Video games have thrived for the past couple of decades on the back of non-linear games that let players play around in a massive open-world sandbox, letting them explore to their hearts’ content or simply blow things up at every street corner. This sort of open-world game was first popularized by games such as GTA III, which introduced players to a 3D open-world populated by life-like NPCs and packed with tons of content.
Over the years, the open-world genre has seen plenty of innovation, with games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild blowing open the doors to player agency and freedom in a massive way. In 2022, a great variety of open-world games, from historical to modern-day, lets players experiment with game mechanics, explore historical sites, and engage in all sorts of story content.
Here, we take a look at some of the best open-world games you can pick up today and exactly what makes them so great.
Best Open-World Games You Can Play in 2022
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Saints Row The Third: Remastered
- Horizon Zero Dawn/Horizon Forbidden West
- Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Watch Dogs 2
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Kojima Production’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is Hideo Kojima’s swan song as he finally bids goodbye to a series he began all the way back in the late 80s. The Phantom Pain takes the series into a bold new direction with a massive open-world setting that might be a tad bit imposing at first.
Eventually, once the player understands the basic mechanics of the game and how they mesh with the open world, Metal Gear Solid V becomes the most expansive stealth-action experience you can ask for. In the game, players take the role of Big Boss, a legendary soldier and an almost-mythic figure, as he attempts to build his own army and get even with the forces that wronged him.
While the game is admittedly a little lighter on the story as compared to its predecessors – it pulls absolutely no punches on the gameplay side of things. The game gives players ultimate control over the situation and lets them experiment as much as they can. You can try and take out targets quietly with your silenced pistol and make your way through an area or simply call in the cavalry with air support and mow down your enemies in a glorious blaze of fire and brimstone.
The possibilities are endless and before you know it, you will be taking on massive armies with nothing but your trusty dog companion and come out unscathed.
Batman: Arkham Knight
In the concluding chapter of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham franchise, Arkham Knight is the definitive Batman open-world adventure that fans have been clamouring for. While the games preceding Arkham Knight featured parts of Gotham City, the world finally opens up to a massive degree with players having the entirety of all 3 islands open for exploration.
Packed with content to its gills, Arkham Knight doesn’t just tell a compelling Batman story, it mixes things up with plenty of side quests and adventures for the player. Each corner of Gotham City has something extremely cool for the player as they uncover grizzly murders, break up gang fights, and solve the darkest mysteries in the heart of Gotham.
The coolest part about the Arkham Games has consistently been the combat mechanics and they are the best they have ever been in Arkham Knight. The combat feels much more brutal, but it remains as fluid as it has ever been and most importantly, the game introduces one of the coolest pieces of tech in Batman’s arsenal – the Batmobile.
Players can now tear down the street in Gotham in the menacing, new batmobile and engage in automobile warfare against drone tanks, helicopters, and much more. Arkham Knight is one of the best open-world games currently available and it looks just as great as it did when it came out in 2015.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Valhalla is perhaps the most ambitious entry in the series, both when it comes to the gameplay and scope of the world. Odyssey, the previous entry in the series, really blew up the open world scale and provided players with massive swaths of land, and let them explore almost the entire vastness of Greece.
Valhalla takes a similar approach and tasks players with forging alliances all over England as Norse Vikings as they find a new home in the country. The game’s story takes place over the span of several years and as one might expect, this means that the game will take upwards of 40 hours to complete.
The game’s vast open world is only complimented by its brutal combat mechanics, as one should expect in a game where they play a Viking. Dual-wield two massive axes or bash in skulls with shields, the choice is all yours. The game’s approach to combat is relentless and even though there is the option of stealth – who can resist a good Viking raid?
Good news for fans of the open-world genre, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is packed with tons of exciting content for the player to explore, including several quests in Asgard as players step into the shoes of Odin, the All-Father. The amount of content in the game is honestly staggering but if players are looking for a massive open-world action RPG, then look no further than Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor introduced players to a relatively fresh, new take on Middle-Earth lore with an action-packed, non-linear open-world. However, that was not the only innovative thing the game had to offer as it included perhaps one of the coolest mechanics ever seen in gaming, the Nemesis system, which is improved upon in Shadow of War.
Effectively, the Nemesis system is one that tracks your battles with your enemies and each encounter will directly affect the enemy’s army in a significant way. For instance, if a lower-level Orc somehow manages to beat you, they will grow stronger and be promoted up the Ranks. So, the next time they see you, they will remember the last battle and call you out. This makes the world feel so much more alive and adds weight to the player’s actions in the game.
Shadow of War is a rich and artful recreation of Middle-Earth and because of the Nemesis system, the player is liable to spend upwards of 50 hours simply dismantling the Orc army. The game also features a riveting new tale that chronicles the journey of Talion, a Gondor ranger and the elf lord, Celebrimbor.
Despite a massively shaky launch, Cyberpunk 2077 has transformed drastically over the course of two years into one of the finest open-world games of today. Taking place in a dystopian view of the future in 2077, players take on the role of V, a mercenary in Night City desperately trying to find a way to stay alive in an increasingly dangerous world.
