“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” While I may be quoting The Dark Knight here, I am simply trying to bring out the importance of choice in life. But what about people whose life is gaming? For them, the ability to modify the game’s storyline based upon their actions is a dream come true. Which is also probably the main reason behind the great sales of tell-tale games. But something that takes this concept to the next level is open world games.
Sandbox or open world games are where a player can move freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in regard to how and when to approach particular objectives, as opposed to other video games that have a more linear structure to their gameplay. Users have complete freedom on how to go about their objectives, or furthermore, even choose between going on a mission or simply free roaming around the world. Ever since 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III, the genre has been growing in dominance. If you’re a fan of the open world genre and are wondering what all games to play, then fret not, as we bring to you 18 best open world games for PC you can play:
If not ‘the most’ then at least one of the most famous games ever, Minecraft is a game that everyone has heard of. Showcasing a simple 8-bit graphic style, Minecraft actually has much more to it. It unleashes the creativity of one’s mind like no-one else. What sets this game apart from the crowd is just how simple, yet addictive this game is.
The objective is to continuously build the world around you, and fight off against monstrous enemies. While most open-world games focus on the concept of simply interacting with the world around you, Minecraft rather allows you to build the world around you to suit your liking. Random features as rivers, caves, waterfalls, and ravines thread this world. Herds of friendly, blocky animals graze happily here and there: pigs, sheep, cows, and chickens all provide useful products when slaughtered, and they can even be kept and bred.
2. The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is a product of Projekt RED’s superb development and EA’s financing. It is also one of the most intensive open-world ever made. The Witcher 3 is as dense and deep as the other two games in the series in terms of RPG mechanics, and the overwhelmingly massive open-world environment has at once made that depth more intimidating, and in the long run, more rewarding.
You are a Witcher, a warrior who has been trained to fight since childhood, subjected to mutations and trials that have transformed you. You interact with the world around you, exploring on quests and hunts, solving side-missions and getting lost in the countless hours of gameplay. Witcher 3 is a game that takes everything from the games you love from The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, Skyrim, The Legend of Zelda from Ocarina of Time to Twilight Princess and Red Dead Redemption. The Witcher 3 is the most awarded game of all time, and in my opinion, one of the best games to truly flaunt the open-world style.
3. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V, the latest addition to the GTA franchise, is the fourth-most best selling game of all times. Rockstar Games’ crown jewel, the entire Grand Theft Auto series has been widely accredited for its superb storyline with an interactive open world gameplay. And GTA V has been their best product ever, driving through not just one, but three different players and their cross-over storyline.
Grand Theft Auto V is an intelligent, wickedly comic, and bitingly relevant commentary on contemporary, post-economic crisis America. The more time you play, the more you realize what a large and intensely detailed creation Los Santos is, and just how much is packed into the surrounding Blaine County.
You can literally spend hours and hours playing the game without even doing any mission (or side missions either) and yet enjoy, with the level of interactiveness the open world has put on this game. Add to that the massive online multiplayer gameplay, and you’ll never want to leave this game. Oh, and how can one forget about the amazing mods for this beautiful game that will take your experience to new heights. Grand Theft Auto is, in many ways, the complete package to satisfy almost all of your gaming desires.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls series has been at the top of the RPG scene for a very long time, and rightly so, with the game providing a perfect balance between narration, story, and gameplay. Compared to the legacy Elder Scrolls, in Skyrim, there’s no more moon-hopping between hilltops with a maxed out Acrobatics skill or Athletics. The Elder Scrolls V pairs down a number of skills and cuts out attributes like Endurance and Intelligence altogether.
While Skyrim hasn’t got the best narrative of any RPG, the best combat, the best magic system or even the best graphics, but it does have one of the biggest, richest and most completely immersive worlds you’ve ever seen. The open world environment of this game is truly something to be experienced first hand. You can perform a quest, kill a dragon, snatch torch bugs from the air, munch on butterfly wings or simply wander while listening to one of the best game soundtracks. With the enormity of the world and the colossal amount of content contained within it, everything around seems to have a meaning of its own.
5. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Konami might be the studio behind it, but Metal Gear Solid is the real hard work and brainchild of Hideo Kojima, one of the most talented game designers of our generation. Metal Gear is one of the best-selling and most beloved games of all times, especially in the action-adventure genre. The game is a perfect mixture of strategy along with intensive gameplay.
The story revolves around the game’s protagonist – Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid V can be best described in the developer’s own words – “Tactical Espionage Excellence”. While everything in the game is something you can relate to the previous generations as well, the open world gameplay of The Phantom Pain really captivates the user’s attention to the core. While the free-roam is still somewhat limited in this game, the ability to approach your enemies and go about solving your missions with the variety of options is Metal Gear’s way of bridging the gap between linear and open world games. Metal Gear Solid V is truly overwhelming in terms of the freedom its open world affords and the number of concepts it expects you to grasp.
6. Forza Horizon 3
Open world racing games are lately becoming the tradition, and Microsoft’s premium racing game series “Forza” has implemented that greatly in their latest addition, Forza Horizon 3. While the Motorsport version is famous for professional racing, the Horizon series is an open world racing game set in a world run by woeful trust fund kids.
Forza Horizon 3 is set in the land of Australia and it isn’t just a racing game. It’s a huge, varied playground full of things to do in cars. The titular Horizon is a festival, where enthusiasts come to race, pull stunts and enjoy the open road. However you drive, you’ll never be penalized for your own style. You could stick to the roads the satellite navigation points you towards, or ignore them entirely and do your own thing. You could listen to your assistant and “Turn around when it is safe to do so,” or drive your way through a field and fly off a cliff. Why? Because you can! Furthermore, the level of customization that the game offers for the user for his vehicles, as well as the festival events, is spectacular. If racing is your genre, then Forza Horizon 3 is your fuel.
7. Batman: Arkham Knight
The Batman: Arkham series really raised the bars for superhero action games, and it is one series that really brought out the feel of taking control of the caped crusader. While there have been a lot of great Batman games, Batman: Arkham Knight is probably the best of the lot that gave users a complete mix of a great storyline, impressive gameplay and a truly interactive (and destructible) open world environment.
In the Knight version, your main enemy is, as the title suggests, The Arkham Knight. You face off the many goons and boss enemies in the city until finally defeating the Knight and encountering Batman’s other enemy – Scarecrow. The Batman: Arkham Knight is also the only game in the entire series to allow the players to even make use of the Batmobile, and explore the city. While the map is comparatively smaller as compared to the other games on this list, the overall gameplay combined with the storyline, and the backdrop of being able to live out your fantasy of being Batman is what makes this game a must recommend.
8. Far Cry 3
Yes, I know, Far Cry 4 has been released, and it has a bigger map than the Far Cry 3, b when you look at it, on the whole, Far Cry 3 is way better than the fourth iteration. “Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is? Insanity is doing the exact… same f**king thing… over and over again expecting… shit to change…” – and that is exactly what you do in the game, insanely drive around, shoot and explore the open world environment that the game comes along with.
You’re Jason Brody, a normal person traveling with his friends and enjoying vacations on an island till you’re finally held captive by the leader of the island – Vaas. The story revolves around you escaping his prison, helping the villagers fight off against Vaas in the hope to find your friends back and then escape the jungle. While the jungle is just one terrain, the game itself lets you roam around through mountains and beaches alike, and make use of the variety of vehicles available to you. Living off the main idea of natural survival instinct that the Far Cry series was built upon, Far Cry 3 is the best game of the entire series till date, period.
