The open-world is the most popular genre of a video game over the past eight generations. GTA and other big-name franchises like Ghost Recon, Metal Gear Solid, and Mafia have all taken the same route, but with mixed results. There are many great open-world games that you can enjoy.
What makes an open-world game? The definition of an open-world game can be played quickly and without restrictions. However, it is a vast area you can explore and do whatever you want. As you’ll see, the open world doesn’t always have to be large to qualify.
50 Best Open World Games of All Time
Let’s go through the top Open World games of all time.
No one is going to pretend that ELEX can make you look like a genius. Its first ten hours are a bit rough around the edges, and it has some bizarre mechanics. You can overcome all the pain and find the unexpected gem at the center. This is how you do it.
In a post-apocalyptic setting, factions rule. You are an ex-Alb and must choose a faction to discover why you were betrayed. This is a European view of Fallout. It includes the usual jank.
Gothic and Risen fans will love ELEX. They will enjoy the bizarrely segmented open-world and all that it offers, as well as endless hours of save-scumming, jetpacking, and other fun activities.
49. Mass Effect: Andromeda
It is not the worst Mass Effect game. It is rife in bugs and glitches. It’s not hard to see why the sex scenes are the most complex parts of the game. You will enjoy your time in Andromeda more than you expected if you approach it with moderate expectations.
Andromeda’s open-world nature makes sense. It allows you to explore more planets and colonize them. It’s not a perfect game. However, it allows exploration.
I am not going to tell you that Maneater has the greatest open-world game ever created. Although it is repetitive once you have eaten your fiftieth person in a row for the first time. Maneater can be a very cathartic piece of nonsense.
You are a shark that hunts for its mother’s killer and you play the role of a dangerous shark. You become more dangerous as time passes, and you eventually reach the top predator. The game embraces its absurdity while you swim in the open ocean.
Maneater is a throwback at the bizarre ideas that we saw in the PS2 era. It’s also a fun, guilt-free game that provides a welcome respite.
Although Vampyr’s world may not be as big as others, it is certainly the most alive. Your actions can dramatically change the fates and lives of London’s residents by playing as a vampire.
You can feast on Londoners, but you will need to be more powerful to do so. Vampyr is an open-world game that is full of challenges and requires constant balance. It has become one of 2018’s most innovative open-world games.
Vampyr is the perfect choice if you’re looking to play god with all of its baggage. Vampyr has solid combat and a compelling storyline.
46. The Getaway
Although The Getaway was dismissed as a weak GTA copy at release, many still feel its influence when it comes to open-world design and its mechanics.
The Getaway’s cover system, motion capture without a HUD, or lots of swearing has been a source of inspiration for many developers over the years. The overall package isn’t spectacular, and it’s only getting worse with time. However, The Getaway still offers plenty.
The Getaway is a great game to get a glimpse of the terrible reality of London traffic.
45. Crackdown 2
The crackdown was once a promising open-world franchise before its third game’s turbulent development left it somewhat behind.
Crackdown 2 looks and plays much better than its predecessor, despite it being many years old. It’s still a great game to play and create some chaos in.
Here, orbs are back in the spotlight. However, there is more verticality than ever before and a general sense that could make Michael Bay blush. You will discover one of the best open-world games.
Rust should not be trusted unless you have thick skin like a rhino with Captain America’s shield and a cup. It is notoriously toxic and almost entirely built around grieving — there is no end goal to the game. This is why many people create their enjoyment of the game by ruining others’ days.
Rust can be very rewarding if you have some friends to help. It’s possible to build a base while your genitalia is irritated, before finally having enough resources for some grieving your own. Rust is not friendly, so don’t trust anyone. Don’t even trust yourself.
If you happen to come across well-armed players, make sure you have a good time and that they don’t mind you laughing.
43. Dead Island
Dead Island is an open-world game that never lived up to the hype. While you’ll be doing this a lot, you’ll feel more like an undead killer as you advance.
