Open world

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In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can explore and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear gameplay.wikipedia
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Grand Theft Auto III

GTA III8-BallChatterbox FM
While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since. The game's large interactive environments, wealth of options, level of detail and the scope of its urban sandbox exploration has been compared to later sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels, Sega's own Yakuza series, Fallout 3, and Deadly Premonition.
The open world design lets players freely roam Liberty City, consisting of three main islands.

Nonlinear gameplay

branching plot linenon-linearnonlinear
An open world is a level or game designed as nonlinear, open areas with many ways to reach an objective.
Some games feature both linear and nonlinear elements, and some games offer a sandbox mode that allows players to explore an open-world game environment independently from the game's main objectives, if any objectives are provided at all.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth'' seriesShadow of Mordor
Other games that use this approach include Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Monolith Productions and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Far Cry

Far Cry ClassicFar Cry'' seriesJack Carver
This has been derogatorily referred to as "Ubisoft towers", as this mechanic was promoted in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series (the player climbing a large tower as to observe the landscape around it and identify waypoints nearby) and reused in other Ubisoft games, including Far Cry, Might & Magic X: Legacy and Watch Dogs.
The following games in the series have used a Ubisoft-modified version of the CryEngine, the Dunia Engine, allowing for open world gameplay.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

fourth installmentMass Effect 4
Gameplay designer Manveer Heir, who worked on Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect Andromeda for Electronic Arts, said that there are difficulties in the design of an open-world game since it is difficult to predict how players will approach solving gameplay challenges offered by a design, in contrast to a linear progression, and needs to be a factor in the game's development from its onset.
For Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare incorporated a lighter tone than previous installments in the series, utilized open world elements, and placed an emphasis on exploration.

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed'' seriesAssassin's Creed: The Ezio Collectionvideo game franchise of the same name
This has been derogatorily referred to as "Ubisoft towers", as this mechanic was promoted in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series (the player climbing a large tower as to observe the landscape around it and identify waypoints nearby) and reused in other Ubisoft games, including Far Cry, Might & Magic X: Legacy and Watch Dogs.
Main games of Assassin's Creed are set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective where the protagonists take down targets using their combat and stealth skills with the exploitation of the environment.

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs //n/Dark CloudsWatch_Dogs Soundtrack VinylWatchdogs
This has been derogatorily referred to as "Ubisoft towers", as this mechanic was promoted in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series (the player climbing a large tower as to observe the landscape around it and identify waypoints nearby) and reused in other Ubisoft games, including Far Cry, Might & Magic X: Legacy and Watch Dogs.
Set in a fictionalized, free-roam, open world version of Chicago, the single-player story follows hacker Aiden Pearce's search for revenge after the killing of his niece.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the WildKass' ThemeLegend of Zelda
Other games that use this approach include Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Similarly to the original Legend of Zelda (1986), players are given little instruction and can explore the open world freely.

The Sims

SimsThe Sims'' seriesfranchise
It is what made SimCity and The Sims compelling to players.
The games in the Sims series are largely sandbox games, in that they lack any defined goals (except for some later expansion packs and console versions which introduced this gameplay style).

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto'' seriesLiberty CityLos Santos
Similarly, being able to freely interact with the city's inhabitants in Grand Theft Auto added an extra dimension to the series.
Gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engaging in side activities, all consisting of action-adventure, driving, third-person shooting, carjacking, occasional role-playing, stealth and racing elements.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

OblivionElder Scrolls IV, The: OblivionElder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
SpeedTree is an example of a developer-oriented tool used in the development of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and aimed at speeding up the level design process.
The game continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely.

Ultima (series)

UltimaUltima'' seriesUltima series
The overworld maps of the first five Ultima games, released up to 1988, lacked a single, unified scale, with towns and other places represented as icons; this style was adopted by the first three Dragon Quest games, released from 1986 to 1988 in Japan.
Ultima is a series of open world fantasy role-playing video games from Origin Systems, Inc. Ultima was created by Richard Garriott.

