The short answer is no, Free City is not an actual video game you can go out and play right now. It is a fictional game world created for the movie Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds. But even though it‘s not real, Free City draws heavy inspiration from many existing popular games, most notably Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite. Let‘s take a closer look at the various real-life gaming influences that helped shape Free City into the chaotic, vibrant virtual metropolis we see in the film.
GTA DNA – The Core of Free City
At its core, Free City is undeniably based on Grand Theft Auto. The filmmakers essentially took the standard GTA framework and formula, gave it a cartoony reskin, and crafted their own story around it.
As a gamer myself, I immediately recognized Free City‘s DNA as pure uncut Rockstar Games. The ability to freely roam a massive urban playground, steal cars, get into epic police chases, run over pedestrians – this is all quintessential GTA. Even little gameplay touches like eating food to regain health are direct nods to the infamous crime simulator franchise.
Specific elements Free City adapted from GTA:
- Huge open world city with different interlocking neighborhoods you unlock over time.
- Mix of foot travel, driving, and public transport to navigate the map.
- Wide variety of vehicles you can commandeer at will, from cars and bikes to aircraft.
- Missions and quests that drive progression through the main storyline.
- Ability to go on random rampages and attack innocent NPCs.
- Earning money rewards more bad behavior, buying exotic items and safehouses.
- Police response escalates from lowly patrol cops to SWAT teams and military hardware.
-MASS PARODY of brands, ads, radio stations – the GTA satire is strong with Free City.
Clearly the filmmakers recognized that GTA‘s addictive sandbox of urban chaos was the perfect template to build their world upon. The core loop of causing mayhem and madness transcends into blockbuster cinema incredibly well.
Fortnite Fashion – A Fresh Visual Style
Fortnite‘s impact on Free City seems limited to the surface and aesthetics. The casual gamer viewers of the film would easily recognize Fortnite‘s colorful, cartoonish flavor permeating the visuals.
Let‘s compare some of the notable Fortnite contributions:
Bright, glossy graphics with vibrant colors and a stylized look. A big contrast to GTA‘s more realistic gritty textures.
Crazy character customization with hundreds of cosmetic skins, outfits, accessories, and emotes for personal expression.
Dance moves and goofy poses your character can bust out, straight out of Fortnite‘s playbook.
Weekly updates that alter the world, introducing new weapons, events, etc. The ever-changing live service model.
Virtual currency (V-Bucks in Fortnite) to purchase battle passes, skins, etc. Free City has credits.
So Fortnite provided the needed aesthetic ingredients to give Free City a more family friendly, PG-13 sheen compared to GTA‘s hard M rating. It helped separate Free City as its own entity visually.
The Best of the Rest – Multiplayer Hits
Besides the obvious GTA and Fortnite influences, Free City pieced together components from many other popular online multiplayer titles of recent years. These elements helped round out the experience into something fresh and unique.
Some examples include:
Team-based PvP modes are reminiscent of Overwatch, Valorant, or League of Legends.
Hub cities where players congregate and socialize are straight out of MMOs like World of Warcraft.
Diablo and Borderlands inspired the loot system of getting better gear by grinding enemies.
Watch Dogs and Spider-Man gave Free City its traversal and movement around a 3D open world.
By sampling the most immediately recognizable aspects of multiplayer hits, Free City quickly establishes itself as a "greatest hits" compilation pulling from the best of the gaming world. This shorthand helps effectively sell the illusion that Free City is a living, breathing game.
The Heart of the City – NYC and Liberty City
No open world city can exist in a vacuum without taking inspiration from real-life metropolises, and Free City is no exception. The skeletal foundation upon which the creators built Free City‘s downtown, suburbs, slums, etc appears to be heavily modeled after New York City.
More specifically, it takes after New York as portrayed in the GTA series‘ Liberty City. The look, feel, culture, architecture, and layout of Liberty City pulls directly from NYC. So by emulating GTA, Free City indirectly baked in lots of NYC influence as well.
As a New Yorker myself, I picked up on countless little details that reflected my city:
The urban grid system of streets and avenues
Diverse neighborhoods like Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens, etc seem to have standalone counterparts in Free City
An iconic central park for recreation
A massive modern art museum
Yellow taxi cabs choking the streets
Subway and elevated trains connecting the boroughs
Skyscrapers galore that house corporations
So if you look closely, you can spot traces of the real New York City woven into the virtual fabric of Free City throughout the film.
Free City By the Numbers
To better understand the massive scope and ambition of Free City, let‘s break down some key statistics that have been revealed about this fictional game world:
273 million – Reported registered players, emphasizing the mainstream popularity of Free City.
$27 billion – Annual revenue generated by the game according to Antwan, highlighting its commercial dominance.
15,000 – Concurrent players who can occupy Free City‘s servers at once, teasing its MMO scale.
8 years – Free City has been live and continuously updated since its initial launch, showing its longevity.
5.43 TB – Full install size of Free City mentioned in the movie, revealing just how huge its open world is. For reference, Grand Theft Auto V was only 65 GB.
612 km^2 – Estimated maximum playable area based on install size, dwarfing most open world games.
These crazy statistics help ground the fictional Free City as a believable juggernaut that could exist in real life. The creators clearly put thought into making its success seem plausible.
Free City – Gaming‘s Greatest Hits
At the end of the day, Free City represents an assemblage of the most compelling ingredients plucked from gaming‘s greatest open world hits of the past decade. By remixing the most familiar elements that millions of players would instantly recognize, the filmmakers succeeded in making Free City feel like a lived-in virtual extension of our own world.
So while not actually real, Free City certainly feels like it could be the next evolutionary step in emergent open world game design. It takes the established formulas we know and love and pushes into fresh new territory. Who knows – we may actually get a crack at exploring this immersive urban jungle for ourselves one day if Free City makes the leap from silver screen to home console!