Dead Island isn’t very pretty. It has the same blemishes as so many open-world games. But it made enough impact to launch two spin-offs (pretty awful) and a sequel. At this stage, who knows?
42. Rage 2
Two nearly excellent games later, Rage might not reach the level Bethesda desires. Although both games have their flaws, Rage’s second game stands out because of its brilliant gunplay.
Rage 2 doesn’t make a huge change to the original formula. However, the DOOM guys have their fingers on the trigger. It’s always great fun to send enemies into the air and treat them like clay pigeons.
Rage 2 is a short, easy-to-learn game that doesn’t have too much detail. It can be rented for a weekend to refresh your palate. Sometimes, that’s all you have to do.
41. The Division
The Division was an open-world game that shined brightly upon its release but quickly faded away. The Division is a more grounded approach to Destiny. You play as part of a crisis team that is activated when a virus infects New York City.
It means that you have to kill a lot of guys wearing baseball hats and then loot their bodies. The game is all about the grind. It can be tiring on its own, but it’s great fun playing with friends. Although you may get bored quickly of The Division, the Big Apple’s depiction is still worth exploring and marveling at.
If you liked the first game, Division 2 offers more of the same goodness.
40. The Long Dark
This is not an open-world game that’s accessible to everyone. The Long Dark might seem simple and boring on the surface. The Long Dark becomes much more interesting once you get involved in the struggle to survive and scrape by each day with what you have.
The Long Dark has a beautiful, minimalist style. It’s not full of action and the Canadian wilderness isn’t overflowing with creepy crawlies to avoid. The creeping cold and occasional wolf are all you need. It is a wonder that Hinterland could make such an easy, single-player experience so compelling.
You can master The Long Dark’s oppressive difficulty and master any other game if you master it. The Long Dark is undoubtedly one of the most difficult survival games ever created.
39. The Forest
The Forest isn’t far from The Long Dark in style. It’s a simple game that has a lot of fun and a few glimmers but is mainly about simple things. You will spend most of your time in The Forest foraging for materials alone or with a friend to make a living in this wilderness.
The Forest embraces its supernatural side, but it is not like The Long Dark. The Forest introduces some truly freakish enemies to make The Descent’s creatures look like pussycats.
They are almost always watching you and waiting. That’s the scary part about them. In this Early Access success story, you can build the perfect fort. But one mistake can end your life.
The prototype was released at a time when open-world buzz was just starting to take off. Prototype’s “edgier” approach was not able to match Sucker Punch’s efforts in terms of polish or an interesting world to explore. However, it’s still worth exploring.
You are Alex Mercer, a superpowered superhero who must use his powers to stop an epidemic in Manhattan. There are many playstyles available, including the ability to shapeshift and run up against walls as well as sprinting at super-fast speeds.
The prototype’s uninspired storyline, hero, and character are the only issues. But, if you want to feel like Todd McFarlane for a while, there is no better way than Prototype.
37. Death Stranding
The most controversial game on the list, Death Stranding is the one that no two people in the office agree on. Some people love the game’s slow pace, patient storytelling, and the lengthy time it takes to get things moving. Others are less fond of it.
You are Sam Porter Bridges, an American man who is tasked to reconnect America after an apocalyptic collapse. This is one delivery at a given time. There are many obstacles in your way, including the BTs and a hill.
Death Stranding is a game you must play. It will take time to get used to you and its world may feel more connected.
36. Mad Max
Although it is a tie-in to Fury Road, Mad Max is not a tie-in. It’s a Frankenstein’s Monster in game design and draws inspiration from other open-world games. It may not be as good as its predecessors, and it won’t appeal to those who don’t like relatively empty playgrounds. But it’s still an absolute blast.
Mad Max is a mix of parts of Batman: Arkham and Assassin’s Creed. Its approach to Max’s car of choice, Magnum Opus, makes it stand out. You can transform the car into a scourge of hell over time.
It’s worth checking out if you love movies or open-world lovers in general.
