Best open-world games

Open world in games has been the main trend in recent years. At the dawn of MMORPG popularity, developers of single-player narrative games could not afford to create full-fledged open worlds due to technology and costs.

Only industry giants like Rockstar Games and Bethesda Softworks were allowed to develop games for 5-7 years, spending several hundred million dollars in the process. Development has not become cheaper now, but due to the advancement of technologies of companies capable of doing so, there are more opportunities. In this article, we will talk about several popular games that have large and interactive open worlds comparable to many MMO games.


Hello Games. No Man's Sky является одной из самых амбициозных игр последних лет, так как в ней представлена огромная открытая вселенная, состоящая из множества галактик. Игроки могут исследовать бесчисленные планеты, звездные системы и разнообразные формы жизни.

Целью игры является достижение центра галактики, хотя игроку предоставляется полная свобода в выборе своего пути. Игра предлагает различные активности, включая добычу ресурсов, строительство баз, торговлю, бои с врагами и улучшение своего корабля.

Карта No Man's Sky представляет собой огромный космос, состоящий из 255 галактик. В каждой галактике находится множество звездных систем, планет и лун. Каждая планета является уникальной и имеет свои особенности, ресурсы и формы жизни. Карта также отображает различные станции, космические корабли и другие объекты.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Metacritic Rating 82/100
Release Year 2020
Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Map Size 140 km²

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is an Action/RPG game developed by Ubisoft Montreal. It is the twelfth installment in the Assassin's Creed series. The game was released simultaneously on all modern platforms. Despite receiving good reviews, players noted numerous technical glitches, which have since been fixed.

The game is set in England in the year 873 during a time of internal conflicts and Viking invasions. The player takes on the role of Eivor, the leader of a Norwegian clan, as they search for a new home for their people in the fertile lands of England. They will face off against the leaders of the four largest Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to defend against the bloodthirsty Vikings.

As of the beginning of 2023, the following expansions are available:

  1. Yule
  2. River Raids
  3. Interactive Tour: The Viking Age
  4. Crossing Paths
  5. Dawn of Ragnarok
  6. Forgotten Saga

The world map in Assassin's Creed Valhalla is fully open from the start of the game, allowing players to visit almost any location. The map is divided into different regions with enemies of varying levels, which have higher health and attack power compared to our hero. Interesting locations on the map are marked with icons, such as chests, resources, precious stones, altars, world events, and other points of interest. There are over 20 different variations available in total.

Just Cause 4

Metacritic Rating 68/100
Release Year 2018
Developer Avalanche Studios Group
Map Size 1024 km²

Just Cause 4 is an Action-adventure game developed by the Swedish studio Avalanche Studios Group. It is a direct sequel to the previous project and the fourth numbered installment in the Just Cause series. The fourth part was developed on a completely new graphics engine called Apex Engine. This significantly improved the graphical effects with realistic weather, enhanced character animation, physics, and destruction system.

The events of the game take place in the fictional country of Solis, located in South America. The main character, Rico Rodriguez, will be up against the terrorist organization known as the Black Hand, which was already covertly featured in the first and third parts of the game. Rico learns that his father worked for the Black Hand on one of their secret weather manipulation projects. He decides to go to Solis and investigate it himself.

The open world in Just Cause 4 is truly enormous. It is one of the largest worlds in games in the past 5 years. The world map is divided into biomes, including snowy mountains, deserts, tropics, and more. Special icons on the map indicate populated areas, specific objects, landmarks, missions, etc. Various means of transportation, including vehicles, a wingsuit, parachute, and grappling hook, are used to navigate the world. Some areas can be accessed through a fast travel system.

Watch Dogs: Legion

Metacritic Rating 72/100
Release Year 2020
Developer Ubisoft Toronto
Map Size 12 km²

Watch Dogs: Legion is an Action-adventure game from a third-person perspective developed by the French studio Ubisoft. The development of the game was led by the Canadian branch in Toronto. They also participated in the development of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Far Cry 5. Legion is the third installment in the Watch Dogs game series.