9. Just Cause 3
Just Cause 2 was the surprise hit of 2010, not because people expected it to be a mediocre game, but simply because the gameplay turned out to be just too darn good, something beyond their expectations. Ever since Just Cause 2, the standards of chaotic entertainment were raised, and gamers’ call was answered 5 years later in the form of Just Cause 3. While most people would still consider the predecessor to be the better of the two, allow me to tell you just why the latest iteration is a better game overall.
Built upon the concept of causing chaos everywhere, Just Cause 3 picks off where Just Cause 2 left and then some. You play as the game’s main protagonist Rico, and your objective is to fight off against Sebastiano Di Ravello’s military dictatorship in the city of Medici. Just Cause 3 is hilarious, surprisingly violent, jaw-droppingly beautiful, and technically impressive, all along a less interesting storyline but a massively improved gameplay.
While the task is to protect Medici, you can literally travel up to various cities, blow up buildings, statues, houses, cars, (practically everything to be honest), and then if you’re still not satisfied, there’s a rocket ship above in the atmosphere for you to blow up as well. Just Cause 3 is the most expansive and destructive open-world games, and while Just Cause 2 was great, a few patches later, the 3rd iteration literally is my pick of the lot and a must recommend for any open world gamer.
10. Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs was a game who’s concept was loved by everyone, but the overall gameplay had its debates. The sequel, Watch Dogs 2, can be considered an expansive form of the initial project with improved gameplay and new features, which most people, including me, consider a step in the right direction. By expanding on a lot of what the first game and its expansion got right and mixing action, stealth, and puzzle gameplay with handy remote-control drones, Watch Dogs 2 impresses with open mission designs with multiple ways to reach your objective and some great toys to find them with.
The main outline of this game is that you’re part of a hacker group DedSec, and you wage your war against the tech giants that steal the innocent citizens’ data and breach their privacy (Probably what the Anonymous group does in real life?). Watch Dogs 2 is as much as a stealth game as it may be an action game, but more so, the open world opens countless opportunities for you to interact with your enemies.
If you ever get bored of the missions (which might be hard considering the storyline is superb), the open world allows free roam with handy gadgets at your disposal to keep you entertained for hours. Giving you the feel of being a hacker, it just might feel like playing GTA with cheats enabled throughout.
11. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Inspired by the Lord of the Rings movie series and Batman: Arkham series gameplay, comes WB’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, an open world action role-playing game, which instantly appealed to the fans for a variety of reasons. Tagged initially as a rip-off, once you start playing the game, you’ll forget those words and be lost in the mystic world of Mordor.
You are Talion, a ranger of Gondor responsible for guarding the Black Gate of Mordor. In a battle, you somehow die but later on find yourself returned to life and twinned with a mysterious wraith who gives you magical powers.
While it does seem to give the impressions of Dishonored in the third person (referring to the mark of the Outsider), the fighting sequence is much more inspired by the likes of the Arkham series, except that instead of bare hands and gadgets, you have a sword and magical powers. Don’t get me wrong though, the game is like I said, much different than any other game, and it successfully lifted up the Middle Earth series. It’s got great free-flowing combat and a good-sized, good-looking open world full of Lord of the Rings lore to find, but what makes it special is what’s going on in the background: an intriguing hierarchy of enemies that gives every victory and defeat extra meaning.
12. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
The Assassin’s Creed is one of the best selling franchises of Ubisoft, and the Black Flag carries forward the tradition of mixing the best of historic events with a spectacular open world gameplay. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is the fourth in the Assassin’s Creed series, and is Ubisoft’s take at the Golden Age of piracy. No, I am not talking about the piracy of games and digital content, but rather, I am referring to the real pirates of the 18th century.
You play as Edward, a lost sailor who later on is mistaken to be an Assassin, and he leads up his team of sailors on the conquest of fulfilling the orders of the Creed. Sailing across the massive expanse of The Caribbean, exploring gorgeous and unique islands, and getting yourself into all sorts of swashbuckling trouble provide some of the most rewarding and memorable stretches of gameplay. It is the open world sailor gameplay that the fans loved so much, that Ubisoft decided to extend this gameplay in the form of their newly announced game at E3 2017 – Skull and Bones.
