July 16

Best Open World Games

The real world is cool and all, but when reality hits hard, it’s fun to escape for a while by jumping into a virtual world. Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally love large, fictional environments where my experience with the game is unique to everyone else’s.

Since the influential Grand Theft Auto III was released in 2001, open-world games have expanded into the fully 3D worlds as we know and love them today. Yes, some old school gamers may argue that Wibarm and Star Cruiser were more influential considering they were the first polygonal 3D open-world games to exist. But let’s be real here, nothing beats the step up from GTA II to GTA III.

People in the world of GTA III would react to their surroundings, talk to you, fight you or even run away from you. With its successors taking things even further by forcing you to feed your character to fill up his health bar in order to keep him alive.

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, CJ could eat at the classic fast-food chain, Cluckin’ Bell, then cycle over to the gym to gain six-pack abs before heading to a bar. Or, he could just order, “two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda”, to gain more weight than Big Smoke himself. Okay, enough about Grand Theft Auto!

Let’s take a look at some of the best modern open-world games that you should be playing in 2020. 🖥️ 🎮

#1 Best Overall Open World Game: Red Dead Redemption 2

Developers: Rockstar Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Initial Release Date: 26th October 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a gripping western-themed game that combines two of my guilty pleasures—cowboys and men who herd cattle. Alas, not everyone feels the same about cowboys as I do—some even tell me I’m “wasting my time on such video games.”

In response, I quote Winston Churchill who said: “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” If you don’t know much about the game already, then saddle up, partner, as I’m about to take you on the ride of your life.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Gameplay:

As you play Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll find that your horse is your best friend, as well as a vital tool that’ll help you throughout the game. With 109 unique missions that involve train robberies, bar fights, bank heists, and shootouts, RDR2 is seriously enjoyable. So, when I say you won’t get bored of Red Dead Redemption 2—I truly mean it.

The interactive world isn’t always grim, though. In fact, it’s full of habitats and climates that are home to hundreds of species of animals, birds, and fish—AKA your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As it would have been back in the day, the ability to hunt and fish is the difference between life and death. Hunting is a massive part of the game as it yields useful materials that can be crafted into a range of items that you can sell to make money from.

Here’s a quick hunting tip: If you want to gain more money, you’re going to need to bring home a top-quality pelt. While near an animal, use your binoculars or a scope to study the quality of the kill when hunting. To make a clean shot, use the best hunting equipment and perfect your hunting techniques before entering the wilderness.

Onto loyalty, the way you interact with your gang’s camp will reflect on how other NPCs react to you in general. Furthermore, the more you contribute to the camp’s sharing stock of money, the more your honor rating increases. This rating is essentially how good of a person you are—do something bad, and your honor rating drops significantly.

Let me tell you something else for free, being good in the west ain’t as easy as you’d think! If, however, you’re a tame player who follows the laws of the land (booooring), you’ll gain a reward every time you move up a tier.

red dead redemption 2 two men shooting

Red Dead Redemption 2 Graphics:

This game is so stunning, that it makes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly look, well…bad and ugly (Sorry, Eastwood!). At least it was stunning up until the post-launch update that led players to believe that Rockstar had removed ambient occlusion in a visual downgrade—something that wasn’t mentioned in the patch notes.

The original Tweet for this claim was published by Twitter user @Darealbandicoot who compared screenshots from version 1.0 (left image) and 1.06 (right image) of RDR2. Notice the lack of shadows on the right image in comparison to the left image? Yeah, me too, and it absolutely sucks! If you don’t want this to happen again, then I suggest you turn off automatic updates.

red dead redemption 2 1.00 vs 1.06

Red Dead Redemption 2 Storyline:

Picture this: It’s 1899. The Wild West era has just begun. A robbery goes south in the town of Blackwater and you’re forced to flee with the Van der Linde gang, except you’re not alone. The only way you’re going to survive in the western world is if you battle it out with bounty hunters, federal agents, and lawmen. But it isn’t that simple.

Your name is Arthur Morgan, and you’re the lead muscle of the group. As you play the game you’ll see some fresh-faces, and if you’ve played RDR before, you’ll recognize some younger looking characters from its predecessors. Set 12 years before the original game, Red Dead Redemption 2 tells a well-written tale of loyalty, faith, and family.

