Help me pick my next hyperfocus sandbox/open-world shooter

I don’t play a wide variety of games anymore, I find one I like & play the bejebus out of it. After something like 11 or 12 years of WoW, gave that up & a year or so later bought a new PC to catch up on the years of first-person or third-person shooters my 10-year-old PC could not run.

Ran through a few on-rails single player FPS mostly to see the pretty graphics (like CoD:WWII, Zombie Army 4, & Strange Brigade), then ended up spending ~18 months playing Ghost Recon: Wildlands. That game really struck a chord with me, and I eventually finished it in regular and perma-death mode. (I still play a couple hours a week to try and get the last 16 items of the 500+ available from the free crates, and I still love long-range sniping in it, 500m+. Tried Breakpoint and The Division since I bought them on sale at some point, but didn’t care for those (Breakpoint is such a dead world compared to Wildlands, and I don’t like the upgrade system Ubisoft put in The Division 1 - which they had to patch around in Breakpoint when Wildlands players recoiled in horror).

Finally Wildlands was left aside as I began playing Red Dead Online as a single-player game because of Tom. Usually literally single-player now, using the RDO Lobby Manager mod (if your friends have the mod installed, you can set up a password & play together, but nobody else can join). When Rockstar announced they were ending updates for the game, the use of cheat menus got completely out of control on PC, and the most expensive tiers of the cheat menus ($125 or more) can literally crash everyone in a lobby to the desktop. Interestingly, there are some persistent bugs in the game that Rockstar will never fix, but are fixed by forcing the game into a private lobby, so they are almost certainly linked to Rockstar’s horrible peer-to-peer multiplayer system.

Still playing RDO daily, but close to hitting my personal goal of buying every available item. The bastards at Rockstar never put the “Coats” or “Accessories” categories on sale though, and many of those require a substantial amount of Gold (the real cash currency, which you can earn in game very slowly). There are no unlockable items after level 100 but you keep earning XP, and I just hit level 648 today (you do get a Treasure Map every five levels, and the chests have an average of about 1 gold bar & $150 in them). I just enjoy playing the fattest, oldest gunslinger the game would let me make, cruising around the incredibly beautiful virtual 1898 world Rockstar created, at my whim causing or getting out of trouble, saving those in distress, skirting or supporting the law as needed, serving up frontier justice in the form of hot lead or a lasso, and hunting various game (I swear RDO is a better hunting sim than most hunting sims).

I work in a bit of few other shooter/sims (“Gunner, HEAT, PC!”, Ground Branch, and Ready or Not), but I’ve realized I’m doomed to always play alone. That knocks out a lot of games that would benefit from co-op. (I call it “The Pacific Time Gaming Curse.” Less than 20% of the US population lives west of about El Paso, TX, so finding guilds/teams/posses who start playing at 8pm-9pm in Pacific Time like me has proven virtually impossible in every game.)

So soon I will need another solo-play compatible open-world shooter, and I am turning to the Great Sages for advice. I learned to quit buying things during Steam sales, but I still am looking at a years-old backlog there. Plus, playing basically one game a year really builds up surplus cash in the ol’ gaming budget if I want to buy something new.

Games I’ve considered that are in my Steam library are Far Cry 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Skyrim (I have the Special Edition, but not the Anniversary Update), though I’d prefer something with gunpowder weapons. Should I pick up Far Cry: Giancarlo Edition, or maybe Rust? I thought about Sea of Thieves, but as a solo player it sounds like I’d be getting my ass kicked a lot, and some content is impossible alone.

All suggestions for the next 12-18 months of my gaming life are appreciated!

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anomaly with the GAMMA modpack (379 mods curated to play nice together). Big open world survival shooter set in the STALKER world (map zones stitched together from the original 3 Stalker games and turned into an open world horror/survival/shooter experience) with extensive and detailed NATO and Warsaw Pact weapon systems to find/fix/enjoy. Massively configurable to your taste and has achievements to pursue for bonuses during a run or to unlock ‘secret’ factions to play on a future run. I’ve been playing and streaming it on Twitch pretty heavily the last few months.

