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The best open-world games to play in 2024

It feels good to take the path less travelled, sometimes.

Update: We expanded our honourable mentions list to include even more recommendations for open world games you might like!

There's no greater fantasy in all of gaming than the best open-world games. Leading your character on an intrepid adventure that's wholly your own, exploring where you want to explore and making a memorable journey of the things you find is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have.

So it's this capacity for exciting, organic play that means open-world games are among some of the best out there. Over the grand course of time, these worlds continually get bigger and better. More immersive and imaginative, and they just keep on coming. These games enthrall people with their vibrant world building and detailed quests that only enhance the story of the world you’re in.

Watch on YouTube
ELDEN RING is our actual GOTY, and honestly? It's not even close.

Once you find an open-world title to fall in love with, you’ll no doubt find yourself continually going back for more, wanting to explore every nook and cranny that the world has to offer. They are games that have plenty of life in them, inviting you to play them over and over again, whisking you away to unimaginable worlds that you could only dream of.

Here are fifteen of the best open-world games, with plenty of honourable mentions to consider trying, too. It's also worth noting that in this list, we tried to focus on games with the best open-worlds to immerse yourself in. That means, as a result, you'll notice a lack of survival-type and MMO open-world games here, as well as just the most modern entry in long-running franchises.



Elden Ring

  • Released: 2022
  • Developer: FromSoftware
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

It only feels right to begin this list with The Game Awards’ 2022 Game of the Year winner, Elden Ring. Considering it only released in early 2022, Elden Ring is fresh on peoples’ minds, yet I guarantee it’s an open-world game that players will remember vividly for years to come; it has that type of effect on you.

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Here's our very own Elden Ring wishlist.

Elden Ring rose to fame as FromSoftware’s venture into an open-world, and The Lands Between is among one of the best, and biggest, worlds to roam around. That said, this world is far from safe, and Elden Ring does its very best to bludgeon you into defeat. This, ultimately, makes the experience of Elden Ring all the more captivating; it’s a true challenge, and the keenest of explorers will reap the most glorious of rewards.

Elden Ring also has a linear path to follow, but its open-world allows you to stray from the beaten path for as long as you’d like. You’ll often do this as you make your character even stronger, and as a result, the story of Elden Ring becomes your own.

Let’s not also forget that different character builds and classes can lead to very different play throughs, and Elden Ring’s intense, engaging combat is among some of the best out there. You can plough through Malenia with your spells, and then witness a friend obliterate the boss with their daggers; both are very different experiences, and make Elden Ring’s replayability endless, if you have the time to spare.

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Released: 2018
  • Developer: Rockstar Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Red Dead Redemption 2 throws you into the perils of fictional cowboy, Arthur Morgan. In this open-world title, there is a whole world to explore that’s packed to the brim, and it’s your responsibility to craft the type of cowboy that Arthur Morgan is.

The morality system at play is what defines your character; you can choose to be an honourable cowboy, or instead, be a stray in society. Regardless of which route you pick, you’ll find yourself running into many strangers and stories that you’ll be curious to clear up, making each play through or each time you even pick up your controller unravel differently. The variation at play here, and detail, is what makes Red Dead Redemption 2 so enticing to players.

It’s also hard to neglect the amount of detail this game has. No, I’m not talking about the realistically large horse bollocks you’ll often see which shrink when it gets cold (although this is impressive). I’m talking about Arthur’s dialogue, the photorealistic landscape, and the abundance of unique characters you’ll meet as you take on this cowboy adventure.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild + The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

  • Released: 2017 / 2023
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marks Link’s dive into open-world territory, and it’s a vast and beautiful one at that. Pushing the Nintendo Switch to the height of the hardware’s potential, Breath of the Wild also has a linear path of quests to follow, each pushing the story along.

Breath of the Wild is full of trials like this one, with puzzles and bosses.

