Clocked

10 games like GTA that put player freedom first

Grand Theft Auto is a rare phenomenon, but fortunately for gamers, there are a host of games like GTA that tweak the freewheeling formula.

When it arrived in the late ’90s, GTA broke all the rules. It was a true, open-world pioneer in which players could live by their own code, or throw any such principles to the wind if they wished. It’s been a philosophy that other developers have sought to incorporate into their own creations ever since. As such, there are many games like GTA that put their own twist on the classic recipe.

So if you wanna get the same GTA rush and the same feeling of freedom, but want to take in some different scenery and get to know some different characters, this is the list for you. Let’s check out 10 brilliant games like GTA. 

Cyberpunk 2077

It’s fair to say that this AAA title has got a gravitational pull of its own, quite apart from GTA. Cyberpunk 2077 was plagued with issues at launch (nothing that its trusty modding community can’t fix though!), but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans from falling under its spell.

It’s a beast of an open-world adventure, with a deep and evocative plot, as well as plenty of action in an unruly cityscape. Sound familiar?

Saints Row

Saints Row is a long-running franchise that sticks closer to the GTA formula than most. Lots of driving, blasting your enemy gangs with high-powered artillery, side quests, and more are redolent of GTA. 

In later entries in the series though, it’s shown that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are lots of over-the-top hijinks to be had in Saints Row and a few laughs at its pop culture references. And the great news for fans: a new instalment is set to come out in 2022.

Not to mention, enough GTA V mods will probably get your game looking a little like Saints Row, anyway.

 

Watch Dogs

Again, driving and shooting your way through cityscapes looms large in the world of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs franchise — but it does have quite a distinct feel from GTA. 

It has a gloomier, futuristic, and more dystopian atmosphere (not dissimilar to Cyberpunk 2077). Plus, it’s also very techy — as a hacker, you’ll be in a battle for the cyberspace of cities against corrupted authorities and criminals among others.

Just Cause

With four games and a standalone mobile adventure, the Just Cause franchise is an all-action monster that follows the adventures of the rogueish hero, Rico Rodriguez.

He’s a total badass, and with his bag of tricks at your disposal, you can cause a whole lot of destruction. And while the settings are quite different to the highly urbanised landscapes of Grand Theft Auto, its open world is similarly massive.

The Godfather

Now this one’s a doozy. The Godfather obviously sought to capitalise on the blueprint laid out by GTA, but at the same time, aimed to bring the epic lore of the Corleone family to life as a game. No mean feat!

It had to take some liberties with the story, the main one being that you played as a new character, Aldo Trapani. But for fans of the film, it does incorporate famous scenes and even the voices of some of its star actors.

Red Dead Redemption

Coming from the same team behind GTA, Rockstar Games, the Red Dead Redemption series shares obvious traits with its ancestor. It has plenty of open world adventures to explore, while toting some pretty heavy weaponry, of course.

But the differences are also striking too. Firstly, it’s a period piece, with Rockstar pulling out all the stops to make this game an incredibly authentic homage to the wild west. Plus, seeing as we’re heading back in time by more than a century, you’ll be on horseback most of the time, rather than behind the wheel.

Yakuza

With RPG elements and the ability to build your skills through combat, Yakuza is one of the games like GTA that offers a truly immersive experience.

Set in Tokyo, the series began back in the mid-2000s, yielding substantial commercial success in Japan and globally. Fans and critics alike enjoyed its revenge-based plot and the open world exploration of Tokyo’s back streets.

Far Cry

The Far Cry franchise embodies many of GTA’s character traits: exotic open worlds, with sprawling maps that allow you to go in basically any direction you want. It even spawned a movie, but the less said about that, the better.

Now up to Far Cry 6, they’ve really upped the ante in terms of the sheer evil of its antagonist (you thought he was bad in Breaking Bad). But owing to its aforementioned spirit of freedom, you’ll love it, especially if you’re a GTA fan.

 

L.A. Noire

It makes sense for Rockstar to publish a game like L.A. Noire. Another period piece, like Red Dead Redemption, but not as far back in time, not as brash as GTA, but still has an immersive open world at its core.

Though the original came out in 2011, the fact that an enhanced version for the subsequent generation of consoles (like Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch) is a testament to its ongoing popularity.

Mad Max

Of all the games like GTA on this list, Mad Max surely comes closest in terms of its car-based chaos. Developed by Avalanche Studios (aka the team behind Just Cause) it’s a raucous ride that holds up pretty well, despite being released more than five years ago.

Though it became somewhat of a cult classic, true mainstream success eluded the Mad Max game, perhaps because it was overshadowed by the film.