It’s also completely free to download and play.

I wouldn’t bother with FarCry 3. It’s a dumb ubigame with a crap story and hateable YA characters.

I’d go with New Vegas. Best of the 3D Fallout games. It’s a little linear at the start but really opens up once you get to New Vegas.

Borderlands 3?

Fallout 4 has base building which is a massive rabbit hole you can fall down.

Gotta disagree with this (at least partly). Yes, the characters and story are dumb, but the actual game is one of the best that Ubisoft has released. It literally spawned its own genre of shooters and is arguably still the best of the bunch. It’s simply a really fun game.

If you are willing to play an open world game that isn’t a shooter, then Elden Ring is pretty much the peak of the genre right now. It pretty much stands head and shoulders above anything else out there.

The way you describe your gaming habits Destiny 2 might fit. As far as I know most of it works well solo.

Far Cry as a series is one of the Ur-sources of this genre IMO. FC 1 desperately needs a full-on remake; it’s pretty much a relic at this point. FC 2 ditto, except that it is marginally better to play through thanks to a much more evolved and detailed world and (problematic but interesting) setting.

FC 3 and FC 4 I lump together pretty much, though FC 4 at least has a protagonist you don’t totally loathe. Both feature psycho bad guys, incoherent plots, beautiful scenery, great traversal and geography stuff, and solid gunplay. Full-on Ubi experience, complete with plenty of tower climbing. FC 3 does make you want to shoot the supposed good guys, and has one of the worse “white savior” throughlines of any game ever IMO. FC 4 is just wonky, but maybe has some of the best grappling hook and hang gliding stuff.

FC 5 and New Dawn are superb, and I say that even with the caveat that Joseph Seed and his brood of wackos can all go DIAF. Which, um, they pretty much do with one specific exception. The bits where you get taken out of the action and lose control of your character, and get forced into tortuous dream sequence-like crap can also DIAF, but the rest of the game is so effing good. Montana may not be Nepal or Bali but it is a damn cool place to roam in this game, before or after the apocalypse. One caveat: the current situation in the USA regarding our epidemic of mass shootings in real life may make running around even a fiction US community with an arsenal somewhat disturbing. I know it disturbs me.

FC 6 is something a “safer” FC, a return to the more straight-forward narratives of the earlier games minus the horrible protagonists and with somewhat less goofiness. The story sort of blends both Castro and anti-Castro struggles on a fictional island very reminiscent of Cuba, with a dose of sometimes sardonic commentary on the CIA, revolutionary propaganda, and tin-horn dictatorships. Gunplay is highly evolved and slick as owl shit, and the little Ubi touches like gator and fighting chicken pets, spray-painted tanks, and wonky mystical idol caches make the place pretty wild.

Metal Gear Solid V.


Elden Ring is a little different from what you’re looking for, but it might just be exactly what you’re looking for.

Firstly, @Supertanker, allow me to express this mandatory and altogether involuntary sentiment, which is a bit like a smacking me under the kneecap with a little rubber mallet to make me kick my leg:

You haven’t played Fallout: New Vegas???

Sorry, couldn’t help that.

It can be tricky to take up New Vegas – beware getting lost in the wide world of mods! – but it’s an experience worth taking up, however you do it. It is easily one of the finest games of its type and well worth going back to discover. Just typing those words, I feel a strong pull to reinstall.

However, it won’t have the gunplay I think you’re looking for. But I would invite you to drop that criteria, if you’re able, because traditional shooter expectations are going to limit your pool of options, and it’s going to muddy those options with lots of dumb games for dumb kids. Some of which are fun, to be sure. But if you’re looking for something to fill your entertainment bandwidth for 12-18 months, you deserve better.

Which is why I would suggest you take up a creative endeavor that will feel new and dramatically different and maybe even take you out of your comfort zone. That’s why I recommend…

Hey, this is what I was going to say!

