5) Just Cause 2 (400 sq miles or 1,036 sq km) –
Everything seems to be ‘Utopian’ with Just Cause 2 – starting from its fluid gameplay, vertical action with grapple hooks, gleefully destructive ambit, and the most important factor of all – the massively open-world of Panau, a fictional island nation presumably located somewhere in Southeast Asia. Avalanche Studios did many things right to improve this game over its predecessor, and it surely did work out for the developers – with Just Cause 2 accounting for more than 6 million sales. And, the best part is – we might just see the third iteration of the series somewhere around the corner, given the developers’ passion in pursuing the project and Square Enix’s (who were the distributors) interest in continuing the series.
4) Asheron’s Call (500 sq miles or 1,295 sq km) –
Sometimes claimed as the third major MMORPG to be released in the realm of video games, Asheron’s Call from 1999 was also among the first games to adopt 3D ‘seamless’ environments for a fantasy setting. Considering all these pioneering features, the game-world of Asheron’s Call ditched the usual fantasy tropes of elves, dwarfs and orcs; and instead, developer Turbine Entertainment opted for their indigenous factions and their capabilities. However, the most impressive part about the role playing game is that its servers are still on and running after 14 long years of the initial release (for comparisons sake, World of Warcraft with its 80 sq miles world, is just 10 years old).
3) Test Drive Unlimited (618 sq miles or 1,600 sq km) –
The ninth main installment from the long running Test Drive series, Test Drive Unlimited does give some weight to the ‘unlimited’ suffix in its name. That is because this open-world arcade-style racing game from 2006 features over 125 licensed sports cars and motorbikes – all of which can raced with, on an expansive map that is half the size of Rhode Island. Interestingly, the terrain of this open-world setting is modeled after the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu, and this intricate virtual rendering (created with the help of real-time satellite images) supposedly features over 1,000 roads and highways – grandiosely connecting rain forests, mountains and the paradisiacal sandy beaches of Honolulu. As expected, the reception to the game was positive, with its current 82 Metascore and enviable average user-score of 8.
2) Fuel (5,560 sq miles or 14,440 sq km) –
While Test Drive Unlimited accounted for half of Rhode Island’s area, the Fuel open-world racing game developed by Asobo Studios (and published by Codemasters) from 2009, is equal to the FULL area of Connecticut. In fact, the Fuel still holds the Guinness World Record for the largest console game in terms of playable area, with a breathtaking 5,560 sq miles of open-world. Oddly enough, the setting was ‘set’ on a post-apocalyptic world, with dynamic weather effects and accelerated day-night cycle. Unfortunately, the sheer size didn’t make for epic gameplay, with criticisms mainly directed at the game’s clumsy racing mechanics and AI, bundled with the unfulfilled reward system pertaining to the various unlocked areas.
1) Guild Wars Nightfall (15,000 sq miles or 38,850 sq km) –
All the coasts, mountains and ancient cities of the Nightfall (a standalone expansion for Guild Wars) are washed with a tinge of African and Arabian influences. Anyhow, cultural and folkloric inspirations aside, the game boasts of a whopping 15,000 sq miles of open-world that is almost double the size of countries like Israel! And this time around, bigger actually meant better, with the Nightfall gaining the attentions of critics and players alike – mostly for its open-ended nature along with adept instancing and excellent script-writing. When translated to figures – the expansion flaunts its solid Metascore of 84 and a notable user score of 8.6.
Honorable Mentions –
1) According to Bethesda, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall covers around a whopping 161,600 sq km, or 62,394 sq miles – though the map is randomly generated. Anyway for comparison’s sake, Skyrim is just around 16 to 20 sq miles!
2) The Lord of the Rings Online developed by Turbine, Inc. (who have a penchant for creating vast game worlds, as seen in the case of Asheron’s Call) in 2007, is touted to be 30,000 sq miles (or 77,700 sq km) in size. Though there is some confusion about it being the pre-rendered size of the map. Interestingly, an article in New York Times gives the figure of the LoTRO map at around 50 million sq m or 50 sq km.
3) On the other hand, the procedurally-generated Minecraft is theoretically claimed to be infinite in size, while practically it MIGHT account for 8-times the size of Earth.