Even the most basic video games today rely on some form of storytelling. While early projects like Pong delivered a rudimentary sports simulation, modern projects from EA Sports and 2K include franchise modes to add more narrative development. The emphasis on storytelling has trickled down to games of all stripes.
Even sandbox games like Minecraft and The Sims 4, which allow a player to creatively decide on a game’s objectives, include some form of development in order to keep people engaged. In a sandbox game, the player decides what that development will be.
Similarly, online slots rely on unique characters and settings to add more depth to the spinning reels. For the most part, slots fans will keep an eye on things like RPT (return to player) and jackpots—but engaging characters and settings in titles like Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead add a little extra excitement.
But the basics of a great video game still lie in an immersive world and a believable, engaging story. One of the unique ways for gamers to interact with these stories is through an open-world format. An open-world game lets the player explore the fictional world at their own pace.
Instead of moving forward linearly toward a goal, like facing down a boss at the end of a mission, an open-world concept develops in a non-linear fashion. The open-world concept also gives developers a chance to create a visually engaging and explorable world—one that tends to have fewer loading screens, too. Keep reading for the best open-world titles.
Open World RPGs: The Witcher & Fallout
Two of the most successful open-world RPGs are The Witcher: Wild Hunt (2015) and the Fallout franchise. Typically, Fallout: New Vegas (2010) is favored versus Fallout 4 (2015). Both franchises are hailed for their exceptional attention to detail, and the incorporation of Easter eggs that are tied to the story and world.
Both games also feature unique gameplay mechanics. Fallout: New Vegas, for example, includes a karma system for its players. These classify whether they’re good, neutral, or evil. The Witcher, on the other hand, is hailed as one of the most realistic narratives ever found in a video game—nonetheless an open world.
Open World MMORPGs: WoW & Elder Scrolls
Open-world RPGs focus on single-player, but MMORPGs include a huge network of online players. These players are an integral facet of the game. Since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft has solidified itself as one of the best MMORPGs ever created. Ten years later, Bethesda (creator of the Fallout series) partnered with ZeniMax to update the Elder Scrolls franchise.
The first benefits from a massive range of playing options. Gamers can raid, explore dungeons, or even just hang out with friends while exploring the WoW universe. Throw in plenty of customization and it truly hands the reigns to gamers.
Meanwhile, Elder Scrolls Online delivers realistic combat action and a quality narrative; both play into each other to keep gamers coming back. Though the game faced criticism following its 2014 release, incremental improvements have made it one of the most popular MMORPGs on the market.
Open World FPS: GTA
Back in 2001, the launch of Grand Theft Auto revolutionized the open-world format. Though previous projects attempted to give gamers the freedom to explore, GTA created such a believable 3D world that other studios began to replicable its format. Unsurprisingly, Grand Theft Auto remains one of the most popular open-world games in the world.
In addition to the game’s detail-oriented open world, which includes sports events, stores, and a dizzying number of side missions, GTA has also served as a staple for shooter fans. Back in 2014, studio Rockstar created a first-person mode for the game.
This offered gamers a dual approach; they could take full advantage of customization features through a third-person perspective. However, by switching to first-person mode, gamers are taken to a familiar FPS perspective familiar to other open-world FPSs like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.