“What about loyalty?” Something to take note of before you pick up the game is what was said in the launch announcement from 2018: “Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.”

red dead redemption 2 a man fishing

Red Dead Redemption 2 Co-op/Multiplayer:

Red Dead Redemption 2 has finally moved out of its beta phase after a massive update. Do you know what that means? Red Dead Online is evolving! That’s right, alongside a bunch of new story missions, dynamic free-roam events and even Poker online, Rockstar Games has revealed their plans for Red Dead Online.

This big change to RDR2 means that players can now choose between the default Offensive playing style and the brand new Defensive playing style. By choosing a defensive playstyle, casual players will be able to go out and explore the Wild West world without automatically drawn into PvP missions or combat.

Note: you’ll have to change the settings to “defensive” from the default “offensive” playstyle every time you log in, which can get pretty frustrating after a while.

After a long day roaming the Great Plains, it’s nice to be able to walk into a saloon, grab the strongest drink you can find, and play a quick game of poker online. If you don’t fancy getting your butt whipped at a public table, you have the option to set up a private game of Texas Hold ‘Em with your cowboy buddies. You can find these tables located in Blackwater, Saint-Denis, Tumbleweed, Valentine, and Flatneck Station.

red dead redemption 2 sunset

Red Dead Redemption 2 Overall Verdict:

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that I highly recommend to those wanting to get into open-world games. To me, it’s like the more cinematic older brother to Grand Theft Auto V, a game that I both love and adore. The game is full of hundreds of unique missions and stunning landscapes just asking to be explored.

Unfortunately, a massive amount of gamers, namely those in the PCMR, missed out on the fictionalized version of Western America. So, if you don’t own a console, you’re just going to have to miss out on this Wild West-inspired game—at least for now. Truthfully, I have no idea if RDR2 is ever going to be released on PC, but if it’s anything like GTA V, the PC version could be delayed for a couple more years.

#2 Best Open World Role-Playing Game: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Developers: CD Projekt, CD Projekt RED

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 19th May 2015

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has to be one of the best open-world games to play in 2020. Rated by us as the best open-world RPG, the third game in the series takes you through a massive open-world environment that at times, can be intimidating.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Gameplay:

CDPR turned a classic tabletop RPG into a living world where you can ride your horse through an open forest, go for a swim in the sea, and set up camp at night to warm up. Sounds simple enough to play, right? It’s not!

the witcher 3 wild hunt complete edition

Your horse gets tired, you get tired, everyone wants to kill you, your weapons degrade, and your inventory slowly gets out of control. In all seriousness, this game is actually really fun to play, despite what I’ve just said. If you don’t fancy battling it out with monsters, you can watch Geralt’s beard grow in real-time as you island-hop. Or, if you’re feeling really brave, take a voyage around the world—just watch out for unexpected enemies!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Graphics:

The visuals in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are truly astonishing, especially when you play the game on an ultra-wide gaming monitor. Not to mention how vast and detailed the landscapes are, even up-close, with textures that almost pop out of the screen.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Storyline:

Based on the fantasy novels by Polish writer, Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher 3 follows Geralt of Rivia, the main protagonist of the series and all of its adaptations. He’s is a highly trained Witcher (a fancy word for a monster slayer), trained since childhood that you don’t want to mess with.

Following The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Geralt of Rivia is on the look for his missing adopted daughter, Ciri, on the run from the Wild Hunt—a group of elves from another dimension.  As he rides his horse around the massive open world, he has to kill men, monsters, spirits, and other otherworldly forces in order to survive.

the witcher 3 wild hunt inventory

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Co-op/Multiplayer:

As CD Projekt Red wanted to focus on the single-player experience, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is strictly a single-player game only.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Overall Verdict:

The Witcher is a fascinating franchise made up of collection video games, books, and graphic novels. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, specifically, is one of the best RPGs out there that I’d recommend to anyone. This year, the game is going to be made into a fantasy drama TV series that I simply can’t wait for. Although, I’m secretly sad that they didn’t choose Travis Fimmel to play Geralt…

#3 Most Popular Open World Game: Grand Theft Auto V

Developers: Rockstar Games

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 17th September 2013

If you purchased GTA V when it first came out back in 2013, like me, you were probably unable to access the online mode due to server issues. As it was one of the most highly-anticipated games at the time, it was an inevitable issue that we all had to deal with. But all was forgiven!