The events take place in the near future in London, where the government has implemented an authoritarian surveillance regime using a modern surveillance system. The young hacker group DedSec and its leader Sabine Brandt have developed an artificial intelligence named Bagley, which can detect armed criminals.

This does not sit well with another hacker group called Zero Day, which is involved in terrorism and fraud. As a result of the conflict, DedSec is forced to disable the AI and go underground, while the government increases control through the private military force Albion.

The map of London in Watch Dogs: Legion includes the following districts:

  • Camden
  • Islington & Hackney
  • Nine Elms
  • City of Westminster
  • City of London
  • Lambeth
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Southwark

Each district is divided into three key locations for main and side missions. Clicking on a district icon on the left shows available missions and rewards. When zoomed in on the map, icons with points of interest that are worth visiting are displayed. It is important to note that when developing the future London, the developers took a lot from the current city - some landmarks are very accurately recreated.

Far Cry 6

Metacritic Rating 75/100
Release Year 2021
Developer Ubisoft Toronto
Map Size 88 km²

Far Cry 6 is a first-person shooter game developed by Ubisoft Toronto. It is the sixth numbered installment in the Far Cry franchise. The game's main antagonist is played by the well-known American actor Giancarlo Esposito.

The story is set in 2014, when Anton Castillo wins the election in Yara, promising prosperity to the republic through trade of a modern cancer medication. However, to cultivate the tobacco used to manufacture the medication, a toxic pesticide is used that kills workers. This is carefully concealed and covered up with the help of military force. These actions lead to public unrest and the birth of a revolutionary group.

The island nation in Far Cry 6 has a large and detailed open world inspired by Cuba. The island of Yara is divided into three regions: El Este, Valle del Oro, and Madrugada. Specific areas on the map are designated as the capital city of the island, an archipelago, and the headquarters of the revolutionary group. On average, it takes at least 30 minutes of real time to traverse the map diagonally.

Special icons on the map represent the hideouts of the guerrillas, cities, weapon caches, collectible items, crafting materials, service points, etc. There are also memory points that can be fast-traveled between.

Need for Speed Unbound

Metacritic Rating 81/100
Release Year 2022
Developer Criterion Games
Map Size -

Need for Speed Unbound is an arcade racing game developed by Criterion Games, known for their work on the successful Burnout series, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Star Wars: Battlefront II. Unbound is the twenty-fifth game in the Need for Speed series.

The game follows the story of a street racer who is part of the Rydell Garage crew. They specialize in tuning vintage and expensive cars. During the summer races, the main character and their friend restore a vintage car to participate in races, but at the end of the summer, the garage is raided and all the expensive cars, including theirs, are stolen. The game continues a couple of years later, when the hero sets out to track down the thieves and seek revenge for their friends.

The map of Need for Speed Unbound features the city of Lakeshore. The new city and its surroundings are approximately 50% smaller in size compared to the previous NFS: Heat, but the coastal area is not present in the new installment, and the road density is noticeably higher.

Points of interest are displayed as various icons on the map. There are secrets, graffiti spots, billboards, trouble spots, and more.

No Man's Sky

Metacritic Rating 77/100
Release Year 2016
Developer Hello Games
Map Size 255 galaxies

No Man's Sky is a space exploration game with survival elements developed by the independent British studio Hello Games. The project was announced in 2013 and attracted a large audience of space game enthusiasts during its years of marketing campaigns.

No Man's Sky was released in the fall of 2016 and initially received mixed reviews due to technical issues, poor graphics, numerous bugs, and lack of promised content. However, the developers did not give up and spent the next 2 years improving the game, releasing updates with the promised content. Currently, No Man's Sky is a game with one of the largest living worlds.

The gameplay involves exploring galaxies and planets. On some planets, players can interact with the local flora and fauna, while on others, they can gather resources or engage in combat. The creation of planets is done through procedural generation, ensuring each planet is unique.

