Pioneered by GTA III and slowly rolled out across everything from Monster Hunter to Mad Max, gaming's most prevalent and influential lightbulb moment of the 2000s literally changed everything we thought we knew about game design. Suddenly it wasn't necessary to create defined 'levels' or linear stretches of setpiece-filled shenanigans, developers could build worlds, entire planes of existence that you can pretty much live in for hundreds of hours at a time. Rockstar would go on to set the benchmark with the detail of their environments (although The Witcher 3 certainly gives it a run for its money), whilst other devs like Bethesda experimented with A.I. routines and item-based crafting systems to really see how many different 'things' you could do, redefining the very idea of what a 'game' really is. So, when you match the lofty ambitions of the genre with the biggest budgets seen in gaming history so far, it results in many of the finest open-world games of all time. However, what makes a truly great open-world game? From mission design to player agency, dynamic events and license to experiment with the your character's abilities, let's find out.
10. Just Cause 3You could tell from the debut footage of JC3, that Avalanche Studios were doubling down on their biggest selling point; whopping great, ludicrously smoggy explosions. As such, the name of the game is literally going to dictate how much time you put into it - how long can you enjoy blasting the living daylights out of everything, just 'cause? Outposts can be overtaken, character Rico now comes with a sweet wingsuit to glide around the islands themselves (a weight and propulsion-based physics engine meaning it takes a pleasant amount of time to master), and missions are geared around giving you the biggest guns possible every time. The main issue with Just Cause is in its repetition. If you already played upwards of 20, 50 etc. hours of the previous two, there's not a whole lot more to see or do than drink in shinier versions of all the same spectacles you already know and love.