Once Rockstar promised to put $500,000 into my in-game bank account, I forgot about the connection issues entirely and went straight to the garage to buy a sweet new ride.

Grand Theft Auto V Gameplay:

As you take control of the three main protagonists, Michael, Frank, and Trevor, you’re forced to participate in criminal acts as you follow their individual stories. Without spoiling GTA V too much, each character has a strange yet unique personality that shines through as you play the game. Michael’s story mostly revolves around his family and the past, Franklin’s around cars, and Trevor’s…murder and mayhem.

gta v

You can switch between these characters at any moment, jumping into their personal lives as if you’ve just walked into your friends’ house uninvited. And yes, that does mean you’re going to walk in on some weird stuff.

In between missions, there are several fun activities for you to get involved in, such as: golfing, tennis, racing, hiking, cycling, and yoga. Oh, and if your day’s been pretty stressful, you can go and get tipsy at the strip club. But remember, kids, don’t drink and drive!

Grand Theft Auto V Graphics:

When GTA V first came out back in 2013, people could have easily mistaken it for an upcoming action movie. At least that’s what my grandma thought! Compare Grand Theft Auto V to the other games in the series, and you’ll notice a massive upgrade in the visuals. Compare it to it’s older brother, RDR2, and you’ll see that the graphics are a lot better in the cowboy version.

gta v four people running away from an explosion

Grand Theft Auto V Storyline:

After Michael Townley, Trevor Philips, and Brad Snider are involved in a cash depot robbery in Ludendorff, they’re forced to escape from the police to a getaway helicopter. Sadly, not everything goes as planned.

Years later, Michael Townley is living under witness protection in Los Santos, a city based on Los Angeles. While newly introduced character, Franklin Clinton, is living across town on Forum Drive, Strawberry. Working for a corrupt salesman, Frank ends up meeting Michael as he attempts to repossess his layabout son’s car.

To describe their characters a little: Michael is a con man who drinks whiskey by the pool at his Vinewood mansion where his stoner son, featherbrain daughter, and two-faced wife live. Franklin, on the other hand, is a younger man who lives downtown in a small safe house. Despite their differences, Frank and Michael later become partners in crime.

gta v christmas update

Later, Michael introduces Franklin to Trevor who, let’s just say, doesn’t make the strongest first impression. Trevor isn’t like the other two, I’d say he’s quite the opposite, actually. He’s more of a psychopathic redneck who has no censor whatsoever…which is why he’s my favorite character!

Grand Theft Auto V tells a story that’s so gripping and comic, that I wish I could wipe it from my memory just so I can go back and experience the game for the first time again.

Grand Theft Auto V Co-op/Multiplayer:

GTA 5 online is probably one of the best online game modes of all time. Seriously, I don’t recall ever getting bored of all the fun online games created by Rockstar and the players themselves.

The incredible amount of content can be overwhelming, so I’ll list a few things you can do in GTA Online:

  • Create custom deathmatches/races.
  • Rob a store.
  • Shoot a random player, because why not?
  • Party on a boat.
  • Play golf to relax.
  • Watch a movie after a long day of shooting.

gta v explosion behind a man holding a gun

Grand Theft Auto V Overall Verdict:

With over 110 million sales worldwide, Grand Theft Auto V continues to sell incredibly well, even after 6 years. If that doesn’t tell you how good the game is, well, I don’t know what will! It’s a very entertaining game that, like RDR2, you really can’t get bored of. The storyline is one of the best from the franchise, while the online mode is incredibly fun, especially when you play with friends.

Additionally, GTA V was also featured as one of our top-rated sandbox games, so check that out. For a lot more improved gaming experience you might also like to know what are some of the best GTA V mods.

Update: If you loved GTA 5, check out our GTA 6 news hub with all the latest rumors, trailers and leaks constantly updated.

