ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Ten Open World Games

Updated on May 7, 2013

The Best Open World Games

If you are looking for some fantastic open world game recommendations, you have come to the right place. Finding great open world games is one of my passions in life. From Grand Theft Auto to the Elder Scrolls series, open world games capture our imagination, immersing us into worlds and environments we had never thought possible. While people generally are quite familiar with the major open world free roam titles, there are many hidden gems that are not readily apparent. This page aims to highlight all of the acclaimed titles across all genres. While GTA and Skyrim might seem miles apart in theme, they do share many similar characteristics. I done my best to gather the very best open world games in one place from around the gaming community. If you have any questions or comments, leave them at the bottom of the page and I would be glad to answer! Enjoy!

1 - Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - A Fantasy RPG

If you have not already played Skyrim, you have to. It really doesn't matter if you are "into fantasy games". The game has successfully pushed the boundaries of the meaning of "open world". The map is massive, the options are endless, and - best of all - you can explore the world on your own terms and at your own pace. There is no "main mission", but there are dozens of large quests, many smaller side quests, and hundreds of smaller tasks to complete and places to explore.

The world of Tamriel immediately sucks you in to its unique lore, hundreds of unique locations, and sense of player freedom. The game is probably the most open world you can get while still have deep story lines to follow. The difference is that you - the player - do not HAVE to follow a particular story line. Similarly, the world features no artificial limits. If you can see a location, you can probably get there. Sometimes physics make it difficult or impossible, but there are no invisible "walls" or other limitations. The map is extremely sprawling and it will take at least a good half hour (real time) to travel from one end to the other.

This is a must have for open world gamers!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

This is the Xbox 360 version.

 
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC

The PC version (which is now pretty cheap). Just make sure your system can handle the game.

 

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Video Review

Here is a video review of Skryim...one of the best open world games. Period.

2- Grand Theft Auto (Series) - The Original Free Roam Gangster Pioneer

You can't talk about open world games without first mentioning the Grand Theft Auto series. When GTA 3 was first released, it shocked the gaming community with the high fidelity 3D rendering of living and breathing cities. Steal cars, pick fights with strangers, and create mass mayhem. That is what's possible in GTA. However, you can also play the game straight up, following the missions, obeying traffic laws, and exercising "appropriate force" (of course that's not nearly as fun).

Grand Theft Auto is built around the premise of an open world. You can go where you please and do what you want. While there are plenty of missions to choose from, there still are a few main story lines. The provides some structure to an otherwise free roaming world. It is not quite like Skyrim in that it does not favor open-ended options, but you can be quite creative with how you approach each mission. There are seldom any artificial constraints placed in your path.

Each entry in the series is a thrill to experience. If you haven't played the latest version, it is high time you did!

Grand Theft Auto V - PlayStation 3
Grand Theft Auto V - PlayStation 3

The upcoming GTA 5, for PS3. Pre-order.

 
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV

The bestselling Grand Theft Auto IV, available on Xbox 360.

 
Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete [Download]
Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete [Download]

This is a great deal. It includes all of the bonus add-on content plus the base game for your PC (instant download).

 
Grand Theft Auto V - Xbox 360
Grand Theft Auto V - Xbox 360

The upcoming GTA, for Xbox 360. Pre-order.

 

Grand Theft Auto V - Video Preview

Check out the upcoming GTA: V....

3 - Red Dead Redemption - Wild West Grand Theft Horse

Red Dead Redemption was Rockstar Games first foray into bold new open world territory after their success with the GTA series. Borrowing heavily from the open world format of Grand Theft Auto, the developers managed to create a unique and compelling gaming experience, equally as addictive as any of the GTA entries.

You play John Marston, a jilted lone ranger living out the twilight of the late 19th century western frontier. Long after the railroad boom raced through the territory, dusty ranches, trading outposts, and whiskey towns remain. The "redemption" piece of the game weaves in and out of the story, but most players will get lost in the wide open wilderness of the frontier.