It’s obviously not a shooter, but it is weird and different and it will be very new to you (more of a “brawler” than a “shooter”). But it will give you more gameplay meat, bone, and gristle than you know what to do with, more exploration than you can manage, and – if this is what you’re looking for – a community of similarly dazzled players happy to help you through it. Alternatively, if you want to experience it as your own private pocket dimension, to visit at will as easily as you’d open a wardrobe in your home, removed from the real world and the things in it and utterly unknown to you except as you learn it, then Elden Ring does that, too. (For instance, I’ve installed a widescreen mod that knocks Elden Ring offline and, in my opinion, dramatically improves it in a couple of important ways.)

But otherwise, you should just play Fallout: New Vegas already.

Whatever you decide, you have to let us know in this thread!

Download Warzone/DMZ. You’ll probably really enjoy DMZ if you like Ghost Recon: Wildlands… or maybe not. Just saw the “solo-play” part of it. That’s not really a thing in DMZ.

I guess I’m somewhat ambivalent to open world games but there are a couple I’ve very much enjoyed.

Metal Gear Solid V - the first… half? two-thirds? of this is truly excellent. A lot of flexibility in how you want to play it - you can sneak, shoot, whatever. I’ve actually been thinking about this one lately and wondering if it’s time for a repeat playthrough. Which is rare for me. The first time through I kidnapped enlisted a cute blonde early on with the truly epic (to me, at least) codename ‘Spunky Dhole’. I only mention this as a lesser known feature of the game is that you can play as practically anyone who joins you. So I ended up playing through the rest of the game as Spunky Dhole, and she kicked mucho butt. It’s cool you can do that; Big Boss is pretty much relegated to just showing up for the cutscenes.

Horizon: Zero Dawn - I loved the writing for the main questline in this, and the main character is cool too. It’s less ‘gun shooty’ than other open world games people have mentioned here but it’s very… ‘arrow shooty’ to make up for it!

Stalker GAMMA was already suggested, definitely put it at the top of your list.

I’d also recommend the single player mod for Escape From Tarkov, especially if you like gun porn.

Part of that is your fault! I shied away from starting it when you lost the ability to progress, or maybe it was your save entirely, because of some glitch in getting some weapon (pistol of some sort, IIRC). I think that was fixed, so I’ve no excuses beyond that.

Oh, and I think someone posted this here before, but it only takes about ten minutes to finish the game, so I should be able to knock it out during a coffee break this week.

I believe it was actually a cowboy hat. But, yes, you’re remembering correctly. One of Obsidian’s best games was DOA for me for many years because of that frickin’ bug on the Xbox 360 version.

But I eventually revisited it and I think I’ve probably run through it at least twice? I did tentatively start a third playthrough maybe two years ago, but the graphics engine felt too dated, what with the way the world has to be chopped into bits separated by loading screens. Honestly, I should have been able to see past that, but it was too much of an issue for whatever reason. I probably should have mentioned that before trying to shame you into playing. :)

I may have to give that a look, just to see if they got everything right. One of the things that drives me crazy in Wildlands are what a knowledgeable eye sees as blatantly incorrect problems with many of the guns. For example, at least half of the AR15/M4 variants have a bridged optic. Nomad & his armorer would know that a bridged optic will quickly lose its zero, but the Ubisoft artists didn’t know it, so I gnash my teeth every time I see it.

Given all of the recommendations, it is not off the table. I played all the way through Shadow of Mordor & liked it a lot, so there’s much to be said for edged weapons & bows.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands was the last open world game I truly enjoyed, I think. I think I love the bounty system more than any other sub-genre of stealth shooter. Wildlands was particularly nifty in that area where you had to bring down an entire cartel by systematically hunting and killing its big fish members (along with a few small fry). I mean, who wouldn’t want to kill an entire cartel? Sweet dreams are made of these. The Hitman series had too broad an approach in that area where its too wide a range of targets made it seem less focused and fun.