#4 Best Multi-Platform Open World Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Developers: Bethesda Game Studios, Iron Galaxy

Platforms: PlayStation 3 Models, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

Initial Release Date: 11th November 2011

Everyone’s heard of Skyrim, like…everyone. If you haven’t since you’ve been living under a rock, can you say hi to Patrick for me? In all seriousness, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most popular open-world games of all time, here’s why.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Gameplay:

As you roam the open land of Skyrim, be prepared to face dragons, bandits, Forsworn, and a couple of angry warriors. When you first play the game, you’re probably going to suck at fighting enemies—but don’t worry. Over time, you can complete quests to develop your characters skills in order to defeat enemies with ease.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim logo

My tip, for now, would be to find a good shield, and use the damn thing! Considering the game was developed by Bethesda, at times, things can get a little…strange. I once remember a day when I was casually riding up a mountain feeling all badass until suddenly my horse disappeared into thin air.

I felt like a mythical magician! There are two storyline missions which you can complete fairly quickly, the side missions, however, are another story. Like one of our writers, Tim, you could genuinely log 5,000+ in the game just trying to complete sidequests. That isn’t an exaggeration, I really mean it, and no, he isn’t afraid to own up to that!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Graphics:

Skyrim looks, well…okay for a game that came out in 2011. Rather than focusing on graphics, it seems as though Bethesda wanted to focus on playability, which is why I forgive the dodgy looking characters of Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Storyline:

Set 200 years after Oblivion, you’re forced to go on a quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon on a mission to destroy the world. As you may have guessed by now, the region of Skyrim isn’t all butterflies and rainbows, making your trek across the land a mission in and of itself. If you don’t face a Forsworn, at some point, you’re going to run into a very angry bear.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim river

As a Dragonborn, you’re born with the soul and power of a dragon—sounds crazy, I know. You can’t fly, though that would be very handy, but you can learn dragon shouts. Once you obtain Dragonrend (a dragon shout), fights with dragons become much easier. I’m sure most of you will have seen at least one Fus Ro Dah meme in your time—which in English, translates to Force, Balance, and Push.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Co-op/Multiplayer:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does not have an online mode.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Overall Verdict:

Dragons, swords, and mythical creatures? Heck yes! Who wouldn’t love a game with the ability to fight off dragons with a shout? To that, I say, Fus Ro Dah! You can always make it better with some of the best Skyrim mods.

#5 Best Open World Game for Nintendo Switch: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developers: Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U

Initial Release Date: 3rd March 2017

Even if you don’t play video games anymore, Zelda is one of those games you’ll likely remember from your youth.  Full of vivid colors and fun side-missions suitable for the whole family, it was a game that everybody enjoyed playing. Since the release of Breath of the Wild onto the Wii U and Nintendo Switch, everyone went wild, and there’s a very good reason for that.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Gameplay:

There’s no doubt that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of, if not the, best games on the Nintendo Switch. To get a better view of the breathtaking landscapes—which I’m sure you’ve heard all about—you can climb up pretty much everything, a feature that I absolutely love.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Logo

As you run through the blades of grass on your way around the world, stop and talk to a friendly NPC who’ll tell you the history of the land. Once they’ve blabbered on for a bit, you’ll be given a quest that you can earn rewards from.

While you make your way to the checkpoint on the map, find some weapons—you’ll need them for combat. If your health is running low after a fight, you can simply chop down a tree to gain some wood and apples. It’s like a mix between Minecraft and Animal Crossing! I won’t spoil the gameplay too much, but I will say that the world is so interactive, that even running to your destination is an entertaining process.

Related: Games Like Animal Crossing

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Graphics:

When I first saw the trailer for Breath of the Wild back in 2016, my initial thought was, “Man, this looks exactly like a Studio Ghibli movie.” Later, I heard that Nintendo was, in fact, inspired by the art style of the great Hayao Miyazaki!

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Zelda on a motorcycle

If you’re a big fan of The Legend of Zelda, you’ll know that the art style is constantly changing. The art director for the game, Satoru Takizawa, has actually commented on the changing style by saying: “We look for the best way to express the unique spirit of that particular game and create a world that will be exciting for players to jump onto and explore.”

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is honestly worth buying for the visuals alone, nevermind the storyline!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Storyline:

Set at the end of the Zelda timeline in the Kingdom of Hyrule, Link awakens and a strange voice guides him around the open world. As he returns to the locations he’s previously visited, deja vu hits as he regains some memories from the past.