If you’re excited about Skull and Bones and want to experience the main concept of it, merged in the Assassin’s Creed flavor, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is an easy recommend.
13. Fallout: New Vegas
Yes, the Fallout 4 is here and is easily shaping up to be one of the best in the series, with all credit going mainly to the modding community. That being said, Fallout: New Vegas is, in every aspect of the game, the best title of the series so far. Back in 2008, Fallout 3 was launched which was regarded as the best open-world game of its time. Two years later came its successor, the New Vegas, and the standards were raised so high that no other game of the series could even match them.
The central story is that you’re following the trail of the man who shot you, as it snakes across the Mojave through the major urban areas, drip-feeding you tasks that vary from sorting out a town’s escaped prisoner problem to a ghoul infestation with a brilliantly over the top ending.
The great thing about the open world of New Vegas is that there are practically no limits to your exploring instincts. There’s almost an overwhelming amount of places to find and every time you turn around someone will be there wanting your help. Just when you think you’ve explored every nook and cranny of an area, you’ll realize that there are underground sewers to brave or some other previously undiscovered sector. There are times when I literally forgot about the storyline and was too engrossed in exploring the barren lands, satisfying the inner craving for adventure that is attained on probing around the world. If the open world gameplay of Fallout is something that appeals to you, then take my word for it and play New Vegas – it is indeed the best of the lot.
14. Saints Row IV
Remember how I referred to Watch Dogs 2 as GTA with cheats of a hacker? Well, Saints Row is an entirely out of this world version of Grand Theft Auto. The Saints Row series combines elements of action, adventure, and vehicular gameplay. The player can freely roam the virtual open world on foot or by use of vehicles and make use of an array of weapon and mêlée based combat, but what sets it apart from the other games in this sandbox genre is the inclusion of crazy superpowers, that leave you untouchable.
Like Saints Row the Third, Saints Row IV is set in the city of Steelport. The game starts with an alien attack on Earth, takes you through an infiltration of a terrorist base to find a nuclear missile. The missile explodes, you fall to earth, and manage to crash through the ceiling of the oval office. In the beginning, Saints Row 4 is very much the same parody-packed third-person action game as its predecessors. Your objectives vary as multiple aspects of the storyline are unlocked, but what keeps the gamer engrossed for hours is not the story line, rather the utterly hilarious comedy of the characters and the gameplay.
Saints Row was born out of Grand Theft Auto, but while the latter focuses on providing a movie like experience, the former focuses more on the crazy, stupid and literally nonsensical gaming culture that people prefer to opt for the sake of entertainment.
15. Dragon Age: Inquisition
One of the best games that you can purchase on Origin, Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the best role-playing games ever made. While the entire Dragon Age series is great, Inquisition is a phenomenal sequel to its predecessors and lives up to the fame that was accredited to it even before the launch. The Dragon Age series focuses on the continent of Thedas and tells stories spanning multiple nations and various time periods.
In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you are the Inquisitor, tasked with saving the world from itself. For all its large, free-roaming areas, each one littered with numerous missions and objectives, Inquisition is primarily a game of collecting party members and forging alliances in order to combat a monstrous evil. It’s a surprisingly huge, dense world, and despite spending hours and hours on the game, you will find yourself still discovering new and untravelled lands. Despite its less than compelling plot, you would be internally compelled to go back to explore and fight through every nook and cranny of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and be lost in the wilds of the beautiful atmosphere of the Dragon Age.
16. Mad Max
Remember the old Mad Max movies that we watched while growing up? It was a dream come true when we got to take control of Max, driving around in his Magnum Opus, while ruthlessly destroying enemies in our path, when in 2015, Avalanche Studios finally released the long awaited Mad Max video game. The game became an instant hit, launched alongside the next addition to the Mad Max movie series – Mad Max: Fury Road. At its core, Mad Max isn’t about the survival of the fittest or the strongest, but instead, the most ruthless.
