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GTA 5’s Map Compared To Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City

When it comes to the largest maps of virtual spaces, Grand Theft Auto 5 is a reigning champion, alongside other open-world greats like Skyrim and Cyberpunk 2077 – but does GTA 5‘s bright Los Santos or Cyberpunk 2077‘s darker, neon-lit Night City ultimately claim the largest? The answer may not be as simple as it might first appear.

Both games offer giant, detailed cityscapes for players to explore, set as the backdrop to compelling stories with plenty of activities (legal and otherwise) and huge casts of vibrant characters. Comparing the two directly runs into a number of potential hiccups, as the cities ultimately don’t resemble each other in many ways, despite being metropolises of considerable size with lots of nooks and crannies to get lost in. But there are enough points of comparison to make it an interesting study.


Related: What GTA 6’s Map Can Borrow From GTA 5’s Los Santos

Cyberpunk 2077‘s open-world map compares favorably to many similar games in terms of both scale and detail, but some of these strengths are also shared by GTA 5‘s map. Both games focus more strongly on urban sprawl than something like Skyrim or some Far Cry games, meaning that their maps are comparatively denser with architecture and less reliant on open, natural space. This differentiates them from something like Breath of the Wild, which has smaller towns set amid a vast world of plains, mountains, rivers, and valleys. Certainly no one would accuse BOTW or Skyrim of lacking detail (and most open-world games with an emphasis on wilderness, exploration, or survival are built with a different kind of detail in mind), but they also show it in very different ways, with generally less verticality and the expectation of longer treks as players move through the world. GTA 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 take decidedly different approaches.

GTA 5’s City Of Los Santos Is A Huge Open-World Map

To begin any sort of comparison, the overall size of each game’s city needs to be calculated – often no mean feat of mathematics when official data from a developer or publisher isn’t available. Thankfully, dedicated fans like domriccobene have provided something that seems robust enough to pass muster for a detailed comparison.

While the full methodology can be seen in the image topping the post itself, in brief, a “script that simulates LiDAR” (or Light Detection And Ranging) was used to look at elevation samples and generate a final mesh of GTA 5‘s world with exact measurements. This provides a final result of just over 80 square kilometers of total area, and an elevation range of -290 meters (or -951 feet) to 805.19 meters (or 2641 feet). These are not insignificant measurements, as it turns out: How big Skyrim‘s map actually is has been estimated by Martin Sojka at just over 37 km². Given Skyrim‘s reputation as one of the longest-lasting open worlds in gaming, with many fans actively playing 11 years after its initial release, GTA 5 having what appears to be double the playable area is highly impressive.

However, there are further nuances that diminish GTA 5‘s overall map size. In the same thread, domriccobene links to a comparison of GTA 5‘s land and water. Surprisingly, 36% of the total playable area is calculated to be ocean, leaving only about 51.3 km² of landmass that players can explore on foot. While GTA 5‘s ocean is certainly navigable by boat, and isn’t entirely just empty space, there’s not much compared to the land itself. While the overall measure of landmass is quite a bit larger than Skyrim, the question when comparing to Cyberpunk 2077‘s map becomes more about which is denser with interesting detail – and perhaps which has greater verticality.

Cyberpunk 2077’s Map Shows Off Night City’s Verticality At Every Turn

Cyberpunk 2077‘s Night City is different from Los Santos in a few key respects. To begin with, it’s a futuristic metropolis set in an era of high technology, and this changes certain elements of the way its city is laid out. In terms of overall size, it definitely loses out against GTA 5, as Twinfinite has estimated the general dimensions at about 43.5 km². That’s about half the size of GTA 5‘s overall map, though certainly a lot closer to its total landmass.

Related: Cyberpunk 2077: Why Night City Has No Birds

Where it gets complicated is considering how much taller Cyberpunk 2077‘s Night City is, with photo mode opportunities aplenty from rooftop vista points. Hard data is difficult to come by, but there’s no denying that Night City is an environment that hinges on verticality in a way that Los Santos simply doesn’t. Los Santos is closer to a real-world city, laid out sensibly in a way that’s easy for players and its AI characters to traverse. Night City feels fantastical, with enormous buildings that loom before the horizon, from high-rise apartments to the headquarters of megacorporations. Not all of these allow for player exploration, though there are plenty of main-story moments that do, and those who go off the beaten path will find that there are a variety of ways to scale the rooftops, balconies, and billboards of Cyberpunk 2077‘s dense districts.

Additionally, GTA 5‘s open world takes full advantage of more rural and natural spaces, where there’s less to actually do. This adds considerable variety, of course (mere size or density are not the only worthy measures of a map, after all), but Cyberpunk 2077‘s city has comparatively fewer (and smaller) non-urban spaces. While it’s impossible to say exactly how much these extra dimensions of density and verticality balance Cyberpunk 2077‘s relative feeling of packing more per square inch against GTA 5‘s somewhat larger size, it’s certainly apparent that there’s more to consider than sheer landmass alone.

In the end, both GTA 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 offer physically and mechanically similar experiences, but each does so through an environment that’s a character unto itself, with a distinct personality that sets it apart. While a direct comparison between the two may be a wash as far as declaring a winner, with too many variables lacking data for a definitive comparison, it can be said with certainty that these games provide a pair of the most immersive virtual cities yet seen in games. Fans of both GTA 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 are fans for good reason, and it will be up to future games to top these virtual cities – if they can.

Source: domriccobene/Reddit (2), Martin Sojka, Twinfinite

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