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Evolution of Open World Games 1980-2021

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

Evolution of Open World Games 1980-2021
๐Ÿ‘“ ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐Ÿฐ๐—ž ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—น๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ!

๐Ÿ“Œ All Open World Video Games in the Evolution:
Rally-X (1980)
Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness (1981)
Bosconian (1981)
Elite (1984)
Hydlide (1984)
Mercenary (1985)
Dragon Warrior (1986)
Miami Vice (1986)
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Faery Tale Adventure (1987)
Sid Meier's Pirates (1987)
Star Cruiser (1988)
Drakkhen (1989)
Vette! (1989)
The Terminator (1990)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1991)
Hunter (1991)
King's Quest VI (1992)
Frontier: Elite II (1993)
Quarantine (1994)
The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)
Super Mario 64 (1996)
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996)
Ultima Online (1997)
Grand Theft Auto (1997)
Mizzurna Falls (1998)
Body Harvest (1998)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)
Driver (1999)
Shenmue (1999)
Driver 2 (2000)
Midnight Club: Street Racing (2000)
RuneScape (2001)
Operation Flashpoint (ARMA) (2001)
Gothic (2001)
Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001)
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
Jak II (2003)
Lineage 2 (2003)
Jak 3 (2004)
Driver 3 (2004)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
World of Warcraft (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
Just Cause (2006)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007)
Assassin's Creed (2007)
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Far Cry 2 (2008)
Burnout Paradise (2008)
Fallout 3 (2008)
Minecraft (2009)
Assassin's Creed II (2009)
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Just Cause 2 (2010)
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Mafia II (2010)
Driver: San Francisco (2011)
Batman: Arkham City (2011)
L.A. Noire (2011)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Arma II: DayZ Mod (2012)
Forza Horizon (2012)
Borderlands 2 (2012)
Sleeping Dogs (2012)
Far Cry 3 (2012)
Assassins Creed 3 (2012)
Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag (2013)
Rust (2013)
Saints Row IV (2013)
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Infamous Second Son (2014)
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
Far Cry 4 (2014)
The Forest (2014)
Elder Scrolls: Online (2014)
Watch Dogs 2014
Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (2015)
Mad Max (2015)
Fallout 4 (2015)
Dying Light (2015)
Just Cause 3 (2015)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)
Final Fantasy XV (2016)
Watch Dogs 2 (2016)
Mirror's Edge: Catalyst (2016)
No Manโ€™s Sky (2016)
Middle-earth: Shadow of War (2017)
Horizon Zero Dawn (2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands (2017)
Assassin's Creed Origins (2017)
Assassinโ€™s Creed Odyssey (2018)
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (2018)
Just Cause 4 (2018)
Far Cry 5 (2018)
Days Gone (2019)
Death Stranding (2019)
Watch Dogs: Legion (2020)
Ghost of Tsushima (2020)
Assassinโ€™s Creed: Valhalla (2020)
Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)
Valheim (2021)
Forza Horizon 5 (2021)
Far Cry 6 (2021)
New World (2021)
Dying Light 2 (2021)
Horizon Forbidden West (2021)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl (2021)
Elden Ring (2022)

Includes gameplay footage from every open-world game focused on running, walking, fighting, driving, roaming, exploring. etc

GTA 3 was the hit that changes everything in my opinion.
 

Armorian

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Somehow everything released after 1993 had a better open world than Cyberpunk

I starte playing Cyperpunk ~3 weeks ago, I'm suprised how GREAT this game is after I heard so many "opinions" (mostly from people that didn't play it) about it. But open world aspect isn't a main focus of the game at all, quests are and they are like the Witcher 3 or even better. Open world in this game is like Jak 2 open world, it's there to connect all the missions and stuff.

Some bad traffic ai doesn't impact most important aspects of the game. This is Deus Ex but with open world map that connects all the hubs. I love it and I didn't encounter many bugs at all, just like in any other game that is labeled "buggy". I'm lucky or something :messenger_grinning_smiling:

Oh and on PC it's IMO the best looking game right now.




 

Kenpachii

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GTA 3 was the hit that changes everything in my opinion.

Urban chaos for me which released 2 years before gta 3. shitty version of gta 3 basically.

Anyway.

GTA 3 and mafia where some god tier good games back in the days.

Not digging the cyberpunk looks.

I still think ac origin + odyssey atlantis are the best looking open world games even today.
 