However, like most other entries on this list, you can stray from this path and do whatever you want with your time. The game is packed with charming yet familiar NPCs, perplexing puzzles, and more traversal options than ever before. Breath of the Wild quite literally breathes even more life into an already beloved series, and aren’t we glad to know that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom lived up to fans expectations upon release in 2023.

If you've finished up with BOTW, or didn't gel with it as much as you'd like, it's still well worth trying out Tears of the Kingdom, too. The latest Zelda title offers even more exploration and creativity opportunities, and somehow manages to be even more of a blast than Breath of the Wild was.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • Released: 2015
  • Developer: CD Projekt Red
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

The Witcher 3 is notable not only for being a great game, but for how it established the bar for open-world games. Even now, multiple years and DLC later, the game reigns high as one of the better open-world games out there. Sure, combat isn’t the best and traversing the world can be a little janky, but there’s nothing quite like taking on the role of the one and only Geralt of Rivia.

Watch on YouTube
Does The Witcher 3 need a next-gen upgrade? Jim investigates.

The environment in The Witcher 3 is a grand one, packed with foliage, animals, and varying biomes. From the swamps of Velen to the lively city of Novigrad, this is a world that feels lived in. Its dynamic characters, gruelling monsters, and intricate quests can keep you busy for hours, and when you’ve had enough, you can sit back and simply play some Gwent.

Grand Theft Auto V

  • Released: 2013
  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Yes, Rockstar has managed to bag itself another spot on this list, because how could I neglect to mention Grand Theft Auto V? Seven years on and the game is still packed with players, most of them venturing into online play or the weird yet interesting world of GTA role-playing, but still!

Grand Theft Auto V shows no signs of slowing down. That is, until Grand Theft Auto VI finally launches (which won’t be anytime soon). That said, the legacy this game has made for itself is magnificent. If you’re yet to play it, you’ll also be glad to know that the game has aged relatively well.

The open-world here, Los Santos, emulates Los Angeles as much as one game in 2013 possibly can. And in Los Santos, you don’t necessarily have to abide by the law; in fact, Grand Theft Auto V regularly encourages you to break it. Crime and chaos ensue in this game, with various LA landmarks reimagined to soak in as you cruise Los Santos in that stolen car, or in the back of a police car; the choice is yours.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Released: 2011
  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has just as much staying power as Grand Theft Auto V. The game follows Oblivion, and initially released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. Since then, Skyrim has made it onto each new console generation, been ported to Nintendo Switch, and has been re-released God knows how many times now.

A Skyrim player in Hyrule gear stands beside a horse

Now, I can already hear plenty of you grumbling that I chose Skyrim for this list over its predecessors, Morrowind and Oblivion. But for the sake of pleasing everyone, I chose this because it’s the most easily accessible to every type of gamer. That’s exactly what makes it one of the best open-world titles; jaded open-world player, or veteran of exploring, Skyrim has something to enchant just about anyone who plays it... for the most part.

The world of Skyrim is enormous; you can explore the wilderness and fight with hostile travellers all you’d like, or you can go about learning magic up in the mountains. If you’re feeling chaotic evil, you can join the Thieves Guild, or even become a vampire. On a later play through, Skyrim is also some of the most fun with modding I have ever had. Failing that, there are dragons, and dragons are certifiably cool.

Forza Horizon 5

  • Released: 2021
  • Developer: Playground Games
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

While Forza Horizon 4 had us driving around a faithful depiction of the Great British West Country, who actually wants to do that? Not me, and not many of us who actually live here, I imagine. Forza Horizon 5, however, whisks us off to Mexico, and is a lot more interesting as a result. You’ll spend plenty of time racing through fields, forests, and on the track, but there’s so much more to take in.

You can skid through the dense forests trying to flee a storm that’s following you, or kick back and take in the sunset as you try to reach top speeds on the roads. It’s all incredibly picturesque, you’re at the whim of the weather, and the urge to explore Mexico for yourself is strong while driving around this particular title.

