With 2017 nearly in the books, it is fair to say that this year has been full of ups and down for the gaming industry. With EA garnering huge fallout for the way they handled Star Wars Battlefront 2, it is fair to say that the latter part of 2017 is where the rollercoaster really began. This year, we have seen a number of excellent releases right across the board, but some of these were open world games. There is something appealing to stepping into a world that has been designed from scratch, and these games really gave gamers some awesome memories.
8. Mass Effect Andromeda
Developer: BioWare Publisher: EA Platform(s): XB1/PS4/PC
I start this list with a possibly controversial game, but Mass Effect Andromeda deserved a place on this list, no matter how disappointing it was. If you remove the poor facial expressions and lacklustre storyline, what we were given is the chance to explore the galaxy, effectively looking for a new home. One thing that Andromeda did well in my opinion is put across just how hazardous the stars really are, with many races looking to assert their dominance over mankind.
Each world was different, from an arid desert to a lush forest, Andromeda tried to paint the picture that not every planet in the galaxy is the same. From dealing with the hazards of freezing tundras, to the harsh extremes of an arid desert, Andromeda has it all. As you stumble across different races, you are provided with the question of whether or not you are doing the right thing. Each world is also home to different species of animals, and as you arrive on each planet, you are faced with new, and often more complicated issues that you must first resolve before you can establish a home there.
For those who really want to, there is a lot to discover on each planet from ancient statues to far flung and often ruined outposts which give you the sense of feeling that each planet is inhospitable.
7. LEGO Worlds
Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: WB Games Platform(s): XB1/PS4/Switch/PC
Lego Worlds is a game that has tried to take the success of Minecraft, but instead, use the varied and dynamic world of Lego. At its core, Lego Worlds is just another Minecraft imitator, but as you travel to each world collecting new items, building houses and populating each world with Lego people, this game becomes something different.
The premise of this game is a simple one; you have crash landed on a planet and must collect golden bricks to advance. Each planet is based on a Lego play set which includes the Wild West and Lego City, and you are able to use a tool to scan various buildings, animals and plant life in order to eventually build your own Lego World. It is here that Lego Worlds makes a name for itself.
Once you start placing buildings, houses and other items onto your blank map, your own open world starts to come to life, with characters wandering around and doing their own thing. The open worlds are massive and are only limited to your imagination. Each pre-constructed world has a long list of things to do, allowing you to explore every corner without any restrictions.
ELEX was a game that really slid under the radar upon release, and in my opinion that is a shame. Although ELEX was poorly received by critics, ELEX is extremely ambitious and provides yet another take at something that many people love – a post-apocalyptic universe.
ELEX’s massive open world paints a spine-chilling picture of the world after a comet rips through the atmosphere. As we have all come to accept from any post-apocalyptic themed universe, there are various factions vying for control, each one harnessing the power left over from the comet to further their own means.
But what ELEX does is give you a vivid image of what the world after such a disaster would look like. The game world is full of lost remnants from the past, ruined cities and people filled with guilt and despair. It is a world that is broken, and has a long way to go before it will be given the chance to fully heal itself. There is plenty to do as well, such as visit far flung villages or take the fight to members of a rogue faction.
ELEX delivers a world that is rarely seen in the gaming industry, and although it is hugely ambitious, it is a refreshing look at an open world that has been devastated by an event other than a nuclear holocaust or plague.
Destiny 2 is the eagerly anticipated sequel to a game that gamers either loved or hated. The developers of Destiny 2 did an outstanding job in listening to their fan base and creating the game that Destiny should have been. With one of the most gripping opening scenes I have ever come across and an interesting and engaging storyline to boot.
However, the biggest change in Destiny 2 is the brand new maps and locations that players can actively explore. The attention to detail on each map is truly insane and there is a tremendous amount of lore, loot and secrets to find on each map if the player is willing to go that extra mile. It expands on the lore originally set down in the Destiny universe, as well as expand on the far reaching consequences that the opening scene had on the game universe.
Bungie have also endeavoured to create numerous worlds that are completely different from each other. From the tranquil, almost peaceful safe zone of The Farm to the raging seas and desolate rigs of Titan, each region is different, and offers new challenges and even greater secrets to find.
