25 best open world games to play right now and completely forget real life exists

Sometimes you don’t want to just play a game. Sometimes you want to live it. You want to close your eyes, turn that analog stick (or mouse) in a random direction and just start walking to see what you’ll find. That’s largely the test of any half-decent open world game: how well do they fill all that space? There should be quests coming out of your character’s ears (as long as that’s not a bug in the game), environmental storytelling everywhere, and enough depth in the NPC’s conversations to make you believe that you are one small part of an overwhelmingly-big world. I’ve taken all those things into account when we created this list of the best open world games you can dive into right now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Just so you can get a vague idea of how big each world is, I’ve also included how many hours it’ll take to beat the base game in its entirety. Just remember to surface in a couple of months. For the sake of your personal hygiene if nothing else.

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25. Mount and Blade: Warband

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 121 hours

If all you’ve ever wanted is your very own Kingdom Simulator, Mount and Blade: Warband is the game for you. Putting you on the path to the throne (if you play your cards right, that is), you’ll have to convince other lords to be your vassals - a fancy word which means you basically become their boss - but the majority of Warband is based around glorious, chaotic, bloody combat. Open tracts of land are perfect for roaming at whim, and when you want a break from warring there’s always a feast to host or marriage to propose, or you can micromanage your relationships with your vassals. 

24. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 107 hours

Kingdom Come: Deliverance might not be saturated in quests to the same extent of the other games on this list, but you’re given the freedom to interact with the NPCs - and their possessions, if you have sticky fingers - however you wish. What that means is that most of its open world pedigree comes from letting you interact with the world in whichever way you want instead of being typecast as the ‘chosen one’ (because come on, that’s getting a bit dull now). Fields stretch almost as far as the eye can see, separated by small Bohemian (the region, not the style of clothing) villages or dominated by towering churches, so there’s plenty to explore if you want to procrastinate from the main quest. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

23. Mad Max

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 60.5 hours

What a lovely day! You’ll be thinking to yourself as you storm through the sandy world of Mad Max with your friendly associate Chumbucket firing jolly little rounds from your car-mounted machine gun. Or using a flamethrower to incinerate nearby War Boys. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of the game is about vehicular warfare, so it’s rife with confronting camps of War Boys in an otherwise desolate and empty land, or customising your car to make it as offensive as possible (in the combat sense, not as if you’re painting swear words on the side). Action rather than story makes up the backbone of Mad Max, so if that’s your cup of chrome then look no further and get that engine revving.

22. Terraria

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, PSVita
Hours of play: 89.5 hours

Terraria is so full of possibility that it verges on the sandbox/open world boundary. Build your home and defend it from the icky things that will try to knock the door down and suck your brains out of your nose. If you’d rather you can ignore those beasties and delve deep into the earth to find valuable resources or just explore to your tiny, pixelated heart’s content. Craft better armour and weapons, and even a jetpack, then once you’re feeling strong enough - and probably a little bit cocky - wait for one of the game’s bosses to spontaneously attack you. There’s always something better to build, a new cavern to dig into, or another storey of your house to be built. 

21. Just Cause 3

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 57 hours

Medici isn’t an island that’s ever known peace, which is really for the best, if you consider just how much chaos you can cause as Rico Rodriguez. The entire province is at your feet, and considering the arsenal of weapons that you’ll build up during your playthrough I can’t help but pity its citizens a bit. Destroy your enemies in this action open world with anything from a rocket launcher or exploit the element of surprise with your parachute and grappling hook. Because horizontal traversal is for chumps. Don’t expect too much from Just Cause 3’s missions or NPCs, as they’re shallow at best. Despite this, there’s really nothing like parachuting towards the fast-approaching ground and then letting loose with a shotgun RPG. 

20. L.A. Noire

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Hours of play: 40.5 hours 

With case names like The Red Lipstick Murder and the White Shoe Slaying, L.A. Noire quite evidently prioritises its noir detective cases over anything else. While the investigation process is in-depth enough to make you analyse suspect’s facial twitches, the actual open world itself is mainly made up of crimes you can intervene in and vintage cars to commandeer. L.A. Noire doesn’t quite make it further down this list as you can’t freely enter shops or play through Cole Phelp’s personal life, but if you want to saturate yourself with old-timey talk and criminal activities, you’ll find more than enough to delight in L.A. Noire. Although bearing in mind the amount of corpses you’ll be faced with, hopefully you won’t be delighted in a creepy way. 

19. Saints Row 4

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 35 hours

The fact that Saints Row 4 has a sex appeal slider that alters the size of your junk or rack - depending on which gender you choose - really sets the scene for its ridiculous tone. Although it’s not one of the best open world games out there, it’s sure to make you laugh out loud with its vibrant purple brand of inanity while you race around the streets with your newfound powers as you fight to free your friends from the alien invasion that threatens your position as President of the United States of America. Sometimes you’ll be playing dubstep in a 50’s America, shooting zombies in the face, or speeding ahead of cars using your powers. Dear lord, Saints Row 4 is open world madness, but boy does it pull it off. 

18. No Man’s Sky

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 70 hours

Recent updates to the game brings No Man’s Sky surprisingly high on this list, considering how poorly it was received when it first came out. Now it’s closer to the game that everyone was expecting, No Man’s Sky has turned into a fulfilling voyage around the star system that’ll have you trotting through procedurally-generated planets like the interstellar explorer you are. It’s now got 30 hours of story content, new lore, different ways to interact with its NPCs, portals to make jumping between planets a ton easier, and terraforming. Forget open world: No Man’s Sky is an open galaxy, and you should absolutely jump into it if you look good in a space suit and love discovering exotic alien wildlife. 

17. Watch Dogs 2

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 41 hours

The world of Watch Dogs 2 is a playground full of technological puppets where you hold all the strings - and boy, can you make those high-tech gadgets dance. Like in real life, gaining followers means everything to your secret hacking organisation DedSec, as higher numbers mean more power for you and your friends. Complete missions to get more followers - or, if you’d rather, swan around San Francisco and hack into people’s phones, instigate electrical chaos, and generally make as much mischief as you like. Go anywhere you want and do almost anything you like - just be prepared to outrun the police when they track you down. 

16. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hours of play: 127 hours

Because journeying around a massive world on your own is just no fun at all, Dragon Age: Inquisition gives you a bunch of allies to run around with and a ton of sidequests to use them in. You wouldn’t want to waste their talents, after all. 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 (don’t just stick to one), you’ll slowly be able to gauge which ones are worth doing asap.