10 Underappreciated Open World Games You Really Should Play

open world games

The open world genre has become so popular that it’s easy to overlook games that receive anything less than exemplary review scores. But we think that’s a huge shame, because there are some really enjoyable open world games that still deserve your attention even if they aren’t the genres’ absolute best. Here are 10 underappreciated open world games you really should play.

If you enjoyed this list, check out our other related content, such as the best selling open world games of this console generation, and the biggest open worlds of this generation.

10. Hover

Fans of Jet Set Radio should definitely check out Hover. This free-running open world parkour game has some serious cool-factor that’s gone woefully underappreciated. There’s a real style to Hover’s aesthetic, from the eye-popping graphics of its alien world to the head bopping techno beats that help to keep the game’s frantic momentum flowing.

The traversal mechanics in Hover are just so much to control, and when you’re in the rhythm of the game there’s nothing quite like it.

In brief, players take control of a band of young rebels fighting against the new anti-leisure laws oppressing the city. You’ll use high-tech gear to jump and pole vault around the city, sabotaging propaganda and helping citizens along the way.

Originally released on PC, it was recently announced that Hover is making its way to PS4, so there’s never been a better time to get interested in this often overlooked open world game. Hover is one of those underappreciated open world games that’s totally worth a shot.

9. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Yes, the fantasy genre has been done to death. But are there really *that* many exemplary open world fantasy games outside of the obvious Skyrim, Witcher, and Dragon Age series? It’s surprisingly limited, but you can certainly add Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to that list.

Forget everything you know about clunky action-RPG combat or that frustrating process of having to level-up before you can do anything cool. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning makes combat exciting right from the off, and it never lets up throughout the 60 or so hour experience. And outside of gameplay, there’s a decent story and plenty of lore to keep you immersed in the action.

Unfortunately, it is a previous generation game, so you’ll have to dust off your own hardware if your old hardware if you don’t have a PC. Well, that is unless THQ Nordic does what all hope they’re doing with the IP and remasters it (and a sequel, too, please).

8. Dragon’s Dogma

Ok, there’s actually one more fantasy open world game that everyone should have on their list of favorites: Dragon’s Dogma. Specifically, the revamped Dark Arisen version of the game which launched last year.

Dragon’s Dogma is exciting because it’s a Japanese game within a genre typically dominated by western developers. That means it’s largely free of many of the tropes we see crop up in countless western RPGs, and it features some cool gameplay mechanics we just don’t see in many other similar themed games.

Take the dragon-fighting mechanics, for example. In Dragon’s Dogma, you don’t just slash at their legs until their health bar runs to zero. Oh, no. Instead, you’ll grab onto their legs and slowly climb up their backs, striking their heads for massive damage as they try to fly away. It’s spectacular stuff, and it really puts games like Skyrim and Dragon Age to shame. As far as underappreciated open world games go, Dragon’s Dogma needs to be on your list of must-plays.

The massive open world is equally impressive, with stunning cities and gorgeous vistas to discover as you work through its 100-hour storyline.

7. Dying Light

Another underappreciate open world game that’s worth your attention: Just when you thought zombie games were getting old, Dying Light made the whole thing cool again. This was a title that sort of blindsided us when it launched back in Q1 2015. It reviewed extremely well and then developer Techland kept fleshing out the experience with awesome new content to pull us back in.

Dying Light put a new spin on zombie combat with its first-person design and emphasis on both melee combat and free-running. It’s slick to control and the freedom of movement makes evasion and chase scenes really exciting. There’s also a brilliant use of the day/night cycle, whereby things get much more difficult at night. You really don’t want to get caught far from safety after dark, but there’s always that temptation to push a little more for supplies and better gear.

Dying Light’s sequel comes out next year, so now is a perfect time to tune into the franchise. You can check out our preview coverage of the upcoming game here.

6. Seven: The Days Long Gone

The isometric RPG genre is as old as the hills, and trying to make an impression in a space ruled by heavy-hitting franchises such as Diablo and Divinity Original Sin was never going to be easy. Seven: The Days Long Gone tried its best with a focus on parkour movement, stealth, and some inventive gameplay mechanics. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t, but what we absolutely can say is that the game’s open world, story, and lore are very compelling.

