Almost all genres of video games available out there feature some form of exploration elements because they are an essential part of the gameplay, making the players feel free to go where they want and recreating the illusion of reality. In today’s video we tried to include not only the big open world RPGs that have huge worlds you can explore, but also the little gaming titles that try to breach the market with uniquely emotional gameplays, innovative ideas and challenging tasks the players must complete. They often offer a more courageous approach to the whole idea of exploration, taking us into mind bending adventures. But let us see what are the best 10 games that let us discover new worlds, be them material or only inside the mind.
An open world-survival with a non-linear gameplay, The Forest takes place on a deeply forested island where the player-character and a child, that we are made to believe is his son, are the survivors of a plane crash. There are no quests or predefined missions, the players being able to decide how they will manage their supplies in order to survive and be strong enough to hunt down the cannibal who stole his son when the plane crashed. The Forest evokes an utterly isolated atmosphere, with a day and night cycle that makes the storyline become even more terrifying especially after the sun goes down and you have no fire to protect you. The fact that you need to constantly search around for supplies, explore dangerous areas and finally unveil secret locations on the island is yet another plus of this game.
Astroneer is a sandbox game where the players don’t really have any specific tasks to do or goals to achieve, the gameplay being based on pure exploration. There are no dangerous enemies to be faced but some obstacles such as dust storms or falling from high places could kill your character, also your oxygen supply must be replenished from time to time since the game takes place on another planet. The core of the gameplay is based on terraforming, a specific technique that allows the player to modify the surrounding land however he or she wants. An in-game 3D printer enables the players to create useful tools and all kinds of necessary objects. Even though Astroneer doesn’t set any specific goal, you can see how varied it is in terms of gameplay.
The Long Dark
After a geomagnetic disaster affected the whole world, a crash pilot needs to survive the harsh winter of the Canadian wilderness by exploring vast zones, scavenging and hunting. The game has only minimal HUD elements that inform the player about their state of health, being notified when they are hurt, freezing or starving. The main objective of the game is to survive as much as possible, a permadeath system making the players restart a new game if they die, the save file being permanently deleted. The Long Dark is often praised for the authentic atmosphere it evokes and the weather conditions that force the player to adapt his lifestyle to the environment while exploring and searching for food or shelter.
A first-person adventure exploration video game, Gone Home’s gameplay focuses on searching each and every corner of a mansion in Portland, Oregon. Through different notes and written messages, the player, taking the role of Kaitlin, unveils countless secrets about her mother, father and 18 year old sister that vacated the house due to unknown reasons. Along the way, more and more pieces of information will come together and everything will start to make sense, Katie being able to find out why her family left the house as well as some unwanted dark secrets from the past. Gone Home is entirely about exploration, finding uncomfortable truths and, ultimately, getting to know a bit more about the human nature.
The Stanley Parable
With no combat and no action-based sequences, the player guides Stanley, the game’s main character, through a dreamlike environment, while the exposition is narrated by a mysterious voice. The player can decide which paths to choose and because sometimes the narrator tells us what Staley will do next, you can choose to follow the instructions or to completely ignore them, forging a new way for yourself. Regardless of the choices the players make, they will be remarked by the storyteller in the quirkiest way possible. The Stanley Parable has six possible endings, the gameplay being focused on decision making and exploration of the human mind frame and how it works when faced with choices.
Far Cry 3
Having a change of pace and moving from peaceful exploration to something with a bit more action, Far Cry 3 offers numerous hours of entertainment with its open world elements that perfectly mix with the first-person shooter perspective and the result is a glorious amalgam of sheer adrenaline. Jason Brody is stranded on an island after his vacation goes awry and his friends are kidnapped by pirates, his task being to save them and escape together unharmed. Besides taking part in missions, gaining skill points and killing enemies, players appreciate Far Cry 3’s exploration options that take them to paradisiac sceneries. The gameplay, as well as the storyline, are extremely well implemented, resulting in a one of a kind experience.
In Antichamber the player controls an unnamed character as they wander through levels filled with impossible objects created by the game designer. Passages that lead to diverse locations depending on which way they face, laser beams that are used as mechanisms that open or close different doors and many other contraptions that would seem impossible within a regular tridimensional space are included. The main goal is to use the colored guns you are provided with at some point in the game and find the way out from this extremely challenging maze. Antichamber is, in fact, an anti-game that forces the player to renounce all preconceptions, think outside the box and find solutions where there seem to be none.
In Fallout 4 you are free to complete quests, help out different factions, gain experience points to level up but you can also explore the desolate sceneries of a world in full destruction. In the retro-futuristic universe that encompasses a region that includes Boston, Massachusetts and other parts of New England known as “The Commonwealth”, the player is able to wander through a world that very much resembles the 1940’s and 1950’s. Fallout 4 is especially esteemed for its dense gameplay content, the depth of the world rendered and the many possibilities the players have while exploring and completing missions. It definitely is one of the greatest games of the decade and continues to fascinate gamers every day.
Henry is a fire lookout in the Shoshone National Forest and after one month of working there a string of weird events begins to unfold. Both he and his supervisor Delilah are affected by these mysterious happenings that ultimately lead to a larger conspired mystery that happened a few years back. A major part of the gameplay is represented by exploring the surrounding environment on foot, Henry being able to use a walkie-talkie to talk with his supervisor through the dialogue choices available in the game. Firewatch has been particularly appreciated for its gameplay cohesion, the rich forest environments that can be explored and the overall feel of isolation it relies on.
Skyrim – With all the Mods
Pretty much any Open World RPG offers its fair share of exploration, but it seems Skyrim is favored by many gamers when it comes to roaming freely through the world and especially with the myriad of Mods you can install, you can feel like you’re playing a different game every time. Its vast open world offers innumerable forests, villages, cities and taverns you can venture into and the fact that you can indefinitely postpone the main storyline and ignore the quests enforces the idea of pure exploration even more. Skyrim is most certainly one of the most complex gaming titles where the players can find exactly what they’re looking for: combat, romantic relationships or hours and hours of long walks across the hypnotizing sceneries.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Do we really have to explain? If you haven’t played it yet, you’re an idiot. It’s amazing.