The open world manifests itself through the shear number of things you can do. Most missions can be approached from ultimate angles, but it is entirely possible to spend your time gambling, engaging in shootouts, hunting, catching wanted criminals, and even collecting wild plants to sell in town.

This is definitely one of the best open world games on the market that has a great thematic setting. Well worth a play regardless of what genre you prefer.

Red Dead Redemption: Game of the Year Edition - Xbox One and Xbox 360
Red Dead Redemption: Game of the Year Edition - Xbox One and Xbox 360

For the Xbox 360. The Game of the Year edition includes the "undead nightmare" expansion which adds zombie apocalypse to the zombie frontier as a separate game mode. Thoroughly enjoyable! It is basically a new game that uses the same game world environment.

 
Red Dead Redemption Game of the Year
Red Dead Redemption Game of the Year

Same as above, except for the PlayStation 3.

 

Red Dead Redemption - Wild West Gameplay Video

4 - Borderlands 2 - Quirky Open World Mayhem

Borderlands is perhaps one of the most unique, off the wall, and intriguing games on the market. The game features a massive open world environment, full of both core story missions and a bevy of side missions, challenges, and locations to explore.

The best way to describe the game is as a combination of GTA and Skyrim, but set in a wacky world full of oddball characters and fantastical contraptions. There is an epic amount of voice acting that went into Borderlands 2 and it brings the world to life, creating a vibrant and adorably addictive free roaming playground.

The game offers a central storyline for the character you choose, but contains locations off the beaten path that were made to be explored. This game does what many open world games fail to do; balance a compelling story with a vibrant and fluid open world.

Borderlands Game of the Year -Xbox 360
Borderlands Game of the Year -Xbox 360

The game of the year edition, for the Xbox 360. This is the best value as it includes the extra add-on packs (like the Zombies DLC).

 
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition [Download]
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition [Download]

Same as above, except for PC (instant download).

 

Borderlands 2 Gameplay - Wacky, Fun, and Addictive

5 - Fallout (Series) - Post-Apocalyptic Open World Wasteland

Imagine Skyrim, but instead of dragons and magic there are mutant creatures and improvised weapons. Much like Skyrim, every day feels like a battle to survive. In the case of Fallout: New Vegas, resources are scarce and hope is fleeting. You make your way through the vast world however you please. This is about as open ended as it gets.

Yes, there are quests and missions, but there is no one telling you what to do, let alone hinting at directions to take. The world is wide open to explore, at your own risk. From small desert outposts to the Vegas strip, the world is full of things to see and people/creatures to fight. The game is a collectors dream where objects can be re-fashioned and re-purposed into items that suit your needs.

Like in Skyrim, players can choose between factions. In Fallout: New Vegas these choices can have impacts on gameplay, the game world, and the development of the narrative. If you enjoyed Skyrim, you will love Fallout. At the same time, it is a nice half-way point between the dark fantasy of Oblivion and the real world setting of GTA. The game is set plausibly in the future, rather than in an alternate fantasy universe.

Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition
Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition

The Xbox 360 version. I recommend getting the Ultimate Edition because it includes the DLC. If you bought the extra content individually it would be much more expensive.

 

Fallout: New Vegas - The Open World Wasteland!

6 - Saints Row (series) - Mayhem unlimited...

The Saints Row series has always been willing to push the envelope just a little bit further than Grand Theft Auto. Rather than deep emotional storylines and realistic gameplay, Saints Row tries to capture the aspect of GTA which many gamers like; mayhem. Using the same open world free roaming formula, Saints Row lets you unleash your destruction on the environment with few consequences.

Saints Row: The Third- The Full Package - Xbox 360
Saints Row: The Third- The Full Package - Xbox 360

This is the Xbox 360 version. I highly recommend picking up the full package because it comes with all of the DLC expansion packs.

 
Saints Row the Third - The Full Package [Download]
Saints Row the Third - The Full Package [Download]

The complete package for your PC, instant download.

 
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV

You can pre-order the new Saints Row for the PS3.

