Most gamers love a gorgeous open world but in the case of video game maps, bigger doesn’t always mean better.
While I have actually done a list here covering off on the biggest of the big open world maps in video games, we were really only interested in the numbers there. Here, we’re more concerned with covering off on quality as opposed to quantity. In fact, we’ve collected 10 open world maps that are an absolute joy to run around in, even if they’re pretty tiny in comparison to most other maps out there.
Just because they’re little, though, doesn’t mean we love them any less. In many cases it’s nicer to have a flawless smaller space than a larger one that doesn’t feel nearly as rich or detailed.
10. Prague - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I promise we’ll stop mentioning all the things Deus Ex gets right when we happen upon a list it isn’t so relevant to that we’d be remiss not to include it.
While some took issue with the fact Mankind Divided could be beaten in a modest 20 to 30 hours, other were glad to see it burn bright while it lasted and not outstay its welcome. The same could be said for its map of Prague which absolutely prioritised quality over quantity. Though the game more accurately consists of a collection of small open world map areas and not one consistent open world, it has all the hallmarks of why tiny open worlds can be so great. It capitalises on less space to deliver more detailed environments that give you more to do and deep side quests to stumble on. Each area oozes character, and conveys such richness in their sense of place that they feel totally immersive.
This is a perfect example of what people mean when they talk about game worlds that are a joy to explore because of incredible world design.
You want to do every little thing because just existing in the game environment feels exciting. Eidos Montreal designed Mankind Divided’s hub world of Prague deliberately small so players would always be surrounded by something interesting, and there would be no need for boring copy, paste buildings just to make the city more sprawling. It’s an ethos that leaves you with a world you can and want to properly take in, peppered with environmental storytelling and plenty of delicious lore tidbits.