Top 5: Favorite Open-World Games

So here’s a story. I just started replaying Skyrim. The end.

Well, I didn’t say it’d be a very exciting story.

I’ll have more to say on Skyrim later this week, but for now, it’s worth revisiting this post I recently wrote for Virtual Bastion on my some of my favorite open-world games. Sans, Skyrim. But I already told you that story.


As much as I enjoyed my first trek through Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game left me a bit soured with regard to open-world games. Surely the feeling is only temporary, but as I search for something to take its place that’s not Borderlands 2 (so fun!), I find myself avoiding anything that resembles an open-world experience (even though Borderlands 2 does kinda, sorta fit that bill). The dilemma, though, lies in the fact that I’ve woven my way through some fantastic sandboxes in the past, so why not pick one to play again or for the first time? Why not choose an open-world game that gives players freedom, provides an excellent story and a beautiful (or beautifully dangerous) environment, along with substantial or unusual side quests that are worth pursuing? Once I started looking at my options, the floodgates opened. I eventually came up with many more than five…

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Resonance: Two Favorite Songs to Soothe a Troubled Mind

I think we can all agree that music is brilliant. It weaves through our lives overtly and discreetly . Through it, emotions are heightened as well as dampened. Much that same can actually be said of video games, eh? With that in mind, over on Virtual Bastion I recently covered two of my favorite game songs that help bring things down a notch during stressful times. Considering world events, I think I’ll just stick these songs on repeat today.


Upon completing my post from last week in which I referenced the soundtrack to Red Dead Redemption, I immediately had to listen to it again. I remain amazed at just how cohesive and brilliant it is in all its “Old West” mimicry. And, as much as it made me want to roam the prairies of New Austin once again, it also had a great side effect: it served as some much needed stress relief.

Granted, not all the sounds of RDR are serene enough to keep sleeping bandits at bay, but one of the early songs off its soundtrack, “Born unto Trouble,” is enough to promote a few healthy, quiet breaths.

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Belatedly, let’s talk about Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption is one of my most favorite games to date. (It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for me!) So when news hit a month back that a sequel to this brilliant game was finally in the works, I just had to pay attention. In this post I wrote for for United We Game, I jumped in the frothy waters of hope for what I’d like to see in RDR2. Granted, a little bit more about the game has been revealed since this first trailer was released, but generally, we’re still in the dark. Surely the light of the Old West will shine brightly on our consoles again soon. 🙂


Late last month, Rockstar dropped its first teaser trailer for the brand new Red Dead Redemption 2. A series of persistent rumors had popped up some months before hinted that a sequel to the very popular Red Dead Redemption was in the work. It seems that, thankfully, they turned out to be true!

In a way, I feel like I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption for a several years. I first played it in 2013, and then I played through it again, fully, earlier this year. But during the between years, I’ve played the game sporadically, just to pick up missed side quests, do a little treasure hunting, or spend a little time meandering through its wondrous landscapes on horseback. The game is just one of my favorites, from the story to the music to the environments, and I simply need to revisit it every now and then.

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Red Dead Redemption: Second Time’s a Charm?

Well, this is awkward, right? Um, maybe. I mean, in my Red Dead Rant, I linked to this post I had written for United We Game and our “revisiting favorite games” project. So sharing it here retroactively seems okay. I guess the point is that I like Red Dead Redemption so much that I feel it could have been a better game in many respects, and I’m disappointed that it wasn’t. But I still enjoy the game immensely for what it is — a true masterpiece in gaming and study in time.


Image by Flickr user Jussi Mononen (CC) Image by Flickr user Jussi Mononen (CC)

At the beginning of 2013, I finally got around to playing Red Dead Redemption. We had rented to game some months earlier, and though it looked interesting at the time, I was too engrossed in other games to really take notice. But rather than just forget about RDR completely, I instead picked it up on sale around the holidays. It became one of the best decisions I’d ever made.

I loved Red Dead Redemption. Like, loved loved it. I called it one of my most favorite games of the Xbox 360/PS3/Wii generation. I loved its sights, sounds, and gameplay. I loved being in the “Old West” as modernity encroached. I loved taking the reigns as John Marston, ye gruff seeker of right in the face of wrong. I loved the game despite some glaring flaws, particularly with its endgame…

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A Red Dead Rant

Speak no evil? Not likely.
Speak no evil? HA! Not likely.

Last week on United We Game, I posted an article about replaying Red Dead Redemption as part of our “revisiting favorite games” challenge that we set forth in February. (Long story short, RDR remains a true favorite.) But during the process of writing, I took some time to look back on pieces that I had written about RDR shortly after I first finished in it 2013, such as my own article here, “I Don’t Know Jack (Marston).” Drawing back the curtain a bit, over the past several months or so, that particular post has become a regular line item in my daily stats, garnering at least a few new views each week. Going further, I glanced at my all-time view counts per post, and somehow it’s made its way to fifth place. That’s kind of remarkable. And it makes me feel like something of a double dealer since it seems the search phrases “how to play as Jack Marston” or “playing as Jack Marston” often lead to it. The post had nothing to do with that, you see. At most, I spoke of how much I didn’t enjoy the entire end of the John Marston’s story, with Jack and Abigail and the family farm and all the ensuing triteness.

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I Don’t Know Jack (Marston): Red Dead Redemption

***Hold on there pardner…I detect a whole lotta of SPOILERS in the distance. Those who don’t know would do best to tread lightly…***

Red Dead Redemption cover art © Rockstar, Microsoft
Red Dead Redemption cover art © Rockstar, Microsoft (source)

As I neared the end of Red Dead Redemption, I couldn’t help but be a little sad. Sad not because of the story (it certainly tugged at my heartstrings) but because of Jack’s turn — or rather the way Red Dead’s writers turned Jack Marston’s story almost in that of his father’s.

And now you’re looking at me funny. Is that cause you’ve beaten it or because you haven’t? Well, if you haven’t, please go play this game. Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top! Anyhoo, whether you’ve chosen to stick around or not, I need to back up a bit.

Continue reading “I Don’t Know Jack (Marston): Red Dead Redemption”