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Thread: What is your favourite open world?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland

    What is your favourite open world?

    Since I'm currently playing Watch_Dogs 2, I've been thinking about what makes a good open world for me. For others this may be about sandbox gaming and freedom, but for me it's almost entirely about a cohesive, believable space to explore and live in. I'm impressed by WD2's San Francisco, which IMO is a huge improvement over the relatively drab, boring Chicago of the first game, but while it's very good, for me it's not quite as memorable as the following:

    • Los Santos (GTA V): for me this is the gold standard of open worlds. It's varied, its individual parts feel specific and unique, and it's all presented with gorgeous lighting, a day/night cycle and weather that make the place feel not just real but hyperreal: for me, it's concentrated (movie) LA. (When I watched Nightcrawler, I repeatedly thought, "I've been there...", only to realise that where I'd been was Rockstar's reimagining of that place.)
    • New Austin, West Elizabeth, and Nuevo Paraiso (Red Dead Redemption): it's been a while since I visited RDR's dying West, but I'd say it's my favourite open world on the previous generation of consoles. It has all the strengths of Rockstar's best work, but added to this it's a world we don't often see in games, and definitely not with this level of detail and personality. As with GTA V, R* puts together fantastic places that are partly real, partly our collective imagination of these places.
    • Late Victorian London (Assassin's Creed Syndicate): I'm sure that real Londoners have somewhat more ambivalent feelings about Ubisoft's touristy London, but it's probably my favourite Assassin's Creed location, mainly because of that uncanny mix between familiarity and novelty. I got the game about a week or two after a trip to London, and the first thing I did was go to Trafalgar Square, walk down to Westminster and cross the river. Incidentally, this was also the first Assassin's Creed where I told myself that I wouldn't run anywhere (outside of missions) until I'd got to know the area by walking around, and my appreciation of the virtual place increased massively. I kinda wish I'd done the same with Unity; whether that game is good or bad, its Paris is gorgeous, and in some respects even more so than Syndicate's London.
    • Britannia (Ultima VII): probably the first open world that felt like an actual world. The switch from turn-based (Ultima VI) to real-time made a huge difference. Also, I'd known the various cities and towns from Ultima V and Ultima VI, so I had an idea of how they'd developed their own personalities. I've not played the game in a long time and I don't know how much this aspect would hold up, but in my memory and imagination U7's Britannia is still one of the best game worlds to inhabit.

  2. #2
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    If we're going by the metric of an open-world space that's cohesive enough to feel like a believable place your character and others can exist in, Ultima VII remains the gold standard for me as well, though how much of that is rose-tinted glasses I can't tell since I haven't played it in over a decade.

    In terms of spaces I've just enjoyed exploring and soaking up the details of the world, it's got to be Outcast and The Witcher 3 (for the moment, at least), until I can think of the others that are scratching at my memory right now, but simply not coming to the fore as much as I will them to.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    San Andreas - GTA San Andreas

    Witcher 3's open world after that.

  4. #4
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I personally love the world of The Witcher 3 probably more than any other open world game. As well as feeling like a real place, it's packed with interesting things to do, and feels a little more alive than say GTA V. While I love GTA V's Los Santos, it's too easy to see the limits of the simulation, and moment-to-moment interaction is a little shallow.

    Mind you, saying that, because of the simulation systems, I'm also incredibly fond of MGS V's open world maps. Sure, they can seem a little empty, but the opportunities they offer you to interact with the systems are unparalleled. The game does have a tendency to undermine itself here with a tacked-on RPG-style gear system that probably nullifies too many systems, but the point is, those systems are still there.

    There's also various MMOs where I've loved their worlds, but the game has gotten in the way. For example, Age of Conan has a stunningly well realised world, completely in-line with how I imagine Conan's world from the books (could maybe do with some more Cthulhu-esque influence), but the world is populated with all the usual MMO gameplay trope bullshit.
    I would love for some of these MMOs to get re-released as single player games with all that bullshit excised, and filled with interesting single player RPGs NPCs and quests. It's hard to think you're the most important person in the world when you can see hundreds of other people thinking exactly the same thing. In addition, re-tailoring these worlds for single player would allow your actions to have permanent effects and not get reset every ten minutes.

  5. #5
    LittleFlower
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Netherlands
    Size is everything.

    I found the open world of TW3 a bit disappointing. A bit too small. Maybe not enough surprises.

    You got to mention World of Warcraft here. That world is huge. Well, it used to be big. Before people could use their flying mounts everywhere. Although I dislike the game now, I have fond memories of hours, days, weeks even years of exploration in Azeroth.

    Morrowind, Skyrim, even the Dark Souls games (do they count as open world ?) are at the top of my list.

