The Most Realistic Open-World Games

Highlights

  • Open-world games offer immersive experiences with realistic environments, detailed characters, and interactive gameplay.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Mafia: Definitive Edition are examples of games that excel in creating realistic worlds and engaging NPCs.
  • Grand Theft Auto 5, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered also showcase impressive recreations of real-world locations with attention to detail and authenticity.

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When describing a game using the term ‘most realistic,’ it’s essential to define in what way a game is realistic. With open-world games, the terrain, the quality of game assets, NPCs, and interactivity all play a role in realism.

Related: Open-World Games With The Best Side Quests

Video games can immerse you in a variety of locations and times in history, from medieval Bohemia and the late 19th century American West to a modern metropolis inspired by Los Angeles. When developers can create believable environments, you connect to the characters and game world. Realism is challenging to replicate, and some titles succeed better than others.

10 Red Dead Redemption 2

Arthur Morgan rides horse in town in Red Dead Redemption 2

The developer Rockstar worked for years to deliver the ultimate Wild West experience with Red Dead Redemption 2. The vast map includes several biomes, from snowy peaks and sprawling plains to deserts, tropical islands, and even the bayou.

Animals and NPCs are plentiful and behave in realistic ways. You’ll notice meticulous details, from the dense forests to the congested streets of Saint-Denis. The townsfolk you encounter feel almost like real people as they react to your character naturally.

9 Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Approaching a fort town in Kingdom Come Deliverance

This gem comes courtesy of Warhorse Studios and recreates an accurate depiction of medieval Bohemia. Kingdom Come Deliverance includes villages, castles, and lush forests that bring the early 15th century to life.

Related: Most Realistic Games Set In Medieval Times

You’ll notice authentic clothing, armor, and weapons throughout for a very immersive experience. You will encounter thieves in the forests during travel and struggle to fend off more than one at a time. Your character can’t sustain much damage and will bleed if cut during battle, resulting in a slow death unless bandaged.

8 Mafia: Definitive Edition

Tommy angelo in lost heaven back alley next to car with other gangsters mafia definitive edition-2

Mafia: Definitive Edition is a remake of the classic game from the early 2000s. Developer Hangar 13 did a fantastic job crafting a realistic 1930s city inspired by Chicago. The buildings, vehicles, clothing, and dialog transport you back to the time of organized gangsters.

The streets are full of NPCs and other vehicles busily going about their days as you rise in the ranks of the Salieri crime family. Areas like back alleys, the docks, and even a remote countryside farm appear realistically.

7 Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5's Franklin looking over the Los Santos skyline

You can’t mention open worlds and realism without including Grand Theft Auto 5. Developer Rockstar crafted an immense city and county inspired by Los Angeles, California. NPCs are everywhere, and downtown streets feature crowded traffic.

NPCs react to the behavior of your character. If your character brandishes a gun, pedestrians will scream, put their hands up, or even run away. The immersion in this game comes from how the environment changes based on your choices.

6 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

a wide shot of smoke rolling off London rooftops in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate with a view of St Paul's cathedral in the distance

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Released
October 23, 2015

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate offers a wonderfully recreated version of late 1860s London. The horse-drawn carriages, clothing, and period-accurate expressions are spot on. The game doesn’t shy away from the industrial influences of the time, like districts of factories with tall brick smokestacks.

The River Thames winds through the map with barges and other water traffic present. The cleanliness of the water is also suspect at best. Major London landmarks are also present, with manicured gardens and distinct neighborhoods.

5 Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

Spider-Man facing the camera and swinging at speed in New York in Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

Developer Insomniac Games created one of the most fully realized versions of New York City with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. The map is massive, and rightfully so due to your character Spider-Man traversing quickly swinging from his webs.

Related: Best Open-World Horror Games

The hundreds of buildings are unique and not just a cut-and-paste job to fill out the map. There are several real-world landmarks included, from Central Park to Hell’s Kitchen and more. Each area offers details like unique graffiti that feels intentional instead of random.

4 Watch Dogs 2

overlooking the san francisco bay at the waters edge watch dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2

Released
November 15, 2016

Developer(s)
Ubisoft Montreal

Ubisoft took its hacking open-world series to the West Coast with Watch Dogs 2. Experience a comprehensive recreation of the San Francisco Bay Area. With contrasting regions like Marin, Silicon Valley, Oakland, and San Francisco, you experience a variety of locations.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice NPCs have more complex patterns that help create immersion. Pedestrians carry on entire phone conversations, some spill their drinks, and groups of friends gather for photos. You can even stumble upon events in the world, such as weddings.

3 Test Drive Unlimited

Saleen cornering on a windy road test drive unlimited-1

This title launched in 2006 and was impressive on several fronts. Developer Eden Games created an entire island with around 1,000 miles of road inspired by O’ahu, Hawaii. At its core, it’s a racing game, but Test Drive Unlimited offers so much more.

Go shopping, purchase a home, or cruise around the majestic tropical paradise. It set several precedents for the genre and offered more freedom than ever before. Though the game has aged in the years since launch, it still provides some visual treats and plays brilliantly.

2 Far Cry 5

NPC Fishing With Their Dog In Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 departed from the series that previously took place in exotic locations like the tropics or the Himalayas. This time, you’re in rural America, thrown into a vast mountainous region known as Hope County, Montana. This fictional county includes winding roads, small towns, and plenty of plaid shirts.

Many characters feature country folk stereotypes but remain grounded enough to immerse you in the environment. While it is a first-person shooter, you can also hunt, fish, and chat with the locals at the town bar.

1 Call Of The Wild: The Angler

spain reserve mountain river call of the wild the angler

Developer Expansive Worlds has created some of the most stunning outdoor environments inspired by northwest Wyoming, Norway, and Spain. Using its Apex-Avalanche Open World Engine, Call of the Wild: The Angler allows you to experience the backcountry in vivid detail.

The game offers a realistic fishing simulator with many variations of rods, baits, and lures. There are also strategies for catching specific species. You have the freedom to explore a massive environment filled with accurate vegetation and brimming with animal life. The day/night cycle also showcases behavioral changes in the animals.

Next: Best Open-World Games On Steam

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