Open-world games are not just about endless exploration. A great storyline makes such a title even better. Having said that, the combination of an immersive narrative and engaging combat mechanics is not something offered by the majority of open-world titles out there and has only been seen only in a handful of gaming products so far.
Here are some open-world games that have brilliant storylines but fall short when it comes to combat.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.
GTA 3 and 9 other great open-world games with weak combat
1) GTA 3 (2001)
Popularly known as GTA: Liberty City, GTA 3 changed the face of open-world adventure games when it came out. There is no doubt that this particular title is a legendary one in video game history. It was perhaps the first open-world game that let players spend hours just driving around freely, killing innocent civilians.
The storyline is perfect, and it laid the foundation for future titles in the series. It truly was the beginning of something special. However, the combat mechanics in the game had some serious problems. The shooting was really messy, and cars blew up if a single bullet hit them at the right spot, which was crazy.
Despite such poor shooting mechanics, the open world of GTA 3 is fun, engaging, and addictive enough that players can revisit it for a good time. Even after two decades after its launch, this particular open-world title remains relevant.
2) Fallout 3 (2008)
Fallout 3 was the post-apocalyptic first-person shooter franchise’s first 3D open-world venture. To a great extent, developers Bethesda Studios did a fantastic job of showcasing an environment devastated by nuclear warfare. The story in the game is full of things for players to discover. Also, they can get to meet some well-made characters as they progress along the storyline.
However, just like the previous Fallout editions, combat in this title somewhat falls short as the movement doesn’t feel realistic enough. Moreover, the overall combat mechanics feel a little overcomplicated at times.
It must be admitted that since this open-world game came out, Bethesda Studios has refined its combat mechanics a lot.
3) Assassin’s Creed II (2009)
Many gamers still consider Assassin's Creed 2 to be the best title in the series. Centered around the Renaissance era in Italy, the open-world environment is fun and engaging, and the storyline is simply unmatched. Moreover, the main protagonist, Ezio, is a lovable character with a backstory that is hard to neglect.
That said, aside from the riveting storyline, the combat in this open-world game feels a bit dragged out. The moves that Ezio performs during combat tend to become repetitive at times. However, it is worth noting that Assassin’s Creed II was made with an outdated engine a decade ago.
The long-running franchise’s eleventh major installment, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018), shows how much Ubisoft has refined its combat mechanics since then.
4) Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Fallout: New Vegas was the post-apocalyptic franchise’s next major installment after Fallout 3. This time around, Bethesda teamed up with Obsidian Entertainment to develop the game. The end result was one of the most underrated and thought-provoking storylines ever created in first-person shooter history.
Though the open-world game offers a brilliant narrative and probably some of the most interesting missions in the Fallout series, the combat features too many glitches and bugs, taking away from the gameplay and preventing players from enjoying the storyline.
5) Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Developed by BioWare and published by EA, Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third major title in the Dragon Age franchise. The title takes players on a journey across the vast open world of Thedas, which is suffering from a mysterious breach in the sky that spawns dangerous demons.
This particular open-world game offers a fascinating storyline that lets players customize their characters' physical appearance and choose from a variety of races, including Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Qunari. Dragon Age: Inquisition has many mini open-worlds within the mainland of Thedas as well.
Even with a captivating storyline, this action-adventure offering was never popular due to its combat system. The combat in Dragon Age: Inquisition feels flashy at times, and the open-world game offers a rather odd mix of strategic and real-time combat, which can leave some players disappointed.
6) No Man’s Sky (2016)
Developed by Hello Games, No Man’s Sky offers one of the biggest open worlds seen in gaming so far. It’s a massive space exploration survival title that has more than 18 quintillion explorable planets auto-created by AI. In other words, it’s an entire universe in itself.
The open-world game is so mind-bogglingly massive that even if a gamer plays it their entire life, it would still not be enough to even explore 10 percent of the content on offer. Each and every explorable world is procedurally generated and features unique habitats and alien wildlife.
Providing endless possibilities in terms of exploration, this particular open-world title has divided the gaming community. Some say the game’s combat and tasks become repetitive and boring after a while. Moreover, for a sci-fi space-exploration survival game that offers an entire universe, the weapons, as well as the combat, are surprisingly weak.
If the developers considered making combat more dynamic and diverse, then the title wouldn't feel lacking in that department.
7) Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)
The Mass Effect series features BioWare and EA’s take on a military sci-fi adventure. The franchise depicts a distant past where humans and other intelligent alien civilizations have made contact and are busy colonizing the entire universe.
Mass Effect: Andromeda was the franchise’s fourth major title, and the game takes players to the 29th century. They take on the role of a rookie space explorer looking for new habitable worlds for the human race.
Despite having an admirable storyline, Mass Effect: Andromeda’s combat ended up being disappointing. It, as is the case with some other titles on the list, becomes repetitive as players make progress in the storyline.
8) Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 was a huge success as an open-world game, combining praiseworthy gameplay with an outstanding narrative. The company had put a massive amount of effort into the details and realism the title offers.
While the developers did manage to provide one of the most beautiful open-world environments, the combat left something to be desired. Red Dead Redemption 2 is easily one of the slowest action-adventure games out there. The movement is sluggish, and the third-person gunfights feel outdated, complicated, and heavy at times.
9) Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)
Cyberpunk 2077 was the most anticipated open-world game for a long time. After nine years in development and around four years of build-up and hype, the title was finally released in December 2020, featuring the futuristic, neon-lit Night City.
Cyberpunk 2077 has a beautiful world and an even better storyline that offers multiple possible endings depending on the decisions players make as they play the story. When it comes to gameplay and combat, the game is fraught with glitches and bugs.
10) Deadly Premonition 2 (2020)
Directed by Hidetaka Suehiro, Deadly Premonition 2 is a horror survival game whose open world resembles that of one of the stalest television series, Twin Peaks. However, as soon as the title was released, it was able to garner a cult following due to its quirky storyline and story ending.
This open-world game is only available to Nintendo Switch players, and its overall gameplay and combat have some serious issues. Deadly Premonition 2’s frame rates are one of the worst seen in any video game in recent memory, dropping as low as four or two FPS on occasions. Plus, the game’s combat mechanics are poor and full of glitches.
Furthermore, the first title in this particular open-word game series had some cool weapons that the players had to collect, but in Deadly Premonition 2, players have to craft them from scratch.