Mad Max is based on the concept of death of hope. Mad Max is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure game emphasizing vehicular combat, in which the player is the eponymous Mad Max. Up to 60 percent of the game focuses on driving, in which some weapons and tools such as flamethrowers and turbo boosts, are mounted directly onto the Magnum Opus, while others, such as a grappling hook and sniper rifle, are used in conjunction with the vehicle by Chumbucket, Max’s assistant, or Max himself. Max’s Magnum Opus, with its V8 engine and powerful ramming ability, can destroy enemies’ vehicles and weaponry.
Mad Max opens with Max jamming a chainsaw into the skull of local gang leader Scabrous Scrotus. No sooner has he accomplished this feat than his car is stolen, leaving him alone to try to survive in the harsh wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world where every major body of water has dried up. While having a stand-alone story with no strong connection to any of the four films, the game manages to capture the user’s attention and keep him engrossed for hours of gameplay, exploring the barren lost lands in search of water and other means of survival. While the concept of a wasteland might be a reminiscence of the Fallout series, it takes you the bare minimum amount of time to quickly realize how different and unique the open world interaction of this game is.
17. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
The oldest game on this list, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl still manages to give a strong competition to most of the open world games of this generation. The idea of fusing first-person shooter mechanics with an open world is a tantalizing one, and it is something that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. manages to pull off in great fashion. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in an area called “The Zone”, which is based on the real-life Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where the tragic 1986 Chernobyl disaster took place, and partly on the settings of the source novel and film.
The game starts with your character, known as the Marked One tumbling off a death truck on the outskirts of The Zone. You meet up with a man named Sidorovich, who hands out your first tasks and introduces the fiction of the environment. As the journey progresses, you’ll move through the game’s various self-contained zones that together make up The Zone, from the relatively placid Cordon to the war-wracked Army Warehouses, Pripyat, and finally the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself, from which all things sinister seem to emanate.
The storyline of this game is filled with engaging experiences and a gripping twists and turns in gameplay. And while the environment may appeal linear at first, stepping aside from the main storyline and onto the side quests really lets you explore the open world elements of the game. The excellent gun battles, a fairly new ambiance, and an intriguing storyline make the Shadow of Chernobyl a fascinating achievement.
18. Elite: Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous is a game for anyone who grew up looking up the stars, watching Star Trek or some variation thereof with their parents, and dreamt of being an astronaut and exploring the distant skies, or even galaxies. It’s one of the most enthralling and evocative space combat and trade sim games ever made. To call it an open world Star Trek game would be misleading though, but it does share the general concept of driving around to figure out what could be out there in the endless cosmos waiting to be discovered.
Starting with 1984’s success story Elite, and proceeding with Frontier: Elite II and Elite III, came the highly awaited Elite: Dangerous in the fall of 2014. Easily one of the best space explorer games, Elite: Dangerous is currently set in the year 3303 and has been running in sync with UTC +1286 years, around 45 years after Frontier: First Encounters (Elite III), the previous game in the series. Elite: Dangerous retains the basic premise of previous games – players start with a spaceship and a small amount of money and have to make their own way in an open galaxy, furthering themselves either legally or illegally, through trading, mining, bounty hunting, piracy, and assassination.
Elite has an enormous open world which is basically the entire universe, and while the recently launched indie game No Man’s Sky does allow the users to explore the universe as well, the concept of Elite: Dangerous is completely different and in its own ways mesmerizing.
Explore And Interact With The Best Open World Games for PC
An open world game is mainly made while keeping the idea of freedom in the mind. Users are released from the shackles of a linear world map and are put in this area which they are free to explore and interact with. An open world game requires a lot of development, and while some manage to hit the spot, often developers miss out on the overall gameplay. Share with us your favourite open world game and what made you fall in love with it in the comments section below.