2015 was a fantastic year for video game releases and the open world genre is one of the most popular styles of in modern gaming. 2015 saw some massive releases, that have pushed the genre into a whole new tier of gaming.
12- JUST CAUSE 3
Just Cause 3 is an open world, action-adventure game that was released on December 1st 2015. The game was developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Square Enix. The Just Cause franchise is a beloved one and known for its beautiful open world, destruction mechanics and exploration.
The game is similar in size to its predecessors, but this time around it focused on its volumetric terrain and added more verticality to the environments. You have the option to head to high mountain points, fly aircrafts and even explore subterranean caverns.
Just Cause isn’t known for having a deep meaningful story, however it does nail what is fun about playing video games. The game allows you to experiment with a variety of tools and equipment. The game features the classic grappling hook and parachute combo, but this time around they added the addition of a new wingsuit, which allows you to gracefully glide across the gorgeous landscapes. The game also has a wide selection of vehicles and weapons at your disposal. Probably the most notable addition to the series is the ability to attach and tether multiple objects together with your grappling hook, and then draw them together and watch the chaos unfold. Just Cause 3 made some awesome additions to the series and tightened up its gameplay mechanics.
11- ASSASSINS CREED SYNDICATE
Assassins Creed Syndicate is an action adventure game developed by Ubisoft Quebec. It was released back in October 2015. Assassins Creed has had some rocky releases over the years, including Unity, which received poor reviews due to bugs and stunted gameplay.
Syndicate seems to have put the franchise back on steady foot, and has proved that the franchise can still deliver a quality open world experience. Syndicate is the ninth major instalment in the series, and we also know that the game is taking a year off and returning in 2017. This could be likely to co-inside with the upcoming film, starring Michael Fassbender.
Syndicate follows the centuries-old battle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with liberty, and the Templars, who desire peace through order. The game is set in Victorian London and you play as Jacob and Evie. It’s the first time you have the ability to switch players and explore London. The next Assassins Creed game is said to be set in Egypt.
10- XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X
Xenoblade Chronicles X is a Wii U game that a lot of people may have missed in 2015 and is a franchise that has been overlooked. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a science fiction, action RPG game developed by Monolith Soft.
The game is simply one of the largest open world games seen in many years. The game focuses heavily on customising characters and mechs, and trying to survive on hostile alien planets full of creatures and beasts. The game is strongly exploration based, with deep battle mechanics and systems that require time and patience.
The game was released on April 29, 2015 in Japan and in December 2015 internationally. If you like open world games, that offer a lot of content then this is certainly worth checking out.
9- BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
Batman: Arkham Knight is an action-adventure game released back in 2015 and was developed by Rocksteady Studios. This is another unique open world game, with a strong aesthetic presentation.
The story follows Batman as he must confront Scarecrow, who has attacked Gotham City with poisonous toxins, causing an evacuation. Scarecrow teams up with the mysterious Arkham Knight, to bring down Batman. The game is the third in the series, not including Batman Origins, and this time around introduces the ability to drive the Batmobile. This can be used for solving puzzles, combat and exploring the city. Many of the gadgets and gameplay features from the previous games return, like the hacking device, grappling hook and line launcher. The combat is as reliable and satisfying as ever and the city looks absolutely stunning.
The game received mostly positive reviews on consoles, but saw some criticism surrounding the over-use of the Batmobile. The PC version of the game had heavy criticism, due to poor performance problems, meaning that Warner Bros actually had to withdraw the game for sale. Despite some problems the game was hugely popular, selling 5 million units by October 2015.
8- SAINTS ROW: GAT OUTTA HELL
Saints Row: Gat outta Hell is another open world action-adventure game that offers a very different visual style, which comes from Volition and High Voltage Software and published by Deep Silver.
The game is a standalone expansion from Saints Row IV, which meant that you didn’t have to own the main game. The expansion featured many of the gameplay traits as normal but added some interesting new mechanics and used a very strong visual style. The game focuses on providing a fun experience that involves upgrading your character and taking on quests, objectives and finding collectables. The game allows you to acquire certain abilities like flying with wings and using weapons that are inspired by the seven deadly sins.
Saints Row is known for having over the top gameplay and Gat out of Hell certainly doesn’t hold back. Story elements are unlocked by filling your “Satan’s Wrath” meter. The world looks very different to any other open world game and is worth checking out. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions saw a release bundled alongside Saints Row IV: Re-Elected.
7- GTA 5 PC VERSION
Grand Theft Auto 5 was originally released back in September of 2013, with an updated version for next gen consoles in 2014 and finally came to Microsoft Windows in April 2015. The game is set in the sprawling fictional state of San Andreas.
The PC version is quite simply a masterpiece and Rockstar really set the bar for what open world games should be. The world is massive and visually it looks outstanding. The newest version allows you to play in first or third person, play as three different characters, has a lengthy campaign and multiplayer modes that have improved significantly over time. With a multiplayer mode that allows up to 30 players to explore then open world. The game has also seen consistent and compelling DLC that has kept the game worth going back to. Grand Theft Auto 5 is quite frankly one of the best open world games there is to date and many will agree that whatever comes next from Rockstar will surely be a massive occasion and set the bar once again.
6- RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a game that blends linear story driven gameplay with open world, hub-like areas. A large majority sees you exploring these open world areas and often heading back and unlocking more areas within already visited sections.
The game is developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. The first reboot came back in 2013 and this is the follow up, that unfortunately didn’t get the attention it deserved, due to the fact it was released only on Xbox and the same day as the juggernaut Fallout 4.
The game is visually stunning and sees you play as Lara Croft throughout varied and dangerous locations. The open world sections are designed wonderfully, and give you a real sense of wonder and exploration that feels rewarding. Upon its release, Rise of the Tomb Raider received positive reviews. There has now been DLC, a PC version of the game and we will see the PlayStation 4 Version later this year.
5- DYING LIGHT
Dying light is somewhat of a sleeper hit, that came out back in January 2015. The game is a first person survival horror game developed by Polish developer Techland.
The game sees you play as Kyle Crane, who is sent to head into a quarantine zone in the city of Harran. The game sees you face hordes of zombies and you must use parkour skills and a multitude of weapons and equipment to evade the enemy. The game sounds familiar, but with a huge open world, parkour and compelling story make for a fantastic experience. The game has a fantastic story to accompany the huge open world and exploration.
The expansion for the game, called Dying Light: the following has just been released and sees the map size increased as well as new equipment, such as drivable vehicles. The game is certainly a success and has managed to have an open world setting that is worth diving into.
4- MAD MAX
Mad Max is another game that unfortunately got overshadowed by Metal Gear Solid 5 back in October. Mad Max is an action adventure game set in a sparse open world, which is based loosely on the Mad Max films. The game was released on PC, Xbox One and PS4 and was developed by Avalanche Studios.
The game has a post-apocalyptic setting, that sees you exploring deserts, canyons, caves and enemy base camps. You play as Max, who seeks revenge on a gang of raiders who robbed him of everything, including his car known as the Magnum Opus. The open world in this game is again massive and has a heavy focus on vehicular combat. The game is developed by Avalanche, who made Just Cause 3. Mad Max is much grittier, violent and serious in tone. The game has received mixed to positive reviews, but is certainly worth checking out, as it offers unique driving gameplay and a different take on the open world setting.
3- METAL GEAR SOLID 5
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is an open world, action adventure game that focuses on stealth and infiltration. Developed by Kojima Productions, directed by Hideo Kojima and published by Konami. The game released on September 1st 2015. The game is the eleventh and supposedly final game in the series, and certainly had its fair share of controversy.
The game is set in 1984 and sees you play as Punished “Venom” Snake. The game takes place in Afghanistan and the Angola-Zaire border. The game is what open world experiences are all about, which means exploring large open areas and approaching missions in any way. Like most open world games, it has multiple objectives, points of interest and heavy focus on upgrading your character, as well as base on this occasion.
Metal Gear Solid 5 is an outstanding insight to what open world games can achieve. The Phantom Pain was critically acclaimed upon release, with high praise for its variety of gameplay options, deep-interconnected systems and freedom to approach missions and tasks however you see fit. The game was criticised for lack of story, but overall its an open world game that is one of the best to date and certainly deserves high praise.
2- FALLOUT 4
Fallout 4 is another post-apocalyptic open world game. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios, who made Skyrim, so they certainly know how to make a successful open world game. The game is the fifth major installment in the Fallout franchise and released on November 10th 2015. The game was only revealed on June 3rd 2015, and quickly became one of the most anticipated releases in gaming history. The game sees you play as a survivor from Vault 111, and you find yourself searching for your son. The open world setting takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. The world is massive and sees you exploring, taking on enemies and completing objectives and missions to progress through an interesting story.
The gameplay is much the same as its successful predecessors, and you have the ability to switch between first and third person. A unique mechanic in this open world game is the unlimited level cap. This gives players more freedom when it comes to exploration and combat. The game also added customization and settlement building mechanics, as well as crafting. Fallout 4 is a deep and absorbing open world experience that certainly shows diverse gameplay, decision making and customisation.
1- THE WITCHER 3 WILD HUNT
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is simply a fantastic open world game. The game is developed by Polish developer CD Projekt RED. The game is the third in the series and takes place in a fantasy open-world environment. The game is based on the series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
You play the game as Geralt of Rivia, and your job is a witcher, who is a monster hunter. The game has a unique setting, that sees you journey through a range of environments and variety of objectives to complete. You must use your combat skills, magic and interactions with characters to progress through the story. The game is full of magical creatures, ferocious beasts and wild animals to fight. The game is one of the largest and densest experiences video games have ever seen, and not only that, it looks quite frankly outstanding.
The Witcher 3-won multiple Game of the Year awards from various gaming publications, game award shows and critics. It is one of the most awarded games of all time and is seen as a huge triumph and gaming milestone. If you are looking for an open world experience on next gen consoles or PC, this is certainly one of the biggest and impressive experiences out there.
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