The recreational driving experience is as much about the car as it is about the backdrop. Same way video games have evolved into an experience that is as much of a form of entertainment as it is a form of art. In that spirit, in the last few years, we have witnesses some open world automotive video games which blend the passion for cars and detailed, beautiful scenery into driving experiences which can not only immerse you for hours, but even continue almost at full speed in real life and fuel your appetite for exploration.
Open World Automotive Video Games and 3rd Person Shooters
3rd person shooters have long strived to offer multi-dimensional, highly versatile action, and after shooting, driving usually constitutes the second most central part of this experience. Not only do some of these games allow you to do incredible stunts and shoots and drives, but can also spark some very real wanderlust you could satisfy with very real road trips.
One of GTA’s strongest attributes has always been its boundless maps. Roaming them with any car their hearts desired, so many kids have got their first taste of the New York City and some of its most iconic boroughs, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. And while this first taste might have been spiced with countless killings of prostitutes and insane stunts, it has also been a drive for many to visit those places in real life and feel like their favorite characters.
With the radio being your best companion on your long “business” trips, it’s no wonder that so many people associate actual songs with GTA memories.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 is based in a fictional representation of California and San Francisco, and fizzing across The Golden Gate Bridge has never been so fun or unpunishable. The map is very expansive, and so is the list of cars you could explore it with. You could easily spend hours driving from concrete jungles to the signature Californian countryside, hills, and sea, listening to the radio, taking all the details in, not to mention pulling off some crazy movie-esque stunts by using your robust hacker skills.
Just Cause 3
The way JC3 art director Zach Schlappi describes his creation simply goes to show the thought and imagination that goes into creating an open world of such beauty and caliber:
“For Just Cause 3, we wanted a sort of new location, and no one has tackled the Mediterranean in the way we saw it… There are some great dusty environments, and you get some of that hot hazy feeling, those beautiful emerald waters, and those great big skies. It seems like a great area to lay waste to, because it was so beautiful.”
“If you look at any picture of the Mediterranean you see blue skies, wheat fields, and a lot of lavender. If you look at all our concept art there is a constant color theme of golden ochre versus teal blue. It’s always those two complementary colors bouncing around.”
“We have five different biomes and they all have their own palette feel. Each one has an identity. There is an air of exploration and expanse as people travel the world. We have two different coasts. One that is brutal with jagged rocks and deep sea cliffs, and the other is very smooth and sandy where all the tourists go. As you wander further inland you have the pastoral areas, which are full of fields of lavender and sunflowers like in Italy or Spain. That adds a sense of the human element to the game; this is a place where people live. It also creates a contrast for the scrublands which is like the Mediterranean wild west, which is full of industry and deforestation. Beyond that you have the forest, which are full of mystery and have a smokey atmosphere. Finally, players will approach the icy mountains. So players have this full sense of progression of all representations of water, from mountain snow to watery coasts.“
For those with a sweet spot for urban Asia, and Honk Kong in particular, with Sleeping Dogs you can immerse yourself in authentic, busy streets, lit by an Asian feast of night lights and overarching little lanterns.
The dystopian, boundless desolation where Mad Max roams is not exactly the kind of place you’d hope to drive across in real life, just because you wouldn’t be driving for fun, but for survival.
However, the world where the game unfolds is really something to behold, one you could truly get lost into in every sense of the word. The sandy landscape instills some paradoxical sense of freedom, like a post-apocalyptic Nevada desert, or even Mars, which is as harsh and unadorned as it is otherworldly beautiful.
We’re lucky, because similar places do exist in real life, and the best part is you could take them in knowing that there’s civilization waiting for you on the other side.
Not to mention Mad Max has spectacular gameplay and mechanics, one of the best road carnages you could ever dream of.
Open World Automotive Video Games and 1st person shooters – Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 is for those who want to drive around tropical islands that look as if they’ve come out of a postcard or one of those inspirational posters that circle around social media. The game is interlaced with beauty throughout, from the sparkling turquoise waters, to the distant outlines of lush mountains and jungles, to even the little Hawaiian woman toy, gently swaying next to your wheel. The driving is also 1st person, which also makes for a different kind of gaming experience.
All those details really make for a beautiful and authentic action-packed island adventure.
Open World Automotive Video Games and Racing
Forza Horizon 3
Set in Australia, Forza Horizon 3 is a driving wonderland. You race amidst green jungles, you pass through dirt mountain roads which descend into dark caves and finally lead you to mesmerizing hidden bays which make even the most beautiful beaches seem ordinary and generic.
Forza Horizon 4, on the other hand, takes advantage of the seasonal diversity of Britain and the colors it comes with.
Need for Speed Payback
If you’ve grown up daydreaming about the unmatched freedom of driving across those endless American highways that wreathe around infinite desert landscapes and fiery mountains, Need for Speed Payback will make your dreams literally flash before your eyes. The game is gorgeous, as simple as that.
Video games are some of the most multi-dimensional works of art there is. If you tend to think of cars in a similar way, those open world automotive video games will take you on a ride unlike anything you’ve ever embarked on. They blend speed, stunts, beauty, and exploration into a concoction whose aftertaste will keep fueling your travel and automotive spirit long after the game has finished.