The open-world genre has been one of the most prominent ones in gaming, and for good reason. This medium relies on giving players a sense of escapism, and what better way to provide that than letting them loose in a virtual world that’s filled with opportunities and possibilities? We have experienced a ton of great open-world games in recent years, and here are 30 of the best of all time:

Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5 - Xbox Series X-S, PS5

The latest entry in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto has become the most profitable entertainment product of all time, and that achievement can be credited to the sheer amount of fun that anyone can have within the confines of Los Santos. Take up high-stake heists, blow stuff up, meet strangers, participate in sports or racing, or do all that and a whole lot more with other people in the ever-evolving GTA Online. It’s a game that’s brimming with possibilities, and it’s no surprise that it has remained one of the hottest games around despite being almost a decade old.

Watch Dogs 2

watch dogs 2

Building upon the foundations of the underrated original, Watch Dogs 2 aims to provide a better open-world experience with plenty of gameplay variety – and succeeds in that aspiration. While the open-world activities might be a standard open-world affair, they become a lot more fun than usual since you have so many options for getting to your objective. The critical path is also pretty engaging, with plenty of likable characters and memorable missions that you will encounter during your quest to bring down ctOS.

Far Cry 2

far cry 2

Set against the backdrop of a war-ridden African savannah, Far Cry 2 is a constant battle of survival against your opponents ranging from standard foot soldiers to the ever-looming threat of malaria. The game boasts excellent physics and has some great systemic gameplay, which makes for a fun and thrilling ride through and through. While the mission design may feel outdated when compared to modern games, the whole package is easily the best of the series.

Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag puts you in the shoes of Edward Kenway, a pirate in the 18th century as he scours the Caribbean sea in search of the mysterious Observatory that’s rumored to hold an immeasurable amount of wealth. Of course, the story goes a lot deeper than that – and it’s filled with emotional moments and memorable characters like Black Beard and James Kidd among others. The naval combat is also supremely fun, and the signature mix of stealth and action gameplay remains as fun as ever – culminating in one of the best experiences in this long-running franchise.

Elden Ring

In so many ways, Elden Ring feels like everything that the Souls series has been building toward for more than a decade. The fantastical world of The Lands Between is home to fierce warriors, giant beasts, and secrets galore – and every square inch of that virtual space is utilized in meaningful ways. The flexibility in combat is also unparalleled, and you can mix and match hundreds of weapons and spells to create all sorts of builds.

Dead Space

Dead Space Box Art
Dead Space Box Art

Season: A Letter to the Future

Forspoken

Dead Space Remake Pre-Purchases Receive Dead Space 2 for Free on Steam
Forspoken Hypes up Imminent Launch with New Cinematic Trailer

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 – The Legend of the East Outfit

Red Dead Redemption 2 might not be able to match the sheer carnage of Grand Theft Auto, but the story of the Van Der Linde gang’s gradual fall is easily the most heartfelt story that Rockstar has told to date. The gameplay is also built around learning to exist as a cowboy, as you meticulously craft your own tents, hunt fish, and split bullets for extra damage throughout your travels against this rapidly changing Wild West.

Dead Space

Dead Space Box Art
Dead Space Box Art

Season: A Letter to the Future

Forspoken

Outer Wilds

outer wilds

Mobius Digital’s Outer Wilds is a game that’s all about preventing the Sun from exploding and resetting an infinite time loop. You need to travel to different planets and try to piece together clues about an ancient civilization, which will slowly and steadily lead you toward the root of the mystery of the time loop. Everything from the writing to the game design to level variety is top-notch, which makes Outer Wilds an intriguing experience through and through.

Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut

Ghost of Tsushima

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions, Ghost of Tsushima is an emotional tale about Jin Sakai – a former Samurai who lets go of the honorary Bushido code in an effort to drive out Mongol presence from his island. The game features a combat system that’s both fun and authentic, and the open world is as beautiful as it is dense with things to do. And once you are done with the base game, you could also hop into the Iki Island expansion – which comes included with the Director’s Cut.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Bethesda’s premier RPG offerings have always strived for the best in quality and quantity, and the latest entry Skyrim is no different in that regard. It’s an experience that just keeps on giving, and it’s easy to just get lost with countless side-quests that are scattered throughout the massive map. Add to that engaging combat and progression loop, interesting writing, and thunderous music – and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim becomes a grand adventure without an end.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Much like Skyrim as we discussed before, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an experience that excels both in quality and quantity. Geralt’s quest to find Ciri takes him to many different places, each of which is home to a buffet of side-quests and monster hunts all of which boast the same level of quality as the critical path. Everything from the monster lore to likable characters to the addictive nature of Gwent binds you to this game, and it’s easy to spend dozens upon dozens of hours just exploring these scenic vistas along with your buddy Roach.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design; it’s a game that thrives on the joy of exploration and discovery. The gameplay also encourages players to bend the game’s many systems to their own will, and creatively dispatch enemies. This kingdom of Hyrule is home to interesting encounters, meaningful puzzles, and challenging dungeons – completing which will inch you closer and closer to your goal of defeating Calamity Ganon.

Grand Theft Auto 4

grand theft auto 4

Even after so many years since its release, Grand Theft Auto 4 continues to be an experience like no other. It’s the ultimate culmination of a genuinely moving story, a strong satire, and supremely fun and chaotic open-world mayhem – and while it may feel odd to go back to clunky gameplay mechanics after Grand Theft Auto 5, it’s an experience that’s well worth experiencing through to the very end.

Dead Space

Dead Space Box Art
Dead Space Box Art

Season: A Letter to the Future

Forspoken

Mafia Definitive Edition

mafia definitive edition

While Mafia might pale in comparison against modern open-world games simply because of the lack of meaningful side activities, it’s a game that relies on an excellently written story and realistic gameplay mechanics to keep you indulged for hours on end. Mafia: Definitive Edition puts a fresh coat of paint to this classic alongside gameplay improvements – which make returning to the city of Lost Heaven a lot more inviting for gamers accustomed to modern gameplay.

Dead Space

Dead Space Box Art
Dead Space Box Art

Season: A Letter to the Future

Forspoken

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Has Been in Production For “at Least 5 Years”
Children of Silentown is Out Now on Consoles and PC

Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Another masterpiece from Bethesda, Fallout 4 thrusts players into a post-apocalyptic region of The Commonwealth. The map is huge and is filled to the brim with interesting characters to meet, factions to befriend or antagonize, and quests to tackle alongside the main quest that sees you embark on a quest to find your long lost child.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding - Bike

Kojima’s latest might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Death Stranding is surely one of the most unique open-world experiences of recent memory. Set against a post-apocalyptic America where communities have closed themselves off and live in isolation all while BTs roam around the crumbled landscape, you take on the role of Sam Porter as he tries to bring everyone together with the promise of the United Cities of America and the Chiral Network. While the gameplay may not be as bombastic as others on this list, it enables you to connect with the protagonist and the twisted world on a very personal level.