35. No Man’s Sky
This piece would have been published in 2016 and No Man’s Sky would be on the opposite side of the open-world games list. Hello, Games launched the game in a pathetically shabby state, with its marketing not indicating that it was what it claimed to be. It would have been simple for them to abandon the project and go underground.
Spacefarers and people who paid the full AAA price were able to persevere. No Man’s Sky, although it may never recover fully from the backlash is still worth checking out.
There are always new modes and massive content updates, so the initial attraction of visiting planets and seeing sights quickly fades in No Man’s Sky. But if you’re looking for a low-key distraction to focus on flying around star systems, this is a great game.
34. Ghost Recon Wildlands
Wildlands is more of an excuse for a franchise name than a Ghost Recon installment. It removes the “hardcore” elements from the franchise and makes it open-world. Wildlands retains some of its long-standing fans but it also maintains a sense of strategy and teamwork. This is something that can sometimes be alienated by friends.
Wildlands is a massive, but empty, open-world game camp that asks you to be a daredevil. It offers a bizarre spectacle and surprising difficulty. Although there are many things to do, the missions and side distractions tend to follow a very predictable pattern.
You can also play with friends and have fun.
33. Don’t Starve
Klei Entertainment released Don’t Starve before survival games were trendy. Klei Entertainment may have seen a lot of Tim Burton movies before making this survival game.
You must survive after being shipwrecked. This is a darkly comical game.
Your chances of success are almost like a roll on the dice, thanks to randomly generated levels. Some levels are fairer than others, which gives you plenty of time to save your resources while others throw all sorts of creepy crawlies at you.
Don’t Starve may be the most scaled game on our list of best open-world games. But it’s hard to ignore.
32. State of Decay 2
We may be missing something but State of Decay 2 didn’t deserve the ridicule it got at launch. It had some ridiculous bugs and it was slow, but overall, it is a natural evolution of the original game, which is one of the most popular open-world games.
State of Decay 2 is the game for you if you ever wanted to micro-manage after the end of the world. This sequel features major improvements and refinements to the original game. It’s up to you to create a community and make it thrive.
It can be difficult, especially when your peers are demanding. But nobody said that surviving the end of civilization would be easy. You can get it with Game Pass so you should at minimum try it if your Xbox One has it.
31. Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves, Rare’s most innovative new venture in years, arrived on a wave of hype. It was set to sail just days after it had been launched. The lack of content and no meaningful progression combined with a system that relied on friends to make it work meant that most people abandoned the ship almost as fast as they got aboard.
Sea of Thieves, like No Man’s Sky before it, is an open-world game that keeps growing with new updates. There is also something to be said about simply going out on the open seas with friends and briefing one another until Christmas is over.
Sea of Thieves is not the place to be if you expect the best. You will find yourself enjoying bananas and not knowing what’s going on.
30. Days Gone
Days Gone is a little bit of a rough diamond. It rewards you for sticking with it for the first ten hours. Even with optimization, it still had bugs.
Days Gone is a great slow grower, despite its flaws. Although you may not like Deacon St. John, the protagonist of Days Gone, he and all that Days Gone have to offer will win you over as you spend more time in the game.
Days Gone continues to attract a loyal following, no matter if you’re riding around on a motorcycle or taking out large numbers of enemies with whatever weapons and equipment you have at your disposal.
29. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
Dead Rising is one of the most unstable series in terms of quality. The consensus is that it has lost its way. Dead Rising 4 was too casual for you? Dead Rising 2: Off The Record is the perfect alternative.
Off the Record is more forgiving than the original game, and has welcomed refinements. It plays in the same manner as Dead Rising 2, except that Chuck Greene has been replaced by Frank West, the series’ mascot. Off the Record, which is perhaps the best example of the franchise’s ethos, is all about dicing zombies with dumber weapons.
28. Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs is a cult favorite. They came at a time when everyone wanted to get a piece of the GTA pie. Although it isn’t as large as Rockstar, Sleeping Dogs has lots of charm and plenty to do for hours. You can also kick people in the face.