 
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV

Pre-order for the Xbox 360.

 

Saints Row: The Third - Obnoxiously Fun Free Roam Mayhem!

7 - Just Cause (series) - A Massive World to Explore and Destruct

The Just Cause series has always pushed the envelope of the open world format. Just Cause 2 is a sprawling game world that is virtually impossible to completely explore. Once you get over the inconsistent voice acting, this is a gem of a sandbox to play in.

While creating realistic environments is a hallmark of the Just Cause series, the astonishing array of stunts and the capabilities of your character is super-human. While your character certainly is mortal and can die, he has the ability of a virtual James Bond....on crack. As Rico Rodriquez you can jump from exploding vehicles, hijack aircraft in mid flight, and kill dozens of opponents in seconds.

The setting of the game is the island nation of Panau during a time of political upheaval. As the US hired gun, Rico goes about the island inciting anti-government action by wrecking havoc and generally becoming the number one national security threat for the corrupt Panau government. The game is simply massive with over 100 vehicles (of both land, sea and air variety) to use for your nefarious interests.

Just Cause 2 - Xbox 360
Just Cause 2 - Xbox 360

Just Cause 2, for the Xbox 360.

 
Just Cause 2 PS3
Just Cause 2 PS3

Just Cause 2, for the PS3.

 
Just Cause 2 [Online Game Code]
Just Cause 2 [Online Game Code]

The Just Cause 2 PC game download version.

 
Just Cause - Xbox 360
Just Cause - Xbox 360

The original Just Cause for Xbox 360.

 
Just Cause [Online Game Code]
Just Cause [Online Game Code]

The original Just Cause for PC (instant download)

 

Just Cause 2 Gameplay - Lush Tropical Mayhem...

8 - Minecraft - As open ended as it gets...

Minecraft might not seem like an obvious fit when mentioned in the same space as Skyrim and GTA, but it nonetheless is a true open world game. It pushes the term to its limit but providing little structure or purpose, other than surviving if you are playing in survival mode. Forget choosing missions, Minecraft is all about what you make of it.

Minecraft can at first appear mindlessly simple; a virtual game of legos for some. But behind the unassuming exterior is a deeply complex crafting structure, the kind that you can never truly master with more improvements being constantly updated to the game.

As you can probably tell, the graphics are a bit rough around the edges; however, what the game sacrifices in the visual aspect it makes up for in the unrestrained creativity players an pursue. Simply put, there are no limits (unless you are in Survival mode where you can be attacked or starve). You can build the ultimate survival cave network, or take to the trees and create a arbor-based tree-house network. If you are the builder type, reincarnating classic buildings from popular culture or even entire cities is possible.

Minecraft is a one of a kind game. If you haven't tried it yet, you are missing out... You can download the game free for PC, but the console version is also worth a spin.

Minecraft
Minecraft

Try the console version of minecraft for Xbox 360.

 

Minecraft Reviewed - The Revolutionary Open World Builder

9 - Sleeping Dogs - Open world action game...

Sleeping Dogs is the successor to the True Crime series. It borrows heavily from the Grand Theft Auto series and the classic Getaway series to build a nuanced open world city shooter. Surprisingly, this game flies below the radar, being overshadowed by games like GTA and Saints Row. The latest version, released in 2012, garnered praise from game critics despite the lower profile.

Keeping true to its True Crime roots, at the heart of Sleeping Dogs is one of the best melee combat engines found in any of recent title. Marksmanship and driving are still important facets to this open world crime thriller, but martial arts set the game apart from the competition. Even the Hong Kong setting is a welcome respite from the typical western style city.

As the player, you take on the persona of an undercover cop, infiltrating the ranks of organized crime in Hong Kong. The city itself is a fictionalized iteration, but the mystic and twisting loyalties draw he player in. The game is open world, but at least initially does not reveal the entire world, instead opting to run you through "tutorial" missions to learn the basic melee and combat moves. As you work your way up the organized crime ladder, the world expands into a vast metropolitan expanse to explore freely.

