The Results Are In: Here are your favorite open-world franchises.

By: Steve Zachmann, contributor

Last week we asked you what your favorite open-world game series was.  So…what did you all decide?  Let’s get into it

  1. The Elder Scrolls

It’s not terribly surprising to see TES at the top of this list.  Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim are all known for being some of the best open world games in the genre.  Presenting some interesting variation in landscape, gameplay, and quest choices, The Elder Scrolls is a pretty fitting choice for the number one spot.  When you add in mod support those games can get even more spectacular, both mechanically and graphically (the “turn all dragons into Randy Savage” mod is my personal favorite for in-game immersion).

  1. Fallout

So if The Elder Scrolls is number one then Fallout has to be number two right?  I mean, in many ways they’re the same games.  Ok, they’re not, but the underlying engine is the same.  The games share a lot in terms of look and feel.  Fallout adds some interesting combat depth with the V.A.T.S. system but they’re still pretty similar.  I enjoy both franchises, so seeing them one and two is pretty cool.

  1. Grand Theft Auto & The Witcher

I think GTA is a fantastic open-world series, but I wonder if it might suffer from a bit of fatigue.  While you could argue that both The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are pretty similar with every iteration, at least they have the crutch of sci-fi and fantasy to fall back on.  Grand Theft Auto being presented in a modern day city makes it a little tougher.  We all live in the modern world already so once the initial novelty of blowing up helicopters and riding motorcycles on skyscrapers wears off, what we’re left with is a world very similar to our own.  For my money, it’s a testament to just how good the series is that a game like GTAV can be considered one of the best games of the year after so many iterations.  You would think that at some point the formula would get tired but the writing and design at Rockstar Games consistently delivers a fantastic product.

The Witcher, on the other hand, is a series that’s really been making a name for itself recently.  Setting a new bar in open world games, the series seeks to give The Elder Scrolls a run for it’s money in the fantasy open-world genre.  Hopefully Geralt’s most recent adventure will help push the genre as a whole in some cool new directions.

  1. Final Fantasy, Guild Wars, The Legend of Zelda

    Guild Wars 2

I’m actually glad that Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda got some props.  I was reluctant to put either of those on the list as neither is traditionally known as an open world game.  They both are when you think about it though.  Zelda, in fact, is probably the very first open world game.  It was nice to see Guild Wars get some love too, especially when GW2 does so many things right when it comes to world exploration.

  1. Minecraft

I don’t know how I feel about Minecraft’s position on this list, to be honest.  On one hand, I feel like it should be number one with a bullet.  It’s open-world taken to the absolute extreme.  In none of the other franchises mentioned can you tunnel down into a dungeon and the bore the entire thing out, collecting all the stone and ore that made it what it was.  On the other hand, Minecraft presents nothing in the way of story or quests, and not a ton in terms of gameplay depth.  What’s more, though the world is completely open, none of it looks terribly different.  Yes, there are many different biomes, but once you’ve seen them all, seeing a second one isn’t super exciting.  Without the variety of environment or variance in gameplay I suppose it’s hard to argue with it’s position.

  1. The other entries.

None of the other entries got any votes.  In a couple of cases that saddened me.  Terraria specifically is a fantastic game, and one that I think deserves some credit.  I’m also inclined to give a little nod to Assassin’s Creed on the merits of Black Flag alone.  I also think that the sheer insanity of Just Cause might merit a mention.  Still, votes are votes, and you guys chose the franchises that you love.