If you’re a fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, then you’ve probably been itching to get your hands on GTA 6. Unfortunately for all of us, GTA V is almost a decade old now, and Rockstar has made very few moves towards releasing the next instalment in the franchise. After all, GTA Online has been churning out profits for Rockstar. Hopefully, they’re putting these resources towards making GTA 6 epic, but it’s hard to tell at this point.
So while we wait, we need to find other games to satisfy our need for open-world mayhem and destructive driving. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 games to scratch that itch.
10. Lego City Undercover
Developer: TT Fusion
Initial Release: March 2013
Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Microsoft Windows
Take GTA 5 and put it into a sprawling Lego metropolis, and you have Lego City Undercover. I think we all have a soft spot for Lego games - their fun mechanics, interesting puzzles, and tongue-in-cheek humour make them fun and easy to play. Lego City Undercover follows a cop named Chase McCain, who has returned to bustling Lego City to pursue a dangerous crime boss named Rex Fury.
Surprisingly, Lego City Undercover shares a lot of characteristics with GTA V - a wide range of vehicles that can be piloted in any number of dangerous, illegal ways, a range of playable characters, and a crime-focused narrative. However, you get to experience an interesting role reversal, playing as a character who’s on the side of the law. If you’re looking for a fun game that you can just pick up and play, Lego City Undercover might be for you.
9. The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Initial Release: September 2003
Platforms: GCN, PS2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows
This is a weird entry, but many regard The Simpsons: Hit & Run as GTA 5 for kids. The Simpsons and their friend Apu have become caught up in an alien conspiracy following a range of strange incidents happening in Springfield - visits from mysterious vans, crop circles appearing in fields, and a new flavour of Buzz Cola that makes people go insane.
You might be surprised to learn that this game was actually inspired by GTA 5 - its mechanics, open-world, and character development were all built to emulate Rockstar’s crime blockbuster. The most delightful thing about The Simpsons: Hit & Run is that, while it is built to emulate GTA 5, it retains the surrealism and ridiculousness of The Simpsons, making it a fantastically fun romp that has all of the wild antics of GTA V with none of the difficulty.
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
Initial Release: October 2006
Platforms: PS2, Wii, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS
This game might make you nostalgic for the schoolyard - or terrified, depending on how your childhood was. Bully follows Jimmy Hopkins, a juvenile delinquent who has been enrolled at the prestigious Bullworth Academy. Players follow Jimmy as he attempts to rise through the ranks of middle school, gaining popularity so that he’ll stop getting bullied.
Bully is like if GTA 5 took place when Michael, Franklin, and Trevor were in middle school. There’s a wide range of vehicles just begging to be used recklessly - skateboards, go-karts, scooters, bicycles, and anything else that a kid doesn’t need a license to drive. You can even grab onto the back of a car while you’re on a skateboard, which is just the kind of ridiculously dangerous stunt that I can picture Trevor pulling off on a regular basis. The semi-open world of Bullworth is ripe for exploring, picking fights, making allies, and getting up to all sorts of mischief. The game even has a kid’s version of the Wanted mechanic in GTA 5, known as a “trouble meter.”
7. L.A. Noire
Developer: Team Bondi
Initial Release: May 2011
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch
This beautiful historical detective game might not seem like it has anything in common with GTA 5, but look a little closer and you’ll see the resemblance. The game follows Detective Cole Phelps, who is rising through the ranks of the LAPD while trying to solve several high profile cases. Players will navigate a beautifully rendered version of Los Angeles in 1947, search for clues at crime scenes, and interrogate suspects to solve the case.
Again, this is a game that’s a role reversal from GTA V - the main character is a police officer on the side of the law, rather than someone engaging in criminal behaviour. The fast-paced nature of car chases and gunfights will be familiar to GTA fans, but the added investigative and puzzle elements brings something new to the table that might tide you over until GTA 6 is released.
6. Far Cry 5
Initial Release: March 2018
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia
If you’re searching for an intense game filled with chases and gunfights, Far Cry 5 might be a good fit for you. You play as an unnamed deputy sheriff who’s become trapped in remote Hope County, Montana. A sinister doomsday cult led by the enigmatic Joseph Seed has taken over the country, kidnapping and terrorizing the residents. The player must fight back against the cult, assisting the residents of Hope County in regaining their freedom.
Far Cry is another blockbuster franchise alongside GTA, and the two share a lot of similar characteristics. Both franchises feature a sort of lawless landscape for players to conduct themselves within, as well as open-world maps that allow for endless exploration. Additionally, both franchises feature a sort of tongue-in-cheek satire of real life that can be refreshing for players of “gritty realism” games like Call of Duty.
