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The Top 10 Open World Games To Play Right Now

There was a time when video games were largely linear affairs. You either moved up and down or from left to right in enclosed spaces. As technology evolved, so did the scope of digital worlds. Now players are regularly treated to expansive environments filled with quests, interesting characters, and horizons that stretch further with every console generation. These experiences consume dozens if not hundreds of hours, and as more of them flood the market, knowing which titles are worth the time investment has become crucial. To that end, we’ve assembled a list of 10 great modern open-world games available today to help make what can be a paralyzing decision a little easier. These are listed in no particular order and don’t necessarily represent the best games of all time. Rather, this will be an ever-changing list of quality titles to arrive in recent years that you should go out of your way to get lost in.  

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

The Witcher 3’s gritty fantasy world is as beautiful as it is deadly. We would never want to actually live in it, though, due to its densely packed population of supernatural monsters, tyrannical rulers, and (typically) backstabbing citizens. The Witcher 3’s Continent keeps you on your toes thanks to the impact of its choice-driven gameplay. Small choices often come back around hours later in more significant ways than you expect, making every shifty thief, sultry mage, or cowardly would-be-knight worth engaging. With a compelling main storyline, dozens of meaningful sidequests, and boatloads of treasures, The Witcher 3, as well as its phenomenal expansions, succeeds in making its gargantuan setting worth uncovering. | Our Review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Switch, Wii U

What makes Breath of the Wild magical is that it unclutters years of triple-A open-world design. Instead of littering Hyrule with icons telling you where to go, it allows players to forge their own paths. It only has one mandatory mission: destroy Ganon. Since you can do that right away, everything else is optional. Even the largest games force you to adhere to the path of a main linear narrative. In BOTW, one player’s approach to slaying Ganon can be totally different from another’s. Do you complete the four primary dungeons? Seek out the Master Sword? Build up your hearts? The beauty of it all: there’s no wrong answer. 

Link can climb any surface, meaning that, provided you have the stamina, you can reach the summit of any mountain and concoct numerous paths to your destination. Hyrule also operates on realistic physics and principles for players to experiment with (i.e., all metal objects conduct electricity). It boasts hundreds of shrines with concise, entertaining puzzles and numerous mysteries, be they majestic dragons or an island that’s more than meets the eye. Breath of the Wild rocks for promoting improvisation and creativity more than anything. Its legacy has been cemented thanks to a growing number of titles borrowing from its playbook, such as Genshin Impact and Immortals Fenyx Rising. | Our Review

No Man’s Sky

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Open world? Try open universe! No Man’s Sky lets players freely explore entire solar systems worth of randomly generated planets. Each planet is like a box of chocolate; you never know what you’re going to get. Strange animals, bizarre plant life, wild weather conditions, and valuable resources await your scanner. No Man’s Sky infamously launched as a solid game that underdelivered on its grander promises. In the years since, the game has done a complete 180 with numerous expansions and updates that have added, among other things, base-building, true multiplayer, creature taming, actual storylines, underwater exploration, VR support – all for no extra charge. No Man’s Sky has miraculously transformed from a punchline to one of the most content-dense and beloved games out there. If you haven’t entered the cockpit of your ship since 2016, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. | Our Review (circa 2016)

Red Dead Redemption II

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Few studios craft worlds that feel as lifelike as Rockstar Games, and Red Dead Redemption 2 might be their crowning achievement. Every inch of this wild west drips with immaculate detail and feels like you’ve stepped into a time portal to the 1800s. Survival elements such as cooking, camping, and hunting allow players to role-play as a trail-worn gunslinger effectively – and it’s more fun than you’d expect. Emergent side missions mean a fascinating story or memorable stranger can pop up at a moment’s notice, and there’s plenty of diversity when it comes to the strange sights you’ll stumble upon. Tack on an incredible story led by a deeply compelling protagonist in outlaw Arthur Morgan, and Red Dead Redemption 2 rivals not only the greatest games but the classic westerns that inspired it. | Our Review

Death Stranding Director’s Cut

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC

Let’s forget Death’s Stranding’s confusing narrative, goofy dialogue, and subpar combat for a moment. Most agree that the game’s strongest aspect is simply walking around and delivering packages. As Sam Porter, you’re a post-apocalyptic delivery person that connects distant settlements by bringing them goods. Doing so involves a strategic game of stacking cargo based on weight and equipping tools like strength-increasing leg braces. The game becomes a thoughtful – and literal – balancing act of traversing rocky terrain and climbing mountains while avoiding toppling over and damaging your cargo. On the one hand, it’s tedious and sometimes infuriating. On the other, hiking for miles on end is peaceful and oddly satisfying. Things get better once you’re able to create highways, zipline networks, and other infrastructure that both you and thousands of strangers can utilize, thanks to the game’s online network. Death Stranding is an acquired taste but, its sparse landscape and freeform approach to exploring have an undeniable appeal. | Our Review  