With a driving game, you’d expect barren stretches of land and tracks built for racing, but Forza Horizon 5 lets you be a tourist in a beautiful landscape.

No Man’s Sky

  • Released: 2016
  • Developer: Hello Games
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

No Man’s Sky didn’t have the best of receptions at launch, but it’s certainly made one of the biggest comebacks since. Taking player feedback into account, the game feels like a wholly different experience now than it did back in 2016.

A lush, green world full of alien animals in No Man's Sky

Right now, No Man’s Sky is the best open-world game set in space. You do everything a lowly space wanderer would do; figure out your purpose in all of this, upgrade your ship, communicate with aliens. Then there’s hundreds and thousands of procedurally generated planets and solar systems to soar around and explore.

This might seem daunting, and initially it is, but once you get to grips with No Man’s Sky, you’ll find yourself entranced by the most lush, vibrant planets, unimaginable creatures, and endless possibilities.

Fallout: New Vegas

  • Released: 2010
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

The oldest entry in this list comes from Obsidian Entertainment, the gaming giant behind fantastic titles such as Grounded, The Outer Worlds, and more recently, Pentiment. Back in 2010, however, it released Fallout: New Vegas, which still reigns as the superior instalment in the series to this day.

Gameplay here is a little jankier than most of the titles in this list, but it’s well worth it, as any New Vegas fan would eagerly tell you at length. Thrown into a desolate world made up of three factions, Fallout: New Vegas leaves every decision down to you; which faction will you work with? And how will your character evolve throughout your play through?

Dialogue in New Vegas is stronger than ever, with troves of options to choose from as you let the story unfold, and the RPG gameplay that Fallout fans already know and love. If, with your open-world experience, you like to dive into immersive role-playing where your decisions actually matter, pick up Fallout: New Vegas.

The New Vegas modding community is also still relatively active, if you find that you want even more quests and dialogue to discover.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

  • Released: 2018
  • Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

There are plenty of other Assassin’s Creed titles that we could place here, but Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey has the best open-world of them all. Taking place during the Peloponnesian War between 431 and 422 BC, Odyssey tells the story of a Spartan mercenary fighting on both sides of the war as they try to find their family, and destroy the Cult of Kosmos.

If you’re a fan of mythological history and the magic of discovery, and prefer hands-on combat with less of a focus on stealth, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the open-world title for you. The world itself is a vast and varied Penopolose peninsula, that our own guides editor James Billcliffe describes as “a joy to explore, with the sprawling seas giving the player more options for as-the-crow-flies travel than the meandering streams and tributaries of Valhalla.” Can’t argue with that.

Genshin Impact

  • Released: 2020
  • Developer: miHoYo
  • Platforms: PC, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

This free-to-play gacha game clearly owes more than a little to Breath of the Wild when it comes to inspiration for the aesthetics of its vast fantasy open world. However, Genshin Impact quickly established itself as one of the biggest games around and won over plenty of fans with its large roster of likeable characters and compelling storyline, as well as the sheer amount of detail and thought that's clearly gone into making the different parts of its world feel varied and distinct.

Genshin Impact 4.0 update
Image credit: miHoYo

Make no mistake: this game really is absolutely huge, with another full "nation" being added to its massive open world map with every annual version switchover. As of Version 4.0 there are currently five nations to explore on the continent of Teyvat, with another two planned before the main story (potentially) wraps up in 2025, all taking inspiration from various real-world cultures but with a fantastical twist in each case. It's designed to be a massive time-(and money-)sink for players, sure, but it's very well-designed.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

  • Released: 2022
  • Developer: Tango Gameworks
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Even folks who didn't click with Ghostwire: Tokyo's main story have to acknowledge that its recreation of the real-world city's Shibuya Ward is a thing of wonder. Releasing as it did at a point in time when many of us hadn't ventured far from home in a couple of years, Ghostwire: Tokyo provided a much-needed injection of digital tourism, reminiscent of the historical locations ambitiously reconstructed in Assassin's Creed but in a unique contemporary setting.

