Search every nook and corner of the world there is not a single millennial you’ll find who has not heard of the epoch-changing ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (GTA III) PC game. For many of us, the game was almost a formative childhood experience.
Yet the extreme importance of GTA is not merely related to the childhood memories it brings back. It was a trendsetter in the gaming universe. GTA was the forebearer of almost every open-world game that came after it.
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT GTA III?
Unlike older more scripted games GTA established a well-thought virtual world and gave its players the freedom to roam around and explore this world. So, now instead of being restricted to the narrow focus on pre-decided missions gamers could define and redefine their own gaming experience as they saw fit.
If you did not like a mission you could simply move beyond it and busy yourself with other sub-plots hidden within the game map. Or you could just choose to forgo fulfilling missions completely and busy yourself with driving around well-designed beaches and suburbs.
You could shoot at random bystanders, go to clubs, raid a nightclub, or even pick a fight with the panzer-driving military personnel. In short, instead of asking players to forcibly subscribe to the vision of the developers the game allowed gamers to create their own visions.
THE ERA OF OPEN WORLD GAMING
The release of GTA III is when the era of the open world multiplayer games was heralded. Since then dozens if not hundreds of such games have come out. Some of them, admittedly, are more original and captivating than others.
Groundbreaking advancements in internet technologies like the introduction of fiber internet allowed developers to design more detailed worlds online. And the introduction of satellite technologies like Hughesnet internet allowed players from far-flung areas to join the fun.
Obviously, as time passed and visual graphic technology advanced the maps became more surreal, the characters more relatable and the worlds more fantastical but the basic principle remained the same. Create a virtual world and allow players to go wild.
So, as a tribute to GTA III let’s talk about three groundbreaking open-world role-playing games that have managed to build on the original idea and have managed to take it to newer heights.
The sixth edition of the world-famous Xbox game HALO was released about two years ago and was markedly different from its forbearers. HALO Infinity departs from the franchise’s trademark indoor First-Person Shooter (FPS) action and instead moves closer to the open-world category.
After an initial 25 hours or so of gameplay HALO infinity drops our beloved Master Chief into the Zeta Halo ring. Where our hero is freer to roam around and explore. As the game progresses beyond scripted missions the map expands. Giving Master Chief the ability to dig out and pick his own battles.
And although Infinity borrows a lot of stereotypical open-world tropes it has plenty of fresh action to offer.
Every HALO fan understands that the last two editions of the game were, to say the least, bummers. In this regard, HALO Infinity feels like a breath of fresh air and allows fans to interact with their beloved characters under markedly different scenarios.
Even if you are not a HALO fan you should at least try the game once because Infinity is much more than a traditional HALO edition.
Genshin Impact puts players in the shoes of two siblings as they take on an evil goddess, mechanized serpents, giant samurai, and mushrooms in the fictional world of Teyvat. The game borrows heavily from the historic open-world game the Legend of Zelda but offers plenty of fresh action.
The storyline is surprisingly well-written and the graphics are something to die for. The game truly takes the concept of adventure fantasy to new extremes. Much like other open-world games Genshin Impact is full of exploration-worthy distant lands and countless mini-games and sub-missions.
As players roam around to explore the map they can improve their characters by doing everything from mixing mystery ingredients to creating meals and donating tears to holy deities, both of which help improve your character’s stamina of all things.
Moreover, the special events released by the designers every month keep players on their heels and help inject freshly minted content into an already expansive universe.
Without giving out too many spoilers I want to add that the party feature of Genshin Impact is every gamer’s dream. So, instead of being stuck with one character you picked when you knew nothing about the game play you can create a party of four playable characters (out of a whopping 50) with each having a unique elemental capability.
To paraphrase Genshin Impact’s own writers “fate has finally granted you the right to enter this place” don’t ruin it, go try it out.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 & GTA V
Ok, so I admit it’s no longer a list of three. But I could not possibly decide between two of the most realistic, story-rich, and yes violent games to come out in the last 5 years. So, the last place is a tie between these two gems produced by Rockstar games.
Red Redemption 2 came out in 2018 and sheds light on the events that took place before the storyline of the first rendition which came out in 2010. The story is set in the 1899 U.S. and offers a scenic view of the American wild West. Our character, Arthur Morgan roams around on horseback digging up missions, fighting outlaws, and brushing shoulders with bounty hunters.
Not mentioning at least one version of the GTA series while writing a listicle about awesome open-world games feels almost blasphemous. Full of stunning 3D audio and video elements GTA V lives up to the hype. Players get to navigate the Los Santos underworld all the while dealing with a shady Government organization.
GTA V proves that despite facing serious competition from newer, fresher games the Grand Theft Auto universe still remains the uncrowned king of the open-world genre.
In the end, I’d just like to add that the three masterpieces mentioned above are based on both this scribe’s personal experience with these games and as well as on the opinions of gaming pundits. Don’t be mad if there might have been some honorary mentions I’ve missed out on because it’s impossible to fit everything in a list of three.