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

Although the Christmas break is in the rearview, there's still time to enjoy the best open world games available right now. 2022 is slated to bring more massive titles to our much-loved platforms, so expect this list to change a bit over the next 12 months. 

What we can guarantee though is that these top open world titles are here to absorb all your free time, with such rich digital worlds that you won't mind getting lost in them completely. We've played all of these through ourselves, and can guarantee you a good time with any and all of them, so take a look.

25. Mad Max

Mad Max

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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 customizing 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.

24. Terraria

Terraria

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, PSVita
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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 armor 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 story of your house to be built. 

23. Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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. 

22. L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

With case names like The Red Lipstick Murder and the White Shoe Slaying, L.A. Noire quite evidently prioritizes its noir detective cases over anything else. While the investigation process is in-depth enough to make you analyze suspects' 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 number of corpses you’ll be faced with, hopefully, you won’t be delighted in a creepy way. 

21. Saints Row 4

Saints Row 4

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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. 

Read on for our top 20 best open world games...

20. No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X

Recent updates to the game bring 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. The most recent No Man Sky's Beyond update brought even more features and changes, including ridable aliens, a new social system, and VR support. Forget open world: No Man’s Sky is an open galaxy, and you should absolutely jump into it if you look good in a spacesuit and love discovering exotic alien wildlife. 

19. Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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 organization 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. 

18. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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 (I'm looking at you, Dorian Pavus). At first, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the number 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. The story will also keep you gripped throughout, so while it might claim many hours of your life, it's worth the time investment. 

17. Minecraft

Minecraft

Available on: Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Okay, okay, so Minecraft is technically a sandbox game but hey, that still counts as an open-world game. Punch trees, mine deep into the mountains, and try to avoid falling in lava in this phenomenally large exploration extravaganza. Your imagination is truly the limit in Minecraft, as people have created entire cities, working computers, towering statues and so much more on its blocky landscape. Achievable, er...achievements provide a loose framework in case you want a bit more structure in your games, and when you start to get bored with the ordinary world you can start to explore the Nether and make your next stronghold there. So technically there are two open-world environments at your disposal. Talk about value for money!

16. Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Guns, guns, guns, and MOAR GUNS. Borderlands 2 is a glorious cacophony of bullets and self-conscious tongue-in-cheek comedy with the odd dick joke, and it’s all the better for it. Seriously. Most of the open-world game shenanigans comes from hoovering up its weird side missions (including shooting Face McShooty in the face) and killing any hostile fauna in sight for the chance of finding some exquisite new loot, but the story is surprisingly affecting - especially if you’ve played (and loved) Borderlands. Whether you’re charging through the Wildlife Exploitation Reserve - yeah, you read that right - with your D374-TP (DeathTrap, geddit?) or suspending foes in mid-air with the eerie Phaselock power, all Borderlands 2 wants is for you to embrace its ridiculous high-octane havoc. You’d be wise to do so. 

15. Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Ps5 and Xbox Series X)

Going in with all guns blazing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you’re thirsting for a stealth action open world game Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain should be your hot beverage of choice. Encouraging non-lethal playing styles rather than killing indiscriminately, the degree to which all the different systems interweave is astonishing and you’re free to roam and dispatch with enemy soldiers however you see fit. However, don’t get too used to a set group of tactics - the enemies will adapt if you repeat the same approaches too much. Keeping you company in the world is D-horse and D-Dog, a wolf raised to help you in the field, and the dynamic weather system is just as helpful, as it periodically makes you harder to see and hear. 

14. Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

Available on: PlayStation Now, Xbox One (backwards compatible), PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Thanks to PlayStation Now and Xbox One backwards compatibility, Bethesda’s gem still makes it onto this list. Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion stands the test of time, as it’s heavy with enough quests and memorable NPCs (I’m looking at you, Glarthir) to make you seriously consider hibernating with it for a good long while while you try to climb the ranks of the Thieves’ Guild or just delight in trying to get someone’s jumbo potatoes back. As soon as you’ve broken out of your cell you can go anywhere whenever you want, and neglect the whole saving-the-world thing until you feel ready for it. If only real life worked that way. Sigh. 

13. Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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. This time you can have a mountain lion, dog, or bear at your side though - making it instantly 14% better. Because who doesn’t want something furry to pet after shooting a ton of bloodthirsty folks in the face?  

12. Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

Available on: PlayStation Now, Xbox One (backwards compatible), PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Some games have you trying to find a cherished family member. Others make you the chosen one. Fallout: New Vegas makes you a courier who just really wants to find the prick who shot you in the head. You might have to get used to the Nevada Wasteland’s yellow tones, but once you do there’s so much to discover, from the ruthless Caesar’s Legion to becoming a major player in Mr House’s political game at the New Vegas Strip. Or you could just try to take on the Deathclaw-infested Quarry Junction, or figure out just what’s going on with the many abandoned vaults in the region. Story absolutely saturates New Vegas, and with its grounded main questline there’s really no other Fallout game like it. 

11. Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Ok, this time someone’s taken your baby and you need to get him back. Mind you, it’s not really that big a deal. Hear me out: Fallout 4’s potential is just too tantalising to ignore for long. Its surprisingly colourful world of Boston, MA is stuffed with quests: follow the freedom trail, investigate mysteries with the unforgettable synthetic detective and sassmaster Nick Valentine, try and liberate synths with the Railroad, explore a haunted house, or just loot everything (and everyone) in sight to build up a mountain of caps. Play however the heck you want and see how it influences your followers, adding an extra layer of depth to this post-apocalyptic open world game. Just don’t set the world on fire. Yet. 

Turn to page two for our top 10 best open world games...

10. Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption

Available on: PlayStation Now, Xbox One
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

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. The quests will force you into all the map’s nooks and crannies, and its characters - especially John Marston - are so well-written that they won’t budge from your memory. Get some handkerchiefs ready. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

9. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Assassin's Creed

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X

All of the recent Assassin's Creed titles have been excellent open-world games, but  Assassin's Creed Valhalla is definitely one to check out - particularly because it's already one of the best Xbox Series X games and best PS5 games. Building on the improvements made with Assassin's Creed Origins and Assassin's Creed Odyssey (both of which are very worth your time), Valhalla takes you to the Dark Ages, traveling across England as Viking Eivor to find a new home for your clan. Build your settlement, meet new friends, forge new allyships, dabble in politics, and do a heck of a lot of exploring to find the secrets and treasures lurking in old England. 

8. Ghost of Tsushima

(Image credit: Sucker Punch)

Available on: PS4, PS5

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. A minimalist UI, waypoints pointed out by fluttering yellow birds and the wind makes for one of the most interesting, natural open-world experiences to date. Of course, helps that the combat and story are really great too. Not one to miss out on.

7. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
(Playable on Xbox Series X and PS5)

Malaka, Ubisoft really didn’t hold back when it comes to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Set in Ancient Greece, you have the choice of playing as Kassandra or Alexios the misthios (mercenary), ready to sell his or her sword to either Athens or Sparta. Odyssey is truly a remarkable achievement, as the story-rich main questlines all interweave to leave you wrestling with personal revelations as well as something mysterious which will - of course - affect the entirety of the Ancient Greek world. 

There are mercenaries that will hunt you down if you murder or steal (who you can then defeat and climb up the ranks of notoriety yourself), as well as mythical monsters for you to tackle, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey romance storylines, and the return of naval combat. Plus for the first time in an Assassin’s Creed game you have dialogue options to choose from, so you can finally decide whether your misthios is a massive dick or just wants to be everyone’s friend. There’s enough to keep you busy for at least 100 hours (no exaggeration, promise), so if you’re looking for a game that’ll give you value for money with the amount of content bubbling inside it, you really can’t go wrong with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. 

6. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn

Available on: PS4, PS5

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. Breathtaking surroundings mean that even after you’ve hoovered up the sidequests just traversing the map is a joy, whether you stop to take advantage of its photo mode or not. The New Game+ mode even keeps Horizon challenging, and begs you to revisit it even when the main quest is done and dusted. Trust me: it’s truly phenomenal. You'll want to check this one out before the sequel too, Horizon Forbidden West has just been announced. 

5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Available on: Nintendo Switch

See that mountain? You can climb it. You can also attach octopus balloons to a raft to float into the air, or turn a fallen tree into a deadly projectile. Mixing up the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s ingenious mechanics is what makes its open world so deliriously freeing as it encourages that special breed of mad scientist experimentation so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch games available right now as well as one of the best open world games. Instead of quests propelling you around most of the map, you’ll find curiosity getting the better of you most of the time as Breath of the Wild’s landmarks are downright intriguing and offer the chance to find out more about the world before Calamity Ganon struck. Or you can hunt down the 600 adorable Korok Seeds. Or perfect your cooking repertoire. Or take on a Lynel. Or...you get the idea. 

4. Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

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 (or fighting them if you’re thirsting for that 5-star wanted rating), 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? Grand Theft Auto is a web of criminal exploits and mind-boggling potential, with every single inch of the world filled with NPCs to manipulate, missions to hunt down or just colossal heights of shenanigans to engage in. It’ll swallow you whole, spit you out, and have you itching for more. 

3. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

Available on: PS4, Xbox One

Doesn’t matter if you want to hunt. Doesn’t matter if you want to try and help Dutch achieve his elusive goals, and it definitely doesn’t matter if you’d rather just try to own the fanciest rootin’ tootin’-ist wardrobe in all America: Red Dead Redemption 2 is absolutely packed full of activities to keep you busy as soon as you step foot in its world. On its own, the story tells the tale of Dutch Van Der Linde’s efforts to keep his gang afloat while trying not to succumb to his own ego, all watched by his loyal friend Arthur Morgan. Its tale of a gradually disappearing age of outlaws as civilisation comes to the Wild West means there’s plenty of people who need your help. Although you could always rob them instead...Each different region is so stunning it actually hurts your eyes a little bit as you try to drink in every detail: Rockstar’s game will have you hunting for dinosaur bones, trying to solve a murder mystery, or even summoning that infamous Red Dead Redemption 2 vampire. The sheer variety of choice as well as things to do easily makes Red Dead Redemption 2 one of the best open world games to play right now, so what are you waiting for, partner? 

2. Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
(Playable on PS5 and Xbox Series X)

Skyrim’s world doesn’t revolve around you. Somewhere in the wilds there’s a necromancer trying to animate a skeleton. At the same time during the day you’ll find a pack of bandits taking on a giant (R.I.P.), or wander into a nearby village only to have a dragon attack it when you’re stumbling out of the inn. Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is made for stories, and it’s so eager for you to sample its delights that even if you were to avoid every major settlement you’d still run into 30% of its quests out in the wild. The map is just filled with stuff to do, bizarre things to see, creatures to impale with sharp implements, NPCs to pickpocket, creepy Dwemer ruins to explore...oh, and dragons to fight. Even after playing it for a casual 100 hours (those are rookie numbers) there are still quests that you won’t have found, and hidden bosses waiting to be slayed. It’s hard to overestimate the impact Skyrim has had on the lives of gamers everywhere, but to get a good idea of its effect and just what Elder Scrolls 6 has to live up to, you’re best off jumping in and starting your new life in its world.

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

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 (for gold, of course). Stick to the dirt country roads and help villagers with the monsters baying at the door while they look at you and your yellow eyes with suspicion, negotiate with a well-meaning poltergeist in the middle of a city, or just uncover all those mysterious question marks dotted over the map. The Witcher 3’s imperfect world makes for a perfect game, meaning it’s set an incredibly high bar for the future of open world games. 

Sam Loveridge
Sam Loveridge

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for over seven years, and for GamesRadar, she is in charge of reviews, best lists, and the overall running of the site and its staff. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles!