If you haven’t played GTA V by now, you might as well just stay under that rock because no one will want to talk to you if you ever crawl out. When it initially released in 2013, the gaming world exploded into a nuclear mushroom cloud as millions upon millions of units were shipped overnight. Needless to say, the Grand Theft Auto brand (particularly GTA III onward) is now ubiquitous with open-world gaming, spawning an entire genre of sandbox games like GTA where anything goes and virtual killing sprees are a murderous norm.
Gaming Gods be good, because now we have a rich pool of incredible open-world action games to play in between each monumental GTA release. Here are 8 such games like Grand Theft Auto!
Selection Criteria of Our List
- Obviously, an open world is a must. Freedom is a prerequisite. These games give the player a flexible set of tools, vehicles, guns, and / or missions with few rules to govern the pace of progression.
- Heavy action is involved on some level, and many faceless, nameless henchmen must have been harmed during the making of these games.
- Vehicular traversal (that includes animals, cause I said so!)
- Some titles were released before GTA V, some after; all of which are widely acknowledged as being inspired in some form or another by the Grand Theft Auto franchise as a whole.
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1. Just Cause 3
Just ‘cause it doesn’t bear the GTA name, doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile open-world experience. See what I did there!? A good pun is worth its weight in gold. A bad one can be found at the start of this paragraph.
The Just Cause series is known for over-the-top environmental traversal and massive displays of pyrotechnic glory – explosions, to the layman. It’s one of those games like GTA V in obvious ways: fast cars, even faster jet planes, a diverse landscape spread over a huge map, and a likable character with a boulder sized chip on his shoulder. Just Cause 3 takes the kill-almost-everything-in-sight gameplay a notch further though. Lead man Rico Rodriguez (can’t even make a name like that up) has an X Games inspired wing suit coupled with a physics-defying grappling hook. The combo gives Rico the ability to fly through the entire map without touching the ground. Extreme.
2. The Saints Row Series
I could probably describe the Saints Row series via seemingly unrelated emojis and fans of the games would understand what I meant. The first two games in the series are slightly more ‘realistic’ in a GTA-esque kinda way; the third and fourth installment of the series are way, way, wayyyy over the top… in a fantastic way! There’s tons of fun to be had smacking people around with a giant purple dildo. Come to think of it, when will the makers of the games finally get around to releasing that promised flame-throwing banana dildo everyone is waiting for? Saints Row has been and always will be GTA on steroids. The action is frantic and ridiculous, the characters are better suited for comic books than daytime television, and the world is filled with the most bizarre collection of things to do this side of a travelling carnival. Good. Dirty. Fun.
3. The Mafia Series
“I believe you…but my Tommy Gun don’t!” Of course I’m kicking off the Mafia series with an obscure Angels With Filthy Souls 2 by way of Home Alone 2 quote. Mafia is known best for it’s semi-realistic recreation of the real-life Italian Mafia. It’s literally the Godfather of video games. There’s plenty of shooting and driving and wandering aimlessly around the crime-ridden streets of fictional Emerald Bay all in the name of your family of criminal masterminds. The first two entries of the series are excellent additions to the open-world genre, with number three arriving sometime this 2016. Fans of games like GTA will thoroughly enjoy being all Italian #thuglife, Mafia style.
EDIT: We also have a newer Best Gangster Games Like Mafia 3 list. Check it out!
4. Sleeping Dogs
A severely underrated open-world gem, Sleeping Dogs takes to the streets of gang-ridden Hong Kong, following the harrowing story of young Wei Shen. While you won’t find much gunplay, there is action aplenty in this open-world, martial arts action game. The fighting engine can be compared to the likes of the Batman: Arkham series, resulting in visceral and fast-paced brawls minus the utility belt and strong jaw line. Players looking for more games like GTA will no doubt love this sleeper classic (ohhhh see what I did there?! Er… never mind!)
5. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is one of the most beloved games of the last generation, and it’s easy to see why. The game follows John Marston, a rough and tumble hombre who bleeds old west and is hell bent on enacting revenge on the scoundrels that kidnapped his wife and son. The scope of the wild west setting gave new meaning to the term open-world, with a sprawling vista that stretched all the way into the furious depths of Mexico. It’s like GTA V if it traveled back in time a century and a half, replacing cars with horses and thugs for caballeros. Fans of the game have been begging Rockstar to release a sequel for years, and rumors are even swirling that we could get a reveal as soon as E3 this June. Rejoice!
EDIT: Rumors of a sequel are confirmed!
6. The Far Cry Series
There are almost too many Far Cry releases to count on one hand (including expansions), especially if you lost several digits in an untimely band saw accident. Messy power tool incidents notwithstanding, you don’t make five installments to a beloved game without having some serious open-world chops. The Far Cry series is best known for mixing survival aspects into fast-paced gun fighting action. The series recently took a prehistoric turn with the release of Far Cry: Primal to mostly positive reception. It’s a worthwhile addition to any gamer’s library who’s been itching to attack enemies via sabertooth tiger.
7. Crackdown 2
If you’ve ever wanted to be a superhero cop with unlimited strength and a knack for gunplay, or if you’ve ever dreamed of wearing a spandex onesie in broad daylight, Crackdown 2 might be for you. It’s an open-world third person shooter game like Grand Theft Auto, but relies on a more focused action-oriented approach to gameplay. You are a nameless hero simply named “Agent,” who generically shoots down waves of baddies in between crazy intense driving sequences. Crackdown 2 may be old, but it’s pretty much still considered a classic among die-hard fans, with good reason.
8. The Godfather Series
Not all games of movie franchises suck. The Godfather series is one notable exception. Despite a few glitches and general bug complaints, this series of open-world action games has been widely praised for its excellent voice-work (featuring some of the original cast members of the movies) and faithful recreation of the Godfather movie world. Couple that with some decent gun and driving action and you have yourself a recipe for an open-world classic, albeit a graphically dated one.
Honorable Mentions: More Games Like GTA
Did I miss out any more games like GTA? Share your thoughts below!