Open World: 4 Of The Best Ways To Explore The World Through Video Games

A plane flying over the city of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V

Virtual Tourism. It’s a term that has been cropping up more and more in video game discussions as of late: as graphics improve and open worlds are designed to be bigger and more detailed than ever before, the idea of visiting and exploring real-world places in our video games is becoming increasingly desirable.

But what games do it best? Which games offer the most comprehensive and detailed ways of virtually exploring your favourite real-world locales? Join us as we help you plan your next video game getaway!

Manhattan, Spider-Man (2018)

Spiderman hanging from a building, as he looks over the city. From the Spiderman game on PlayStation 4

Source: Insomniac Games, Sony

New York is no stranger to open-world game interpretations: countless open-world games have chosen to use the Big Apple as their setting over the years, dating back as early as Liberty City in the first Grand Theft Auto game.

Perhaps the most expansive, accurate and most visually impressive version of the City that Never Sleeps, however, can be found in Spidey’s most recent video game outing. Spider-Man has been swinging through open-world NY since the much beloved Spider-Man 2, and of course, Ultimate Spider-Man featured the island of Queens, but the PS4 game world is leaps and bounds above either of those.

Spider-Man’s representation of Manhattan features a host of painstakingly-recreated landmarks and famous buildings from the real world city, brought to life with an impressive scale and gorgeous graphics. So, next time you’re swinging through the mean streets of New York, perhaps you should take a break from beating up supervillains and try taking in the scenery a little!

Ancient Egypt & Greece, Assassin’s Creed: Origins & Odyssey (2017 & 2018)

The main female character from Assassin's Creed Odyssey speaking to another non-playable character

Source: Ubisoft

Fancy a trip back in time? The Assassin’s Creed series has a long and storied history of accurately recreating real-world locations in historical time periods. Unimaginable amounts of research goes into making the open worlds for each game in this series, so why Origins and Odyssey specifically? Two words: Discovery Tour. Yes, while each game in the AC series is worth your time for the exploration aspect alone, the Discovery Tour feature in the two most recent games makes them stand out.

Discovery Tour takes out all of that pesky assassin-ing and places the focus squarely on the game’s world. Taking a more educational angle, players in this mode can learn real, actual history about these parts of the world – just like taking a tour in real life, just with much better visuals!

Los Santos (Los Angeles), Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

A main character from Grand Theft Auto 5 on a balcony looking over the city of Los Santos

Source: Rockstar Games

We’ve been to the East Coast, so let’s head west. Los Santos first featured as part of a larger map in 2004’s San Andreas, but we’ll be focusing on the version featured in Grand Theft Auto V here. GTA V’s satirical version of Los Angeles and its surrounding countryside is a diverse and vast playground for the player to run rampant in, in classic GTA style.

But, should you decide to forego the car chases and bank heists, Los Santos still has a lot to offer. From a quiet night time dog walk on the beach to a leisurely drive through the countryside, GTA actually has a lot to offer for the less violently-inclined gamer.

Los Santos may be a fictionalised version of LA, but it’s still very much a faithful recreation. Famous landmarks are remade with slight tweaks but are still very much recognisable. If you wanted a taste of what it’s like to visit the City of Angels, you could do much worse than a trip to Los Santos.

Kamurocho (Kabukicho), Yakuza Zero (2018)

A screenshot from the city of Kamurocho in Yakuza Zero

Source: SEGA

We’re going back to a historical setting with this one, although not nearly as far back as the AC games. This time, we’re off to the neon-lit streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo in the 1980s. More specifically the Kabukicho district, or Kamurocho, as it’s known in the Yakuza games.

Since Kabukicho is a reasonably small district, Yakuza’s version is near enough dead-on in terms of its scale and layout. When you’re not kicking the snot out of thugs and throwing bicycles at rival Yakuza members, you’re free to explore Kamurocho to your heart’s content: take in a round of bowling, play some classic Sega games at the arcade, and so much more.

A modern-day, and therefore more accurate Kamurocho also features in the other Yakuza games, but the seedy hustle-and-bustle of the city in the 80s just makes it that little bit more interesting. Yakuza Zero also features an equally accurate version of the Dōtonbori district, known in the Yakuza-verse as “Sōtenbori”. Regardless of which district you choose to explore, and in which time period, Yakuza should be your go-to for a virtual visit to Japan.

So, what’s your favourite game world to relax in and engage in a bit of open-world virtual tourism? Leave your thoughts in the comments! While you’re here, why not take a look at our YouTube Channel here or watch the video below about Virtual Tourism!

MORE: 2020 Assassin’s Creed to be a Sequel to Origins?

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Written by
Hi, I'm Dan! I was born in the late 90s, so naturally I grew up with all the fantastic games that came out during the PS1 and PS2 era. Now I love all games old and new, but I'll always have a soft spot for that part of gaming history!

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