Gabe Hawkins
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Virginia
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What game's world was the most fun to explore? What did you like about it?
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Simon Woodward
New Zealand
Hamilton
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That's easy:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Firstly you could explore anywhere (because climbing), and there was stuff to find everywhere too. Also it was beautiful and welcoming.
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Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
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Psychonauts - Each area was so wholly different, not only in theme but in mechanics, that every time you go to a new mind it's like unwrapping a present. It helps that the world is hilarious.


honorable mention - Katamari Damacy - the smoothness of the exploration as well as exploring the same area at different sizes lets you see the same world in a whole different light as you come back again and again larger and larger.
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Aaron Tubb
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Fuquay Varina
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I have the most fun exploring immersive sim-ish games, like the Deus Ex games or the newer Hitman games.

My favorite is probably STALKER, though. The environments feel very authentic and realistic.
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
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A touch match between Breath of the Wild of World of Warcraft. They were equally fun to explore, from slightly different perspectives. Breath of the Wild had something everywhere to find, and you could climb around everywhere. World of Warcraft could present you with an impossible area, that was wonderful to explore once you reached the level. Also, World of Warcraft (vanilla) had a few areas you could glitch into (a dungeon near Kharazan and the entire Mount Hyjal area) that were absolutely wonderful to get into.
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Lee Dyke
England
London, England.
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Has to be The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

I say this over The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim simply because you start off in the sewers/underground. So when you finally emerge into the world and daylight, I found myself in awe of everything and where to go, randomly picking flowers, fighting mud crabs and looting what would be ultimately useless junk such as clay pots and weird ingredients...

I visited every dungeon looting full armour sets of each type, reading lore books and notes, exploring bandit camps and ancient ruins.

I will admit now by Skyrim I'm a little tired of Dwarven Mines though.

Honourable mentions;
Mass Effect
Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Dragon Age
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Kyle
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Up Nort' Der
Wisconsin
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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is excellent. There's so much variety and depth throughout that entire world.

It's open enough that you can drive/fly like a manic all you want, but if you go slower, almost everywhere on the map you can go there's something interesting to do - minigames, hidden items, or just fun places to explore.

It's also not so overwhelmingly huge that it takes days to get anywhere. With a fast enough vehicle you can get from just about any point on the map to any other in 5-10 minutes of real time - and much less if you find an aircraft.
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Ryan S
United States
Dallas
Texas
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Skyrim was a lot of fun to explore. It felt like I kept finding interesting things to do wherever I went.

Spider-man PS4 has lots to do, and it's a lot of fun to web swing around the gorgeous city.

Far Cry 5 was a lot of fun to drive and fly around in.

Saints Row 3 and 4 had fun worlds to explore and cause trouble in.
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maf man
United States
endeavor
Wisconsin
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zelda wind waker for me as I have yet to play breath of the wild. It did a good job of having an expansive world but still making it obvious where you should and could go. Exploring aimlessly seemed to be the right work to reward ratio. Plenty of RPGs have just OP rewards for a massive amount of extra difficult work.

world of warcraft before all the info dump/ add on integration and subsequent demand of efficiency. I still remember leveling and just walking into trouble, or taking some slightly marked way to find myself in a mysterious looking area that had no purpose, or seeing an island off in the distance and just going for it. So much love and work went into that world, it was just nice to appreciate it.

my last mention is Golden Sun. One of my top games because of how they handled the world building. Exploring was always fun in a way much like how I mentioned for zelda. Many *secrets* were obvious (perhaps its better to call them skipable puzzles) and exploring never took too long. And they did a good job of making the exploitable world believable. Less "only the one true hero can solve this forest puzzle" and more "oh hey, look at that. you bothered to go off the beaten path and you got a nut"
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Sam K
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Arizona
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I enjoyed exploring the world(s) of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. If I'm not cheating about exploring multiple planets, I also liked exploring in the Mount & Blade games.
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Caroline Berg
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Washington
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the steep cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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Honestly, I love the random procedural world generation of Minecraft more than many other worlds. Traveling around to find that ideal spot with melons and berry bushes and sea turtles and pumpkins... mapping it out by first gathering the ingredients needed to make a map.

The world of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar was also amazing to explore because I'm so familiar with the lore outside of the game. It was awesome to visit those places in the game world - to go to Rivendell, to find that spot in the mountains with a perfect sunrise... to travel along the named rivers... it was pretty great.

I would like Skyrim more if it had different biomes like Oblivion did - even though Oblivion's were often unfinished (I'm looking at you swamps, with your searchable plants that were empty because they never finished creating the alchemical ingredients you could get from them!)
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I've found that I don't typically value exploration in games. Regardless, every once in a while, I find some random game thirty to forty years old in my collection that is an action\adventure game of some sort like Hydlide (3/10), Beyond Oasis (6/10), ActRaiser (6/10), or Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood (5/10) and its sheer obscurity and age create a rather surreal experience. The disconnect from the modern tropes of gaming make exploration feel more rewarding because the world doesn't really make sense in the way polished games are expected to nowadays.

In some fashion it is frustrating because you have to push at the game and try to figure out what it wants with minimal conveyance. In other ways though, it brings to mind the magic of gaming when I was a kid: There aren't really rules, and anything could be the answer.
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John Middleton
United States
Washington
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I'm gonna second The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is by far the most full a game world has ever been.