There aren't very many open-world horror games out there to choose from and, indeed, you could argue that Ghostwire: Tokyo is really more of an action-adventure game with supernatural themes. But coming as it does from the studio behind The Evil Within series, there are still plenty of opportunities here to get creeped out as you methodically rinse the map of its dozens of icons.

Minecraft

  • Released: 2009
  • Developer: Mojang Studios
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, New Nintendo 3DS, Raspberry Pi, iPadOS, FireOS, ChromeOS, Apple TV

The oldest game on this list is still the big daddy of open-world survival/crafting sandboxes, and has undoubtedly provided plenty of inspiration for games of this type in the 15 years since it first saw the light of day.

Yes, it's Minecraft! The game where you run around punching natural resources out of everything in sight, build anything from a simple hut to a full-scale recreation of King's Landing from Game of Thrones, and generally noodle your way towards a simple end-game condition at a pace of your choosing. Or not; with regular content updates still adding new features and even whole new systems, Minecraft is very much one of those games where reaching the end is strictly optional.

Really the one downside to this game is that Minecraft isn't yet available on latest-gen consoles. But if you're a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S owner in the market for something similar, you might like LEGO Fortnite, an expansive new game mode that was added to Fortnite in late 2023. To say that it takes some cues from Minecraft is to put it generously, but there's no denying it's a fun and polished new entry into the open-world survival/crafting genre. And the LEGO Fortnite characters look super cute.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2

  • Released: 2023
  • Developer: Insomniac Games
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5

The first two games in Insomniac's superhero action-adventure series were fantastic — and yes, despite the numbering, Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is in fact the third title, and you really don't want to miss out on either the original or the Miles Morales interquel if you like the idea of web-swinging around an open-world New York City.

But while Spider-Man 2 is very much an iteration on its predecessors, it packs a much bigger punch in terms of its open world. The latest game adds the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens to the already sizeable map, introducing five new districts and the ability to traverse the Hudson River for the first time. That means you have close to double the play area found in Insomniac's other two Spider-Man titles.

With new traversal options like wing-gliding and water-skiing, and with the entertaining fast travel animations removed thanks to the PS5's speedy load times, there's more reason than ever to take the scenic route in Spider-Man 2. Those street-level crimes won't solve themselves, after all, nor will cool air trick combos just happen unless you're in freefall from a tall building (don't worry, Spider-Man doesn't take fall damage).

Firewatch

  • Released: 2016
  • Developer: Campo Santo
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

There's a certain perception of open-world games as always being densely packed with collectables to hoover up and enemies to batter down. But the walking sim genre demonstrates another way: a meditative, story-rich open-world where your main task is to enjoy the scenery. Firewatch understands this assignment so perfectly, it includes a free-roam mode that lets you endlessly wander the forest after completing the story.

Aside from a few moments when the story sets you back onto the path, you're more or less free to explore the forest in Firewatch to your heart's content. And if you're the sort of person who frequently finds themself craving a walk in the woods, then it's very easy to spend a few hours wandering off the beaten track — furthermore, your exploration will sometimes be rewarded with little secrets that aren't part of the main story.

Honourable mentions

Of course, we couldn’t fit every one of the best open-world games onto this list, so here are our honourable mentions if none of the above take your fancy.

Kelsey's honourable mentions include Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Terraria, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 6, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, Fallout 4, Dying Light, Days Gone, Death Stranding, Horizon Zero Dawn, Horizon Forbidden West, Batman: Arkham City, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Forest, LEGO Fortnite, Watch Dogs 2, Sleeping Dogs, Sea of Thieves, Borderlands, Don't Starve

Rebecca's honourable mentions include Forza Horizon 4, Marvel's Spider-Man & Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, L.A. Noire, LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes & LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes 2, Outer Wilds, Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, The Sims 3, Dredge


For more on the best games of all time, take a look at what we reckon the best survival games are, as well as the best co-op games to pick up and play with friends.

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