Night City is perhaps one of the most impressive feats of game development as it provides players with a Blade Runner-type open-world city they have been wishing for since the 90s. Decades of corporate greed have relegated the lesser-developed parts of the city to become crime-riddled cesspools while the rich enjoy gratuitous comfort in areas far removed from the true heart of the city.
The world of Cyberpunk 2077 might be deprived of all hope for mankind, but there are pockets of beauty and charm still left in the world, which is what makes the game an exceptionally enjoyable experience. The game lets players experiment with their playstyle with the use of Skill Points, but also body augmentations that add new skills, weapons, and much more. Cyberpunk 2077 deserves a second chance as it is one of the best open-world action RPGs available in 2022.
It might be a bit weird to see a FromSoftware game on this list, but technically, all of their games have been clearly non-linear, allowing players to tackle the ultimate objective any way they see fit. However, Elden Ring takes non-linearity to a much bigger scale than before and gives players a vast, open world to explore.
It really cannot be overstated just how massive the open-world map really is in Elden Ring as it just keeps getting bigger and bigger each time you think you’ve seen all that the game has to offer. Although the game can be plenty imposing when just starting out, the game lets players tackle bosses and enemies at anytime they feel comfortable.
If the player stumbles on a boss that is too difficult to beat, they can simply roam about and grind in areas they feel comfortable and once they have levelled up enough, they can try and beat the boss once again. While there are no level counters to indicate a boss’ difficulty, it won’t take long before players before figure out exactly when they are powerful enough.
Elden Ring is a gargantuan effort and is indeed one of the greatest games ever made. Despite its level of challenge, the game makes certain concessions to make the experience a welcoming one for new players.
Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales
Insomniac Games has had a track record of excellent games with incredible polish so when news broke that the studio was going to be handed the Spider-Man IP, the gaming community couldn’t have been more excited. When Marvel’s Spider-Man came out in 2018, both fans and critics were blown away by the sheer level of polish and incredibly responsive mechanics present in the game.
Taking place in select boroughs of New York, Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the most delightful and enjoyable open-world games of today. Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the follow-up to the 2018 game and follows the journey of young Miles Morales as he comes to grips with his new powers and steps onto the mantle of Spider-Man.
Both games are incredibly fun Spider-Man games that manage to capture the essence of the classics such as Spider-Man 2 from back in the day. Jumping off of the Avengers tower and swinging off midway just inches above the ground is a feeling you need to experience for yourself to understand exactly what makes Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales such great games.
The games are currently available on both PS4 and PS5 but will soon be coming out for PC on August 12, 2022.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima by PlayStation Studios’ SuckerPunch is one of the most tranquil yet action-packed experiences in gaming and is easily one of the best games you can pick up today. The game takes place during the real-life Mongol invasion of the island of Tsushima.
Players step into the role of Jin Sakai, a samurai lord who must now relinquish his honour to adapt the moniker of Ghost, a dishonourable force of destruction that wreaks havoc on the Mongol army through stealth and deceptive tactics. The game gives players the choice to take enemies head-on as Samurai or strike from the shadows using a variety of innovative weapons such as poison darts and arrows.
The island of Tsushima is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locations ever constructed in gaming and it will be a long time before players ever get tired of its beautiful vistas and scenic locations. Ghost of Tsushima is not just pretty to look at but extremely fun to play.
The combat mechanics as well as the stealth mechanics will have players coming back for more as it simply never gets tiring. The game is available on both the PS4 and PS5 (the Director’s Cut also includes a new location with an all-new story for players to follow).
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for a game that came out in 2013, still continues to blow pretty much every other action RPG out of the water. The final chapter in the Witcher trilogy sees Geralt attempt to rescue his adoptive daughter, Cirila, as she is hunted down by the vicious Wild Hunt.
It would be a disservice to the game to just say that the Witcher 3 is packed with a ton of content as it doesn’t quite explain just how much is there in the game for the players to interact with. From Witcher Contracts which sees players hunt monsters for coin to side quests that tell extraordinary stories, the game simply never stops impressing the player.
The game also has two solid DLCs – “Hearts of Stone” and “Blood and Wine”, which offers 30+ hours of gameplay a piece. The Witcher 3 is one of the most expansive open-world games currently available and it should be relatively cheap to pick up on either platform, console or PC.
Red Dead Redemption II
Rockstar Games has continued their steak of extraordinary open-world games since the early 2000s and their biggest achievement, in our opinion, is Red Dead Redemption II. The prequel to the events of Red Dead Redemption (2010) takes place during the end of the age of Outlaws as Dutch’s gang struggles to survive in a world that has grown increasingly hostile to the outlaw lifestyle.
As Arthur Morgan, Dutch’s right-hand man, you must now attempt to survive in the face of extraordinary odds – hunted down by both the law and rival gangs. The game takes place on a massive map in the American south, with vast areas of stark beauty as well as bustling cities and towns for the players to explore.
The world is filled with a surprising amount of content from side quests to activities such as hunting and bounties. The game is an incredibly rich open-world experience that will stay with the player for days after the final credits have rolled. The game is available for purchase on PC as well as PlayStation 4,5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
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