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Oct 14, 2020
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Ah Mercenary, what a great game that was, unless you lost your ship and had to walk to where you need to get to. And its the only game I can think in which the fastest ship is a lump of cheese - worth a shout just for that.
 
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Eddie-Griffin

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No Robocop 3, no Midwinter, No Castle Master. This is a console centric list and even then they included Zelda despite actual open games releasing that year.

Lol, Mario 64 are you serious? An open world means open world, levels that have empty fields surrounding it are not open world. Might as well put in Tomb Raider. Shame with Shenmue, when did corridors become open world.
 

Bragr

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No Robocop 3, no Midwinter, No Castle Master. This is a console centric list and even then they included Zelda despite actual open games releasing that year.

Lol, Mario 64 are you serious? An open world means open world, levels that have empty fields surrounding it are not open world. Might as well put in Tomb Raider. Shame with Shenmue, when did corridors become open world.
What? an open-world game simply means an environment where you can explore freely and approach the game how you want. Mario 64 is a clear-cut open-world platformer.
 

Lanrutcon

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What? an open-world game simply means an environment where you can explore freely and approach the game how you want. Mario 64 is a clear-cut open-world platformer.

That's the wackiest definition I've heard ever heard. I've never, ever heard it described like that before.

Mario 64 is the absolute opposite of open-world, as the entire world is divided into tiny slices with clear divides and identities. You jump from from tiny box to tiny box. There's no "world", much less an open one. You might as well call Bubble Bobble open world then.
 
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Marty-McFly

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I starte playing Cyperpunk ~3 weeks ago, I'm suprised how GREAT this game is after I heard so many "opinions" (mostly from people that didn't play it) about it. But open world aspect isn't a main focus of the game at all, quests are and they are like the Witcher 3 or even better. Open world in this game is like Jak 2 open world, it's there to connect all the missions and stuff.

Some bad traffic ai doesn't impact most important aspects of the game. This is Deus Ex but with open world map that connects all the hubs. I love it and I didn't encounter many bugs at all, just like in any other game that is labeled "buggy". I'm lucky or something :messenger_grinning_smiling:

Oh and on PC it's IMO the best looking game right now.




It's not just the traffic AI that sucks, the civilian AI and Police AI is also several times more primitive than GTA 3.

The sandbox elements are abysmal.

If you lose the graphics and missions, what you are left with is a horrible open world.
 
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Armorian

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It's not just the traffic AI that sucks, the civilian AI and Police AI is also several times more primitive than GTA 3.

The sandbox elements are abysmal.

If you lose the graphics and missions, what you are left with is a horrible open world.

GTA5 have better open world for sure but most missions are average and there is nothing to do outside of main storyline and few "?" signs. So what's the point of so great open world? RDR2 has the same problem.

I don't trigger fight with police in CP, why would i want to do that?

WD: Legion has better sandbox elements than CP for sure (great traffic ai) but game itself is shit.
 

Eddie-Griffin

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What? an open-world game simply means an environment where you can explore freely and approach the game how you want. Mario 64 is a clear-cut open-world platformer.
You literally just contradicted yourself and dont even realize it. There's nothing open world about Mario 64. You can also "explore the environment freely" and "approach the game how you want" in all 3 PS Crash Bandicoot games.

It's ok to admit you dont know what the term means. It actually has to be open, not a bunch of straight forward levels surrounded by empty terrain.
 

Bragr

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That's the wackiest definition I've heard ever heard. I've never, ever heard it described like that before.

Mario 64 is the absolute opposite of open-world, as the entire world is divided into tiny slices with clear divides and identities. You jump from from tiny box to tiny box. There's no "world", much less an open one. You might as well call Bubble Bobble open world then.
That's because you never thought about what an open world is, it's not just a large space, it's choice and freedom. The areas in Mario 64 are made with open-world principles, it's not a fully open-world, but it's a hybrid. Maybe it's because we live in 2021 and it's hard to think back, but when it launched it was the most spacious freedom feeling game on the market by leagues and leagues, it was clearly the birth of fully open-world 3D games.
 

Bragr

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You literally just contradicted yourself and dont even realize it. There's nothing open world about Mario 64. You can also "explore the environment freely" and "approach the game how you want" in all 3 PS Crash Bandicoot games.

It's ok to admit you dont know what the term means. It actually has to be open, not a bunch of straight forward levels surrounded by empty terrain.
What? but you can't do that in Crash lol, have you even played Mario 64? all the levels are fully 3D with explorable environments with multiple choices.
 