    Oh, and GTA5 of course. People take that game for granted. But it is a true masterpiece. I can guarantee you, just 30 years ago, nobody had imagined we would ever see a product like GTA5 in our lifetimes. And certainly not for a lousy 50 euros on a machine that would cost less than a night out with half a dozen friends. We would have envisioned flying cars and cell-phones and cat-scan machines. But something like GTA5 ? Nah, that would have sounded way too impossible.
    Last edited by Gryzemuis; 27th Feb 2017 at 07:20.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I couldn't put my finger on what it is, but while I find the world of The Witcher 3 utterly beautiful, it doesn't resonate with me the way some open world games do. TW3 is undoubtedly a better game than Skyrim in almost every single respect, but when I reinstalled Skyrim over the weekend and checked out the beginning, just being there in that world pulled me in more than it does in Geralt's world, even though the latter looks much better. It's not the first-person vs. third-person thing, because Rockstar's games give me that "being there" feeling as much as Skyrim does. It may have something to do with the simulation systems you mention; TW3's world often feels static to me, for want of a better world, while the simulation of GTA V, even if shallow, makes the world feel dynamic.

  7. #7
    Some memorable open worlds for me:
    Stillwater, Steel Port & Hell from the Saints Row franchise.
    Manhattan Island as seen in the Prototype games.
    Tamriel of the Elder Scrolls.

    And it is a small part of Tamriel that makes up my favourite open world: The island of Vvardenfell as seen in Morrowind.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    Just Cause 2, Morrowind and gta Sa (also gtav)
    for some reason JC2 really resonates with me

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well I just finished off GTAV last night, so I'm still on a high by it, but I expect even a year from now I'll still be just as taken by it. Roaming that world is a joy.

    Skyrim also captures me. The catch is that Skyrim is almost too littered with random quest locations, it loses its sense of being a real place sometimes. The best parts, as an open world, are the vast stretches of snow or forest that lead to a great city emerging in the distance.

    Procedurals like Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft have their moments. Don't forget those early days playing MC when you took off treking for days and eventually stumbled on to some epic scene where you build some kind of obelesk or shrine to say "I discovered this".

    Ultima, I forget the number now, yeah, probably the first computer world to really open my mind. Well, thinking back, Legend of Zelda had to be the very first game world to do that. (That and a clone called Govellius.)

    Recently, my own game I've been trying to make makes an open world out of Revolution-era Paris and that's really been capturing my imgination. Unfortunately no one can share it with me unless I can complete it, no easy task as it's a complex game!

    --------

    Edit. Incidently, I had an intuition with this post and checked my post count, and sure enough, this is my 10,000th lifetime post on TTLG. (A pretty astounding coincidence actually. Hadn't checked how close I was in months.) So I'm now an official member of the exclusive 10k club. Not a bad post for it.

    I want to thank the Academy of course. I'd also like to thank my legs for always supporting me, my arms for always being by my side, and my fingers -- I could always count on them.
    Last edited by demagogue; 27th Feb 2017 at 09:48.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    wow dethtoll still has the most posts, just wow. I am quite moderate only with half your posts dema, just over 5000.
    That list is quite surreal actually.

  11. #11
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Welcome to the 10k club, dema!

    Piggy, keep drunk posting and you'll be here in no time!

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Oh, these are the games I love. Video games have always been about escapism for me, so I am drawn to the ones that fashion a coherent and exciting world for me to explore.

    However I'm finding it difficult to just name one or two, so let me sub-divide the genre down even further to real-world, reality-based fictional and fantasy settings.

    In a real-world setting, I had a great time in Renaissance Florence (Assassin's Creed II) and Rome (Assassin's Creed Brotherhood) and I can't separate those two. Beautiful locations to experience.

    In fictional worlds based on real places, I'm again split, between Vice City and San Andreas (GTAV's Los Santos suffers, in my opinion, for losing the variety that San Fierro and Las Venturas added to the earlier game). In San Andreas, the world really feels like your oyster, though cruising down Miami's Vice City's oceanfront avenues on a motorcycle listening to Jan Hammer is an experience that is hard to top.

    In the fantasy realm, Oblivion's Cyrodiil was a wonderful and diverse place - all of the cities had their own distinct identity - though I maybe enjoyed the Vvardenfell of Morrowind even more, as it felt so mysterious and unexplored, even if the game has dated somewhat. Revisiting Vvardenfell in a modern engine would be a tantalising prospect.

  13. #13
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Skyrim's world is just too fun to explore, repetitive quests be damned. It would be my clear cut #1. I really liked Oblivion too.

    Far Cry 4 has a nice open world as well, although your mileage may vary on the actual gameplay.

    I'm hoping we'll be adding Breath of the Wild to this list starting on Friday.

  14. #14
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Brethren View Post
    I'm hoping we'll be adding Breath of the Wild to this list starting on Friday.
    From what I've read, it'll be a contender at least.

