Top Games with the Most Immersive Open Worlds
Open-world environments have been going strong for almost two decades in the gaming industry. Sprawling maps filled with side quests and NPC interactions ushered in a new era of exploration galore for gamers all too eager to deviate from linear plots to carve their own path. If revolutionary at first, open-world games have been increasingly contentious among gaming circles lately.
While some blame bloated maps for overemphasizing content to the detriment of narrative depth, others lament the conformity of a genre that has become too standardized and avert to taking any risk. Now and then, however, some games prove that open-world gaming still has a lot to offer. So, let's go through some immersive open worlds to discover or revisit.
Tears of the Kingdom
Upon its release in 2017, Breath of the Wild was instantly deemed a cult classic. While previous titles like Wind Waker had already introduced nonlinear progression, this Switch-exclusive Zelda story was the first the series had ventured into full-on open-world territory. This welcome change of pace was praised across the board.
Yet, a few discordant voices expressed their disappointment at how lifeless the kingdom of Hyrule felt throughout their journey. Nintendo seemingly heard their complaints as Tears of the Kingdom raised the bar even higher, setting a new gold standard for all upcoming open-world games. This sequel kicks off where its predecessor ended, but it boasts a much bigger map to explore, from the skies above to an underground realm.
However, this expansive world never feels barren or dull. The game's director explained how his team avoided this pitfall by making NPCs feel more alive, adjusting their dialogue options to the events at play. Link's new abilities also go a long way in allowing players to interact with their environment creatively.
Elden Ring's map is so vast as to be dizzying. That said, the Lands Between exude an enigmatic power of attraction that grows on players the more they explore its massive regions, a strange yet unescapable charm that effectively dispels any open-world fatigue.
Each section of the map is so stunning that players may routinely stop in awe at the breathtaking scenery. From ancient floating cities to mystical altars bathed in moonlight, the beauty of Elden Ring is a work of art. Such a desolate world may be devoid of any of the villages and encampments usually found in similar games, but these lonely lands are chock full of epic enemies to fight and intriguing quests.
Much like any souls like worth its salt, this action RPG can be just as ruthless as it is mesmerizing. Assuredly, this game is not for the faint-hearted. But its sheer variety makes up for that grueling difficulty curve.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Despite being relatively small in scale, all Like a Dragon titles are typically packed with truckloads of content, yet their minigames and side activities never feel like a chore - nor a grind fest. And the latest instalment in the franchise is the culmination of this philosophy.
Split between Honolulu and Yokohama, Infinite Wealth features a Hawaiian map nine times the size of Tokyo's Kamurochō area. But there is always something exciting to do in this colossal open world. Whether taking down baddies or running an island resort, Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu have no shortage of fun options to explore. Staples in the series have also been revamped, including an enhanced Texas Hold 'em minigame that might get gamers in the mood for playing real poker.
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Red Dead Redemption II
Many triple-A blockbusters grapple with emulating the meticulous attention to detail invested in the Western-themed universe of Red Dead Redemption II. Set in 1899, this universally-acclaimed open-world game flawlessly encapsulates the untamed nature of the Old West, where brawls may erupt at every saloon and fierce predators are always lurking in the unforgiving wilderness.
Whether it's bounty hunting, hijacking trains, or taking a stab at blackjack, players have tons of activities to enjoy across the American Frontier, so much so that revisiting the game never gets old. Even abandoned ghost towns beckon exploration all over an astoundingly rich map, whose visuals alone are a joy to behold.