Eddie-Griffin

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What? but you can't do that in Crash lol, have you even played Mario 64? all the levels are fully 3D with explorable environments with multiple choices.
No empty space is not explorable. Mario 64 is segmented levels with one way to complete the stages normally surrounded by empty space. There is no "world" that is "open". Zelda barely qualifies but at least Majora's Mask meets most of the checklist for open world.

Just because you have a game that has some space to run in doesn't mean it's open world.
 
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Eddie-Griffin

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That's because you never thought about what an open world is, it's not just a large space,
That's exactly what Mario 64 is, a large space surrounding disconnected levels, which under normal conditions have only one way to complete them. Where the open world?

Some levels are even linear. Your definition of open world seems to be games with just open space to move in.
 
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Corgi1985

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They evolved until 2006, after which everything is the same bland shit over and over. Except for BotW which is just a different kind of boring
 
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Lanrutcon

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That's because you never thought about what an open world is, it's not just a large space, it's choice and freedom. The areas in Mario 64 are made with open-world principles, it's not a fully open-world, but it's a hybrid. Maybe it's because we live in 2021 and it's hard to think back, but when it launched it was the most spacious freedom feeling game on the market by leagues and leagues, it was clearly the birth of fully open-world 3D games.

Naw, that's not it. I mean that when people talk about open world games they don't use your definition. Your definition is unique and new, not necessarily wrong but definitely not what the masses mean when they use the term. You say open world, they think Far Cry and Assassin's Creed. You say Mario 64 is an open world game and you're just going to get funny looks in most circles.

And it was definitely not the birth of fully world 3D games even with your definition: there were plenty before Mario 64 was even out.
 
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Bragr

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That's exactly what Mario 64 is, a large space surrounding disconnected levels, which under normal conditions have only one way to complete them. Where the open world?

Some levels are even linear. Your definition of open world seems to be games with just open space to move in.
Then what do you think is open-world? open-world games have an explorable space with multiple objectives, how do you describe an open world?
 

Bragr

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Naw, that's not it. I mean that when people talk about open world games they don't use your definition. Your definition is unique and new, not necessarily wrong but definitely not what the masses mean when they use the term. You say open world, they think Far Cry and Assassin's Creed. You say Mario 64 is an open world game and you're just going to get funny looks in most circles.

And it was definitely not the birth of fully world 3D games even with your definition: there were plenty before Mario 64 was even out.
What was an open-world 3D game before Mario 64?

What do the masses mean is an open world? Far Cry and Assassin's Creed work under the exact same principles as the levels in Mario 64, a main goal alongside several smaller goals, filled with exploration. Mario 64 is just smaller and focuses on platforming, but the idea is similar.
 

Beelzebubs

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What was an open-world 3D game before Mario 64?

What do the masses mean is an open world? Far Cry and Assassin's Creed work under the exact same principles as the levels in Mario 64, a main goal alongside several smaller goals, filled with exploration. Mario 64 is just smaller and focuses on platforming, but the idea is similar.
Elite was a 3D game in 1984.......
 
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ComputerBlue

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Somehow everything released after 1993 had a better open world than Cyberpunk
The city they created is actually amazing though, itโ€™s one of the better open world designs in my opinion, you may hate the game and it may have a lot of issues or boring gameplay with fuck all to do outside of missions, shit civilian AI etc. but Night City itself is so well crafted. Itโ€™s a shame that nothing else in the game lives up to it though.
 
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Red-Town

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I starte playing Cyperpunk ~3 weeks ago, I'm suprised how GREAT this game is after I heard so many "opinions" (mostly from people that didn't play it) about it. But open world aspect isn't a main focus of the game at all, quests are and they are like the Witcher 3 or even better. Open world in this game is like Jak 2 open world, it's there to connect all the missions and stuff.

Some bad traffic ai doesn't impact most important aspects of the game. This is Deus Ex but with open world map that connects all the hubs. I love it and I didn't encounter many bugs at all, just like in any other game that is labeled "buggy". I'm lucky or something :messenger_grinning_smiling:

Oh and on PC it's IMO the best looking game right now.




Cyberpunk on PC is amazing. Playing it max settings, psycho mode is one of the best looking games I played recently. I've been enjoying my first play through.
 