If you are looking for something similar to GTA/Saints Row/Getaway style game, you can't go wrong with Sleeping Dogs.

Sleeping Dogs - Xbox 360
Sleeping Dogs - Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 version.

 
Sleeping Dogs [Download]
Sleeping Dogs [Download]

The instant download.

 

Sleeping Dogs Gameplay - Asian themed Open World Criminal Adventure

10 - Farcry (series) - Open World Tropical Adventure

Farcry 3 builds off of the success of the series, delivering the best game of the series yet. Set in a harsh tropical environment, Farcry 3 is teaming with action. Whether it is untamed wildlife or rogue drug runners, there is always something deal with.

The main story is interesting, but the many side missions and challenges to pursue become more intriguing that the main premise of the story itself. You can get lost for hours exploring the two islands that comprise the game world, ranging from hunting sharks, wild animals, or taking over cartel outposts. The game is a bit more focused than Farcry 2, but it is still a massive open world game that will enthrall players with its distinct character and style.

The nice thing about Farcry is that you can decide to pursue objectives however you please. You can utilize stealth or you can go in guns blasting.This is one of the best games of the year and arguably one of the greatest open world shooters to date (right up there with Grand Theft Auto).

Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3

The award winning Farcry 3 for your Xbox 360.

 
Far Cry 3 - Deluxe Edition [Download]
Far Cry 3 - Deluxe Edition [Download]

The deluxe edition (highly recommended) with bonus content for your PC (instant download).

 
Far Cry 2 - Xbox 360
Far Cry 2 - Xbox 360

The critically acclaimed Farcry 2 for your Xbox 360.

 
Far Cry 2: Fortune's Edition [Download]
Far Cry 2: Fortune's Edition [Download]

This is one of the bonus editions of Farcry 2. You can play it on your computer in minutes with this download.

 

Farcry 3 Gameplay - Exploring the Open World Tropical Sandbox

Honorable Mention - Assassins Creed (series) - Free Roaming Stealth Killing

Imagine a massive beautifully rendered historical city with the same freedom as GTA and Skyrim, but exclusively built around assassination and stealth. The latest Assassins Creed (AC3) is a wide-ranging panorama of colonial American, set on the cusp of the American Revolution. Unlike some open world games, AC3 features a deep story-line that enriches the game world. In between fighting redcoats and hunting deer, the story missions keep the game moving forward so that you fully explore all of the territories.

There is a lot to do in AC3. You can hunt, steal, or even run a small farm economy with a trading/management mini-game embedded within the system. Assassins Creeds tries a lot of new things in the free roam game space. It does not always execute perfectly, but it does innovate in many different ways to deliver a unique and enjoyable experience. It is one of the must own games of the last few years.

Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed III

This is the Xbox 360 version of this instant classic game.

 
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation

The PS3 version of AC3 comes with some exclusive content. It's not enough of a reason to buy a new console, but it is a nice perk for Sony owners.

 
Assassin's Creed III [Download]
Assassin's Creed III [Download]

The PC version, download straight to your computer.

 
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

An older - but still fun - game in the Assassins creed lineage.

 
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Another past incarnation of the game.... well worth a play for a reasonable price.

 

Honorable Mention - Mafia (series) - Classic Mafia Gameplay in an Open World Environment

Perhaps the most under-appreciated open world crime game series is Mafia - both the original - and Mafia II, a more recent release. If the rich traditions of Cosa Nostra mixed with a pre-1960s world is what floats your boat, Mafia is an incredibly deep and addictive open world diversion. Working your way up the ladder of organized crime has never been quite this fun. Unlike other open world games like GTA, Mafia puts a heavy emphasis on character development and historical setting even though the game (both iterations) is set in a fictional city.

In the original Mafia the game has the feel of 1930s Chicago, a mixture of Don Corleone meets Al Capone. Mafia II feels a bit more like an East Coast city, but offers a rich story and an environment that physically changes as the story progresses. Low powered automobiles in the 1940s give way to brightly colored coupe's and rockabilly music in the 1950s. The second coming of Mafia has a feel much more like the Goodfellas. Both games are worth the ride. If you want newer graphics stick with Mafia II.

