact that you could clearly see the Tallnecks from almost the other side of the map is beyond impressive. If we look past the story and look at the game on its own, the fundamentals of the game is that of a huntress surviving the wilderness, a range of different climates and environments to explore, from the mechanicals innards to the dense and detailed outdoors, this game does almost everything right when it comes to an open world game.
That feeling you get when you climb a Tallneck and just look around you to taking down Rockbreaker with just the tiniest amount of HP, this open world game transports you into a new world, a world that feels familiar but very different. This is why Horizon Zero Dawn is my most beloved open world game….Well it was either that or Simpsons hit and run with its open world-ish levels…
Open world games are my favourite type of game so for me it’s a long old list. I personally separate open world games to rpgs. I’d say the likes of Far Cry, Assassins Creed and GTA some of my favourite open world games.
What I like about them is the fact you can have some really enjoyable game play, great quests and often mild customisation without having to commit 100s of hours to them. It’s also really easy to jump in and out of them whereas I find with Skyrim or fallout I like to reserve a good 5 hours to play. Among my favourites are some that I’ve mentioned such as assassins creed and GTA, in fact I think GTA V is one of the best open world games I’ve played.
I’d also put the recent south park games in the mix. Although it’s a limited open world there’s still a hell of a lot of customisation and quests with very unique humour and gameplay.
Going back previous to this generation I’d say Red Dead Redemption is one of my favs. I think the hunting and mixed side quests made it an amazing game beginning to end, and I hope for more of the same from the second instalment.
You can read further on mine and Luke’s thoughts here.