Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. KL Yong's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.
Are you stuck at home? With nowhere to go or with nowhere that you could go?
Perhaps you are recovering from an injury. Or maybe you cannot leave home for more than a few hours. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s some sort of contagion outside and you do not want to risk catching it.
Despair not. You might not be able to step out but that doesn’t mean the beauty of the world is beyond your grasp. Many modern open-world games today provide astonishing gameplay experiences that are second only to actually being at an exotic location. Switch on the right one and you could instantly be in Africa, Japan, Scandinavia, or maybe even another world.
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is, without doubt, one of the best video games to play when stuck at home, or when hit by acute wanderlust. Spanning three continents and with stunning graphics to boot, Naughty Dog’s 2016 masterpiece instantly transforms you into an intrepid explorer/thief, one with so many adventures to enjoy in exotic locations.
Longing to hunt for gold in crumbling Spanish ruins? Or photograph yourself at mysterious Scottish abbeys? Or stroll through exotic Malagasy bazaars in search of clues to a pirate’s treasure?
You can do all these, and more, in this concluding episode of thief extraordinaire Nathan Drake’s career. Best of all, the game comes with an extensive multiplayer mode too. After you have addressed your boredom, you can attend to your anger issues. Uncharted 4’s multiplayer mode has no shortage of rampaging brigands and ghostly pirate lords for you to gleefully gun down, alone or with virtual friends.
2. Sleeping Dogs
Some time back, I attempted to write a mini-feature on Sleeping Dogs for my blog, and before I knew it, I was replaying the game more than writing.
The most ambitious open-world game based on Hong Kong to date, you will easily lose yourself for hours in the game’s streets, parks, and night markets, doing no more than soaking up the many sights and sounds.
My favorite activity in Sleeping Dogs – to cruise around the districts on my Ducati while listening to the extensive, atmospheric soundtrack. If you’ve ever longed to visit the Pearl of the Orient, but could not afford the time or money, this is the best video game to go for. Actually, there’s no better game. It is likely to stay that way for a long time too.
3. Any Assassin’s Creed Game
How could any listicle on seeing the world with open-world games not include the Assassin’s Creed franchise? Practically a showcase of the most popular tourist locations in Europe and the Americas, Ubisoft’s flagship series has so far digitally recreated for us the Holy Lands, Italy, Paris, London, Boston, New York, a handful of Asian locations, even Ancient Egypt and Greece.
Through the signature parkour gameplay, you can also experience these historical locations from vantage points no normal tourist can easily reach. My favorite episode from the AC franchise? Part 2. Taking place all over fifteenth-century Italy, this masterpiece is a virtual European Grand Tour. It’s a renaissance adventure you can go on again and again, just by loading a save file. In other words, perfect for prolonged indulgence in, when you are stuck at home.
4. Ryu ga Gotoku 5: Yume, Kanaeshi Mono (Also Known as Yakuza 5)
It would be a sin not to include a Ryu ga Gotoku game on this list about immersive video games to play when stuck at home.
Renowned for painstaking reconstructions of Tokyo’s largest red-light district, and famous for integrating real-life brands and shops to heighten realism, the series is literally a virtual reality tourism showpiece. One that hesitates not to show you the best and worst of Japanese nightlife.
As for which episode to play, I strongly recommend Ryu ga Gotoku 5 because no other episode in the series offers you such a wide variety of locations to explore. From Fukuoka City down south in Kyushu, to the snowy streets of winter Sapporo, to Nagoya, Osaka, and finally, Tokyo, playing Ryu ga Gotoku 5 is akin to having an extended pan-Japanese holiday that covers the entire country.
To best enjoy the trip, play the visually remastered version for the PS4. Play it too with a good set of headphones. You do not want to miss the atmospheric sounds and music that accompanies every chapter.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda’s best-selling masterpiece might be a strange entry for this list. After all, Skyrim is a medieval imaginary realm, one that’s decisively not of our world.