Later, Link meets a bald old man with a white beard and red robe—any Zelda fans recognize him from my description? Yep, me too! This dude is in more than one title in the series, and to the new fans, don’t worry, he’s a good guy. With his very vague advice, he tells Link that Ganon, locked in Hyrule Castle, needs to be defeated before he breaks free.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Co-op/Multiplayer:

Unlike some of the other games in The Legend of Zelda series, Breath of The Wild does not have a multiplayer mode.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Overall Verdict:

As you may have guessed, this game is incredible! There’s really only one word I can use to describe how this game makes me feel, and that’s “nostalgic”.

#6 Best Post-Apocalyptic Open World Game: Fallout 4

Developers: Bethesda Game Studios

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 10th November 2015

Don’t get me wrong, apocalyptic survival games are extremely fun, yet there’s something about post-apocalyptic games that gets me going. Now, you do still have to survive in Fallout 4, just not in the same way as you would have to in a zombie apocalypse. In fact, I’d say a post-nuclear world is worse than a world full of brain eaters. But hey, that’s just me!

Fallout 4 Gameplay:

The main goal of Fallout 4, aside from finding your kidnapped son, is to survive. Before you get too excited about killing enemies, you’re going to need to customize your character. If you like character customization, like me, you’re probably going to end up spending a while picking out the perfect nose type and hair color.

fallout 4 logo

Once you’ve made your character look as sexy as ever, you can start playing the actual game. As you take a stroll around your retrofuturistic home, you’re going to hear a knock on the door. Like the other games on our list, I don’t want to spoil Fallout 4, though I will say that everything goes downhill from here.

Fast forward a while, you leave the vault (I’ll explain what this means in a moment), you explore the world, and you shoot a lot of “things” that are trying to kill you. You’ll often stumble upon a creature so strange, you’ll wonder, “what the h-e-double hockey sticks is that thing?” But don’t worry, it’s probably just a mutant hound trying to feed on your flesh.

Fallout 4 Graphics:

As the Fallout series is based on America during the ’50s and ’60s, the design style for the game is a mix of atompunk and retrofuturistic. To keep things cheerful in the post-apocalyptic world, a sweet looking 1950s-style cartoon has been used throughout the game. All of the manuals, adverts, products, animation, as well as Vault Boy, are designed in the same style—a style that I simply can’t get enough of.

fallout 4 soliders

As for the actual game, the graphics are great! Fallout 4 is full of different textures and surfaces that add depth to the game, and if you’re a PC gamer who prefers a keyboard and mouse, there are plenty of mods that improve the overall appearance of the terrain.

Fallout 4 Storyline:

Before I begin on the storyline of Fallout 4, you should probably know why I described this game as “post-apocalyptic.” 210 years before the events of Fallout 4, a thermonuclear war known as The Great War took place. As a result, billions of people were killed across the nation, and those that survived were exposed to high levels of radiation. Luckily, the character you play had a vault-series fallout shelter developed by Vault-Tec to hide out in.

Big boom, everything went bad, people died, got it? Okay, now let’s get into the story of Fallout 4. As the only survivor left of Vault 111, you’re forced to search around post-apocalyptic Boston, Massachusetts, to find your kidnapped son. Albeit, the ionizing radiation emitted by the nuclear devastation is continuing to alter the DNA of the creatures across the city.

Fallout 4 a man holding a gun

As if The Great War wasn’t bad enough, now you’ve got to deal with mutant creatures, some of which are spawned as a legendary variety, just to find your child!

Fallout 4 Co-op/Multiplayer:

Unfortunately, multiplayer mode didn’t make it into Fallout 4.

Fallout 4 Overall Verdict:

Fallout 4 is a terrific game that shows you how nuclear war can alter the DNA of humans and creatures across the wasteland. Alas, at times, I found Fallout 4 pretty predictable, sometimes even repetitive. Still, it’s definitely worth playing, especially if you’ve never played Fallout before. And you can always make it better with some outstanding Fallout 4 mods.

#7 Best PS4 Exclusive Open World Game: Horizon Zero Dawn

Developers: Guerrilla Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Initial Release Date: 28th February 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that tells a story of man vs robot, dinosaur robots to be exact, that only PS4 users can access. Will it ever come out on PC or Xbox One, you ask? Nope! Guerrilla Games is owned by Sony, so unless you have a PS4, there’s no chance you’re going to play Horizon Zero Dawn. You’ll just have to sit back and feel slightly jealous about this PS4 exclusive game.