Marvel’s Spider-Man

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4

Exploring a wonderfully realized replica of Marvel’s Big Apple rocks for one reason: web-swinging. Spider-Man’s primary mode of transportation is a blast and arguably the most entertaining form of traversal in any open-world game. It may be the only title in which you’ll never want to fast-travel. For New Yorkers, it’s cool to crawl up landmarks such as the Empire State or Chrysler Building. For comic enthusiasts, spotting Avengers Tower, Doctor’s Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, Jessica Jones’ Alias Investigations office, The Bar With No Name, and other recognizable hotspots is a thrill. Challenges such as Harry Osborn’s science experiments, busting random street crimes, or catching pigeons (yes, pigeons) offer solid fun, as does collecting backpacks filled with charming mementos documenting Peter Parker’s decade-long superhero career. | Our Review

Ghost of Tsushima

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4

Per the title, Sucker Punch’s samurai epic unfolds on the real-life Japanese island of Tsushima during the Mongol invasion of 1274. Warrior Jin Sakai must liberate his home by any means necessary, whether dueling enemies face-to-face or stealthily picking them off from the shadows. The overwhelming beauty of Tsushima is breathtaking. Copious flower fields, tall grasses, and bamboo forests that dance in the wind create the sense of living in an idealized version of every samurai movie ever made. Smart and subtle guidance in the form of a summonable wind current points players in the right direction without breaking immersion. The game boasts plenty of side quests, but the most substantial consists of narrative episodes following the exploits of Jin’s primary allies. Following a fox to a hidden treasure or meditating by a waterfall to compose a haiku captures a whimsy and serenity that few games offer. | Our Review

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

The Assassin’s Creed series offers an exciting line-up of historical destinations: Renaissance Italy, Victorian London, and Ptolemy-era Egypt, to name a few. If we have to pick one, we’re going with Odyssey’s jaw-dropping take on ancient Greece. If you’re looking for a game to get absolutely lost in, Odyssey overflows with content. Multiple main narrative threads, countless side quests, fortresses to conquers, naval battles, mythical animal hunts, and much more await hero Kassandra/Alexios. Odyssey feels more fun to explore because it embraces being a video game more than any entry, letting you climb almost any surface. It even has an ability that negates fall damage (so long, hay piles). If spending a hundred hours clearing out the base game isn’t enough, DLC expansions such as the fantastic Fate of Atlantis extend this big fat Greek adventure. | Our Review 


Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

You don’t see many open-world indie games, but Sable offers a refreshingly minimalist, non-violent approach to roaming an expansive landscape. As the titular Sable, you embark on a ritualistic journey to find your purpose in life. Cruising across a striking desert aboard your land speeder-esque glider, you’ll visit towering landmarks and isolated villages to collect masks signifying your destiny. Doing so involves helping as many or as few people as you see fit. Like Breath of the Wild, Sable is about making your own way with no primary task to complete. If you want to collect every mask available, you can. If you only find one and decide “this is what I’m meant to be”, that’s fine too. Sable’s colorful cast of characters ooze personality despite lacking a voice, and the fascinating cultures and advanced technology hiding amongst its dunes make every discovery feel like an event. Backed by a stellar ambient soundtrack by Japanese Breakfast, Sable is an unforgettable coming-of-age road trip. | Our Review

Horizon Zero Dawn

PlayStation 4, PC

Horizon Zero Dawn’s post-apocalyptic United States acts as one giant mystery. Modern humanity fell centuries ago, though humankind continues on in small, tribal societies. All that remains of the former civilization are sentient, robotic animals that inhabit the land as naturally as any living creature. As the warrior Aloy, uncovering the truth behind mankind’s collapse, the origin of these mechanical beasts, and your connection to it all serve as effective hooks that, thankfully, stick the landing by the end. The robots themselves serve as the main attraction by presenting entertaining battles that force players to strategically dismantle them part by part. Horizon Zero Dawn is also a technical powerhouse. The game is drop-dead gorgeous, and the juxtaposition of futuristic and primitive aesthetics make it stand out amongst a crowded sea of similarly designed titles. While the game’s mission design won’t surprise open-world veterans, few settings have proven as alluring in their premise as Aloy’s. | Our Review


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