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Favourite Open Worlds in Gaming


Jul 1, 2012
Simple just list some of your favourite open worlds in gaming. You can name a few notable ones or make a list ranking them in order.

Here's mine:

  • Fallout New Vegas - Incredibly vast, filled with content, enemies, loot, and charm. The sheer amount of things to discover makes exploration almost endless. Even after you've completed the game you'll find areas you haven't visited, hidden caves and vaults containing the together enemies of the game. Even though it's not as desolate and atmospheric as the capital wasteland, it has more of that Fallout charm witnessed in the earlier games.

  • GTA San Andreas - In my opinion, this is the best open world of its era. A great representation of 90's life on the west coast of America. Gang culture, the rich, the poor, the mafia, gambling, corruption, you name it. In my opinion it's still the best open world in the series. You have a wide variety of landscapes ranging from city, urban areas, suburbs, woodland, and desert. With so much to do as well, it felt alive, and it's crazy to think that this is still a 2004 title.

  • Fallout 3 - I do prefer the Mojave, but there's just something about the capital wasteland. That feeling when you step out from vault 101 for the first time and see you this endless site of apocalyptic destruction. It was awesome, you didn't know whether to feel genuinely scared or excited to explore. Only disappointment was the linear areas of downtown Washington where you could only access through the subway, but apart from that, amazing.

  • Just Cause 2 - This is here purely for its uniqueness and sheer fun. This game is honest and says "here's this gigantic world, here's a parachute and a grappling hook, an array of vehicles and weapons, cause as much destruction and chaos as possible. Ok, maybe this game didn't have a lot of density and the story was pretty poor, but that's not what the game's meant to be, it's meant to be a huge playground for fun and it definitely was.


didn't build that
1. Morrowind.

2. Morrowind.

3. Morrowind.

Otherwise, excepting Oblivion, Bethesda has a style for open worlds that I really like. Skyrim and Fallout 3 are pretty solid.

I don't think Xenoblade's an open world game, but I often hear it described as one. If it is, it's my second-favorite open world.

But Morrowind's world is leagues above any other I've seen.

The important thing for me about the world in a game is that I believe in it. Depth, not breadth, is what's important. I don't believe in most open worlds because they seem rather shallow. Morrowind is a major exception.
I gotta agree with Hanyou here on Morrowind. I can also guarantee it isn't nostalgia goggles because I played it for the first time just last year. It truly is a masterpiece of gaming when it comes to world building and progression. It has other drawbacks as a game (buggy without fan patches, bad fighting mechanics imo), but it rises above other games for those reasons alone. It's truly something else.


didn't build that
I gotta agree with Hanyou here on Morrowind. I can also guarantee it isn't nostalgia goggles because I played it for the first time just last year. It truly is a masterpiece of gaming when it comes to world building and progression. It has other drawbacks as a game (buggy without fan patches, bad fighting mechanics imo), but it rises above other games for those reasons alone. It's truly something else.

I first played it in 2005, about one year before Oblivion came out. My first reaction was that it was ugly, combat was atrocious, and it felt dated. These are timeless reactions to the game. But one of the best things about it was the world-- I felt like I was reading great science fiction literature, like Dune or Hyperion--and it's what sold me on it.

I've heard that games like STALKER and some older titles have open worlds with similar depth, but I haven't tried them. Seems recent open world RPGs have focused on mechanics and graphics, which isn't necessarily bad. And Oblivion and Skyrim showed some advancement in portraying characters as individuals, which is part of an open world. I'd just like to see another world-as-character.


Sep 20, 2008
Joliet, IL
Fallout 3 and New Vegas for sure, but mainly 3. I liked seeing the Capital in complete ruins and running about in them. Plus, I like the local wildlife, except in the Mojave because Cazadors are terrifying.


つ ◕_◕ ༽つ
Nov 12, 2007
In bed
I'd say STALKER is one of the earliest examples of a 'modern' open-world and I'd peg it as my absolute favourite. Shadow of Chernobyl itself was very ahead of its time in various aspects, I'd say that's one of the most criminally underrated titles amongst gamers, but the open-world definitely is one of the best around. The atmosphere is perfect and the world, despite being quite empty, never feels bland. I never got bored travelling through that world. GSC dying is a crime to gaming, that we never got a proper STALKER 2. It's amazing just how good that game turned out considering GSC's working conditions during the development, too.

For a modern example, and another favourite of mine, I'd probably throw out Far Cry 3, and 4 (since 4 just improved upon an already great formula).I feel like FC3/4 both managed to create very big and beautiful open-worlds which didn't fall into the same pitfalls as other game's open-worlds can do; there was a lot of content, which featured a lot of dynamic aspects because the Dunia engine is God-tier, and most importantly the game's story utilised the open-worlds very well with great writing you often don't see in open-world titles. Vaas especially was an excellently written character, as is Pagan Min. Also, Far Cry 3 absolutely nailed the pacing, which made me enjoy the world even more.

Another great modern example, with Ubisoft really raking it home here, is Assassin's Creed 4. There was a lot of freedom in that game, a lot of content and activities to do, but I feel they did a fantastic job making you feel like a pirate. Maybe it should have been Pirate's Creed, but nevertheless it was a brilliant game. One of the few games that had 2 distinct types of play (on foot and on ship) and both felt refined and fun! And that can be quite rare. But the open-world was very well made, for sure.

Honourable mentions would go to Just Cause 2, Burnout Paradise, Skyrim, and Don't Starve! Might notice a lack of GTA; I love GTA, but I play that game almost completely linear, from mission to mission. I love the multiplayer but I don't think it's open-world has the same fun/exploration factor as other games mentioned here.

Kylo Ken

I will finish what Spyro started
Aug 10, 2011
Of course The Legend of Zelda has some of the very best overworlds, like the ones found in Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, A Link Between Worlds(which is ALTTP just remade), and Wind Waker, but other than those, good overworlds can be found in Rare's 90's platformers like DK64 and Banjo Kazooie. Other good ones are Mario 64, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim(because to me, exploration isn't exactly encouraged in Morrowind and Oblivion as much as Skyrim, IMO), and Borderlands 1&2.


Sep 19, 2011
V2 White Male
I do indeed think Just Cause 2 had a rather impressive open world, but only in terms of vastness. It's quite breathtaking(Is that word silly to use for a video game?) seeing how far its world stretches. Unique however isn't really a word I would use to describe Just Cause 2's huge world. While huge it's also pretty bland, it would have been great if Panou was littered with wildlife rather than empty landscapes. Random encounters like in GTA V would have also been appreciated. More interactive events too. Still a fantastic game.
Perhaps Just Cause 3 will include my desires described above?

Stalker is a great example of an over world with a powerful atmosphere. A lot smaller than modern game over worlds but then again that often works in favor, as it's easier to give purpose to every location within the game making it truly unique in my view.

GTA V has an excellent open world. Each district in the game contains different subsets of people, and houses it's own atmosphere. Get tired of the city? Go out to the country and it feels like you're in a totally different game altogether.

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