In the wake of its announcement trailer, Grand Theft Auto 6 is, at long last, finally something tangible, an actual game that we can almost reach out and touch, rather the idea of one that we keep restlessly waiting for the official announcement of. It is, however, still a ways off, which means there’s plenty of antsy waiting in all of our futures. While we wait for GTA 6 then, it’s only natural that we’re going to start looking elsewhere for something that is similar enough to at least come close to scratching that itch. Here, we’re going to take a look at a few such games.
WATCH DOGS 2
The Watch Dogs franchise obviously has its own unique DNA with its pseudo-cyberpunk trappings and its hacking-centric gameplay mechanics, but there’s still a lot of GTA in Ubisoft’s franchise, and no game captures that better than Watch Dogs 2. If what you’re looking for is a large open world sandbox where you can have all kinds of chaotic (and criminal) fun with solidly implemented mechanics, in addition to a healthy dose of GTA-esque missions and side activities, Watch Dogs 2 offers that in spades.
SAINTS ROW 4
By the time the Saints Row franchise got to its fourth instalment, it had moved quite far away from how similar it used to be to the Grand Theft Auto games in its earlier days, and though that’s a stick that’s often used to beat Saints Row 4 with, on its own merits, as an open world crime action game, there’s a lot to love about it. From the bombastic, over-the-top mechanics that the game arms you with to wreak havoc with in the world to just how fun it is to simply explore the sandbox and mess about with its systems, Saints Row 4 offers a solid dose of open world action.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
Let’s get to some of the painfully obvious picks now, because even though they’re obvious they’re well worth mentioning. Rockstar’s very own Red Dead Redemption 2 is, in fact, by far the best game on this list. Owing to its period setting, its more somber tone, and the added focus on character-driven storytelling, Red Dead 2 is obviously quite different from GTA in some key ways- but it’s a Rockstar open world. The sheer size of the map, the astounding variety and attention to detail it exhibits in spite of how large it is, the spectacularly designed content it’s brimming with, the complex web of systems that make the sandbox an infinitely enjoyable one- all of the hallmark Rockstar qualities you’d want in an open world game, Red Dead Redemption 2 delivers in extreme abundance.
GRAND THEFT AUTO 4
You don’t need us to tell you that you should be playing GTA 5 to scratch your GTA itch. More than a decade on from its launch, people can’t stop buying and playing it. That does mean, however, that some of its predecessors don’t get the retrospective attention that they deserve. Grand Theft Auto 4, for instance, has aged remarkably well. Not only does it have one of the strongest stories in the entire series, its open world is also one of the best-designed and most intricately detailed ones even today, so long after the game first came out. Do yourselves a favour and hop back into GTA 4, because it’s an absolute classic.
Yakuza and Grand Theft Auto games might not be as similar as many often perceive them as, but particularly where Yakuza 5 is concerned, there’s a lot of GTA DNA in it. It is, for starters, one of the series’ larger games where pure real estate is concerned, while similar to GTA, it also offers a smattering of excellently designed side content that you can pour countless hours into. On top of that, you obviously have plenty of opportunities to commit outrageous crimes throughout the game’s world, and there are also multiple protagonists to play as, similar to GTA 5 (though that’s the case in several other Yakuza games as well, to be fair).
MAFIA: DEFINITIVE EDITION
2K’s Mafia franchise doesn’t put as much stock into the open world sandbox aspect of its experience as something like GTA does, instead putting the vast majority of its focus on storytelling. But even so, if you want to run and drive around an intricately crafted real-world (or real-world adjacent) city as a hardened criminal, Mafia: Definitive Edition is a game that’s likely to appeal to you. On top of that, it adds extra flavour of its own with an incredibly authentic and atmospheric period setting, allowing it to stand out in what’s clearly quite a crowded category.
FAR CRY 6
The Far Cry and GTA franchises have often had very similar sensibilities, in spite of how outwardly different they tend to be, and that’s abundantly evident in Far Cry 6 as well. Yes, having an open world that’s mostly wilderness and rural areas does give it a different flavour from Rockstar’s franchise (though Far Cry 6 does have way more urban environments than any of its predecessors), but from the systemic nature of its open world mechanics to the driving to so much more, Far Cry 6 does owe a lot of itself to GTA.
GHOST RECON WILDLANDS
You might stand on the opposite sides of law in Ghost Recon Wildlands and Grand Theft Auto, but the former still borrows liberally from the latter in several respects. On top of offering a massive, systemic open world featuring third person shooter combat, Ghost Recon Wildlands is also a great game for someone who simply wants to get behind the wheel in a vehicle and cruise around the open world. And of course, it becomes doubly enjoyable if you’re doing all of that stuff in co-op.
JUST CAUSE 4
The Just Cause franchise has always been famous for its unique brand of open world chaos, and there’s plenty of that to go around in Just Cause 4 as well. Though the game is not without its issues in some key departments (like its storytelling and many of its bland missions), the actual sandbox itself is an absolute blast to exist in. From the explosive combat to the riotously fun wingsuit and grappling hook loop to the addition of extreme weather, Just Cause 4’s open world is brimming with opportunities to have fun of your own making.
Until quite recently, Cyberpunk 2077’s attempts to inject its open world with elements similar to the Grand Theft Auto games were unsuccessful ones, to say the least, but in the wake of Update 2.0 and Phantom Liberty, that’s certainly no longer the case. The open world is alive and buzzing, and the game does an excellent job of immersing you in its dense metropolis. From driving around in your vehicles to engaging in a variety of side activities to committing crimes to your heart’s content and wrangling with the cops, Cyberpunk 2077 and Phantom Liberty are the closest we’ve ever come to a futuristic take on GTA.