Open-world games that bombed at launch but became cult classics

Open-world video games are in spades these days. It’s practically a requirement for everything Ubisoft publishes, and even games like Control, who don’t have as big a world to explore, will take a “go anywhere anytime” approach. What was originally just an idea for a playable menu screen to fill the gap between missions has been taken to massive new heights filled with side-activities, responsive AI, and physics-based systems. layers to make the open world as realistic as possible. .



Sometimes these games are beautifully crafted, with everything in the world feeling authentic and valuable. Other times, the vastness can feel painfully empty, or just plain unnecessary. Then there are those games, which struggled to gain an audience at launch but gradually built up a following over the years, eventually earning a reputation as cult classics.

ten Fallout: New Vegas

Although it never suffered the critical panning of some entries on this list, Fallout: New Vegas struggled at launch only because it came out so quickly after Fallout 3. It hadn’t even been two years, and already Bethesda was pumping another To fall Game.

However, New Vegas shone in a way that Fallout 3 doesn’t. It was a true-to-form RPG, with a massive amount of player choice and an extremely responsive world. Although it took the same action-heavy approach as all modern models To fall games, the level of detail in how players could interact with the world elevated Fallout: New Vegas above other franchise entries.

9 Days gone

Days gone was released about three years too late to take advantage of the undead craze. Between that and the sometimes moan-worthy machismo that emanates from the game’s protagonist, Deacon St. John, critics haven’t responded particularly well to Bend Studio’s first console title since the PS2.

It’s a pity, because Days gone got a ton for that. Despite the tone, the game’s story is surprisingly engaging. The open world is fun to explore, especially with the motorbike that players can customize and upgrade. Then there are the hordes, massive groups of zombies lurking around the corners of the map. Taking them on is incredibly intense and hugely satisfying to pull off, requiring every tool in a player’s inventory and a few environmental blasts to boot. fans of Days gone are adamant the game deserves a sequel, and after playing it, it’s easy to see why.

8 Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

It’s hard to say why Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning did not connect with the public. Maybe it was the wrong time of its release, only four months after The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Perhaps the first few hours of the game were painfully slow.

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Whatever pushed fans away, it wasn’t enough to keep them away forever. Kingdoms of Amalur contained a lot of great content, from the surprisingly good combat system and the interesting array of weapon types to the excellent lore. Eventually the game found its audience and garnered enough praise to warrant a remaster, which was released in 2020.


seven No Man’s Sky

Forget an open world, how about an open universe? It was Hello Games’ Sean Murray’s pitch when No Man’s Sky was announced in 2013. The game would contain an entirely procedural universe, with millions of fully explorable planets and unique life forms to encounter. It sounded too good to be true. Turns out it was.

When it finally launched in August 2016, No Man’s Sky was a shadow of the game it was marketed under. Yes, all planets were explorable and all life forms were randomly generated, but there was nothing to do. Players could go around resource mining to upgrade their ship to mine more resources. That was it. Fast forward six years, and Hello Games has added all of the features originally promised in the game, plus dozens more. Slowly but surely, they revived their title through hard work and attention to fan feedback, earning them a loyal following.


6 Pathological 2

It’s hard for a game to “bomb” when there was virtually no hype for it in the first place. Still Pathological 2essentially just a remake of the original game, took years to find its community.

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Today, this community is vast. The amount of fan art and conversation surrounding this game is staggering. Considering Pathological 2 tasks players with being a small town doctor and then lays a deadly plague at their feet, its storyline and characters are surprisingly uplifting. It’s a horror game, it’s a survival game, and it’s an exercise in artistic expression. It’s one of the most stressful, yet sometimes beautiful, games ever made.


5 Driver: San Francisco

Driver: San Francisco is a fantastic game; it just didn’t sell well. The idea of ​​taking a well-known racing franchise and turning it into a single-player narrative was unusual, and it turned off the racing game’s audience, never doing enough to attract players outside of that crowd. .

Those who have played know that everyone is absent. The unique mechanic that gave players the ability to own any car in the game world was a breath of fresh air in the racing sim genre, and it enabled limitless creativity. Add to that a quality script and impressive action sequences, and Driver: San Francisco deserved a better fate. There is no game on this list that deserves a remake more.


4 Saint’s Row

It’s hard to remember a time when Saint’s Row was not the satirical dispatch of Grand Theft Auto that it is now. When it came out, it was more of a clone of GTA than anything else. The humor was a little goofier than what Rockstar developed, but the original Saint’s Row wanted to tell a serious story about gangs and blood money.

It’s a good thing the franchise shifted gears, because the games that followed are glorious in their ridiculousness. While the first Saint’s Row may not have stood out, everything the show has done since is impossible to ignore. Here’s hoping the next installment in the franchise can retain its signature humor and absurd action.


3 the dogma of the dragon

Probably another victim of Skyrim fever, the dogma of the dragon came out just seven months after Bethesda’s monolith was released and couldn’t find traction in the gaming community. Slowly but surely, gamers picked it up, tried it out, and came away impressed.

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where games love Skyrim opted for massive worlds full of activities, the dogma of the dragon toned down that ambition in favor of an exciting and varied combat system that RPGs to date have been unable to replicate. Fans of the series expressed their desire for a sequel, and they finally received their long-awaited announcement in June 2022.


2 Kingdom Come: Deliverance

A few things caused Kingdom Come: Deliverance stumble out of the door. It’s a hyper-realistic medieval RPG with lots of survival elements that make the game more challenging, not to mention an extremely complex combat system. Then there are the game’s offensive portrayals of minority characters. The developers claim this is an accurate representation of the era, while the players claim it went further than necessary.

Regardless of, Kingdom Come: Deliverance has gained a cult following due to its detailed and brutal gameplay and player choice mechanics. For history buffs and those looking for RPGs that include fewer dragons, this hit all the right notes. The gap between those who have played the game and those who are not interested is wide, but the players who have enjoyed it rank Kingdom Come: Deliverance as one of the best games of the last decade.


1 The saboteur

Created by Pandemic Studios, known for Mercenaries, Destroy all humans! and Star Wars: Battlefront series, The saboteur was a response to Ubisoft’s open-world action games. Players take on the role of an Irish spy during World War II as they attempt to liberate Paris from Nazi control.

Response to the game has been mixed. Artwork, sound design, and the game world that responded directly to player actions all received praise; meanwhile, the narration, animation, and unpolished gameplay were criticized. The saboteur quickly became a bargain game, but over the years it has taken on a life of its own. Although it lacks the following for a full sequel, fans still single it out as one of the best mid-PS3 and Xbox 360 era releases.

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