Horizon Zero Dawn Gameplay:

Unlike Fallout 4, this isn’t your typical post-apocalyptic game. Rather than battling it out with brain-hungry “humans”, the only way you’re going to survive in the world is by fighting with robots. Dinosaur robots. It won’t be easy to fight at first, you might even miss a few shots at your enemies when you enter the game. But don’t let that put you off as practice makes perfect.

Horizon Zero Dawn logo

My tip is to try to fight the robot dinosaurs early on to get a better understanding of how to use Aloy’s different abilities. Once you’ve killed a few machines, loot them—you’re going to need to expand your arsenal as soon as possible.

Horizon Zero Dawn Graphics:

Without many humans to ruin the environment, the open world is full of different plants that have been left to grow. With all of the trees and greenery, I have to say Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best looking games I’ve seen so far. Play the game on a sexy 4K monitor, and you’re in for a real treat!

Horizon Zero Dawn Storyline:

Horizon Zero Dawn takes place a thousands of years into the future where rather than progressing, human civilization has regressed. Going back to when tribal societies of hunters and gatherers existed, Aloy is forced to use her agility to stay alive.

Even though human civilization has regressed, Aloy’s biggest enemy throughout the game are the robot dinosaurs that have taken over the land. You see, Horizon Zero Dawn is what you’d get if Jurassic Park and The Terminator had a baby, and a very good looking one at that.

Horizon Zero Dawn standing on a tree

The game tells a story of tribes vs machine as you attempt to survive in a world full of metal dinosaurs that aren’t quite as nice as Barney—they don’t love you, and you definitely don’t love them.

Horizon Zero Dawn Co-op/Multiplayer:

Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t feature multiplayer, and I’m not sure I’d want it to.

Horizon Zero Dawn Overall Verdict:

This is a great open-world game that shows the aftermath of a technological apocalypse, and honestly, I never thought that robotic dinosaurs could be so much fun. The more you know! I’ll just apologize once more to those who don’t own a PS4, who sadly can’t play this PS4-exclusive open-world game. Sorry!

#8 Best PSVR Open World Game: No Man’s Sky

Developers: Hello Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 9th August 2016

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game that has taken a long time to get to where it is today. At first, we were sold a lie, resulting in angry gamers bashing away at their keyboard. Fast forward a couple years, No Man’s Sky is becoming unexpectedly successful, therefore, it deserves a place on our list.

No Man’s Sky Gameplay:

No Man’s Sky is about the ultimate freedom to explore the almost infinite world. In March of 2020, players were given the chance to play the game using a VR headset. An update that the game definitely needed in order to improve its reputation.

no man's sky video game

The ability to explore each world in virtual reality allows for an immersive, futuristic experience. To explore the planets alien to you, grab your headset and joysticks and jump into a starship. Next, jump out of the ship and explore the world—it’s as easy as that! By blocking out external distractions, you’ll feel as though you’re truly in No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky Graphics:

With cartoon-like colors that could make even Wes Anderson feel jealous, No Man’s Sky is an animated open-world game. Unlike some of the other games on our list that appear pretty dull, No Man’s Sky has evolved into this almost cartoon-like, retro Sci-Fi looking game.

Each planet is unique, offering different structures and exotic biomes for you to explore in VR. I wouldn’t say it looks better than Breath of the Wild, though it does look pretty damn awesome.

No Man's Sky astronaut

No Man’s Sky Storyline:

Rather than a set storyline, No Man’s Sky is about uncovering the secrets of the universe, survival, combat, and trading.

You’re free to explore the “18 quintillions” planets once you’ve mined enough resources to improve your equipment used to survive. The missions in the game can either be played in single- or multiplayer sessions, so you don’t even have to finish the game alone. Like many other games, you do get rewarded with units, blueprints, and other items used to stay alive.

No Man’s Sky Co-op/Multiplayer:

Hello Games recently announced that a new update will allow “players from everywhere in the universe to meet and play together.” There aren’t many details beyond this statement, but it’s a pretty cool update if I do say so myself. Currently, you can team up with up to 16-players to build homes or even colonies, and to explore the world as you attempt to survive together.  

No Man's Sky airplane

No Man’s Sky Overall Verdict:

After many many updates, No Man’s Sky is finally getting to where people want it to be, also being one of the best PSVR games available. When the over-hyped game first came out, it was truly a disappointment.  We were promised a multiplayer feature that wasn’t even in the game, but thanks to the new updates, the reputation of No Man’s Sky is slowly but surely improving.

