The worlds we explore in games have never been better and while they continue to improve we often ignore the growing density within these environments. Games have continued to expand in size offering larger areas to explore though I'm starting to notice a bit more focus on fleshing out those areas.
The prime example would be the recent Dead Rising 4 which seems to be what the original game aimed for. Dead Rising was great in that you could pick up items from a number of stores to kill zombies with, but now those shops are even more impressive. Not only can you run through a seamless world, most of the buildings or shops are full of dense content.
There are tons of items on shelves that are there for display, to be used or for interaction and this greatly improves the realism. Not only is the entire mall now a full place filled with items to grab, there's now a town surrounding it as well. While not everyone will care about this it's a sudden shift towards really hitting that target of providing a real space to explore.
Another great example is Watch Dogs 2 which isn't quite on the same level, but instead takes a different approach to capturing the same feeling. The shops that are present contain a similar amount of content, but it's the outdoor areas that are beautifully captured. There are vehicles/electronics everywhere that can be controlled, piles of regular people living their daily lives that each seem have a unique story to them and a dynamic world. It's crazy that you can just sit there reading audio logs from people or texts on their phones (and creepy) with each response being unique.
While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered isn't a new game, the HD revamp does also take the game towards this step. The world not only looks better with the improved textures, but is much more luscious. The outdoor areas are particularly enhanced with the density of plants and grass being much higher creating a better sense of realism. Particle effects are also amped up along with shadows that create a better sense of space and it's great. You can also say much of the same from Gears of War: Ultimate Edition last year with it's perfectly touched up landscape, but I'm still disappointing that the skybox is still over there.
Most players will just enjoy the amazing stories or worlds that games are building towards in modern times, but the liveliness is also something that should be taken into consideration. It's incredible to see how dense the environments are becoming and that should really help make every section of a game feel special. There's certainly more of an impact when you venture into a new space within a gaming world and by creating a sense of exploration I'm sure people will be more immersed in the set pieces they journey through.
Dead Rising 4 is again a particularly great example of this and it's fantastic how much density is provided. I should also give a mention to survival type games and while they're mostly in early access they seem to be taking advantage of creating large spaces that are filled with items. DayZ seems to be a bit towards that path if they'd update it more having many buildings and items to shuffle through. Ark: Survival Evolved is probably the best case for this point as its large spaces are filled with items or animals to cut down and craft with making a dinosaur landscape as real as it probably could be.
Read why the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Campaign is Too Morbid
Read about "Xbox Backwards Compatibility: One Year Later"