Mafia II
Mafia II

This is the Xbox 360 version of the game.

 
Mafia II: Director's Cut [Download]
Mafia II: Director's Cut [Download]

IF you are going to get the PC version, the Director's Cut is both reasonably priced and features some extra bells and whistles.

 
Mafia II DLC: Joe's Adventure [Download]
Mafia II DLC: Joe's Adventure [Download]

An interesting bonus set of missions for Mafia II, worth it if you have finished the game and are looking for more.

 

Honorable Mention - The Godfather - An Authentic Gangster Tale Set in an Open World

The Godfather in many ways is part business simulation, in addition to being an outstanding RPG. This is because much of the gameplay consists of taking over rackets one block at a time however you see fit. You can expand your territory anyway you like, much like in Grand Theft Auto: San Andrews. The other families will fight back; however, and occasionally make incursions into your territory as well.

While similar in theme to the Mafia series, The Godfather is more dynamic. It features elements of territory and business management, in addition to a well constructed story mode. You can choose how you expand and which territories you takeover. Each illegal enterprise profits a "protection" income that can be collected which in turn allows you the option to "buy out" the business. This enables you to collect even more profit on a weekly basis.

The game sticks to scenes from the movie, although you play an unspecified character working his way up the family tree. As such, the game has to take some liberties. All in all, it is well worth the money!

The Godfather The Don's Edition -PLAYSTATION 3
The Godfather The Don's Edition -PLAYSTATION 3

The PS3 version, with some bonus content.

 
The Godfather (DVD-ROM) - PC
The Godfather (DVD-ROM) - PC

The PC version, for less than $10.

 

Honorable Mention - Witcher (series) - A High Fantasy Open World Adventure...

The Witcher series has in many ways borrowed heavily from the Elder Scrolls (Skyrim), but it is hardly a carbon copy. Where Skyrim goes for breadth of gameplay, Witcher 2 goes more into depth with a rich plot and a carefully crafted storyline.

The game is definitely not a pure open world game in the sense that you can go anywhere you want like in Skyrim. However, it does feature a free roam style much like Grand Theft Auto, where limited sections of the map are opened only after progressing up to a certain point in the story. Still, it has the look and feel of a open world game. Chances are, you will be so sucked in by the incredible storyline that you will not even notice when parts of the map are limited.

This game is one of the best games in recent memory, rivaling Skryim in the depth of gameplay and the seamless game world. If you haven't already, pick up the Witcher 2.

The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings Enhanced Edition
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings Enhanced Edition

The Xbox 360 version. Unfortunately, there is no PS3 version....

 
The Witcher Enhanced - PC
The Witcher Enhanced - PC

Try the original Witcher game, with the bonus content for about $5 (well worth it).

 

Honorable Mention - Dishonored - A Spacious Dark City with a Deep Story

This game is not completely open world, but each phase of the game takes place in an open world free roam environment, much like the Witcher 2 except a bit more open ended. Dishonored combines spacious detailed environments to explore, combined with a rich story that brings the dark industrial port city of Dunwall to life.

At every juncture, Dishonored gives you - the player - a choice. The stories and quests are open-ended, letting you decide "how" you accomplish the task. You can use stealth, violence, vengeance, or try and take the high road. The game features multi-dimensional character development The city is a joy to explore, especially with the rich characters (supplemented by some first class voice acting). It is reminiscent of an industrial era British port city, but has elements of the supernatural mixed in for good measure.

This game is unlike any, an instant gem. It is made by the some folks (Bethesda) who created Skyrim and Fallout.

Dishonored
Dishonored

The Xbox 360 version of this instant cult classic.

 
Dishonored - PC
Dishonored - PC

The PC version...just make sure your system can handle it.

 

Share YOUR Thoughts - What are your favorite open world games?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.