#9 Best Action-Adventure Stealth Open World Game: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Developers: Kojima Productions, Konami Digital Entertainment

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 1st September 2015

Kojima really outdid himself with Metal Gear Solid V, a game that’s both addictive and engaging. The Phantom Pain is a game that finally gave gamers the open world that they always wanted from MGS. Alright, enough kissing Kojima’s butt, let’s get into the review.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Gameplay:

The free open world of Afghan in MGS5 almost feels overwhelming. The amount of freedom you get MGS5 is truly incredible, while the day/night cycle and dynamic weather play a huge role in how you play the game.

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain logo

Gameplay in The Phantom Pain is very flexible, giving you the freedom to solve the puzzles however you want. As you progress through the game, you’re going to unlock items that will completely change how you play, no matter what level you’re at. Structured almost like a TV show, each cutscene before and after a mission covers topics such as race, religion, societal systems, that unlike MGS4, aren’t intrusive.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Graphics:

Compared to other MGS games, The Phantom Pain is visually the best I’ve ever seen. You can pretty much run this game on any PC, except I’d recommend you opt for a 1080 Ti card or better.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Storyline:

Nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes, mercenary leader Punished “Venom” Snakeheads out to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan for revenge on those who destroyed his forces. The game is very well written, telling a tale of what turns a good man bad, as you’re forced into decisions that you may later regret.

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain a woman holding a gun

As I mentioned in the gameplay section, MGS5 is structured almost like a TV series, with cutscenes and credits featured before and after each mission. Again, they aren’t as intrusive as they are in MGS4, and I honestly don’t mind them owing to how cinematic they are.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Co-op/Multiplayer:

Metal Gear Online is an add-on game to MGSV: The Phantom Pain that, like other online games, allows you to play in a match of up to 16-players. There’s nothing particularly special about the standalone multiplayer component considering how long we had to wait for it to arrive. Just, sometimes it’s fun to play a team deathmatch with some raging 12-year-olds.

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain a man riding a horse

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Overall Verdict:

2015 brought us Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, two of the best open-world games on the market. Metal Gear V, in particular, is a linear game that offers an amazing world to explore, as well as a pretty sweet storyline.

Now, if you want another game developed by Kojima, all you have to do is wait for the mysterious Death Stranding to come out.  Hidden images and cryptic messages aren’t fun when you’ve been waiting 4 years for a new game, Hideo Kojima!

#10 Best Open World Racing Game: Forza Horizon 4

Developers: Turn 10 Studios, Playground Games

Platforms: Xbox One, PC

Initial Release Date: 2nd October 2018

Technically a racing game, Forza Horizon 4 offers a gorgeous open world for you to drive around in. This time, you get to cruise around the lovely UK!

Forza Horizon 4 Gameplay:

Put your foot on the pedal, look around at the scenery (not for too long), steer around sharp corners, and honk your horn just for the sake of it. It’s really that simple! If you’re into cars, it’s a tourist dream to be able to drift around the streets of Britain in a Porsche. Which is exactly what Forza Horizon 4 lets you do.

Forza Horizon 4 logo

Both the visuals and the sound design for the game is incredible, bringing the massive range of automobiles to life. One of the best things about Forza Horizon 4 is the completely customizable career mode that racers across the globe simply can’t get enough of. With season-specific challenges and weekly season changes, Forza Horizon 4 is a super engaging open-world racing game that surprisingly isn’t repetitive.

Forza Horizon 4 Graphics:

Set in a fictionalized version of the UK in regions such as the Lake District and the Cotswolds, Forza Horizon 4 features some gorgeous environment’s for you to drive around in. Being from the UK, I’m a little biased about the game. Regardless, the game does each location justice, so thanks, Forza developers—it’s a staggering game!

Forza Horizon 4 cars racing

Forza Horizon 4 Storyline:

There isn’t really much of a storyline to Forza, rather, you’re given the freedom to do things at your own pace. It’s mostly a shared open-world game that allows you to drive with human players, or if you’re super antisocial, you can race against AI.

With new challenges to complete every day, you have the opportunity to participate in online events with 11 other players who you’ll cooperate with for the shared goal. If you don’t fancy a free-for-all adventure, you can click on Horizon Story mode to complete story missions with some pretty rad rewards.

