Efficient Gaming #4 (Open World Edition)

By | 12/22/2017

It’s time for the last efficient gaming update of 2017.  This series won’t end in 2018. We will be closing this “volume” and starting a new list in in the new year.  The current (2017) roster of games will be rolled into one easily accessible link on the Efficient Gaming page.  In case you haven’t been with us up to this point, the efficient gaming list highlights games that should be good for those that don’t have a lot of spare time and want to maximize their gaming enjoyment.  We usually showcase games that are fairly modern and feature design elements that are conducive to short gaming sessions.

Forza Horizon 3

Link: Forza Horizon 3 Amazon
Platform: Xbox One / PC (Windows 10 Only)
Game Type: Racing Arcade
Format: Single / Online Multi
Cost: ~$29.99 USD + DLC
Avg Session Time: ~20 minutes to 2 hours

The Forza Horizon series is the arcade cousin to the simulation oriented Forza main series (in the previous efficient gaming article we featured Forza 6).  Both Forza games feature a large roster of cars and places to drive them, but the difference is in how each game accomplishes that goal.   The Horizon series takes Forza off the simulation “rails” and delivers a gameplay experience much more similar to the Need for Speed family of games.  You won’t find specific race tracks such as Watkin Glen in FH3.  Instead, Turn 10 delivers an impressive open world racing experience that offers so much to do that it can be overwhelming at times.  The basic gameplay loop of FH3 involves driving to a specific location on the map and taking part in an event at that location.  Events consist of a wide variety of races, stunts, and challenges.  Without a doubt, there is a lot to do in FH3.  If you are the type of player that prefers one event type over the other, you won’t be missing out on much by ignoring certain events.  FH3 is even flexible enough that each event can be tailored to whatever vehicle type (truck, car, rally, saloon, classics, etc) you want to use.  It is a fantastically customizable game (in many aspects, including the cars).

FH3 Map

FH3 contains a lot of different races, challenges, and collectibles. This small section is only 25% of the map.

A word of caution of those on Windows 10: There are stability and crashing issues in the Windows client.  The game has been patched several times since launch and while those patches have made some improvement, the Windows 10 client is surprisingly unstable.  Even with the bugs, I prefer the Windows version (better framerate and graphical options). I have had long play sessions without issues but unfortunately it is hard to predict.  It is also worth noting that FH3 is a Play Anywhere title.  If you buy it on Xbox One you also get a Win 10 copy (and vice versa).

Even with the buggy Windows 10 client, Forza Horizon 3 is a great title for efficient gaming.  Its massive roster of vehicles and customizable events are perfect for short (and long) gaming sessions.  If you are the type that enjoys racing games with arcade-style physics, check it out.  There is just something beautiful about smashing through the forest in a Lamborghini.

I did not participate in any of the online modes.  They do exist, however, and probably make for an enjoyable competitive/cooperative experience.  You mileage may vary!


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

Link: Ubisoft Product Page
Platform: Xbox One / PS4 / Windows PC (7, 8.1, 10)
Game Type: Open World Military Combat
Format: Single / Online Co-op / Online PvP 
Cost: ~$39.99 USD (goes on sales often through Steam and Uplay)
Avg Session Time: ~20 minutes to 2 hours

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (GRW) is a game that I feel deserves more praise than it received.  If you look at reviews and forums in regards to GRW, you get the feeling that it’s “just another Ubisoft fetch quest game.”  There is some truth to the notion that this is “another Ubi fetch game” but don’t be so quick to write it off.  I want to give credit where credit is due: Ubisoft did a damn good job in creating an open world military shooter where the player can pick and choose how they approach each mission or situation.

GRW is essentially the Grand Theft Auto of open world military games.  The player is dropped off in the middle of the Bolivian landscape and can approach each target or mission as they see fit.  Want to sneak up on the bad guys and pick them off with a sniper rifle?  Go ahead.  How about hijacking a truck and opening fire from within?  Plausible.  You can always use my personal favorite: Steal a helicopter and rain freedom down on your enemy.

GRW Helo

GRW is absolutely beautiful (when you’re not raining hellfire down on the cartel).

The story revolves around a drug cartel that has seized control of a large portion of Bolivia.  As usual, America is here to save the day.  In single player mode you control one ghost while the A.I. controls three.  The A.I. isn’t brilliant but it’s not completely inept.  They do prove themselves to be competent shooters and will (usually) obey commands without getting themselves killed.  As with most Tom Clancy games, there is an array of gadgets and tools (such as sync shot) at your disposal.  GRW isn’t the deepest Ghost Recon game but it makes up for it by the sheer variety of ways you can approach most missions.

GRW Sniper

Prepping a shot with a sniper rifle.

Ubisoft has supported the game with a lot of updates and patches, including a PvP mode.  I haven’t personally run any PvP scenarios yet but I am aware that the PvP mode, in general, is receiving a lot of good reviews.  GRW’s biggest strength probably lies in its co-op gameplay.  Convince a friend to buy this game (it goes on sale a lot) because playing together is simply a lot of fun.  A friend of mine purchased the game at the same time I did and even after 30 hours of game time, we still find exciting ways to deliver freedom to the people of Bolivia.

On a technical level, Ubisoft has crafted a great looking game but be wary of a few bugs.  A.I. team members can get stuck (they eventually respawn) and there have been some complaints about PC performance.  I am running a GTX1070 and I consistently hit around 80-100 FPS on high settings.  My understanding is that the game performs better now that Ubisoft has released several patches.  Personally, I haven’t had any major issues but I know some people still have performance problems.  Overall GRW is an enjoyable experience that gets even better in co-op mode.  Being able to drop in and out of the action instantly makes this a perfect game for efficient gaming.


That wraps up Efficient Gaming for 2017.  I hope you found these useful and we look forward to a new list in 2018!  Please let us know (in comments or on Twitter) if you have any efficient gaming recommendations.