As an undercover cop, you will be trying to infiltrate a notorious gang. Good luck! You can expect to travel around Hong Kong’s bright lights for hours, leveling up as your skills improve and navigating through the hustle and bustle. You can get it for a great price, making it a perfect weekend game.
27. Infamous 2
We are still puzzled by the decision of many developers to drop karma systems. While there were a lot of them in the game at one time, they allowed for two very different playstyles. Your actions had far-reaching consequences for your world as well as your fate. Infamous 2 shows how you can use karma to your advantage, allowing for you to be a supervillain or a hero.
Although the Infamous franchise is somewhat forgotten after the second-rate Second Son on PS4, with Sucker Punch working on Ghost of Tsushima on PS4. It doesn’t diminish how amazing this sequel to super powerful Infamous is.
Infamous 2 is the best series, and it’s often compared to the Prototype.
26. Elite: Dangerous
This is not a game that belongs on the list of top open-world games. Elite is a vast universe of spacefaring. Also, it will devour you if you can overcome its insane learning curve. This game is for those who are good at deconstructing the details.
Elite is not a sprint-a-minute game, with few “moments” to be had. It’s all about the peace and tranquility of exploring space with friends and building your reputation as an entrepreneur, bounty hunter, or pirate.
Speaking of Odyssey, in 2021 players will finally be allowed to walk on the planets and fully explore new worlds thanks to the expansion. The only thing you have to do is land the ship first.
25. Forza Horizon 4
Forza is the Gran Turismo series’ most prominent competitor. Polyphony may take a while to release a new GT title. But Playground is producing high-quality racing like no one’s business.
Forza Horizon 4 is the most popular open-world racing game, even though it takes you through the often-bleak United Kingdom. Playground managed to bring the beautiful countryside of this country to life despite it being in constant grey tones.
Forza Horizon 4 is the ultimate petrolhead’s dream. It features over 670 licensed cars and constantly changing seasons.
24. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come, one of the rawest and unrefined games of 2018, is almost laughable in terms of performance. Fortunately, the meat is so delicious. Kingdom Come features old-school RPG mechanics and a sense of realism that balances being challenging and fun. It will appeal to anyone who has grown up with 90s RPGs.
Although you don’t feel like a badass sword-swinging in Kingdom Come, that’s part of its appeal. Henry is just a man looking for glory and stumbles along the way. It requires patience and strategy, so you shouldn’t expect to be able to win. You will probably fall in love with it.
23. Burnout Paradise
Paradise was not required to be open-world because it is a sign that developers and publishers are following current trends. Burnout, a franchise founded on simple principles, was all about smashing other cars with style and no-frills. It was an almost brainless joy in all the right ways.
Paradise was a joy to load up and hear the opening chords of Guns N’Roses rock classic. It made complete sense to take the series out into the open. Paradise offers a playground of destruction, no matter whether you’re playing the original or the remastered version. Skate is being revived by many, but we only have one EA property in our sights.
22. Just Cause 3
GTA is too serious for your liking? Are there enough cows to support your mass murder? Just Cause 3 is an open-world game that allows you to attach bombs and bovines and have a good time doing it.
There are not many changes to the game from the previous installment. It’s more of the same, but on a larger and more destructive scale. Just Cause 3 is all about experimentation. You can jump out of a plane and smash your enemies in the face, or you can just fart with cows.
21. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor is not entitled to be as great as it was during the transition period between console generations. It surprised many with its smooth combat and unique take on Tolkien’s lore. It was one of the biggest hits of 2014, despite being a disappointing year.
It is partly due to the Nemesis system. Talion builds rivalries over time with orcs that he has faced in battle. This creates unique and adaptive situations between them. It is a feat of design that has yet to be replicated elsewhere.
Shadow of War 2, the sequel to it, was too confusing. However, the game now has all microtransactions removed and it is back to the original game that made it so amazing, so it might be worth checking out.
