The best open world games

A warrior on horseback looking out at the Erdtree in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

There's nothing quite like losing yourself in a big open world game. Exploring rolling hills, vast wildernesses, and bustling cities; discovering hidden treasures and hunting down collectibles; and just enjoying that feeling of just getting completely immersed in a land totally different from your own. These days, there's a huge range of brilliant options to choose from—the difficult part is narrowing it down! Good thing we've done that homework for you. Our list covers the very best of the open world game genre—dive into one of these, and it might be 100 hours before you escape. 

Best of the best

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Released: 2022 | Developer: FromSoftware | Steam

Elden Ring isn't just a fantastic open world game, it was the defining game of 2022—so much so that we gave it our Game of the Year award. Equal parts beautiful and repulsive, inviting and deadly, it's a real vision for what an open world can be. Without a quest log, map markers, or a collectibles list, the focus is purely on your own organic exploration of the world, and its sense of true discovery is absolutely enthralling.

Following in the spirit of FromSoftware's famously brutal Dark Souls games, it's a game that pulls no punches—before you step foot in its sprawling kingdom, you've got to be ready to die, die, and die again. But that also makes your adventure wonderfully rewarding. It's an open world full of trials and challenges that you'll feel like a true hero for overcoming.

Read more: Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree's reveal trailer is finally here, release date set for June

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Released: 2020 | Developer: Ubisoft | Steam

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's open world is an astonishing technical achievement. It's become fashionable to dunk on Ubisoft for the sometimes formulaic approach it takes to its flagship games, but it deserves credit where its due—the sheer scale and detail of Valhalla's rendering of medieval England is something to behold.

As an angry (and occasionally stealthy) viking, you're given free roam of a huge chunk of the country—not to mention Iceland and other realms I won't spoil. Taking its cues as much from The Witcher 3 as previous AC games, Valhalla is a grand action-RPG, sending you out to find quests and treasure in its historical setting. 

If you're craving an open world that feels truly endless, Valhalla is a fantastically rich and accessible adventure to dive into. Just don't expect to finish it before at least the 100 hour mark. 

Read more: Assassin's Creed Shadows is coming November 15 with two playable characters, a shinobi and a real-life samurai

Death Stranding

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

Released: 2020 | Developer: Kojima Productions | Steam

Kojima's first game after leaving Konami, Death Stranding is set in a post-death reality where the concept of the afterlife has been blown open. Your goal as Sam Porter Bridges is to rebuild America by walking across the country and linking up cities, preppers, and waystations to, uh, the Time Internet? It makes next to no sense, but that's OK. Death Stranding is an indulgent mood piece first and an excellent hiking and delivery game second. 

Andy Kelly puts it nicely in his review: "Some jobs seem impossible. Standing at the foot of a mountain, snow whipping at its peaks, fragile cargo stuck to every inch of your suit, you wonder how you'll ever get over it. But you power on, one step at a time, patiently placing ladders and climbing ropes, edging closer to your destination. Along the way you might have to slip into Metal Gear mode and sneak past BTs, or deal with extreme weather such as disorientating blizzards. You might even get knocked out by terrorists and have your cargo stolen, forcing you to sneak into their camp and take it back. But after all that, you make it, and it feels incredible."

Read more: Acclaimed movie studio A24 joins the Death Stranding film project: "We are creating a Death Stranding universe that has never been seen before"

Red Dead Redemption 2

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)
Best of the best

Shadowheart staring at her artifact in Baldur's Gate 3.

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

2024 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPS games: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

Released: 2019 | Developer: Rockstar Games | Steam

Rockstar's historical open world series finally hit the PC with Red Dead Redemption 2, a monumental ode to the fading American frontier. RDR2 is rife with detail, overstuffed with little touches: animal corpses persist and decay, the protagonist Arthur has commentary for nearly every location and character, and random world events make the world feel lived in, be it sucking on a man's snakebite wound or getting ambushed by hillbillies.  

It's all layered into an excellent story that'll take you as long as the complete Deadwood series to get through, and that's if you're rushing. And on top of it all, Red Dead Online brings a Day Z adjacent quality to the open world, invoking everything from serious roleplay to ridiculous, surreal shenanigans. It's also one of the prettiest games you can play on the PC today. Now with a huge library of mods, RDR2 is set to feel fresh and alive for years more to come.

Read more: Red Dead Redemption may actually be coming to PC after 14 years


(Image credit: Awaceb)

Released: 2023 | Developer: Awaceb | Steam

This colourful indie game isn't as big as the other games on this list, but it's packed with charm and creativity. As a young girl named Tchia, you set out on an adventure across an archipelago based on the real-world nation of New Caledonia. You're aided in your quest by the magical power to possess almost any creature or object you can find, allowing you to soar as a seagull, roll down hills as a boulder, and swim as a fish. 

In his review, Chris Livingston praised its "lush, startling beauty" and called the island "a playground for acrobatic travel". As you explore you can do everything from jamming out on the ukulele, to carving totems, to taking photos with "one of the most enjoyable in-game cameras and photo modes I've ever seen". It's a delightful experience, and a wonderful window into the culture and traditions of the region.