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Marty-McFly

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The city they created is actually amazing though, itโ€™s one of the better open world designs in my opinion, you may hate the game and it may have a lot of issues or boring gameplay with fuck all to do outside of missions, shit civilian AI etc. but Night City itself is so well crafted. Itโ€™s a shame that nothing else in the game lives up to it though.
No point in creating an open world if it's barely functional at a basic level. Like a car with no engine.

The world AI and gameplay has to be at the same level as the graphics and art otherwise it kills immersion.
 
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Beelzebubs

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elite was a wireframe game, its not even comparable, thats like saying there was aircrafts in 1480 because someone threw a rock into the air
Still a 3D game though innit! Hell there's quite a few 3D games on the list already that existed long before Super Mario 64 such as Terminator, Starcruiser and Hunter. Get off Marios dick.
 

Bragr

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Still a 3D game though innit! Hell there's quite a few 3D games on the list already that existed long before Super Mario 64 such as Terminator, Starcruiser and Hunter. Get off Marios dick.
No, those were not full 3D games. We are talking about fully realized 3D open-world games here. 3D as in a 3D camera, 3D enemies, 3D environments, you are completely off-grid here.
 

Lanrutcon

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No, those were not full 3D games. We are talking about fully realized 3D open-world games here. 3D as in a 3D camera, 3D enemies, 3D environments, you are completely off-grid here.

Ah, those goalposts. Don't like his definition of 3D? Better add some qualifiers in a hurry!

So listen, let's just be honest here: you're just going to keep changing your story as people point out examples that make you look...well...wrong. You're not interested in conversation. You've chosen your hill, and you'll die clinging to it regardless of anything and everything. I admire that kind of dedication in the face of a sinking ship, but nobody cares. Dumb ideas and people defending them are a dime a dozen around here. You're going to have to up the crazy factor of yours by quite a margin before you'll stand out.
 
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Bragr

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Ah, those goalposts. Don't like his definition of 3D? Better add some qualifiers in a hurry!

So listen, let's just be honest here: you're just going to keep changing your story as people point out examples that make you look...well...wrong. You're not interested in conversation. You've chosen your hill, and you'll die clinging to it regardless of anything and everything. I admire that kind of dedication in the face of a sinking ship, but nobody cares. Dumb ideas and people defending them are a dime a dozen around here. You're going to have to up the crazy factor of yours by quite a margin before you'll stand out.
Oh brother, here comes the self-righteous wingman that hasn't read the conversation. It's hard to argue reason when you and your friend argue that elite 3d was an open-world 3D game that outdates Mario 64. You know that this was before they could render 3D in a game in real-time right? oh fuck it, forget about it. Let me guess, you only play mobile games and this is the first time you heard about Mario.
 

Beelzebubs

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Oh brother, here comes the self-righteous wingman that hasn't read the conversation. It's hard to argue reason when you and your friend argue that elite 3d was an open-world 3D game that outdates Mario 64. You know that this was before they could render 3D in a game in real-time right? oh fuck it, forget about it. Let me guess, you only play mobile games and this is the first time you heard about Mario.
Of course Elite is fucking 3D.....

bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-30576913

I also posted multiple other examples of pre Mario 64 3D open world games. Now shush.
 
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Lanrutcon

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Oh brother, here comes the self-righteous wingman that hasn't read the conversation. It's hard to argue reason when you and your friend argue that elite 3d was an open-world 3D game that outdates Mario 64. You know that this was before they could render 3D in a game in real-time right? oh fuck it, forget about it. Let me guess, you only play mobile games and this is the first time you heard about Mario.

So here's what I think: if you're going to try and sound like a basement nutjob with a Nintendo complex, why stop with 3D? or open world? Let's take your crazy to the next level. To that end, I propose the following and while I can't promise it'll get you that coveted Mario tag I can say for sure that it will cement your reputation as someone who obviously fucked an SNES to "lose" his virginity:

(you ready for this?)

Bragr's Next Big Overshare should be...

Mario 64 was the first man on the moon

Boom. Crowd gasps. Mic drops. Iwata smiles from above. And if the nerds try and prove you wrong....what is a "moon"? and a who can really say what a man is? Your position is unassailable. Your future on this forum secure.

You're welcome.
 
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Halo is Dead

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Rockstar and Elder Scrolls games are still the best in the biz when it comes to making open worlds to explore and interact.

Rockstar is the master class of detailed worlds.

Elder Scrolls is the master class in customization and exploration.
 
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