Creating an open, living, breathing world is probably the culmination of everything game design. It feels like every other game today is, if not a fully open world, at least going for more open areas with multiple ways to tackle them. We decided to pick the best ones for your convenience. So, without further ado, here are, in no particular order, top open world games to date.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is among the newest entries on the list and perhaps the visually most impressive. It is set in a mysterious land where humans live alongside robotic animals whose purpose is yours to uncover. Although the mystery of what happened to the world pushes the story, the world itself is often the main character. The clean, realistic visual aesthetic is a marvel to look at and the built in photo mode can produce insane screenshots. It is alive in every sense of the word with realistic and beautiful flora, fauna, human tribes, cities and a lot more. Add impressive wind, weather, and particle effects and you have an open world game that will grip you and won't let go until you exhaust every last bit of content out of it. It most certainly did that to me.
Just Cause 3
Just Cause series has always been a proud staple of gigantic open worlds and Just Cause 3 is no different. Set in Medici, a fictional land that draws inspiration from the Mediterranean countries is absolutely enormous. The starting island is bigger than the entirety of GTA V map. Every bit of it is dotted with military bases, towns, cities, trains and it looks gorgeous. The traversal of this land is most definitely the high point of it all – the grappling hook/parachute/wingsuit combo and later a jetpack are a joy to use and glide across the world. Add tethers that can attract objects to one another and I can guarantee that you can use those tools to have an insane amount of fun without even touching the missions and other content which includes giant robots, drones, thunder storm orbital weapons and all sorts of other craziness.
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Ah, the definitive must have open world RPG game that should be in any "best of" list for anything game related. The story, the characters and the world of Witcher 3 and its expansions is worthy of every praise coming its way. It's essentially the Game of Thrones of gaming. It is not a classic fantasy RPG where most of the story and characters are black and white bad or evil. Witcher operates in the huge gray area and the numerous character dealings can lead to many unforeseen consequences much much later in the game. All of this happens in a beautifully realized open world that will make your jaw drop.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim originally released in 2011! The fact that it's still a relevant game, with modding still going strong and multiple re-releases on other platforms is a true testament to how great it is. Set in Skyrim, a northern region of Tamriel, you, the player, take control of a Dragonborn character of your own creation and adventure across the beautiful, mostly snowy, but otherwise a diverse region, both in weather and people. It's an instant classic that can be brought up to today's standard and beyond easily with graphical mods and if you missed this one, you were under a huge rock your entire life.
Assassins Creed: Black Flag
The best Assassins Creed game to date. Period. Black Flag brought something new to the table of what was becoming a stale franchise and left the fans, myself included hungry for more. There were even ideas of making Black Flag its own separate franchise that unfortunately never came to fruition. The huge Carribean slice of sea and land were yours to explore, plunder and sing your merry chants into the sunset. The best Assassins Creed game and a wonderfully realized pirate fantasy is a must if you are a fan of either.
Red Dead Redemption
Open world western made by Rockstar? Sign me right up! Hard to believe this one is older than Skyrim and originally released in 2010. If the fact that it still populates this and similar lists of open world games after 7 years is not enough for you then you are beyond salvation. This game has it all, the story, the gameplay, the visuals – as you would expect from a Rockstar, they polished this one to perfection. This one is a must even if you are not a fan of the setting, you might just become one.
THE LEGEND OF Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
The most recent game on this list, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is a definitive system seller beast of a game. Hyrule has never looked so good in this open world Zelda game. This game genuinely sparked that feeling from the beginning of my gaming days – the joyous exploration of the unknown. The huge open world will keep you busy for hours on end. Thanks to the amazing and stylish visuals the task of hunting down dozens of shrines and a thousand Koroks is never dull and the surprising, realistic way the world behaves will constantly keep a smile on your face.
Grand Theft Auto 5
Do I even need to say a word? This game is still at the top of best selling charts month after month, 4 years after release. After you done goofing around Los Santos and the surrounding area doing heists and wreaking all sorts of havoc in single-player, jump on over to GTA Online to do this and much much more with other people. Rockstar's stamp of quality is on this one as well, with beautifully realized, flawed characters, funny and blockbuster story and the world that is a joy to just to drive around.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 is a great game. It's like a Bruce Banner exploding into a pop-culture, stylish Hulk every step of the way. From the realistic rendition of San Francisco to music, the main characters, and quests. It even features a seamless drop-in drop-out multiplayer. Whether you decide to carve a bloody path across San Francisco or go for non-lethal stealth/hacking approach, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun doing it.
Final Fantasy XV
When your game is in development for 11 years it is bound to either be a massive fail or a masterpiece. Well, it's neither in this case, but luckily, closer to the former. And it broke franchise sale records. This is due to the fact that this game is more real time action oriented rather than being turn-based. Plus, it is set in a wonderful world of Eos which is a reality/fantasy mix that hits all the right notes of a great game world design. It has huge, beautiful vistas, areas to explore, dungeons, massive enemies. This one also features a half-understandable story with Prince Noctis and his 3 friends being at the center of it. Another one where simply driving around is a joy while that Calling For Rain track is playing in the background.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Arkham Knight is a culmination of the Arkham series. "Be the Batman" was once the tagline of this game and nothing describes the game better. Drive, glide and smack thugs around Gotham while hunting down the Arkham Knight and Scarecrow, as well as numerous other DC villains. It features a fun and atmospheric open world where almost no quest is the same or boring and you will be left wanting more even once you clear them all.
Metal Gear Solid V
Wow, who knew that Metal Gear Solid will make such a great open-world game? Quirky story and characters aside, this game is a shining diamond of open world stealth gaming. The sheer size of the world, coupled with interesting missions and the amount of way to tackle them is amazing. Openness is the word of the day with MGS V, since approaching any situation is completely up to you. It helps that the game world is beautiful, realistic and believable. This one is unskippable.
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
I always thought that Mordor was just a volcanic wasteland. Boy, did this game prove me wrong. The diverse, living and dynamic world is a fusion of different elements. The Nemesis system, where your enemies are randomly generated, remember you and your actions from previous encounters is a thing that makes this game really unique. Couple that with a big open world that is your to traverse and conquer using your Wraith super powers and you are aboard the fun train.
So there you have it. Our top 10 list of open world games. Do you agree with it? Any games you feel like we should add? Sound off in the comments below.