The best open-world games are basically the cure to the January blues - especially in the middle of a global pandemic. They'll eat up your free time, delivering you endless quests, side missions, characters and vistas to get involved with.
The best open world games available on PC will whisk you away to immersive, vast, and detailed worlds brimming with stories and secrets. Sure, you want to beat the games, explore all the side quests and missions, but these games are just as much about the journey as the destination. And, that’s due to the fact that they transport you to new dimensions that will engulf you for hours, days and weeks on end.
The best PC games and gaming PCs have made incredible strides over the last 10 years and the best open world games are evidence of that. In fact, the genre is so ubiquitous that it’s not just AAA developers making these types of games. The best indie games are showing up to the party as well, proving to everyone that even smaller developers can make use of the open world concept. Just to clarify, these aren't in any particular order.
Geralt isn’t perfect. His surroundings aren’t perfect either. War ravages most of the countryside, with bloodthirsty creatures who don’t even stick to the shadows anymore preying on innocent civilians, while others try to keep their identity secret in the human-dominated landscape. Yet that’s what makes The Witcher 3 the best open world game to play right now. Because everything is broken in its own special way, there’s always something plastered on peeling notice boards for Geralt to do.
Ever wondered where those dagger-loving assassins came from? Assassin’s Creed: Origins has all the answers, and it’s no coincidence that the best Assassin’s Creed game yet is also one of the best open world games out there. A buzz of activity courses through every city and village, with NPCs going about their daily chores as you ride around as Bayek, a Medjay (kind of like an ancient Egyptian policeman) who’s about to get entangled in a pyramid’s worth of story-dense sidequests.
Eden’s Gate might sound like a picturesque location, and it actually is - when you’re not busy fighting cultists or fleeing from a very angry bull, that is. Far Cry 5 has you taking on the Project at Eden’s Gate, a doomsday cult headed by manbun-loving Joseph Seed but don’t let that interrupt your exploits. Unlike previous Far Cry games you can access the entire region as soon as you’re finished with the tutorial missions, allowing you to glide, drive, or just sprint through the dense Montana landscape and take down the cult’s outposts much like previous Far Cry games.
Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series has been the definitive virtual piloting experience for nearly 40 years, inspiring many players to pursue real-world flight training while offering a taste of the skies to countless more. The latest entrant in the series continues that proud tradition, combining true-to-life flight physics, downright gorgeous graphics and the most realistic facsimile of planet Earth to ever grace a video game for a must-play experience.
The much-anticipated sequel to Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest does exactly what a sequel should, building on its predecessor’s foundation to create a more complex, more colorful and bigger world. In the game’s prelude, Ori and a host of other adorable characters adopt and raise a baby owl. But tragedy strikes when Ori and the baby bird are separated. The player then traverses a gorgeously-rendered landscape and solves a series of wicked little puzzles in a heart-wrenching reunification quest. The sheer scale of the game compared to its predecessor means some details get lost in the mix, like the player easily missing some important skills.
Because journeying around a massive world on your own is just no fun at all, Dragon Age: Inquisition gives you a bunch of companions to run around with and a ton of sidequests to use them in. You wouldn’t want to waste their talents, after all. Not only that, but the companions are some of the best party members around. At first it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of sidequests that saturate its lush fantasy world, but as long as you remember to take advantage of the fact that - like many of the best open world games out there - there are multiple areas to explore from the very beginning, you’ll slowly be able to gauge which ones are worth doing asap.
The wild West is on its last legs, and you’re there to see its final steps. Red Dead Redemption is a swan song for the dying age of cowboys, outlaws, and frontier towns which’ll become all too clear when you’re galloping through its scrubland as former outlaw John Marston pondering whether you can ever retire from a life of crime. Prepare to feel like a tiny speck in Rockstar’s massive world thanks to breathtaking scenery and the vast open spaces. But feeling lost in the colossal scale of the game is the whole point of Red Dead Redemption: its sparse surroundings prove just how hard it is to survive in the inhospitable land.
8. Ghost of Tsushima
Although you may be surprised to find a samurai game full of swords, blood and violence in a list of the best open-world games to play right now, hold back your shocked faces. Away from the sword clashing, Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima is surprisingly zen. Craft haikus whilst you marvel on a peaceful lake, contemplate the death of your father in a hot spring, follow a fox through the wilderness to a hidden shrine, or just go and see what that smoke in the sky is all about.
As well as being one of the best PS4 games around, Horizon: Zero Dawn is also one of the most original titles to come out since Bioshock. I’m not kidding. Taking place in a post-post apocalyptic world where tribes hunt robots in a lush overgrown landscape, you’re put in the shoes of Aloy, the razor-sharp outcast. Hunt robots sneakily or with your dizzying range of weapons as you uncover the mysterious past of the Old Ones, their ruins dotted through this massive open world game being sure to keep your interest at its highest peak.
Come on, GTA 5 was always going to be in the top three best open world games. You know it. I know it. It’s the most successful entertainment product of all time, for Christ’s sake! Driving through the winding streets, taking advantage of certain adult clubs, skydiving, stabbing sharks with knives, tracking a serial killer, running from the police, going full Trevor and causing as much chaos as possible, and do I really need to carry on listing all the stuff you can do?