10) Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2017, and it’s absolutely delivered on the promise of that hype. Few would now question its place as one of the best PS4 exclusives to date. It’s a triumph of open world gaming, drawing inspiration from other games and streamlining those features into an immaculately polished package. It’s also tied together with one of the better science fiction stories in video gaming.
Guerilla Games were a well reputed first party studio thank to its work on the popular Killzone series, but Horizon Zero Dawn has brought the studio into a new level of notoriety. The success of Horizon has seen the studio well and truly come of age. Their latest game is the blockbuster open world experience that the PlayStation library has always been missing — a boon for Sony given the popularity of the genre in the current gaming eco system.
The commercial success of Horizon has been unprecedented for a brand new intellectual property, recording an astonishing 2.4 million copies in its opening two weeks on the market, making it one of the fastest selling RPGs of this generation. Last month, Guerilla Games announced that 3.4 million copies had now been sold, now earning it a place among the best selling open world games, too.
9) The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
If you haven’t played Breath of the Wild, believe the hype; it’s an instant classic, not just proving a highly competent first foray into open world gaming for the series, but also setting a new benchmark standard for the whole genre. Remember the old “go anywhere, do anything” adage? Here they really do mean it, thanks to traversal mechanics that make everything before feel obselete by comparison. As a result, there’s an endless sense of discovery across this truly three dimensional Hyrule that just begs exploration.
Zelda’s massive following and the five years since the previous mainline release in series, launching in tandem with the Nintendo Switch has equated to some pretty hefty sales figures. Only four months after launch, Breath of the Wild has already slipped into an elite list of the best selling games among the most popular genre of console games. The game has sold 3.84 million copies across Wii U and Switch as of late April.
8) Dying Light
Developer Techland is somewhat of an open world zombie game specialist, having already made a name for itself with the popular Dead Island franchise. Dying Light follows a similar gameplay formula but with a gritty layer of realism and much more emphasis on survival.
The dynamic aspect of the game’s day/night cycle, coupled with kickass parkour elements and cooperative online play set Dying Light apart from other zombie games. These features perhaps go some way to explaining its immense commercial success.
The last official figures released by Techland cite 5 million units sold, but that was way back in 2015. Two years on, we’d be surprised if Dying Light hadn’t moved a considerable amount more. In fact, we reached out to the developer for a comment, and though they were not willing to clarify hard figures, we were told that Dying Light has been played by an astounding 11 million unique players. Most telling, the game sees around 500,000 players per week, a figure that has only dropped by 200,000 since the initial launch month average two years ago. While that 11 million total does include second-hand copies, it’s obvious that Dying Light has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success for a brand new intellectual property.
7) Final Fantasy XV
It’s hard to think of a video game that endured as beleaguered a launch as Final Fantasy XV. After a torturous near ten-year development cycle spanning different names, directors, and countless delays, the game finally arrived late last year. The series first truly open world game presented an environment with hugely impressive scale, both in its sheer size and the enormity of some of the creatures that inhabit it.
Despite the fact that the total package slightly lacked cohesion, Final Fantasy XV has gone on to set new sales records for the entire franchise. After the massive hype of its big release, perhaps that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Yet, still, the figures in comparison to previous Final Fantasy games are significant. According to Square Enix’s official financial report for the fiscal year, Final Fantasy XV reached 6 million global units sold faster than any other game in the franchise.
6) Far Cry 4
After the overwhelmingly positive critical reviews of Far Cry 3, the series debut on current generation hardware was highly anticipated when it launched back in 2014. Far Cry 4 doubled down on everything that made its predecessor such an entertaining game to play: dynamic combat, emergent gameplay, varied traversal. Far Cry 4 took the concept to new extremes, giving players the tools to produce even more hilarious and chaotic action. Not only could you unleash a caged tiger on an enemy camp, you could now ride into the action on top an elephant while you launched grenades at confused bad guys. And who doesn’t want to do that?
Perhaps owing to the esteemed reputation of the Far Cry series, Far Cry 4 posted very notable sales figures. Ubisoft has announced the game has sold 7 million copies since launch.
5) Watch Dogs
Not many people remember the original Watch Dogs fondly. Touted as the most graphically impressive console games ever when it was teased at E3 in 2013, Watch Dogs was blighted by noticeable downgrades at launch. The pre-release gameplay footage of Aidan Pierce walking amid windswept Chicago streets, hands in-pocket as leaves blew around him in stunningly realistic detail looked nothing like the final product. Gamers were outraged by the drop in quality, and Watch Dogs negative reception was compounded by middling review scores that lamented its boring protagonist and samey gameplay.
