I would also add Ultima VI to the list. It's technically an RPG and there's technically a story in it, but I spend absolute hours and hours on that game and only ever got one rune. I also spent a good amount of time exploring Ultima III on the NES as a lad.
Ultima VII was where it really started to lose it's roots. The world just felt so damn cramped and small compared to the previous games, and unfortunately it set an awful precedent for the genre that to this day only Bethesda seems to overcome at all.
Just Cause 2.
Come on, lets forget the "story" and the "missions", that game is about the world itself and the many, many gifts the developers sprinkled across those vast islands.
I just dipped into it for the first time in about 6 months to try out a 360 controller, left 2 hours later and had to post on this thread.
Its staggeringly beautiful. So utterly overwhelming that I find myself letting go of the controls to sit back and look at it.
We all know the graphics are impressive, but we've been spoilt and that doesn't do much for us anymore. Its how it all comes together, the gently falling snow, the volumetric clouds clinging to the opposite mountain, the vast river gauge beneath you and the gargantuan viaduct spanning the gap further down. This game is breath taking, and despite its many other flaws, for this it deserves a place in the pantheon of great games.
Play it again, or buy it if you haven't. It deserves your time.
LSD is a first person exploration game based on a lead-developer's dream journal. The game is played a dream at a time and when each one ends, you get a light/dark, static/dynamic rating based on what you played.
If you can get yourself a PS1 emulator, this little known game is simply fascinating. It's absolutely crude and looks like the old windows 3D maze screensaver at times, but if you can forget about graphics the gameplay is really rewarding (if you like exploration of course). The guy in the video explains it pretty well, but I wouldn't watch too many videos before playing it because it can ruin the surprises.
Secondary Hivemind Nexus
Just bought the sequel. =)
Originally Posted by Unaco
Secondary Hivemind Nexus
It's huge, it's beautiful, but it's so completely empty. The missions are sparse and finicky (and usually involve escorting someone), the shooting is unsatisfying, and for all that territory there's absolutely nothing to do. I really don't understand all the praise.
Originally Posted by jwise
And that's the point. It gives you a fine opportunity to just take a moment and just watch the world around you. After playing JC2, I now tend to slow down and stop in games just to see what the developers and artists have designed. In most games, you stop to see the environment after you're in the game for a few minutes, they could just as well turn down details, normally you wouldn't even notice because you're always just focused on the action.
Originally Posted by vinraith
JC2 always gives you a reason to just look and explore.
But I do agree a bit, as the gameplay itself is nothing too great (if still fun for an hour or two). But alone the amount of effort spent on the weather system and the feeling of 'wow, this is big' is great and astonishing.