Is there anything left to add about Minecraft? Minecraft is so popular it has more people copying it than David Beckham. Minecraft is as open-ended as you can get, allowing you both to create your worlds and huge penises. The penises.
Minecraft, like many other games, is more fun with friends. It is also a survival game that requires you to grind for the necessary resources. Minecraft is a game where your imagination is the only limit.
19. Saints Row: The Third
The game and the franchise, in general, can be summarized by two words: purple dildo. Saints Row 3: The game is not one to be taken seriously, with the sex toy used as a deadly weapon katana being the best example. This is just the tip.
The best game in the series, undoubtedly the third, is the best. It’s a perfect mix of absurdity and freedom without trying too hard to be cool. You will find a lot of fun in the absurd combat and interactions with Steel port residents.
Saints Row: The Third is a great way to get lost for a while and lose almost all your brain cells. It’s also available on many platforms for very low prices.
18. Dragon Age: Inquisition
BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition is a controversial entry in the series. Although it came about during the strange period between the last generation and the present, it was filled with enough new ideas to make it a sign that there are more opportunities for open-world exploration.
Inquisition has all the classic BioWare elements, including some awkward sex. It casts you as the Inquisitor in a quest for Coryphaeus to stop him after the “Breach” creates a rift that brings forth all manner of evil.
Inquisition can be described as a deep RPG, with tons of content across Thedas. But you’ll probably spend most of your time trying to seduce Iron Bull.
17. EVE Online
EVE Online is so complex that it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s Elite Dangerous, but somehow more complex and expansive than that. There is even a god named Bob who its player worship. The regular gameplay loop has lost much of its appeal after more than a decade of mining, piracy, and we suspect, this is because it’s been so long.
EVE Online is a massively multiplayer game that allows you to explore thousands upon thousands of places, and become completely lost in all of them. EVE Online has a lot of things to do, but the real attraction is role-playing. You can create your own stories.
Another survival game is added to the list. However, this open-world survival game may be the most intriguing — and the most unnerving.
You must do all you can to survive when you crash land on an alien world almost entirely made of water. Subnautica’s depths can be terrifying, with darkness offering more terrifying beasts as you go deeper.
Subnautica is an amazing survival game.
15. Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds is exactly what Annapurna Interactive is known for publishing over many years.
Outer Wilds is an entirely new list. In 22-minute-long cycles, you are asked to find out more about yourself. It is gorgeous and lo-fi spacefaring, with sparse storytelling that will get your attention.
It may not be the right game for everyone. The learning curve can make landing your ship difficult. However, Outer Wilds’ unraveling tapestry is well worth any initial frustrations.
14. Yakuza 0
Yakuza, arguably one of the most overlooked open-world franchises in history is loved by many for its quirky offerings and nearly endless content.
Yakuza 0, a prequel story to the main storyline, puts you in Kazuma’s shoes. He tries to climb the crime ladder, in the lively Japanese district Kamurocho that disguises itself as the red-light district in Tokyo.
Yakuza 0 has a lot to offer. You will find bone-breaking combat and side distractions, which can make it difficult to focus on your objectives.
13. Watch Dogs 2
Ubisoft knew it was going to be difficult to gain the support of their fans after the “misdirection” of Watch Dogs. Watch Dogs 2 (honestly, the sequel) takes the best elements of the original and makes them more accessible. Additionally, it offers a lot of new ideas.
Hacking, the main plot of the first game is still there, which allows you to spy on others’ lives. However, gunplay and general movement have been given a lot of polish. There are many interior locations that you can explore, but this isn’t as common as you might think.
Watch Dogs 2 brings personality and humor to the franchise.
12. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Many consider Assassin’s Creed II to be the greatest game in the franchise. But, there was no way to pick the one Assassins Creed title that would make it onto the list. Assassin’s Creed II finished second due to its influence on the entire genre. However, Black Flag won the race for exploration and fun.
