Our Best Open World Game 2017 is Assassin's Creed Origins. Find the rest of our GOTY awards and personal picks here.
Chris Livingston: I initially had reservations about how the world is divided up into level-appropriate areas that mean you'll get instakilled if you stray across the wrong border. It has a very MMO feel to it, where a common soldier in one part of the world is an easily-killable goon, and the same soldier in a different region is a nigh-invulnerable war machine. The splendor of Origins' Egypt, however, and the staggering breadth of its world, is enough to overcome the limitations of this kind of design. At any given time there are plenty of level-appropriate areas to explore, and even if you blunder into a zone where you're outmatched, with a bit of caution you can usually still see all the sights and visit the landmarks you're after.
Tom Senior: I'm still playing Assassin’s Creed Origins even though there’s so much in it that I actually dislike. I don't like the fighting; I find the levelling constraints restrictive outside of the fast-moving opening ares; the crafting system is wearying and familiar. But I happily put up with it all because Egypt is a huge, gorgeous space to explore, even on a horse that loves to ram pedestrians as it tries to auto-path through the game’s dusty little villages.
Fly over the realm with your eagle and you see deserts, farms, mountains, and Egypt’s extraordinary historical monuments scattered across the horizon. What other Assassin's Creed game has this variety? Then with a button press you drop back into Bayek and realise that every inch of it is packed with detail, right down to the flaking painted designs on every pillar.
Andy Kelly: It was clever of Ubisoft to set Origins in the twilight years of Ancient Egypt, rather than the romantic golden age we all imagine when we think of pyramids and pharaohs. This is arguably a more interesting period of history, with Greek and Roman influence sweeping in and changing the culture. And it makes for a stunning open world, with fading Egyptian cities like Memphis contrasting with the gleaming, statue-lined streets of newer settlements such as Alexandria. Origins' world is vast, offering a greater sense of adventure and exploration than the closed-in cities of other Assassin's Creed games, and it never stopped amazing me across the 30 hours it took me to finish it.
Samuel Roberts: I've always felt Assassin's Creed has had impressive settings, but not particularly distinctive ones—they trailed far behind the likes of Rockstar and Bethesda's open worlds for me, with streets that felt like they were repeating themselves. Like Andy says, maybe it's the closed in cities of previous games that created this impression, but by comparison, Origins' setting is staggering—the variety across the world, and that feeling of vastness, is unlike anything Ubisoft has brought to life before. It's so rare to find games that have a real sense of journey to them. While the series' trademark busywork remains in Origins, it's worth playing just to experience this setting.
Check out Chris's review of Assassin's Creed Origins.