However, none of those frustrations made much impact on Watch Dogs ability to amass an astonishing amount of sales. The game utterly smashed it, with Ubisoft shipping 10 million copies as of February 2015. The game’s sequel, despite its far more positive reviews, hasn’t been able to replicate the same sort of figures.
4) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 has emerged as a new gold standard of open world games. Never before has the power of current generation hardware been used to create such a detailed, immersive, and believable open world. The city’s bustle with activity, the streams and forests breath with life, and the game’s unbelievably well written and dense narrative constantly reshape its dynamic. In combination with the fact that the entire Wild Hunt experience clocks in at around 200 hours including its DLC, the industry has understandably fallen in love with both The Witcher 3 and its developer, CD Projekt Red.
Previous games in The Witcher series have enjoyed critical and commercial success, but nothing on the scale of Wild Hunt. The game has been a phenomenon, lauded by some as one of the greatest role-playing games of all time, and certainly among the best games of its generation. Its success has even paved the way for an upcoming live action series.
Sales have been explosive, pushing the entire series over 25 million copies. The Witcher 3 accounts for nearly half of those numbers at 12 million units shipped.
3) Fallout 4
When Bethesda first confirmed Fallout 4’s impending launch at E3 2015, anticipation for the game reached fever pitch. Fans of the series had waited the best part of a decade for the follow-up title to the iconic Fallout 3, which had been lauded for its innovation in the open world role-playing genre. Fallout 4 was suddenly around the corner, and fans went utterly wild.
Fallout 4 didn’t disappoint. It might not have been the game changer that its predecessor was in terms of open world design, but there was still plenty to love about Fallout 4. In essence, it was a bigger, prettier and more capable version of what had come before. The addition of Minecraft-like base building gave a whole new meaning to the importance of loot, and the crafting system was equally impressive in depth.
The near hysterical anticipation of the game’s launch, less than 6 months after its announcement, saw copies sell in utterly mad volume. For launch day alone, Bethesda shipped 12 million copies to retailers. The game was also downloaded by 1.8 million players in its first three days. As a result, the publisher took $750 million revenue in just 24 hours, obliterating its competition in the process. In a recent interview with Kinda Funny Games, Bethesda Marketing Director Peter Hines stated “Fallout 4 has gotta be the most successful game we’ve ever launched in our company’s history. More than Skyrim, in terms of what we did.” He later clarified that sales over the same amount of period have surpassed Skyrim.
2) Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V might be a previous generation title, first launching all the way back in 2013, but a re-released version has kept it relevant. You can’t even talk about the genre without mentioning what has become its most successful title, and one of the best selling games ever made. GTA V is a freak of the industry, and even scrubbing the gargantuan figures sold on previous generation consoles, GTAV would still keep the exact same spot on this list. In 2015, Take-Two Interactive stated that the game had sold “nearly 10 million” copies on PS4 and Xbox One alone, and that was before it had even released on PC. Two years later, having appeared in NPD’s top 10 nearly every month since, GTA V has surpassed 80 million worldwide sales.
It isn’t hard to see what has made the game so beloved. The open world of Los Santos is Rockstar’s most accomplished of any GTA title, bringing the volume of content seen in San Andreas to the more technically capable environment seen in GTA IV. Now, remastered on current generation hardware with a first person mode, the game’s story is the definitive GTA experience. But its biggest draw is undoubtedly the online multiplayer offering. GTA Online is brimming with content. There is quite literally a whole new GTA game since its launch thanks to the addition of numerous new heists and gameplay modes, and its player base only continues to grow.
Minecraft takes the essence of what people love about Lego and marries it to a digital world that removes all barriers. It allows its players to create buildings, vehicles, and entire worlds of their wildest imagination without limitation. There’s enough creative freedom to build literally anything across its vast open world, but the gameplay is accessible enough that anyone can enjoy it.
Quite apart from the purely building aspects to its design that makes it such an evergreen success, the challenging survival mechanics of its single player campaign and cooperative multiplayer modes are also superb.
With a seemingly endless amount of content, it’s obvious why Minecraft has resonated with a huge amount of players and is spread across such a varied audience. At 120 million copies sold, Minecraft now only trails Tetris as the best selling game of all time. Minecraft continues to forge its legacy, clocking up new sales across virtually every gaming platform. When the book finally does close on the Minecraft, the game will certainly have left a mark on the industry that will never be forgotten.