Open world games truly are the flavour of life, aren’t they? They’re the type of games they don’t tie you down to linearity they let you live your own virtual life as you see fit and let you mould your experience to a way you see pleasant to your style of gameplay. So in tribute to such a fabulous bravura of video game splendour we’ll be looking at the some of the Open world/sandbox/free-roaming (however you like to label them) video games around. But please keep in mind this is opinion based, games I have actually played and in no particular order. SO! Without further a due.

Final Fantasy XV

Cause c’mon guys, it’s me, there must be a mention of Final Fantasy somewhere in this list! The 15th entrance of the world’s most falsely advertised video game title really took everything great about Final Fantasy and drove it into the stratosphere. From almost the moment you are given control of Noctus (apart from some small tutorial segments and main story cutscenes) the beautiful Eos is your oyster free to complete side quest, complete hunts and COME UP WITH NEW RECIPES! You could honestly lose hours and not even touch the main story and the use of your car – the Regalia, only makes your world seem huger as you drive seemingly miles to reach destinations and having to make pit stops for fuel and supplies only makes the journey feel more real. The downside is the last few hours of the game kind of take a funnel affect, with the game becoming more linear and making the player partake in the main story more intensely which honestly if you think about it is the opposite of what Final Fantasy 13 did with the first 80% of the game feeling like one endless hallway before opening up into an open world once you reach Gran Pulse before the end.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Before the Assassin’s Creed series sadly took a turn for the worst after Black Flag came the Ezio trilogy. Starting from Assassins Creed 2 which took what was left from the somewhat questionable first game and made into a more mechanically sound, well thought out feature that could be mentioned with the best titles at the time. Then came its successor, Brotherhood, which simply amplified everything brilliantly. This title really drove in the notion that Ezio was part of the Creed with more and more gameplay requiring help from your Assassin brethren and the side quests taking more variety than just simple assassination missions, with the optional quests including destroying Borgia towers, sending Assassins out on missions across Europe, recruiting and training novice killers and mastering Leonardo DaVinci’s gadgets. Also, the geographical downgrade from the last game (which took place all over renaissance Italy) to just Roma pays dividends as it creates one big historic utopia to explore, instead of several smaller ones.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

You can’t talk about free-roaming games and not mention the Grand Theft Auto series and to me the quintessential entry has to be 2002’s Vice City. For the first time GTA’s history we had a main character to connect with (by which I mean the guy actually talks!) in the Hawaiian shirt wearing, smooth talking, serial killing Tommy Vercetti and also going from one extreme to another in terms of environment. Gone are the dreary top down streets of London from GTA London and the stoic pallets of Liberty City from GTA3 and into the hustle and bustle of the American 1980’s, a lot of pink, a lot of neon, a lot of huge cellular phones and a lot of drugs. GTA: VC offers pretty much the same in way of gameplay from the previous entry but the various kinds of missions as well as the colourful folk that you work for in the course of your stay in Vice City like the Cubans, the Haitians, Porn director Steve Scott and nervous wreck Lawyer Pete Rosenburg turns this entire free-roaming experience into one great game and one I feel sadly goes overlooked when the GTA series is discussed as a whole.

Fallout 3

The third instalment of the Fallout series is the one that really brought the franchise to the forefront. The overall outlook and aesthetic of the series was overturned with this one and captures the aftermath of nuclear war down to a tee and introduced us all to the revolutionary VATS system and gave you whats left of the world to wander, either helping or mangling your fellow survivors along the way.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

AH! The benchmark, the measuring stick, the one with all the dragons! Some of us at Game Hype have straight up swatted away years of our lives trying to create Tamriel’s most formidable Dovakhin and with the humongous world at your feet it is a simple yet arduous task with everything you encounter in the land of Skyrim practically earning you experience points but with the breadth and gravity this game possesses it can be a long long time before you even think about taking down Alduin. There are throats of the world tbe conquered, guildsto be joined and people and monsters a plenty to be slain across the land. Just remember to eat and drink as you do so.

Batman: Arkham City

For any comic book fan Arkham City is pretty much flawless. It’s hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of brilliant fan service done spot on. The heroes and villains you come across through the course of the game either bring joy to a fan boys heart (Joker,Two-Face, Penguin, Robin) or brings something new that we can all dive into. (Azrael, Mad Hatter, Solomon Grundy) The side missions come thick and fast, delivering some of the most challenging in the Riddler trophies and the most intense and intriguing in the Watcher in the Wings side mission, distracting you from the fantastic main story which comes complete with one of the best boss fights in gaming history in the Mr Freeze fight, if you don’t know, you should know. Arkham City also does a great job in bringing the series out into a large section of Gotham City from the claustrophobic hallways of the Asylum and when I say the side missions distract you from the main story simply gliding through the vast skies are enough to distract you from the side missions.

Honorable Mention – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Look, I WANTED TO LOVE THIS GAME! I WANTED TO LOVE THIS GAME SO BAD! I counted down the days before it’s release do you know how often I go out and buy a game on launch day? Not very often! Seriously, and when I got my hands on it it was great it looked splendid and it played gloriously. But you know what? I just don’t’ feel like a heavily story driven series like MGS belongs in a kind of open world/free roaming format, I played for hours, HOURS I TELLS YA! and I barely got into the story that’s my favourite part of MGS the Lore I wanted questions answered I wanted twists and turns! But when all was said and done I was just left with questions……and it hurts every day.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Now I don’t wanna talk out of turn or anything here, but I personally think Horizon: Zero Dawn may very well be game of the year (as of this writing). It easily combines everything great about some of the titles I have previously mentioned, for example the plant and herb collecting, the stealth kills and the hunting and through it all even brings in its own signature look and story that is just breath-taking. The number of robotic beasts that must be subdued that are as graceful as they are deadly, the cauldrons that must be explored and everything in between in an absolutely colossal environment, spanning a post-apocalyptic United States. If there is one game you should waste months of your life, this is the one.