I'm also enjoying the heck out of Final Fantasy XV, or as we call it in the house: Final Fantasy: State Parks. It has been fun to see how they took many of the final fantasy environments we all expect and made them look plausible.
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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Skies of Arcadia because you could fly around and explore freely.
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Ryan Ahr
United States
South Carolina
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Fallout New Vegas. I know I've gone on and on about this game, but the world is so lived in, and everything has a story lurking behind it. Also, I've found a close second recently: the Pillars of Eternity games. It's no coincidence that both New Vegas and PoE games were created by Obsidian. PoE's world of Eora combines the best elements of Forgotten Realms quality fantasy lore and New Vegas's subtle, dark sense of humor (it's not as prevalent here but it's definitely still there, and is great at sneaking up on you) and is absolutely immersive. PoE II was even more immersive for me because of the incredibly well fleshed out high seas theme. I often forgot what I was doing while tooling around a vast ocean listening to my crew sing pirate shanties (those shanties and the rest of the soundtrack are now in my digital collection; thank god for GoG).
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Jennifer Hanses
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Connecticut
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The Secret World

It's an MMO with the original game consisting of 3 locations divided into 3 load points. The first is an island off the coast of New England (I was living in the area at the time, and I felt they did a good job of capturing the spirit), the second is Egyptian desert (because who doesn't like Egyptian ruins?), and the third was Transylvania/Post-Cold War Easter Europe (this one was a bit more depressing than fun in my opinion). And then later DLC added Kaidan in Japan (also super cool). There are also hubs for each secret society, I believe they were slices of London, New York, and Seoul. And then there's the magic interdimensional tree connecting everything, which is pretty cool.

One of the things that made exploring this world particularly fun was gathering all of the random lore bits scattered everywhere and the great NPCs, each with their own stories that tie in to the quests.

Discworld Noir

It's my favorite game, it had to be on the list. I love Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and this game captured Anhk-Morpork with a gritty noir feel perfectly.Not much wandering in this game, but I don't care.

The Long Dark

This is a survival game set in rural Canada during some sort of apocalyptic pole magnetic crisis affecting the weather and turning the world to permanent winter. I find the solitude of the sandbox mode oddly soothing, with the wind whipping over the snowy hills and the graphics that are a love letter to Canada.

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Simon Woodward
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Hamilton
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middletonner wrote:
I'm gonna second The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is by far the most full a game world has ever been.

I'm also enjoying the heck out of Final Fantasy XV, or as we call it in the house: Final Fantasy: State Parks. It has been fun to see how they took many of the final fantasy environments we all expect and made them look plausible.
Can you explain about the "final fantasy environments". I've played only a few FF games and I didn't get many references while running around State Park.
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Simon Woodward
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+1 for Elder Scolls OblIVion, I really did like running around in that game too. I thought the dungeons were very atmospheric. And I loved the countryside music.
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Evan Hill
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Morrowind- Fascinating world, my biggest problem is I would rather just explore and talk to people than do the main quest.

Darklands- Open world, semi randomized, historical fantasy in the huge Holy Roman Empire. A equal mix of overland travel, Text events/city exploration, and real time with pause combat let you do an amazing amount of different things in a ridiculously large world. Theres so much to discover, its the only game I will not reference a walkthrough on if I get stuck... Needless to say I still havent finished .

Shadow Tower- You are exploring a dungeon, you can see about 3 feet in front of you, now figure out how to get to the bottom. I like the mystery, whats down there in the dark?

PS1 Tomb Raiders- How do I get up there? sums up my love for exploration in Tomb Raider.

















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BioShock's setting..aka "Rapture"...what an incredibly interesting, fascinating, mesmerizing place.
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Oh and Sigil, city of doors/portals, from Planescape: Torment.
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Simon Lundström
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Täby
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mafman6 wrote:
world of warcraft before all the info dump/ add on integration and subsequent demand of efficiency.

You said it. That really killed the game. When I played last, I had to go through all these troubles to shut off all the "flashing neon signs towards everything that remotely had to do with the current quest". The game all but wanted to teleport me to the destination and then teleport me back.

I loved just randomly roaming Kalimdor before the game started to info-dump the shit out of everything.
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the steep cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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MeteorBear wrote:
Morrowind- Fascinating world, my biggest problem is I would rather just explore and talk to people than do the main quest.
It definitely is! If the center of the island wasn't a blighted wasteland, it would be higher on my list of favorite worlds to explore!
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Alex
Canada
Saskatoon
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I love games with large interesting worlds to explore. My favourite would be Brittania, of the Ultima series. It's the most alive, player-independent world I've seen, without exception. The best instance of Brittania is probably the version from the fan-created Ultima V: Lazarus mod of Dungeon Siege, although the game itself is uneven and on the whole probably not as good as Ultima VI or VII.

There's so many other great worlds to explore in games, though. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (for its time – it had so many plot-optional caves and hidden locations to discover), the setting of King of Dragon Pass, Morrowind and Skyrim, Baldur's Gate, Pool of Radiance, Dragon Age: Origins… So many interesting worlds to explore.
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Chris McDermott
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For me the games with huge worlds that I enjoyed exploring were - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Asheron's Call.

I'm sure there are others but those spring to mind first.
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