5. Just Cause 4
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Initial Release: December 2014
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One
If you’re looking for a game that errs on the side of the ridiculous (and you’ve already played The Simpsons: Hit & Run) then Just Cause 4 might be for you. The game’s serious premise is that protagonist Rico Rodriguez has come to the fictional South American country of Solis to take on the world’s most powerful private army - The Black Hand.
The game’s less serious premise is that you can pretty much do whatever you want - just cause. Rico Rodriguez is armed with a huge range of tools that would make Inspector Gadget jealous, including a Batman-style grappling hook, a wingsuit that essentially gives him the power of flight, and various balloons and rockets that you can attach to various objects to cause even more mayhem. If you’re a fan of the open-world mischief potential of GTA 5, you’ll love Just Cause 4.
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Studios
Initial Release: October 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Stadia
If you weren’t living underneath a rock in 2018, then you’ve probably already heard about Red Dead Redemption 2. The second instalment in the Red Dead universe brings us back to a fictionalized version of the Western US in 1899. The player follows Arthur Morgan, an outlaw attempting to survive the decline of the Wild West.
Beyond being a gorgeous game with a poignant story and excellent mechanic, Red Dead Redemption 2 will push all the right buttons for fans of GTA 5. It’s an open world that you are free to explore at your leisure, riding horses, camping, and shooting anyone who gets in your way if you feel like it. The game even features a bounty system that is the spitting image of the “wanted” system in GTA V. Just in case you missed being hunted down for your crimes.
3. Mafia: The Definitive Edition
Developer: Hangar 13
Initial Release: September 2020
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One
This is a remake of the popular 2002 game, and it should not be missed. You play Tommy Angelo, a Sicilian-American cab driver that stumbled into an accidental life of crime after being forced to help members of a prominent crime family escape an ambush. Angelo must fight for his life and the lives of the ones he loves as he gets deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld of the city of Lost Heaven.
Mafia is a beautiful homage to old gangster movies, and it’s an excellent title to fill the void of GTA V. Lost Heaven is an open world, and you’re allowed to do as you please while playing the game. The remake has introduced motorcycles, adding even more potential to police chases and other hijinks.
2. Watch Dogs 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Initial Release: November 2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Stadia
Watch Dogs 2 follows Marcus Holloway, a hacker battling against San Francisco’s ctOS surveillance system with a radical hacking group called DedSec. As Marcus gets deeper and deeper into his fight against the blooming surveillance state, he must conduct more and more high-risk missions to keep his cause alive.
Beyond being an interesting study of the pros and cons of technology, Watch Dogs 2 is incredibly fun today. The punk aesthetics, interesting missions, and cool game mechanics make it a delight to experience, and it will definitely fill the GTA V void. You’re allowed to roam the massive open-world map of San Francisco, either on foot or using a wide range of fun vehicles. You can also 3D print your own weapons, making combat endlessly interesting.
Honourable Mention: Yakuza 0
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Initial Release: March 2015
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
The Yakuza series has built its reputation as the 'GTA of the East' and there are certainly many parallels between the two. Both of the games are open world and, more often than not, your character is a part of a criminal gang. However, the core of Yakuza 0 is pretty different from that of GTA. Instead of a sprawling open world, Yakuza 0 is based in Kamurocho and Sotenbori, fictionalized recreations of Tokyo's Kabukichō and Osaka's Dōtonbori areas respectively. You can walk from one end of the map to the other within a few minutes. But what it lacks in size, Yakuza makes up in density.
The map of Yakuza 0 is densely packed with stories, mini-games, interactive characters, building you can enter and rival gangs. While some of the encounters are as simple as beating up a rival gang, some stories just take a weird turn. The game features Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, two of the most prominent personalities in the gaming culture, as the two main playable characters. All in all, Yakuza 0 will keep you on the hook till GTA VI finally comes out. Plus, if you do like Yakuza 0, there are six other titles in the chronology plus the recently released Yakuza: Like A Dragon that takes place from the eyes of another protagonist.
1. Sleeping Dogs
Developer: United Front Games
Initial Release: August 2012
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, macOS
If you’re getting tired of running around and causing mayhem in American cities, Sleeping Dogs is a refreshing change. It’s set in a gorgeous rendering of Hong Kong, and the player takes on the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop attempting to infiltrate the Sun On Yee triad.
Despite its age, Sleeping Dogs is perhaps the best counterpart to GTA V that we’ve seen in a while. The combat system is really similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum, allowing you to attack opponents from any direction, grapple them, and perform countermoves. As with some of the other entries on this list, you can enjoy a role reversal by being on the other side of the law - though that won’t stop you from committing crimes if it means you can continue infiltrating the triad.
And there you have it! 10 games to try out while you’re patiently (or impatiently) waiting for GTA 6. We hope this list helps you discover your new favourite game, or revisit an old favourite.