The game world does not limit the player. They can fly to any point in the galaxy, any planet. In space, there are battles between alien creatures that players can join, as well as space stations that can be visited. The game features a multiplayer mode for cooperative play.

Elite Dangerous

Metacritic Rating 77/100
Release Year 2014
Developer Frontier Developments
Map Size The Milky Way galaxy on a 1:1 scale

Elite Dangerous is a space simulator in an open world with elements of various game genres, including trading simulation, shooter, and strategy. It is the fourth installment in the Elite game series and the first project to support a multiplayer mode.

The game is set in the year 3300 when the Tragoids, an alien race, threatens humanity's existence. Sectors of the galaxy inhabited by humans are divided between the Federation, the Empire, and the Alliance. The player, as an independent pilot, can join one of the factions and participate in its development by completing special missions. It's worth noting that in Elite Dangerous, each player in some way influences the game's storyline.

The game starts with character creation, and everyone is given a starter ship called the "Sidewinder." Players can embark on adventures in the single-player campaign by joining a private group or in the mass online mode.

The game world is built on a 1:1 scale and includes approximately 400 billion procedurally generated stellar objects. Each object can contain hundreds of stars, planets, comets, or asteroids. Procedural generation takes into account scientific models.

Forza Horizon 5

Metacritic Rating 92/100
Release Year 2021
Developer Playground Games
Map Size 107 km²

Forza Horizon 5 is the fifth installment in the Forza Horizon series, an arcade racing simulator developed by the British studio Playground Games. Like previous entries, Forza Horizon 5 was well-received by players and critics from leading publications. It won awards for audio design, best racing game, most anticipated game at the E3 exhibition, and game of the year at the D.I.C.E. Awards in 2021.

Unlike other entries in the series, Forza Horizon 5 features a full-fledged story. The game revolves around a racing festival taking place in Mexico. To claim the title, players must complete all story missions in various locations throughout Mexico. The tasks become available as players accumulate a special scale and involve timed races, overtaking special vehicles, taking photos in front of ancient ruins at high speeds, etc.

During the announcement of Forza Horizon 5, the developers mentioned multiple times that they wanted to create the largest map in the entire series. The world should also be "alive" and filled with activities. The world map includes various biomes, including mountainous areas, canyons, deserts, jungles, volcanic surfaces, coasts, etc.

The gameplay in Forza Horizon 5 is designed in a way that players can go anywhere and do anything at any time. The main principle behind the game is that the player should have fun at every moment. The game actively rewards players for performing various tricks, completing mini-challenges, and even for bad driving. There are over 400 cars available in total.

Death Stranding

Metacritic Rating 84/100
Release Year 2019
Developer Kojima Productions, Guerrilla Games
Map Size 846 km²

Death Stranding is an Action game set in an open world developed by Kojima Productions. In the development of this ambitious project, the team received assistance from Guerrilla Games, known for their work on the Killzone and Horizon game series. The game features Hollywood actors, including Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, and Lea Seydoux.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world on the territory of a devastated United States. America, like other countries, was destroyed due to an event known as the Death Stranding. This strange phenomenon is connected to a person's body and soul. After death, the soul reaches a personal "Beach" and then moves to other worlds. However, due to a glitch during a mass death, multiple souls can end up on the same "Beach" simultaneously, causing the release of creatures into the living world and potentially leading to a massive explosion.

The game begins when the main character, Sam, helps transport a human corpse to an incinerator. Along the way, he is attacked by creatures led by a masked man. As a result, Sam dies and resurrects in the center known as the "Bridges".

The open world in Death Stranding is essentially divided into two regions. The story campaign starts from the eastern point and progresses to the far west point. Players are required to deliver special packages from different regions to others, thus connecting locations, settlements, bases, etc. In addition to packages, the main character carries weapons, supplies, and consumables. Vehicles such as motorcycles and small trucks are used for long-distance travel.

Death Stranding received high ratings from both critics and players. The game itself is very original and can be incomprehensible or require some time to get used to for the average player. Technically, the project is well executed and works great even on budget PCs.

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