What open-world game with driving has the best traffic density?

Besides Red Dead Redemption 2, of course. You can’t ride two minutes without meeting someone else on the open frontier. What a traffic jam!

I recently revisited Need for Speed: Most Wanted (and quit out as soon as I saw Electronic Arts’s DLC had peppered it with unavoidable microtransactions) and was disappointed at the traffic density. It was pretty much just one or two cars in your way here or there. Par for the course for most driving and open-world games. Which made me fondly recall Midnight Club: Los Angeles – not available for any modern hardware, as far as I can tell – for how much traffic density it threw in your way. I seem to recall those felt like packed streets. Or maybe the bar was just so low back then.

Are there any other open-world games that get traffic density right? Because I kind of think there aren’t, and I’ve love to be wrong about that.


Forza Horizon 4 has quite a few cars on the road, but it’s not like there’s ever a traffic jam. GTAV has plenty of traffic. And I certainly remember crashing into oncoming cars countless times in Burnout: Paradise.

GTA IV? I always felt pretty frustrated by the traffic in that game.

I seem to recall the driving portions of Saints Row IV as having a decent amount of traffic.

I bet it was because you were going fast and not because of any traffic density. The Burnout games do just fine messing you up with the occasional lone car in an oncoming lane.

Yeah, those are good examples. I think the PC versions even improved on the traffic density.

You mean the game in which the driving portions became increasingly irrelevant as your character became a superhero who never had any reason to drive anywhere because he could basically fly? :) You might be right, though. I bet by Saints Row IV, they had the processing power to put a lot more cars on the road.


I seem to recall both Watch dogs 1 and 2 both have excellent cities, full of both pedestrians and cars!

This is seemingly from Watch Dogs 2

Been a while since I played them, but I recall Saints Row III and IV (as mentioned before) having enough traffic I had to be dodging around a fair bit. You’re right that in IV, it becomes not super relevant, but the core elements were there in III as well.

edit: oh, good call on Watch Dogs.

Not to pick on you, Razgon, but I feel that’s an example of typical videogame traffic density. I just see a classic example of how poorly open world games do traffic density. It’s spawning vehicles in the immediate vicinity (which is easier since the dude is driving a slow bus), and the cars do seem to pile up a few at a time at traffic light. But there are still so few cars on any given stretch, and it has no resemblance to actual city traffic density. All the parked cars are a nice touch, but I’d rather they be in traffic.

I ask because I would love to see a game that sacrifices stunning visuals for traffic density. I don’t think such a game exists, and I’m just wondering which one comes closest.


After reviewing the video, you are right! It just felt a lot denser in my memory.

edit: Funnily enough, the first thing that came to my mind, when you talked about density in video games, was Dying Light - Its mass of zombies was the greatest density of 3D animated enemies I’ve ever seen, and to me heralded a change in what was possible.

But I digress :-D

ETS2 can be a nightmare when there is a traffic jam and you’re effectively stuck permanently (unless you cheat and turn around). It depends a lot on the type of intersection. I think the three-way overpasses/intersections are the worst because the off ramp has right of way.

Maybe Test Drive Unlimited? The density wasn’t huge and you mostly weren’t in the middle of the city all the time, but I recall there being plenty enough traffic when you tried to speed along from place to place. Traffic lights were especially precarious due to unexpected back ups.

Traffic density in ETS2 is adjustable, overall and based on the time of day. There are ‘realistic traffic’ mods, but I haven’t tried them.

You can play the original version on an Xbox One through BC. Just pop in the disc or buy it digitally.

I think in a lot of cases it’s more a question of sacrificing “fun”. People don’t generally want to spend their time in open world games stuck in traffic jams.

In ATS, Tonopah used to be notorious for this, but they redesigned it. There are still a few highway intersections that are basically impossible to join without either ramming someone or doing the reload trick.

If the traffic behavior was more realistic it wouldn’t be so bad.

I love how the dog reacts at the beginning of that video when the bus almost runs it over. I can’t believe they built in that behavior in an open world game where most people won’t see it.


Why is there a dog just wandering around a built up downtown, though.

It looked like it was following that lady. I thought it was her dog, but she didn’t seem concerned when he got into a shouting match with the bus. So maybe it wasn’t her dog.