Open world games have come a long way over the years, and they’re now firmly wedged in the pie chart of game genres. Gone are the days where you’re hemmed in by unpassable tree-walls or just plain invisible barriers.
Players expect more from games now, and if they see a mountain or building in the distance, they want to be able to travel there. It’s a disappointment if you can’t. So developers have responded, and now there’s a lot more open world games around.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much of your money to go around so I’ve compiled a list of the very greatest open world games from 2016 so you can spend your money wisely!
If you’re an existing owner of Skyrim for PS4 or Xbox One, you might be wondering what Skyrim Special Edition is going to do for you. Put bluntly, it’s the much-improved graphics and upgrades to a much higher resolution.
Regarding content, there isn’t anything new but how many people can say they’ve explored every cave and place in Skyrim? Most people are hundreds of hours in and have yet to visit dozens of caves and ruins.
Exploring Skyrim all over again but through much sharper eyes is like a short sighted bloke wearing glasses for the first time. It just makes the whole experience… (dramatic Khan pause)… better.
If you’ve never played Skyrim, you’re in for a treat. It’s a fantasy action RPG set in a vast open world filled with quests, dungeons and very angry dragons. Every single entry in the Elder Scrolls has improved the series in leaps and bounds.
Now you can wield a weapon in both hands, use a fireball spell while holding a short sword in the other, or use both hands for extra-powerful magic.
Bethesda have also done away with the attributes like strength, agility, and intelligence and now you choose from just health, mana and stamina to upgrade when you level.
It sounds like a dumb-down but in practice, it makes the game a lot better, and you spend far less time training and more time exploring and having fun.
You can also now mine your own ore, smelt it into ingots and then make your own set of metal armor. Use the grindstone and sharpen your blade to improve its stats and then hammer out your chest piece on the armorer’s workbench.
Trap a troll’s soul in a gem and then enchant your greatsword with fire!
- Excellent crafting system
- Dual wield weapons/spells
- Mounted combat
- Epic fantasy world of Tamriel
- PC / PS4 / Xbox One
The third game in the series focuses on the main character of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran recently returned from that horror and ready to get back to civilian life. He meets up with a few members of his friends and family, who entice Clay into one last criminal pursuit, and it all goes wrong from there.
Many games have characters that are clearly the good or bad guy. There’s no moral gray scale, and it’s unlikely you’ll know anybody faintly familiar. If you do know someone who’s solely into murder and extortion, it might be best to evaluate your choice of friends.
Mafia III excels in creating believable and life-like characters with their own goals, reasons and ambitions and back story that gives them a motive for the things they do. Why would you trust someone you know to be a liar and a cheat? The man you’re after killed his family.
The story and world are also excellent, taking place in a struggling 1960’s America with the Vietnam War fresh in everybody’s mind. The blocky corporate towers and tacky run-down motels dot the landscape, and Hangar 13 have outdone themselves in bringing this era to life. It really adds to the overall experience.
As Clay, you will lead a life of violence and crime, slowly working your way through mob bosses and their hordes of cannon fodder.
Don’t be fooled. This isn’t just a picture book turned video game. There’s a lot of shooting in this game, and it’s something you’ll be doing very often.
Clay’s experience in the war comes in very handy as he plows through the grunts and eliminates yet another mob boss with animal brutality.
Clay’s own moral compass is indicative of the rest of the world’s cast. He does bad things for his own reasons which to him, are good.
- Believable and life-like Characters
- Nostalgic and detailed 1960’s game world
- Highly praised storyline and cutscenes
- Live a life of Crime in post-Vietnam America
- PC / PS4 / Xbox One
Mafia III nails the 1960’s era and plunges you head first into the crime world of the day. Drive a plethora of vehicles from the day with souped up engines and dodgy handling. The memorable characters and story are the main draw and will stay with you for a long time.
Far Cry is another series that has improved and kept fans entertained with each new entry. After four games the formula was getting a little old, however. Far Cry: Primal is Ubisoft’s attempt at breathing new life into the franchise, and it exceeds expectations very well.
The familiar gameplay is there, which has you taking out rival tribe’s outposts and villages with the main aim of strengthening your own tribe and eventually unlocking new abilities and feats.
There are elements of survival included too, where you need to make camps to provide much-needed fire when the nocturnal predators come to play. It gets a lot more dangerous after dark.
