With the state of the world today, with every person you meet on the street a potential danger, these are very uncertain times. Despite being very old indeed, I cannot remember a time like this, where our freedom is curtailed for the good of everyone.
However, the need for relaxation is still there, and this got me to thinking. If I can’t go out, what games could I play that will bring the great outdoors in here to me? Thus a germ (if you’ll pardon the pun) of an idea formed, and I began to think about which games would make my list. And here, for your reading pleasure, please allow me to present to you the “Five Greatest Gaming Worlds To Play While We Can’t Go Out IRL” list – or just some of the best games with the biggest worlds for you to really get lost in.
These are presented for your consideration in no particular order, and please don’t be shocked if you don’t see Red Dead Redemption 2.
Minecraft is one of the greatest time sinks I know of.
There’s nothing better than loading up a blank world, a completely blank canvas, and then trying to either survive in the wild, or playing in Creative mode to just build whatever takes your fancy. It only takes a brief scan of YouTube to see some of the truly amazing creations that people have made, sinking hundreds of hours into some truly staggering builds.
For me, the beauty of Minecraft is the fact that it is completely free-form; the game doesn’t demand that you do anything in particular apart from find somewhere to sleep and something to eat in Survival mode. Whatever you want to build, be it a simple log cabin or an enormous castle, it’s entirely down to you, and your friends should you invite them. Sadly I can’t do this, as the people that I used to invite to my world would spend more time laughing and setting fire to things than actually building. I still remember how proud one of my friends was to tame a horse, and how sad he was when I set it alight with flint and steel.
Still, I am very impressed with the way that Microsoft has decided to help the nation’s school children with Minecraft, releasing worlds based on the International Space Station, for instance, helping with the education of our children. Being able to look around replicas of things like the ISS is a great way to show children what we are trying to teach them in a very visual way.
I just wish they’d released it before my son and I had to make a diorama of the ISS out of cardboard!
Ghost Recon Wildlands / Breakpoint
The Ghost Recon games – specifically Wildlands and Breakpoint – are worlds that you can truly get lost in, with miles and miles of terrain to explore. Even in a helicopter, it takes a good few minutes to fly across the map, and with stunning countryside, ranging from the beach and swamps to the high mountains, the urge to look around is very strong.
With lots of locations to discover, gun parts and weapons to find, and side missions to stumble upon and clear, the beauty of these games has been the sheer amount of things to do. My guilty pleasure is just to slope off into the boonies and look for trouble, finding enemy patrols to take out, discovering houses to search and gear to grab, picking a point on the horizon and trying to walk to it.
Even the wildlife in these games is pretty cool, and spotting (and maybe once in a while shooting) the deer and wildlife that floats about the place is very entertaining. If you can’t go outdoors in real life, the game worlds found in both Ghost Recon Wildlands and Ghost Recon Breakpoint are a pretty good replacement.
Skyrim (Elder Scrolls V)
Skyrim is another one of the living, breathing worlds that has been created on the Xbox by Bethesda, with the other that sticks in the mind being the world of Oblivion.
However, with Skyrim, Bethesda really nailed what it is to have a world that doesn’t seem to have any need for a player; it really feels like whether we are there or not, the world will continue without us. With believable characters (even werewolves and vampires) and villages and settlements that ran nicely, whether we were watching or not, the environment is another world that it is possible to lose yourself in for hours on end.
Walking up to High Hrothgar, to the Throat of the World, was an example that sticks in my mind, with a very long stroll up about 11 million steps before getting to our goal. With another of the worlds where you could pick a spot and walk to it, and hundreds of locations to find, from cities to tombs crawling with Draugr, there is again so much to do that it’s almost impossible to get bored playing this game.
Final Fantasy 12
Final Fantasy 12 was a bit of a departure for the series, featuring a series of interlinked areas that could be walked to. It was entirely possible to take a stroll starting in Rabanastre, before wandering off into the desert and popping up in any one of a few locations.
While the world wasn’t one continuous area as it was in, say, Skyrim, it was still a good variety of screens, split apart by a loading screen. However, with a good sense of direction it was possible to navigate to where you needed to be.
With some truly nasty monsters lurking in the wilderness, along with certain marks that would only appear if the weather was right, there was certainly a lot to do alongside the main story. It was also a great way to get yourself levelled up and ready for the rest of the game, and a little light grinding never hurt anyone!
Fallout 3 / 4
No, not Fallout 0.75, I mean that either Fallout 3 or Fallout 4, or indeed New Vegas, fit into the category of “game worlds big enough to get lost in”. And again, they fit the pattern of having many, many points of interest, and a good range of side missions to find and complete.
And more to the point, exploring an irradiated wasteland is kinda like what I see when I go on my government permitted one hour of exercise. Seriously, walking the streets is a weird scene these days, with people being few and far between, and if a fellow exerciser is spotted, one of us has to cross the road to avoid any chance of social interaction. I dread to think what would happen if these people were armed with pipe pistols, for instance.
So, there we go – these are my top five game worlds to lose yourself in. There were a number of honourable mentions that didn’t make the cut though and I’d like to mention those here. The Witcher 3, for instance, has an expansive world, as do any of the Borderlands titles. You could easily include Assassin’s Creed Origins or Odyssey too, and Diablo 3 (and to a lesser degree Path of Exile) had tons of content in smaller worlds, but some great story telling to drag you along. Further still, alongside the Ghost Recon titles we could have had either of the Tom Clancy’s The Division titles, and both of these are a little bit close to home, what with a story about a global pandemic wiping out the majority of the world’s population and lots of deserted, destroyed cityscapes to explore. Again, it’s a bit like looking out of the window here in Nottingham!
I’m sure that there are many more game worlds that can take us away from our current troubles though, so why not let us know in the comments which are your favourites?