Forza Horizon 4 Co-op/Multiplayer:

You can play Forza Horizon 4 with all of your friends using in-game modes such as Capture the Flag, Team King, Infected, and Racing. As I’ve mentioned, the game is centered around an online experience, with tonnes of multiplayer games and challenges to participate in.

Forza Horizon 4 thunder

This meant a great deal to some of my colleagues who are really into excellent co-op games so if that’s your thing, you should check FH4 out.

Forza Horizon 4 Overall Verdict:

I’ll be honest here, I’m not really into racing games, albeit, after reviewing Forza Horizon 4, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Based on my home country, the landscapes are just incredible. So I wouldn’t mind paying to take a virtual spin around the Cotswolds in a 1983 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The latest release for this series will be Forza 8, which may be released sometime in 2021.

Bonus Open World Game: Minecraft

Developers: Mojang, Markus Persson, 4J Studios, Other Ocean Interactive, Xbox Game Studios

Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Fire OS, Java

Initial Release Date: 17th May 2009

Listen, before you say anything about Minecraft, you can’t deny how fun it was after a long day at school. You’d come home, rush upstairs, throw your bag on the bedroom floor, and forget about the world for a while. It was the definition of happiness as a 10-year-old.

Minecraft Gameplay:

The word “Minecraft” is made up of two skills necessary to survive in the game—mine and craft. When you enter the open world, the first thing you’re forced to do is survive.

minecraft video game

First things first, knock down some trees with your fists, craft a pickaxe using the wood, and start mining some stone for your sweet house build. What’s that you hear down in the caves? A snake? Nope! Just a creeper who’s about to explode and ruin your life.

You’re going to want to build yourself a house before it gets dark. Now, it doesn’t have to be a Hollywood mansion, nor does it have to look aesthetically pleasing. It just has to protect you from the monsters that come out at night. In creative mode, you have the freedom to create whatever you want. Plus, if you don’t want creepers ruining your builds, you can disable mobs from spawning. Screw you, spiders!

Minecraft Graphics:

There isn’t much I can really say about a bunch of blocks that make up the world of Minecraft…it looks, good? There are actually quite a lot of biomes that, despite being made from blocks, look magnificent. Such as the flat, grassy areas great for building on, as well as the forest biomes with a mix of tall trees for you to knockdown.

minecraft building a house

Minecraft Storyline:

When Minecraft first came out, there was no storyline whatsoever. Now, players can pick up Minecraft: Story Mode and Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two.

I won’t go into the series too much as I am reviewing Minecraft alone, though I will say this: In Story Mode, your character is on a TV show based on your favorite game. You’re the star of the show, so your choices throughout the game decide how the story turns out.

Minecraft Co-op/Multiplayer:

You’ll often find that multiplayer games of Minecraft are much better than single-player games. Today, you can play with other people in four different ways:

  • Split-screen mode (console only).
  • Minecraft Realms.
  • Online server.
  • LAN (local area network).

minecraft crossbow battle

Forget Unreal Tournament LAN parties, go have yourself a Minecraft LAN party!

Minecraft Overall Verdict:

To be honest, I’ve thought about unironically playing Minecraft again just to see how it’s improved after 10 years. It was truly a bunch of fun, especially when playing in a server of friends who’d blow up your amazing mansion build before you got a chance to put the back doors in. To this day, I’ll never forgive them for doing that…

Final Verdict

In today’s world, almost every AAA title is set in an open world. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it did make things hard on me. In the end, I chose Red Dead Redemption 2, a fairly new release that I crowned as the best overall open-world game for 2020.

Now, Game Gavel’s editor-in-chief, Alex, would probably argue that “The Witcher 3 is the best open-world game!” So, if you want to read what he had to say about the game, head on over to his guide to the best RPG games to play right now.


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About the author

Courtenay Smith

Courtenay’s love for gaming started when she was handed a Game Boy SP as a child.

From there her youthful gaming memories consist of hitting some Donkey Kong bongos and cruising around Vice City listening to 'Take Me to the Clouds Above' at an unsuitable age.

Since, she has gained a love for both PC and console games, sometimes even jumping on mobile.

Don’t judge!

When she’s not writing for the site she enjoys travelling, film, and diving down the rabbit hole that is YouTube.