Video games thrive off having a fun world to explore. No one wants to run around in a boring or empty world with nothing to do or look at. For plenty of games, that means giving you a world to explore that's deep and detailed, or even just bloated with activities.
Of course, that isn't the only way of making your map interesting. For some, it can result in the whole map changing in some dramatic way. This could be areas changing, some destroyed and added, or even just some visual representation of the mark you've left on the world.
10 Elden Ring
Oh, Elden Ring. It's a game that still hasn't left the lips of its many fans even now. It's a beloved, renowned title that serves as a culmination of FromSoftware's Soulsborne style of design. Bringing their brand of gameplay to an open world proved a winning combination.
They didn't stop at that though. From's games have always had some world-altering event that shifted the world. Elden Ring has at least two of these: When you defeat Radahn, and a giant hole opens in Limgrave, and when you burn the Erdtree, the embers raining across every region of the world.
9 Destiny 2
Bungie is made up of some of the earliest people in the FPS genre, especially on home consoles, and they've made an incredible career out of it with the likes of Halo and Destiny. Destiny has had a rough run, shifting and changing over the years until Bungie got full control of the series themselves.
With that control, they've implemented a rather dramatic form of storytelling. With each season and expansion, the universe changes dramatically. Planets get locked off, new enemies appear, and the skybox changes with even the hub and characters that exist. It truly is an evolving world.
8 Pokemon Black And White
When you talk about Pokemon in more recent years, it's hard not to think about all the controversies, from performance woes to graphical quality. Scarlet and Violet is at the forefront of that, but back in the pixel era, Game Freak had a bit more confidence (and time) to try some fun ideas.
Black and White are great examples of this. They have seasons that change each month, altering what pokemon spawn and the whole appearance of the world. In Winter it can even snow, causing mounds and freeze lakes to let you reach new areas.
7 Nier Automata
Everyone has heard of Nier Automata at this point, with 2B having quickly become one of gaming's most iconic characters. Automata is known for its diluted world, deprived of almost all organic life, and its stylish combat that you'll likely feel guilty for having so much fun with.
One major aspect of the game is how its world changes. For a brief period, the city section is in ruins and overgrown, until Engels (the machine, not the philosopher) crashes into it, destroying the majority of it. It opens up a whole new section of the game as well, rather than just removing what was already there.
6 Hollow Knight
Celebrated as one of the best Metroidvanias there is, Hollow Knight has an unmistakable vibe. It's cold and melancholic, with glimmers of hope shimmering through a world left in ruin by beings that fashioned themselves as gods.
On top of already having a great in-game map, the actual map you travel through goes through some major changes, too. Eventually, the corruption spreads further through Hallownest, blocking off old routes and introducing brand-new infected enemies.
5 Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Although Fire Emblem is a series likely much older than you'd think at first glance, Three Houses shot the series into the limelight in a way no previous game had. Having you choose a house to follow, Three Houses has you grow alongside your students, training them to become soldiers of war. Not at all morbid.
The choice of your house is a dramatic one, altering the route your campaign takes. This is important as it means some battles will be shared post-time skip, though the means are different. Gronder Field is turned to flame while allied with Dimitri or Claude or ignored entirely with Edelgard. Plenty of other maps are shared too, but with very different layouts and contexts depending on your route.
Arkane has little competition in the AAA space when it comes to immersive sims, yet they still love pushing the envelope with each new game they release. Dishonored is one of their crowning jewels in that regard, a world that feels unparalleled in terms of atmosphere.
Core to the experience of Dishonored is the chaos system, whereby the world reacts to your actions. Murder at every opportunity, and plague will spread and guards increase. Move through levels like a shadow, and you'll find fewer guards and a population less on edge. This determines the placement of plenty of things, and even if whole rooms are accessible or not.
3 Death Stranding
Kojima likes to hype up his studio's works quite a bit, but Death Stranding is unique in AAA games for actually trying something brand-new in almost every aspect of its game design. Many games are built in a 'the end justifies the means' kind of way. Death Stranding is absolutely about the friends you made along the way.
That said, it's not all walking packages back and forth, threats exist all over the map. The map is altered in two massive ones. One is individual. If a BT eats Sam or another human, a void out is triggered that causes a massive crater in the world. The other requires collective action. All those little dirt pathways are made by players walking across the map in the same way, literally beating a path into existence. It can even flatten out terrain if walked enough.
2 Dragon's Dogma
It's hard to start off describing Dragon's Dogma because there's simply nothing else quite like it. Though inspired by Western RPGs, it's not quite equitable to any of them. It's a character-action game in many ways and a story-based adventure with a custom party in others. It all melds to create something that is truly the sum of its parts.
The actual map of Dragon's Dogma isn't wildly unique or even all that big, but it's packed with character. That is, until the credits roll. The world is hit by a cataclysm and locked in an eternal period of darkness. The capital of Gran Soren even falls to ruin, with half of the city consumed by the gaping abyss that's opened up beneath it.
1 Ocarina Of Time
Ocarina of Time needs no introduction, being one of the most iconic entries in the Legend of Zelda series. It was the first 3D entry in the series and brought with it many of Link's most iconic gadgets and the series' beloved use of instruments.
Taking place across the timelines of both Young and Adult Link, you get to see two dramatically different versions of Hyrule. It goes deeper than that though. Actions made by Link in the past can change plenty of aspects with Adult Link, from the layout of areas to the characters that appear.
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