Rockstar Games has consistently set the bar for open-world design since the launch of GTA 3 in the early 2000s. Pioneers in the gaming world, their maps were indeed something to behold and became the golden standard for any and all developers striving to build open world cities.
Over the years, many studios have tried to replicate Rockstar's GTA formula for success, but few have succeeded. Here are five games that have genuinely amazing open-world cities that match the fidelity of GTA 5's Los Santos.
Five great open-world cities as good as GTA 5's Los Santos
5) Sleeping Dogs (Hong Kong)
Released in 2012 and arguably still beautiful today, Sleeping Dogs' Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant and alive open world cities that players can explore.
Instead of going for a vast open-world design, the developers focused on staying true to the claustrophobic nature of some of Hong Kong's streets packed with street vendors and a ton of people. The result is a true-to-life map that feels spectacular to walk through.
4) Just Cause 3 (Medici)
Square Enix's third entry to the Just Cause franchise was met with mixed feelings as the game was released in an unfinished and buggy state. Despite all the crashes and performance issues, the developer salvaged the title after a few post-launch patches and truly let the game shine.
Just Cause 3's Medici is genuinely spectacular in scale and variety, offering amazing landscapes that vary from seaside towns to urban settlements.
3) Yakuza 6 (Kamurocho)
What Yakuza 6's Kamurocho lacks in size compared to GTA 5's Los Santos, it makes up for in density. The streets of Kamurocho can only be explored on foot, and every single street corner is packed with detail.
Players can walk into virtually any building to find anything from an internet cafe to a hidden underground fighting ring. Yakuza's Kamurocho has felt alive since its first iteration, and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio continues to innovate with each iteration.
2) Spider-Man Miles Morales (New York City)
One of the most visually stunning titles to be released in recent years, Spider-Man Miles Morales' New York is a sight to behold. Armed with Ray Tracing capabilities thanks to the PS5, Insomniac Games pulled out all the stops and built the best version of New York in a video game yet.
The sense of verticality in the game is also unparalleled, with no other title coming close to date. While GTA 5 didn't have the luxury of launching during the Ray Tracing era, that could change with the upcoming Expanded and Enhanced edition for next-gen consoles.
1) Watch Dogs 2 (San Francisco)
Ubisoft's second entry to the Watch Dogs franchise fixed many of the issues that prevented the first from genuinely taking off. Replacing Chicago is San Francisco's vibrant streets and open expanses.
Ubisoft truly managed to capture the essence of San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2 as the city feels alive no matter where the player chooses to explore.
Note: This article reflects the author's views.