5. Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV is the first of the main series to contain a traditional Open World map. Shortly after the start you’re given freedom to explore. There is a main quest line that is there to push to story, as well as side quests that crop up from the people met along the way or simply found while driving (which provide for a majority of time one will spend going across this map). Plus all the hunts that can be taken at restaurants give even more to complete; Final Fantasy XV is definitely full of content. Travelling across the map by car provides good fast travel, and also a relaxing means of traversal. Or, if you’re looking to get out of the Regalia for bit, there’s always Chocobos to ride. Don’t forget to be careful as it is possible to wonder into monsters at higher levels than Noctis and gang should be fighting at that time.
4. Red Dead Redemption
While I’ll admit the desert isn’t my favorite setting, the world of Red Dead Redemption is one of the most unique worlds I’ve ever seen in video games. Maybe it’s the fact that the Old West hasn’t been over-saturated like other settings, but the world of RDR is beautifully bleak and empty (in terms of aesthetics, not things to do). Most of the map is devoid of any civilization, with nothing but the wildlife and foliage to keep you company. Not only does it accurately represent the dying days of the Old West, but it also ties into the game’s theme of the introduction of civilization to the west, and the development of the land that comes with it. It’s a world I could explore with my trusty horse for days and days, and one that makes you feel so alone and so empty but still manages to be incredibly pretty to look at in its emptiness.
3. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
I’m going to just make this statement here and now: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the best videogame representation of medieval fantasy to date. While Bethesda has always been known for their massive and staggeringly detailed game worlds, there’s something about the world of Oblivion that sets the bar higher than the rest. Set within the realm of Cyrodiil, the capital province of the Empire, there’s no shortage of life and commerce happening throughout the land. I know, I know- Bethesda can manage to make even nuclear wastelands feel alive. Yet somehow, Oblivion’s game world felt more alive than any of their other games. I may just be looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, but no game has ever come nearly as close to immersing me in such rich medieval fantasy.
2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto III may have more or less started the open world sandbox genre, but Grand Theft Auto Vice City showed just how much the genre could achieve. While puny in comparison to its successors, the world of Vice City was chock full of things to do and collect. Not only was the map crammed with content, but it was also a map you could genuinely learn and memorize. Sure, you may know where you’re going on Grand Theft Auto V’s highways, but good luck finding where you need to go without the GPS. Vice City wasn’t just a mesmerizing and exotic 80’s locale; it’s one of the best-designed game worlds in all of videogames.