Best Open World Games | Top 10 Open World Games
Ever since the release of games like Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall and the original Grand Theft Auto, gamers have experienced an evolution in open world titles - whether that means an RPG, a fantasy adventure, or an action title that opens up the environment for storytelling. Since that time, players have enjoyed exploring their surroundings, finding hidden areas, or discovering side quests that reap great reward.
In recent history, game developers have pushed the boundaries of what it means to be an open world. They’ve built off of the base that was originated and created games that have taken the industry by storm.
Top 10 Best Open World Games
In the following list, we list the ten best open world games from the last decade that are easily accessible and worth a playthrough.
10. MGS5: The Phantom Pain (2015)
Longtime fans to the Metal Gear Solid franchise found a welcome surprise in The Phantom Pain when the game allowed for open exploration and sandbox gameplay, allowing players to come upon enemy strongholds and creatively come up with their ways of infiltration. This was taking the stealth fantasy of previous games and letting the player make the choices, which came as a huge selling point.
There’s also a nice variety of vehicles, including jeeps or horses that you can use to traverse the open world. This one makes a list due to the vast changes it made to a longtime franchise.
9. Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014)
Although Inquisition is not one solid map that players can travel from one end to the other, the game has a wide variety of regions that can easily be traveled to that have their societies, characters, backstories, and enemies to deal with. This makes the world feel vibrant and alive, sufficiently developed to the highest degree.
Each region has its size-able maps that encourage the players to explore, especially with the side quests, mini-bosses, and item collecting that the game is so well known for.
8. Infamous: Second Son (2014)
The third installment in the Infamous franchise, Second Son takes all the good qualities of the first two games and pushes the envelope, especially regarding the open world elements. Giving you certain powers and abilities, it’s up to players to determine if they will lean toward being a hero or a villain. While exploring the world, there are multiple opportunities to lean the character one way or the other. This makes for hours of gameplay, not only in the main story but in the side quests and random events that take place throughout the city’s beautiful landscape.
The game also offers plenty of enemy strongholds to destroy with your powers, opening up locked regions of the city and expanding the map for further exploration. Travel around the map is also unique in that players utilize the main character’s superpowers to travel from building to building.
7. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
It’s not often that games delve deep into history’s lore and set it in a period not frequently talked about in gaming culture, but the first Assassin’s Creed did just that. Although there are plenty of titles in the franchise to give a shoutout to, we’re going to mention the original game for its groundbreaking release. Taking place during the crusades of the 1100s, the world was fresh to open world gaming enthusiasts, giving them a new setting, new story, and new things to discover.
With plenty of side quests and things to do within the cities and open landscapes, Assassin’s Creed is a worthy title for the mention. Although the franchise has significantly evolved over the years since this one’s release, it deserves credit for being a pioneer in open world gaming.
6. Far Cry 3 (2012)
In the previous Far Cry game, the open world was beautiful and exotic but stapled down by the main character’s malaria. Many gamers found this element annoying, as it took away from the overall enjoyment of the open world. Far Cry 3 took that away and gave players something new. Ubisoft created a different experience with a protagonist that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This made for exciting storytelling, especially regarding how that character responded to the world around him.
There are many things to do in Far Cry 3 including the main story, side quests, hunting, collectibles, enemy compounds, and even just good old exploration. Players not only found freedom in discovering the map but also in combat choices. Much of the fun of the open world was interacting with the environment, even the wildlife, who could be manipulated to turn on enemies in combat.
5. Fallout 4 (2015)
Although Fallout 4 was one of the more divisive titles in recent years, gamers can’t deny that the open world elements and the environment of the game were terrific. Taking place in post-apocalyptic Boston, players can traverse the wasteland and see some of the landmarks that the city has to offer - specifically the baseball stadium turned refuge city. Bethesda indeed encourages free roaming in this game, more so than previous titles like Fallout 3 and New Vegas because of the new settlement feature, where players can build settlements using whatever materials they find out in the open.
4. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
Another title from Bethesda, Oblivion blew gamers away upon release, despite it being the fourth title in the long-running franchise. Many die-hard fans still call the third game, Morrowind, the best game in the series, but it’s hard to deny the nuances that the Oblivion map had to offer. Taking place in the fantasy region of Cyrodil, a smaller section of Tamriel, the map had a variety of land types. Go north; you’d be in the snowy mountains. Go south, you’d find yourself in the swamps. West led players toward more open plains and the coastal city. East, more dense forests. Each section of the map had its enemies, cities, and things to discover which led to hours of fun that didn’t necessarily include the main storyline.
3. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
The first game introduced us to the possibilities of free roam westerns, but the sequel built off of that and expanded in satisfying ways. First, the map was much larger than the original and on top of that, more significant than many other open world games. Although much of the environment is wilderness - forests, plains, swamps, and mountains, each region is recognizable by its characteristics. There are also numerous settlements and large cities within the game that are teeming with side quests and random events to keep players busy.
This is also great for horseback riding where the player can ride from point A to point B, relaxing and enjoying the views along the way. It’s a chance to soak in what Rockstar has created and appreciated the graphical phenomenon.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
Acclaimed by many fantasy and adventure enthusiasts as one of the best games in recent history, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took the world by storm with its deep lore, impactful story, and open world elements that made it feel like a real RPG. For instance, exploration was encouraged, but some areas would be outranked for the player’s skill levels, forcing them to go back, upgrade, and return later. This developed curiosity in the players as they wondered what was beyond what they couldn’t get passed. It also made the world feel more dangerous than other RPGs, giving the setting and tone more realism.
1. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Released in 2013, GTA V still goes strong in the gaming community both online and in single-player. Luckily, the online map and single-player map are generally the same, so both game types get the shout out here. In previous titles, Grand Theft Auto has been the pioneer in open world entertainment, taking us to fictionalized versions of real cities that we know so well today. GTA V completely recreated Los Angeles, put a fake name stamp on it, and repackaged it for our entertainment. Driving from the downtown area to the outskirts of the city is always entertaining, and it shows off Rockstar’s expert ability to keep a bit of variety in their maps. Regions include downtown, woodland areas, deserts, and coastal areas. There are also numerous types of bikes, cars, boats, and aircraft to either buy or steal, so there’s never a dull moment.