Read more: Best Open World 2023: Tchia

Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5 (Image credit: Rockstar North)

Released: 2015 | Developer: Rockstar Games | Steam

This is what money is for: creating a kind of pastiche of a real-world location that’s so staggeringly accurate in atmosphere and details that it’s actually better than being in the real thing. GTA 5's Los Santos represents the meticulous approach Rockstar gave to the compact Liberty City in GTA 4, brought to the scale of 2004’s San Andreas—and the result is an open world of such a high standard that it’ll only likely be topped by Rockstar itself in the upcoming GTA 6. Between the strong multi-protagonist campaign and the mad playground of GTA Online, there’s well over 100 hours of chases and gunfights across land, air and sea for those who want it here.

You can even turn GTA 5's open world playground more to your will with GTA 5 cheats and the best GTA 5 mods.

Read more: Grand Theft Auto 6 release window narrowed to fall 2025, but there's still no PC launch date confirmed

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Release: 2022 |  Developer: Bethesda | Steam

Over a decade on from its original release, Skyrim remains the definitive open world RPG. Its grand, wintery landscape must be one of the most widely visited locations in videogame history—and it's popular for a reason. It's still an adventure of absolutely breath-taking scale and variety, letting you not only travel wherever you want across an enormous map, but also letting you be whoever you want to be—from a petty thief to the head of a wizard's guild.

These days, an endlessly growing library of user-made mods allow you to tailor the experience exactly to your liking, as well as adding even more to its already enormous open world. Whether you want to turn it into a realistic survival simulation, a ridiculous super-powered sandbox, or a battle to the death against Thomas the Tank Engine, the power is in your hands.

Read more: The Elder Scrolls 6: everything we know about the next return to Tamriel

Dying Light 2

(Image credit: Techland)

Release: 2022 | Developer: Techland | Steam

 Combining zombie survival with first-person parkour, Dying Light 2 is a post-apocalyptic playground. Its huge city, partly controlled by survivors and partly home to roaming bandits and undead, is a joy to traverse—as you progress, you gradually unlock more and more tools, until you're wall-running, grappling, zip-lining, and gliding around to your heart's content.

And when night falls, you find yourself very grateful for that agility. As the sun sets in this open world, the scariest, fastest undead nasties come out to play—get caught outside of a safe house, and you'll find yourself fleeing for your life across the rooftops in thrilling freeform parkour chases. The day-night cycle gives the city its own life (or unlife?) that makes Dying Light 2's open world wonderfully unique. 

Read more: Dying Light 2 tips to outrun the zombie apocalypse

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Released: 2021| Developer: Playground Games | Steam

PC Gamer gave Forza Horizon 5 the honour of our Best Open World award in 2021, which means it naturally deserves a spot on this list. Forza 4's interpretation of Great Britain was good, but Mexico's natural diversity makes for a much more diverse playground. Instead of endless fields and hills, you get to race through ancient temples (a bit disrespectful, sure, but immensely fun), deserts, rainforests and sandy beaches. It's a vibrant setting that's the perfect spot for some four-wheeled digital tourism.

The weather and time of day can also have a transformative effect, and while the sunshine is lovely, races are considerably more thrilling when you're in the middle of a storm or being chased by a wall of sand. Weather is local and affected by the changing seasons, too, making this a world always in flux.

It even manages to avoid map icon fatigue, as each promises another fun activity—and with its post-release support, that now even includes some surreal Hot Wheels tracks. It might be one of the best racing games around, but it could also teach most open world games a thing or two.

Read more: Forza Horizon 5 developers are working on a 'premium open-world game' at their new studio

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

(Image credit: CDPR)

Released: 2015 | Developer: CD Projekt RED | Steam

 It's not just the scale of The Witcher 3's enormous open world that's so impressive—it's the richness of it. This is a landscape bursting with stories. Everywhere you go, you discover deep, captivating quests to distract you away from wherever you were originally travelling, encouraging wonderfully meandering journeys across its grim fantasy world.

Eight years on from its release, it still stands out from the crowd as a truly incredible feat of game development. Its open world is so lavish and meticulously crafted that it feels like a miracle it exists at all. Which only makes it all the more impressive that its two DLCs, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine, push the bar even higher.

And all of it is elevated by the presence of starring hero Geralt himself—surely one of gaming's best ever travelling companions. His rough charms and heart of gold make him the perfect hero for the game's rugged landscape, and a character you'll be more than pleased to spend 100+ hours with.

Read more: The Witcher 4: what we know about the start of a new trilogy

Recently reviewed


Dread Delusion

Released: 2024 | Score: 73%

"I struggle to remember the last time I felt so compelled to explore the fringes of a game map," says our reviewer of this surreal, retro open world RPG. Imagine Morrowind crossed with a lucid dream and you're most of the way there. Though it struggles in its final act, Dread Delusion "remains one of the most fascinating open world settings". 


Little Kitty, Big City

Released: 2024 | Score: 89%

More a single city block than an open world, but "considering the scale of a cat (little), it feels like plenty to explore" says our reviewer. Setting a hapless indoor pet into the wild city streets, Little Kitty, Big City is an adorable adventure through a delightful setting. 


Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition

Released: 2024 | Score: 70%

Though this sequel "struggles to move the series forward", per our review, it's still a visually sumptuous and technically impressive open world, and a solid PC port for a former console exclusive. "The gorgeous visuals make this a game that feels right at home on PC." 

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.