I reviewed Destiny 2 when it first hit the shelves and have since gone back and played it again and I have found a greater love in really taking my time to explore this open world. The deeper I go, the more I find and the greater the rewards.
4. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Developer: Ubisoft Paris Publisher: Ubisoft Platform(s): PC/XB1/PS4
Wildlands is, in my opinion, one of the best open world games to have been released this year. However, it falls low down on this list because the actual game world is a lot emptier than the games that have ranked higher than it.
The basic storyline behind Ghost Recon: Wildlands involves you stepping into the shoes of the leader of a special forces unit as they embark on a mission to bring the down the Santa Blanca Cartel by destabilizing their drug operation from the ground up.
What Ubisoft have achieved here with Wildlands is to create a world that feels oppressed by the Cartel. As you cruise through Bolivia listening to the propaganda spewing from the car radio, you get the over feel of total and utter despair; as of the population is confined to their fate and the rule of Santa Blanca. On occasion you may round a corner and find some pedestrians about to be executed for an unknown crime against the Cartel or come across a burning car.
Although the game world could be slightly more populated, there is also a variety of terrains on the map that can be explored, with your mission taking you into a dingy swamp and even to the towering peaks of the Andes.
With numerous collectables scattered around the map, there is every reason to really explore this hopeless depiction of Bolivia. Ubisoft really did a fantastic job setting the atmosphere of the game world and it only adds to the experience.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise had fallen out of love with many gamers and even fans of the series over the years. When Ubisoft took a break from the franchise, everyone has high hopes that one of the biggest game developers could turn it around. Assassin’s Creed Origins has really made huge steps in saving the franchise, even being good enough to warrant a place on our top 50 games list.
Ubisoft have done extremely well recreating ancient Egypt, featuring everything from the pyramids of Giza to just how dependent people were on the river Nile. The attention to detail is staggering, ranging from the sand blowing in the same direction of the wind to the morbid obsession the Egyptian people had over their dead. Ubisoft also have plans to release a sandbox mode so that the gamer can really delve deeper into the history of ancient Egypt and explore the world they have created in greater detail.
There is also a ton of secrets and collectables to find in Origins from killing commanders to hunting wildlife, every square inch of the map is home to a piece of treasure. Tomb raiding is also great fun, delving deeper and deeper into the burial places of the rich and famous of ancient Egypt and seeing with your own eyes the amount of wealth some of them were buried with (you obviously can take it with you!). Even the rocky canyons of Egypt are filled with bandit camps, deadly animals and even the occasional oasis that allows you to have a breather and earn experience in the process.
Ancient Egypt has never been so beautiful, or fun for that matter, with Origins really catapulting the franchise back into the limelight.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: SIE Platform: PS4
Horizon Zero Dawn missed out the top spot on this list by a width, but it still remains one of the best open world games to have ever graced a console.
The game world is truly breath taking, with the developers really going the extra mile with their attention to detail. As you explore further and really take in the sights, you find it difficult to realise that what you are experiencing is just a snapshot of someone’s imagination. The robotic animals which make up the main aspect of this game are some of the best in-game creatures that I have ever come across. Each one moves with the same grace and feel as their real life counterparts.
As the main plot of the game progresses, the lore of the game world really starts to come alive, giving you the chance to explore the huge open world, rediscovering ancient ruins and uncovering artefacts from a bygone age.
Horizon Zero Dawn has really set the benchmark for future open world games, taking an already fantastic formula and really enhancing it. This game isn’t just beautiful, it’s also bloody brilliant.
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1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform: Nintendo Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been hailed by critics as almost perfect, with some gamers actually toning that down a bit and just saying that it is just a really good game. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, the latest incarnation of Zelda is truly magnificent.
Hyrule has never looked so beautiful, with each region really coming into its own, not only displaying what Nintendo can do when they put their mind to it, but also showcases the power that the Switch can really throw out, because, after all, it is a handheld console.
Aside from the main quest which requires Link to travel Hyrule and once again defeat an evil that keeps raising its ugly head like your nan at the Christmas dinner table, there are a wide range of side quests and collectables to find, as well as numerous enemies to pound. Nintendo also added a crafting mechanic which allows you to create weapons that can double up as resources. For example, your wooden shield can also be used to start a fire.
Breath of the Wild is an easy contender for many gamers’ Game of The Year award, and it isn’t hard to see why.