Hydlide

Hydlide 3: Yami Kara No HoumonshaHydlide II
According to Game Informers Kyle Hilliard, Hydlide (1984) and The Legend of Zelda (1986) were among the first open-world games, along with Ultima.
Hydlide is a open world action role-playing video game developed and published by T&E Soft.

Invisible wall

invisible walls
Games with open or free-roaming worlds typically lack the invisible walls and loading screens common in linear level designs.
Nevertheless, designers might add invisible walls on cliffs to keep characters from falling off or use them as final borders of large open worlds, to make the world appear even larger than it actually is.

Wasteland (video game)

WastelandWasteland'' (video game)
Wasteland, released in 1988, is also considered an open-world game.
Wasteland is a science fiction open world role-playing video game developed by Interplay and published by Electronic Arts in 1988.

Procedural generation

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Procedural generation refers to content generated algorithmically rather than manually, and is often used to generate game levels and other content.
Many open world or survival games procedurally create a game world from a random seed or one provided by the player, so that each playthrough is different.

Sid Meier's Pirates!

Pirates!Pirates! GoldPirates
The strategy video game, The Seven Cities of Gold (1984), is also cited as an early open-world game, influencing Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987).
Pirates! is a single-player, open-world game.

Iron Soldier

Quarantine (1994) is an example of an open-world driving game from this period, while Iron Soldier (1994) is an open-world mech game.
Iron Soldier is a open-world first-person mecha simulation video game developed by Eclipse Software Design and published by Atari Corporation for the Atari Jaguar in North America and Europe on December 22, and later in Japan on March 24,.

Role-playing video game

role-playingRPGrole-playing game
Others trace the concept back to 1981 CRPG Ultima, which had a free-roaming overworld map inspired by tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons.
Though sharing fundamental premises, Western RPGs tend to feature darker graphics, older characters, and a greater focus on roaming freedom, realism, and the underlying game mechanics (e.g. "rules-based" or "system-based" ); whereas Eastern RPGs tend to feature brighter, anime-like or chibi graphics, younger characters, turn-based or faster-paced action gameplay, and a greater focus on tightly-orchestrated, linear storylines with intricate plots (e.g. "action-based" or "story-based" ).

Super Mario 64

Mario 64スーパーマリオ64
IGN considers Nintendo's Super Mario 64 (1996) revolutionary for its 3D open-ended free-roaming worlds, which had rarely been seen in 3D games before, along with its analog stick controls and camera control.
As an early 3D platformer, Super Mario 64 is based on open-world playability, degrees of freedom through all three axes in space, and relatively large areas which are composed primarily of true 3D polygons as opposed to only two-dimensional (2D) sprites.

The Seven Cities of Gold (video game)

The Seven Cities of GoldSeven Cities of GoldSeven Cities of Gold, The
The strategy video game, The Seven Cities of Gold (1984), is also cited as an early open-world game, influencing Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987).
It is considered to be one of the earliest open world video games.

Emergent gameplay

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Since players may perform actions that the game designer did not expect, the game's writers must find creative ways to impose a storyline on the player without interfering with their freedom.
Sandbox game

Fallout 3

Fallout 3: Game of the Year EditionFallout 3: The PittV.A.T.S.
The game's large interactive environments, wealth of options, level of detail and the scope of its urban sandbox exploration has been compared to later sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels, Sega's own Yakuza series, Fallout 3, and Deadly Premonition.
Fallout 3 is a post-apocalyptic action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.

Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition: The Director's CutDeadly Premonition Directors CutDeadly Premonition The Director's Cut
The game's large interactive environments, wealth of options, level of detail and the scope of its urban sandbox exploration has been compared to later sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels, Sega's own Yakuza series, Fallout 3, and Deadly Premonition.
Deadly Premonition is an open world survival horror video game developed by Access Games.

Elite (video game)

EliteElite PlusElite'' (video game)
Procedural generation also made it possible for the developers of Elite, David Braben and Ian Bell, to fit the entire game—including thousands of planets, dozens of trade commodities, multiple ship types and a plausible economic system—into less than 22 kilobytes of memory.
It has been named as one of the most influential games in history, and has been credited as being the first truly open-ended open world game and opening the door for future online persistent worlds such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and EVE Online.