**Ultima 7** (it's actually two games). I feel like it is pretty intense in its density, like everyone is impressed by Oblivion when it showed guards changed shifts but not only was Ultima 7 doing this before it actually showed guards lighting individual street lanterns as evening rolls around. They would also INSPECT each one if they had gone out from a storm or you the player put one out. NPCs will gather food and bake items step by step (which you can also do too) open shutters and windows when its warm, hunker down during storms. Game also had a lunar calendar system in addition to typical weekly world schedule as the game's fast travel by gate is based on lunar phases of the world. All this and more from 1992. Not a huge gameworld (this is just the first one) but a lot of stuffed in a 1x1 km^(2) world. [https://www.kxmode.com/u7map](https://www.kxmode.com/u7map)


Gothic 1/2 for sure. Especially the new mod (Chronicles of Myrtana) that came out recently. There are only few cities in these games but every nook and corner has purpose. Every NPC lives somewhere, every NPC is killable and interactable. Every house has unique loot if you are the sneaky one. Very solid, "non-mainstream" quests, no handholding. And it's not just cities. The worlds the games are in are rather small, but there's like billion of hidden treasures, caves, corpses with loot. The terrain is the opposite from flat and generic.


I love Divinity Original Sin 2 for that. Lots of love for details and you can explore pretty much every houses rooms, cellars etc, if they have some. You can literally find some random key in a box that was stored under a shelf and that'll open a secret stash hidden somewhere in the house or random stuff like that. It's a slow paced DnD-esque rpg with tactical turn based combat, lots of interesting dialog and impactful decisions to make and real-time exploration of a cool world. The slow pace isn't for everyone, but if you can appreciate it, it's a fantastic game!


Yakuza games and the first two Shenmue games are pretty dense. Metropolis Street Racer and Project Gotham Racing (first one has free roam) are more about detailed, dense cities than most racing games set in urban locations. And speaking of detailed cities, both The Getaway games and L.A. Noire can also be considered dense as they take place in detailed 1/1 scale chunks of real cities.


Zelda Majora’s Mask. Clock town particularly is very dense with content


Kingdom come deliverance


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Human Revolution have smaller hubs that are densely packed with details and things to discover.


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is whats you're looking for


Yakuza, easily. Take the same volume of content as an open world and squeeze it into a Japanese neighbourhood no bigger than a few blocks.


Lost ark. There’s never down time if you’re always on the move


Elden Ring - you're stumbling into something trying to murder you or into some place where something that tries to murder you lives. Most dense open world I've ever seen, pick a direction and walk for a minute you'll always find something new.


[Off-peak](https://cosmoddd.itch.io/off-peak), small but culturally dense world


Daggerfall Remastered


Older AC games (Unity, Syndicate)