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Top 10 Best Open World Video Games of All Time


Top 10 Best Open World Video Games of All Time

Open world games have risen up as one of the most popular video games genres out there in recent years. Tons of acclaimed open world games have contributed to this, each adding their own unique spin and setting. A few of these simply stand out above the pack, however. Here are the 10 best open world games of all time.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Batman: Arkham City

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Batman: Arkham Asylum was a revelation for superhero games, a title that really made you feel like Batman, and sported a fantastic original story to boot. Arkham City doubled down on everything from the first, also adding in a gorgeous open world Gotham to explore.

There are tons of crimes to stop and side content to mop up, as you swing and grabble through the dingy streets as Batman. Arkham Knight and Arkham Origins would follow up on this open world design, but they just can’t top the sheer level of immersion of Arkham City’s open world brings.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Grand Theft Auto V

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Grand Theft Auto is one of the most influential series out there in terms of open world design, and GTA V represents the franchise’s biggest and boldest world yet. Playing as three different characters, the world of Los Santos is brimming with personality. It’s by far the most realistic and ambitious recreation of Los Angeles in video games.

There’s just so much to see and do in GTA V’s sandbox open world, whether it’s playing through a side mission that has Micahel hallucinating on drugs or simply using the game’s physics to pull off some amazing vehicle stunts. There’s a reason GTA V has become one of the best-selling games of all time.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Metal Gear Solid is one of the most important video game franchises in history, and Hideo Kojima’s swan song with the series was certainly a way to go out. Taking place after MGS: Peace Walker but before MGS 1, The Phantom Pain once again continues the story of Big Boss and the founding of Mother Base by his paramilitary group Diamond Dogs.

Phantom Pain breaks away from the rest of the series by implementing an open world design, then layering in the classic stealth gameplay on top of that. The game’s open world isn’t exactly brimming with stuff to do, but it’s the way that Phantom Pain provides freedom in encounters that really shines. There are so many options for taking down bases with stealth or guns blazing, and each base you take down feels like an entirely unique encounter. Phantom Pain may break away from a lot of traditions in the MGS series, but it’s still a title worthy of living up to its lofty legacy.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Xenoblade Chronicles

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Xenoblade Chronicles has gone from being an ambitious new JRPG IP to one of Nintendo’s key properties, and for good reason. The first Xenoblade Chronicles did so many revolutionary things for JRPGs; a fast-paced active combat system that still uses tactical decisions, a sweeping story filled with great voice acting, and an absolutely massive world dripping with personality and things to do.

Xenoblade’s unique world was built on the backs of two giant titans, an idea we’d see return in Xenoblade 2. Much of the game is made up of exploring the various massive locals you travel through, hunting down rare items, and completing side quests. What makes part of Xenoblade’s world so satisfying is that you’re actually rewarded for exploring, getting experience for discovering new locations and landmarks. This provided a great impetus for looking in every nook an cranny, and despite being on the original Wii somehow Xenoblade Chronicles made its environments look absolutely stunning. It was one of the first examples of a true open world in JRPGs, and there’s very little in the genre that’s managed to top it.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the unanimous Game of the Year in 2017, and it completely redefined design for open world games. The game continues the story of Geralt, although you don’t really have to have played the past Witcher games. The Witcher 3 provides two massive areas to explore, with bustling towns, dense forests, and swamps.

What makes The Witcher 3 such a brilliant open world games is the way it weaves side content into the main story and makes them meaningful tales. There’s almost no piece of side content that feels superfluous, and oftentimes you’ll start a small sidequest only to have it turn into a lengthy series of quests with real consequences and implications. The game’s world is made all the more believable and realistic through this, as everywhere you look there’s something really meaningful to do. Since its release other open world games have taken notes from The Witcher 3, further cementing its place amongst the best open world games of all time. 

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Fallout 3
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Bethesda brought the Fallout series back in a big way, transitioning it from an isometric RPG to a massive open world one. Using the same basic template as their Elder Scrolls series, Fallout 3 provided a phenomenal open world that’d go onto inspire many more games in the genre, so it had to make our list of best open world games.

Fallout 3 takes place in the ruins of Washington D.C., and part of what makes its world so engaging is the sense of mystery and discovery. The game really leans into the idea of you being a scavenger, requiring you to poke around ruined buildings, destroyed cars, and more while looking for supplies and things to sell. The V.A.T.S. combat system also created a unique, tactical way to approach the game. Fallout 3 is bursting at the seams with story, lore, characters, and environmental storytelling. All of this adds up to one of the richest open worlds gaming has ever seen, despite being a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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Following the success of Fallout 3, Bethesda upped the ante even more by giving us one of the most acclaimed open worlds and games of all time, Skyrim. The fifth entry in The Elder Scrolls series has been re-released and iterated upon tons of times, even getting a remastered Special Edition and a Nintendo Switch version.

Why has Skyrim enjoyed such enduring popularity? It’s mostly thanks to its rich and diverse open world, that provides a plethora of things to do, a literal ton of quests to complete, and pretty much absolute freedom about how you want to go about things. Combat was improved over past Elder Scrolls games, and the Dragon Shouts of Skyrim add even more variety into the mix, like the iconic Fus-roh-da that lets you blow away enemies. Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the best open word games of all time, and it’ll probably continue to be for a good while.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Nintendo kicked off the Nintendo Switch in the biggest possible way they could, the release of a brand new Zelda game. As if that wasn’t enough, Breath of the Wild ditches many of the traditional Zelda aspect by adopting an open world design, and an absolutely brilliant one at that. At their first shot, Nintendo made one of the best open world games ever.

Breath of the Wild is all about freedom, and unlike most open world games, you don’t have a load of icons on your map to tackle. Instead, Breath of the Wild rewards you simply by exploring, liberally sprinkling treasure, secrets, quests, and more for you to stumble upon. Even the main story of the game can be tackled in any order you want, encouraging you to take everything at your own pace and simply soak up the world. The absolute freedom and engaging exploration made Breath of the Wild feel like a revelation for open world games, and it easily sits at the top of a list of the best open world games of all time.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Horizon Zero Dawn

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Sony has been on a roll with their PS4 exclusives, and that includes one of the best open world games this generation: the bold new IP from Guerilla Games, Horizon Zero Dawn. Horizon’s most unique elements is its fascinating post-apocalyptic setting, and the awesome robotic beasts you go up against. Combat is fast-paced and hectic, and it all flows very well into the world and exploration.

Horizon’s world itself is another strong feature, as it genuinely feels diverse with characters of different races and descents making up the myriad nations. There’s a fantastic story to uncover with fleshed out lore, tons of sidequests to undertake, and plenty of killer robot dinosaurs to take down. As if the sheer content wasn’t enough, Horizon’s also one of the most beautiful open worlds ever made.

Top 10 Best Open World Games of All Time

Red Dead Redemption

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It should come as no surprise that Rockstar has two of the best open world games of all time, and Red Dead Redemption can also lay claim to being the best western video game out there. Red Dead Redemption’s open world perfectly fits the cowboy mood, and part of what makes it so engaging are the random encounters you happen upon.

While you’re traveling through the Old West you’ll happen upon bandit raids, citizens that need help, and all manner of wacky situations. Like the open worlds of GTA, Red Dead Redemption is also chock full of things to do, whether that’s playing cards at the local saloon or tying someone up and putting them on railroad tracks. I mean, it’s your choice, right? Red Dead Redemption finally realized a true western video game, and for good reason, it’s gone down as one of the greatest games of all time.

Those are our picks for the best open world games of all time, but there are still plenty of other great titles out there. If you have any others that you think are worthy, make sure to comment with them down below.

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