Although the AC franchise’s core gameplay remains unchanged, it has seen its greatest gameplay innovation: naval warfare. This brought many people back aboard HMS AC. Black Flag took the action to the high seas and brought pirates digitally to life like no other game since Monkey Island.
11. Dying Light
Dying Light, the most underrated of its generation’s games, refresh the tired formula for zombies and open-worlds. It buffs out the imperfections on Dead Island and builds upon them. Techland learned a lot in their first venture with Dying Light, which is far and away from the better game. It lets your parkour into a zombie headdress, how can it not?
As you navigate the deserted city of Harran, you start slow and slowly. Then you begin to gain strength and become more proficient at fighting off the undead. The terrifying Virals are the most dangerous threat to zombies in the daytime.
10. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom
Although some might not like Kojima’s decision to jump on the open-world game bandwagon and may find it difficult to find certain areas. We love any game that allows you to slide down hills and beat enemies with a cardboard box.
9. Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 has everything you need from an open-world FPS. It’s a case of casualizing gameplay for the good. Far Cry 3 was different than its peers because the Rook Islands were placed you wanted to explore and kill everything.
8. Cains Canem Edit/Bully
Although a sequel was long in the making for this Rockstar classic game, the original Bully is still holding up well, despite its imperfections. Bully is a small, but full-featured, open-world game. It’s a great example of contemporary gaming, which favors scale over substance.
7. Grand Theft Auto V
This is where we get to the crunch for our top open-world games. GTA V’s ranking is so low that some may be disappointed, but it doesn’t have much to offer. Everything above this point is perfect. However, if there’s one thing that can be knocked down about GTA V, it’s the fact that Rockstar became complacent because of its shark cards.
GTA V is a single-player game that offers a great playground and three amazing protagonists. Trevor, Michael, and Franklin are among the most likable gamers in gaming, especially Trevor. GTA V wasn’t a major rewrite of the franchise’s formula, but it did bring many people back to the table after GTA IV.
GTA VI won’t be seen for long, but they will continue to ride the microtransactions train. Do you need proof? The PlayStation 4 didn’t have a new entry, making it the first console to not have a GTA game.
6. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn was a curious idea when it was first announced. Nobody knew how it would work. Are robot animals possible? Tribes? Is there a post-apocalypse coming? It was unanticipated when it launched in 2017. This added another string to Sony’s PS4 exclusive bow before it was revealed that it would also be available on PC many years later.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Although Marvel’s Spider-Man might not have the largest open-world game list, it is a great choice for the variety of terrains it offers. Spider-Man’s easy-to-use motions around Manhattan make it a great form of meditation.
4. The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim
Skyrim is brilliant, and there are no jokes about it being port to Gizmodo. Bethesda is fond of money. But if you have a golden goose like Skyrim, why not take advantage? Although it will soon be ten years old, it is still as immersive and fun as ever.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild doesn’t offer a guided experience. It’s not an open-world game that will guide you. The “tutorial area” is the most difficult introduction you’ll ever receive. This theme of exploration works in the game’s favor. It’s impossible to predict what bizarre gameplay nuances you’ll find next, or what lies at top of the many mountain ranges in the game.
2. Fallout: New Vegas
It seems that New Vegas is more popular the older it gets, especially after Fallout 4 took the “RP” out RPG.
Many consider New Vegas the best Fallout game. It allows you to choose whether or not to follow the storyline.
1. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is the sequel to the game that was not everyone’s favorite. It’s undoubtedly the most beloved GTA entry and one of the most loved games ever made. Once you climb up on your mount and begin exploring the Wild West’s crumbling era, it is easy to see why. As the US becomes more civilized, it is clear to understand why.
John Marston is an outlaw who seeks redemption by taking on the people who made him famous. This is Rockstar’s most heartfelt and effective narrative yet. While you don’t have to like Marston, his simple and unassuming guilt makes him one of the friendliest protagonists in gaming.