If you’re looking for a game that approaches open world design from a slightly different angle, and an immersive story that really sucks you in, Seven: The Days Long Gone is well worth checking out.

Many of the technical hiccups that dogged the game at launch have now been patched out, so the gameplay experience is much improved.

5. Infamous Second Son

Infamous Second Son is often thought of as the series’ low point, but that’s really only because the bar was set so high by the first two games. There’s still a lot to love about Second Son. For one thing, the sublime open world of Seattle, as well as awesome gameplay that’s easily the series’ best.

Seriously, if you’ve recently played the awesome Marvel’s Spider-Man and happen to be looking for a similar superhero experience, Second Son is where it’s at. There’s a similar deft balance between superb traversal and satisfying combat. And don’t think just because its circa 2014 the graphics are any worse. Oh, no. In fact, they’re still among the PS4’s best.

Sure, the story and characters might have been a slight let down in Second Son, but the overall experience is still worthy of the Infamous name.

4. Sunset Overdrive

Before developer Insomniac Games was busy working on Marvel Spider-Man, their attention was fixed on an exclusive for a different system. Sunset Overdrive is an often overlooked Xbox One exclusive that really deserves some more love. This stylish open world shooter features the same brilliant movement mechanics as Spider-Man, except here you’re hopping, skipping, vaulting, and grinding your way across town rather than web-slinging. This is definitely one of those underappreciated open world games you have to try.

There’s a whimsical post-apocalyptic zombie story to enjoy that really comes alive thanks to some hilariously clever writing. The goofy sandbox is packed full of content, too, and there’s a satisfying progression loop that keeps you locked in. There’s even a kickass eight-person co-operative multiplayer mode that’s just too much fun not to try. This is definitely one of those underappreciated open world games you have to play.

3. Batman: Arkham Origins

Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series really changed the way we think about licensed games. It was one of the first times we’d really seen AAA production values tied to superhero license, resulting in sublime gameplay and an aesthetic that totally nailed the tone of the source material.

Yet despite being cut from the same cloth with respect to its design and standard of production, Warner Bros. Montreal’s Arkham Origins’ isn’t held in such high regards.

We think that’s a big shame, and not enough people have enjoyed what is a truly excellent Batman game. There’s still all the same wonderfully crafted and atmospheric level design, cinematic combat, and awesome takedowns. Origins is certainly an example of one of those underappreciated open world games that not enough people have played.

2. Mad Max

Launching on the same day as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mad Max was always going to struggle to make an impression. It was easy to see why people might have skipped on playing it in favor of Hideo Kojima’s swansong to the Metal Gear franchise. But if you’re reading this nodding your head, we urge you to go and try Mad Max –it’s a super underappreciated open world game that’s well worth playing.

Mad Max’s barren sandbox might be void of the sort of detail you’d find in other open worlds, but the atmosphere and aesthetic really capture the feel of the movie it’s based on. And it features the same vehicle combat that is such a hallmark of the franchise, which makes for some really compelling gameplay. There’s a ton of content to keep you occupied, as well as all manner of vehicular upgrades, weapons, and different gear to collect.

1. Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs might not boast Rockstar quality, but it’s more than a poor man’s Grand Theft Auto. This Hong Kong flavored crime game packs plenty of its own charm thanks to a unique setting, memorable narrative, and some inventive gameplay mechanics.

Particular praise has to be given to its awesome battle system, which puts a focus on brawling melee combat that feels somewhat like the Batman Arkham series. You get to string together combos and then execute bloody finishing moves that often involve smashing them against environmental objects.

The open world can feel a little dated at times next to current generation offers, and you’ll probably find more enjoyment from engaging in the variety of structured missions rather than actually exploring the sandbox. Still, you might find that point of difference from modern open world games refreshing to go back and experience. Buy it here.

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About the author

Alex Gibson

Alex was a Senior Editor at Twinfinite and worked on the site between January 2017 and March 2023. He covered the ins and outs of Valorant extensively, and frequently provided expert insight into the esports scene and wider video games industry. He was a self-proclaimed history & meteorological expert, and knew about games too. Playing Games Since: 1991, Favorite Genres: RPG, Action