    Though if the rumors are true, and the Hyrule in that game is 70 sq. miles, I don't know how they could fill up all that space with stuff to do. Skyrim in comparison is less than a 3rd that size.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    GTA, Elder Scrolls, the Risen series. The Risen games may seem a bit more linear than the other games, but, for me, it doesn't really restrict the feeling of an open world setting for me. It's like a holiday in the Carribean.

  16. #16
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    I'd give a nod to Gothic 2, and the first Risen. They're not nearly so large as most open world games, but their landscape designs are so much more interesting, filled to bursting with all kinds of nooks and crannies, I can't help but love them.

  17. #17
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    I couldn't put my finger on what it is, but while I find the world of The Witcher 3 utterly beautiful, it doesn't resonate with me the way some open world games do. TW3 is undoubtedly a better game than Skyrim in almost every single respect, but when I reinstalled Skyrim over the weekend and checked out the beginning, just being there in that world pulled me in more than it does in Geralt's world, even though the latter looks much better. It's not the first-person vs. third-person thing, because Rockstar's games give me that "being there" feeling as much as Skyrim does. It may have something to do with the simulation systems you mention; TW3's world often feels static to me, for want of a better world, while the simulation of GTA V, even if shallow, makes the world feel dynamic.
    Personally, I think it's a combination of these things plus there's the incidental density/density of interaction R* packs into its environments. Apart from the TV and radio shows and NPC chatter you can appreciate passively, you can also interact with the world in a few more ways than just killing people or running them over. There's the phone, the different vehicles, the different in-game activities to try out.

    But also, there's the environments themselves. I think GTA V's world scale is just about right -- and by that I mean the literal scale they've used as a reference to construct the buildings and streets and whatever's contained within them. TW3's scale feels a bit compressed, so to speak; just slightly off -- like everything's that little bit smaller than it should be.

  18. #18
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Yep, most of the Rockstar and Bethesda open worlds would go on this list. Ubisoft I'm not sure about, but AC:Syndicate definitely makes it in, thanks largely to the excellent Thames section(which TTLG's own Kroakie had a hand in making!).

    Other good ones that haven't been mentioned yet:

    Post-apocalyptic Canada, in The Long Dark - Gorgeous, deadly, and always something interesting to find around the next bend.

    California, Nevada, and Arizona, in American Truck Simulator - Deserts and powerlines. Highways and speeding fines. Gas stations are islands of light, in the pitch black sea of the night. From the canyons in the east to the coast in the west, if you're looking for a way to see this great country, behind the wheel of a Kenworth W900 is the best. I'm not even trying to be all poetic, it just kinda happens automatically when you start describing this game.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    I'd give a nod to Gothic 2, and the first Risen. They're not nearly so large as most open world games, but their landscape designs are so much more interesting, filled to bursting with all kinds of nooks and crannies, I can't help but love them.
    True that. Piranha Bytes gameworlds are filled with life. Bethesda have learned a lot in that regard too though, and the ones in Skyrim and Fallout 4 aren't worse really. They had a very generic world design in Morrowind and Oblivion though.

  20. #20
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Also, happy 10K, dema! Onwards to the top!

    (Good god that's a lot of posts to get to where dethy and ZB are at.)

    ((Also also, Morrowind had generic world design? Say what? The only thing I liked about Morrowind was its otherworldliness.))

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    Why is "otherwordliness" contradictory to generic design? Just take a look at the architecture. If that isn't generic, speak repetitive, and ordinary, then i don't know what is. Oblivion also had a pretty generic design. Skyrim and Fallout 4 hardly have any generic design. Bethesda did a lot right in that regard with their newer games.

  22. #22
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    You can't have something that's both generic and otherworldly because that's a contradiction in terms. It's like saying a box made from bleeding fairy hearts pasted together with unicorn glue that contains the crystallised final gasps of the last trilobite is generic because it looks like a box.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2010
    Morrowind and Oblivions world design is still generic. *shrugs* No matter if it's an otherworldy setting or not.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    I'm not so sure I agree on the AC games. Yes, they are pretty atmospheric representations of real world cities at a certain point in history - and as such amazing at suggesting 'next places to go to on my next holiday' (although I'll probably give Syria a miss for now ).

    But the busy Animus overlays and the fact that you don't actually do much in these spaces apart from run through them doesn't make them feel that real to me, to be honest.

  25. #25
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Quote Originally Posted by chk772 View Post
    Morrowind and Oblivions world design is still generic. *shrugs* No matter if it's an otherworldy setting or not.
    If by world design you mean it didn't abstract out the cities and towns and dungeons into vast alien megaliths, I guess okay, but there's literally almost no game out there that doesn't do populated areas without those?

    If you mean architecture, I'm not too sure how the massive middle eastern vibes, monolothic design, and all the rest counts as generic unless you happen to live in some sort of Arabic country studded with gigantic-ass mushrooms all over the place.

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