When you get to travel to the cold and icy areas, your warmth, or lack of it, can then become an issue and you’ll need to find ways to keep yourself going or become a rather curious snowman, carrot not included.
The wildlife is everything you’d expect from such a setting. Sabertooth tigers will hunt you, crocodiles will eat you, and the rats will scurry around looking for cheese.
With the right upgrades, you will be able to tame and command some of these creatures including an owl which is extremely useful for detecting enemies and marking them for you and brown bears which serve as mounts that you can ride and brutal fighters that will aid you in equal measure.
The weapons you will use range from the bow and arrow to wooden spears and stone-headed clubs which fit right in with the oversized foreheads and unibrows.
- Lush and savage primal world
- Grow your village to unlock new features
- Conquer areas as in previous far cry games
- Survive the cold and the dark or die
- PC / PS4 / Xbox One
Far Cry: Primal is a great entry in the series and helps stop the franchise from getting stale. Whether you’re new to Far Cry or you’ve already poured hundreds of hours into the previous titles, this game will satiate your gaming hunger like a large mammoth steak.
Yes, you can hunt mammoths for steak.
Final Fantasy is possibly the series with the most sequels ever made. If you think back to the 2D pixel graphics of the originals and compare them to Final Fantasy XV, you can appreciate how far they’ve come.
I’ve yet to discover a link between all of the titles and it would be really exciting if one existed.
You expect certain things when you play a Final Fantasy game. You expect large worlds to explore with plenty of quests. You expect innumerable items to equip or use. You expect a party of heroes that you can level up and grow into powerful badasses. You expect to fight quintillions of battles with hordes of enemies, and you won’t be disappointed.
Most of the games have come with turn-based fighting, and it’s refreshing to see this title with a more action orientated theme. You control the main hero who is the son of one of two kingdoms. Your father lives by the old ways - think medieval - and is a patron of them.
You’re on the way to marry the daughter of the rival king only to discover that on the way, your father has been betrayed.
From there it’s up to you how you proceed really. Final Fantasy XV has a huge open world to explore. You do have a car, but you can’t take it off-road, so you’re going to be on foot plenty of times.
While it might seem annoying at first, it gives you an excuse to fully explore every location rather than just zipping past it and it rightly feels more like an RPG than a racing/driving game.
I could write pages about the depth of this game but suffice to know that there’s plenty of might and magic, crafting and exploration and tons of other cool features to discover.
- Unique mix of modern day and medieval setting
- Huge Skill tree for varied replays
- Craft magic spells that are powerful but can damage friendlies
- Jam packed full of secrets and special quests
- PS4 / Xbox One
The Final Fantasy Series remains strong here. Grab a Chocobo and ride off into the sunset with your three comrades and get ready to spend hours and hours in this fantastic world.
It’s unlikely you’ll meet a gamer who hasn’t played a Pokémon game, let alone heard of it. Collecting new monsters, training, fighting and breeding them with other species is a lot of fun and I find it very rewarding.
Pokémon Sun & Moon adds to this already brilliant mix by changing the setting into a Hawaiian themed one.
The story takes place on a chain of islands, and each island is teeming with its own Pokémon and gorgeous vistas for you to explore while you search for new trials and Pokémon to unlock.
Pokémon Sun and Moon differs from previous versions because you’re not competing against successive gyms and going at your own pace. In this latest offering, you always have to be ready, and it’s worth tweaking and maximizing your Pokémon as much as you can so you’re ready to take on the next trial that might spring up at any time.
There’s plenty to do, and it never feels like a chore or gets boring. There’s an onion-layered story here, and it begs you to peel away with teary eyes until you can gobble down the core and breathe ghastly breaths of pure joy.
With a 30 hour long story and dozens of new Pokémon to entertain you, Pokémon Sun and Moon really stands out as it improves on its predecessors in many areas and is super fun for the novice and veteran alike.
If you’ve already put hundreds of hours into Pokémon games yet can still be entertained by this battle tutorial, you know you’re onto a winner!
- Hawaii-themed island world
- Unexpected trials to keep you ever ready
- Fun and Ingenious settings to match the local Pokémon
- 30+ hour long Pokémon-filled story
Cute, rewarding and adventurous gaming awaits you in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Even if you’re getting a little bored with Pokémon, Sun and Moon does more than enough to reignite that spark and give you many hours of fun.