Because of the exploration, open world games are a fascinating genre, and these titles have done an excellent job with those mechanics.
All open-world games include some type of exploration mechanic. After all, it’s one of the genre’s main gameplay components; players must be encouraged to see everything the game has to offer and be incentivized to visit even the most remote regions of the world. What’s the point of making a big, open universe in the first place?
Many sandbox games get crammed with map markers that immediately point out all the quests, collectibles, enemy locations, and NPCs worth chatting to, giving players the impression that they’re ticking items off a checklist rather than getting to know a detailed, lived-in environment. Some games, on the other hand, expertly integrate environment exploration with gameplay, producing an immersive experience in which every nook and corner demands to be explored.
Despite the fact that it was released in 2011, Terraria’s 2D sandbox remains unrivalled by countless similar games to this day. Much of what makes this game unique is due to Terraria’s unique exploration mechanics and the freedom with which players can explore new areas of the globe.
Terraforming is one of the best instances of Terraria’s unique approach to exploration. The game allows players to destroy, rearrange, and mould the surrounding terrain to their taste, which leads to the discovery of new places and secret content. It’s similar to Minecraft in that way, but because it’s 2D and Terraria’s universe is finite, exploration in this title frequently feels more significant.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt captivated the world upon its initial release in 2015. It won numerous accolades and was rightfully hailed for its painstakingly built open world and a compelling tale centred on the players’ decisions. The world and plot of The Witcher 3 are distinct, and so is the way one explores that world. While the landscape in The Witcher 3 is similar to those of other popular open-world games. The player’s reasons for exploring the world are not.
Whereas in previous similar games, players visit uncovered locations because of a map or a quest sign directing them there. In The Witcher 3, there is nearly always a plot or lore reason to visit that site. The majority of the exploration in that game isn’t done solely for the purpose of obtaining a specific piece of gear or completing a quest; rather, players venture into the unknown to learn the backstory of a specific location, or uncover hidden lore that adds an additional layer of meaning to the events that shape the game’s setting.
No Man’s Sky
To say Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky had a rough start would be an understatement. After its first release in 2016, the game was heavily criticised. Primarily because it gave a bare-bones version of the experience promised by Sean Murray and his crew. However, seven years later, it can be claimed that the game has fully realised its potential. Thanks in large part to the wanderlust-inducing, randomly generated galaxy with innumerable worlds begging to be explored.
When players land on one of these planets, they can build their own base, mine for resources. And learn about the unique creatures and flora that exist on each surface. The process of charting each new planet is exciting and inspirational. There aren’t many games that combine exploration so effortlessly and successfully as No Man’s Sky.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Given that the flight simulation genre is considered a somewhat specialist area of games. Microsoft Flight Simulator’s success is all the more astounding. When it was published in 2020, the easy-to-learn but difficult-to-master flying game caught the world by storm. And it is still loved by thousands of players today.
What makes Microsoft Flight Simulator’s universe so distinctive and addictive is that, unlike practically every other game out there. This flight sim lets players to explore nearly the entire real globe. The game uses Bing Maps to create its settings, and while it isn’t a 1:1 copy of planet Earth. It’s close enough for many players to fly by their house or visit real-world spots they’ve always wanted to see.
Ghost Of Tsushima
Sucker Punch’s 2019 PS4 exclusive got well-deserved plaudits upon its initial release. Ghost of Tsushima’s stunning recreation of Tsushima Island in 1274, paired with fluid, rewarding fighting mechanics, was engrossing in and of itself. But its open-world provided another degree of immersion thanks to the game’s innovative navigation system.
Unlike most other open world games, where players are guided to their next task or area of interest by a map marker or dotted lines appearing on the ground, Ghost of Tsushima directs players across the world via gusts of wind that blend perfectly into the environment. The game’s user interface was severely constrained, but it nonetheless plainly led one directly to their purpose. Making exploration feel perfectly spontaneous despite being a pre-planned, highly thought-out experience.
Subnautica: Below Zero
Subnautica: Below Zero, like its predecessor, is an open-ended game that forces players to actively seek out its story. While it may also be played as a simple survival sim, the main campaign of Below Zero is well worth experiencing. Especially given how much more serious and fleshed-out the plot is than in the first Subnautica.
Exploration is an important part of the action in Subnautica: Below Zero. But it doesn’t mean players will be able to travel to the most remote parts of the map right away. The game needs you to continuously learning about its underwater world as you explore it. And then use that information to move further, create additional bases, and proceed through the main story.
Elden Ring definitely doesn’t need an introduction given the buzz and praises it earned in 2022. Everything that made FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series so successful was almost flawlessly adapted into the open-world paradigm.
When it comes to exploration, one of the best things about Elden Ring is the lack of hand-holding. Except for Merchant locations and Sites of Grace, there are almost no map markers in the game unless they were established by the players. The novelty of Elden Ring’s exploration techniques resides in Basket Random game’s many aspects of surprise, as players stumble upon items like the Siofra River Well or the Grand Lift of Dectus, seemingly out of nowhere, unlocking a whole new enormous area.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is absolutely unique in terms of open-world design and organic exploring mechanics. The first Zelda game for the Nintendo Switch, like Elden Ring. Does not overcrowd its map with innumerable markers and indicators of what to do. Instead, it allows the players to select and emphasise spots of interest on their own. Creating a sense of wonder and excitement.
Aside from allowing players to explore the landscape as they see fit, Breath of the Wild uses its physics engine to encourage combining different elemental reactions while adventuring, which frequently leads to the discovery of new places or secrets. Finally, the game’s main quest’s open-ended nature encourages players to explore as much of the environment as possible before finally confronting Ganon in Hyrule Castle.