But take note, the open-world of Skyrim itself was heavily inspired by medieval Scandinavia. With the amount of detail Bethesda injected into this open-world game, it’s also not difficult at all to imagine yourself actually journeying through the rugged landscapes of Northern Europe when slaying fire-breathing dragons and animated skeletons.
When playing, don’t neglect to read the many mini stories included within the game too. Just as travelogues enhance any traveling experience, these colorful tales greatly add color to your sojourn in this frosty realm. You might be so fascinated, you never want to leave.
6. Persona 5 Royal
Unless you are severely adverse to turn-based combat, it's impossible for you not to love Persona 5 Royal.
A quirky blend of fantasy and daily teenage life, the game’s renditions of Tokyo’s most famous districts is nothing short of inspirational, with Persona 5 also going all out to show you how modern Japanese teenagers spend their days.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being on an exchange program in Tokyo, or your wanderlust just points towards Tokyo, this is the game to play. One could even say there is no better game to play, for the moment.
At the same time, Persona 5 also has one of the most imaginative stories ever written for the genre. This is a story equally as absorbing with its fantastical elements, as it is with acute social commentary. In other words, one that you’d remember for a long time.
7. Far Cry 4
I was torn between recommending Far Cry 4 or 5. Ultimately, I decided on Far Cry 4 as it featured a region harder for most travellers to get to.
Set in the fictional Himalayan country of Kyrat, Far Cry 4 affords you the thrill of journeying through the world’s tallest mountain range but without the many perils associated with that sort of trek.
Naturally, as a first-person shooter, the game come with substantial violence, which could be a turn-off for some folks. On that, be informed that FC4 has one of the largest and densest open-worlds ever created in gaming history. Brigands don’t lurk behind every rock. Many a times, there’s just cliffs and wildlife. And absolutely breathtaking Himalayan scenery.
There are many reasons to play Bioshock, foremost of which being Rapture, the Art Deco inspired underwater city at the heart of the game.
The romanticized New York so many of us long to visit, Rapture is Art Deco architecture at its dreamiest, a metropolis that’s perpetually shrouded by night and aglow with neon illumination.
In addition, the Ayn Rand elements in the story presents the spirit of that era, an age when the world was torn apart by political and ideological differences. If I may put it this way, Bioshock is more than just an eye-pleasing game to indulge in when stuck at home. It is also philosophical consideration and discussion. Surviving Bioshock is to survive the many contradicting ideologies that have choked the world for centuries.
9. World of Warcraft
Like entry 5, the best-selling MMORPG in gaming history might feel to be a weird entry. The worlds of Warcraft i.e. Azeroth and Draenor contain many decisively magical locations, such as floating cities and mile-high trees.
That said, many World of Warcraft locations are based on real-life locations, particularly those in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. If your wanderlust is brought on by dreams of misty adventures in Chinese paddy fields, bamboo groves and golden palaces, a leisurely ride through the continent of Pandaria will not disappoint.
Lastly, many other locations in World of Warcraft are also reminiscent of travel hotspots, for example, lush European forests, forgotten Egyptian ruins, the rugged Australian outback, etc. Play with the right character, and you could be at all these wonderful destinations instantaneously. Like many “WoW” players, you might also find it unbearable to ever leave the game.
© 2017 Yong Kuan Leong
Yong Kuan Leong (author) from Singapore on June 28, 2017:
Hey Cheeky. I'm a city guy in and out, so my favourite ones from this list are Sleeping Dogs and Ryu. Skyrim is great too, except, I still haven't completed the main story after two years. The side quests never seem to end! :0
And Pokémon Go ... Yeah, real life wandering. Last year, I was wandering around my house at 3pm, trying to catch new Pokemons after writing hubs!
Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on June 28, 2017:
Skyrim is my go-to game whenever I'm experiencing wanderlust. Also, Witcher...but the world you can explore is very limited. Oh, one more thing--if I want to explore the world for real, then I'd play Pokemon Go. Hahaha, it'll literally take me everywhere.