The open world genre appeared before the HD console generation. The Grand Theft Auto The series might be the biggest example on PS1 and PS2. However, the technology built into the Xbox 360 and PS3 has made it easier than ever to create grand open worlds bigger than anything gamers have ever seen before.
Some of these games helped create franchises that are still alive today while other examples helped the genre evolve into something more. The simple question is what were the best open-world games that came out in the PS3 era? There are plenty of choices to name in a single breakdown, but the following examples are essential experiences that still hold up well today and are definitely not to be missed.
8 Assassin’s Creed 4 The Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed 4 The Black Flag is the best game Assassin’s Creed series during this generation, as it gave fans more than just land to explore. Naval battles appeared before this entry, but they were central to black flag.
The mechanics worked just as well as the stealth gameplay and counter-combat. There was plenty to see and explore through the ocean waves. Sequels attempted to recapture the dread of sailing around the world, but none came close to succeeding.
seven Batman: Arkham City
The first game of the Batman: Arkham the series was a surprise success because it was a good Batman game besides being a good 3D Metroidvania. Games based on superheroes were rarely good until now, but this series changed everything for the better and ushered in a new era of superhero games.
Batman: Arkham City expanded the gameplay scope of the original and placed Batman in an open world. It was what every sequel should strive to be. The world was bigger, there were more iconic villains, and the fight was much tighter. Years later, it’s still a joy to play on the original hardware or through remastered ports.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is a game that needs no introduction or hype to get people on board. It debuted in 2011 and has graced almost every console since then. There’s even a way to play the full game in VR and that’s a good version too.
Each version of the game is an experience in its own right, but one thing is certain: Skyrim changed the way developers made open-world games because it was like the blueprint minus all the glitches. There are bigger open worlds now, but, again, this game changed everything and arguably made those bigger experiences possible.
5 Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is another game from Bethesda that changed the gaming industry. It brought the classic top-down RPG series into a more modern era. The 3D worked well enough, and while janky, it was fun to shoot the ever-loving sinful raiders, mutants, and other savage creatures.
It’s amazing that this game, and its sequel New Vegasnever received remastered editions, unlike Skyrim, which has already obtained several. Maybe this RPG shooter is more niche than Skyrim but there’s certainly a dedicated group of gamers who swear by this one.
4 Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a throwback to the more classic RPGs of the PS1 era. It was also modernized, allowing players to run around the battle arena even though it was a turn-based RPG and was therefore limited by many associated limitations.
The world was absolutely huge and was littered with side quests and fun little creatures called Familiars that players could recruit like the Pokemon series. Few RPGs from this era tried to be as old school as this one and succeeded. It’s also just a fantastic game visually thanks to the Studio Ghibli-inspired designs.
3 Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption was the first major open-world Western in quite some time. It was a genre that was everywhere in the 8-bit era but kind of died with cowboy movies in the 90s. It could be described as Grand Theft Auto with horses but it was so much more than that.
The story took more risks, and the ending had a surprising twist that no one apparently saw coming. This is another game from that era that doesn’t have a remastered version which is really confusing. red death at least got a sequel in 2018, which was also a fantastic open-world game.
2 Saints Row: The Third
Saints Row: The Third is the best open-world city game released in this generation. PS2 Grand Theft Auto the games had serious tones but were overall goofy adventures by the end. The balance was good but that balance died during the HD generation and the Saints Row the series saw an opportunity and ran with it.
There are too many crazy things to go through that make this the most memorable entry in the Saints Row series, like transforming into a toilet and savagely firing uzis at enemies. It’s been hard for the series to top that masterpiece since then, with the 2022 reboot falling flat by comparison.
1 sleeping dogs
sleeping dogs is a gritty detective story, also set in an open-world city. What sets it apart from other games of its ilk are the martial arts combat and general Asian influences. It’s like a John Woo movie without the director getting involved.
It’s amazing that this game was built on the bones of the very average true crime series which, like Saints Row, started life as a GTA clone. Fortunately, Square Enix saw the potential and helped get the game back on track with the help of United Front Games. Unfortunately, it never received a sequel, but the remaster was a decent consolation prize.
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