Open worlds are an awesome way to let the player experience a game. I define an open world as a world in which there is not a set path, a world where you can explore to your heart’s content. Sometimes there is a hub world to a set of different sub worlds, and sometimes it’s all just one gigantic map. But in all of these cases the game lets you loose on a unique, interesting world full of things to do and awesome places to explore.
25. Rome – Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
One of the most beautiful cities in the world is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in games.Whether you’re climbing up crumbling aqueducts or parachuting off of Castel Sant-Angelo, Rome is a playground for Ezio to climb, crawl, run around and of course jump off a giant building.
24. Arkham Asylum – Batman Arkham Asylum
What’s there to say? It’s walking around a comic book. From the creepy halls of Arkham to the glory of the Batcave, Arkham Asylum is where it’s at. Arguably the first superhero game to truly capture the comic book feel in an open world. Arkham Asylum is everything I imagined it would be with easter eggs abound!
23. Paradise City – Burnout Paradise
Smashing billboards, gates, and other cars are just some of the things you can do in Paradise City. Racing through the hillside or smashing other cars off the freeway this world is just vehicular fun! I’ve never had more fun in a racing game than I had roaming the streets of Paradise City.
22. Empire City – inFAMOUS
My first open world experience of the current generation is definitely one of my favourites. Using Cole’s unique parkour you can scale any building and fly to the next one never touching the ground. Riding the electric rails is also one of my favourite means of travel in any game. And let’s not forget you’re basically immune to falling off a skyscraper, which is what makes this game so interesting. You’re immortal! Except to water, and bullets. But other than that nothing stops you from being the demon (or saviour) of Empire City.
21. New Marais – inFAMOUS 2
This diverse city of swamps and Christmas light balconies make for one of the most colourful and fascinating worlds in games. The city feels colourful and alive there is always something to climb fly to or jump off in your pursuit of fun. The marsh are polar opposite, devoid of life except for the swap monsters who you can beat relentlessly whilst you search for those blast shards, all 350 of them…
20. Pandora – Borderlands
This beautiful cell shaded world is as dangerous as it gets. The shoot, loot and repeat formula works so well in this game. Enemies are the main staple of this game. From wild skags to rampant bandits there isn’t a thing in Pandora that won’t try to kill you. And that’s what makes it so fun!
19. The Wasteland – Fallout 3
This is probably the first world this generation to truly make the player feel like they can do anything. And with over 100 hours of missions the player probably will do everything. The radiation filled wasteland of what used to be Washington is full of interesting places and people, and of course radioactive insects.
18. Kingdom of Lordran – Dark Souls
This crazy massive world is intoxicating, it hooks players and makes them want to keep going, to see whats around the next corner. The cities feel unique and alive and so do the people you meet and the monsters you defeat.
17. Steelport – Saints Row the Third
Possibly the worst place to live in the world. Steelport the base of operations for the Saints, and they treat it like crap. A lot of people liken it to a blatant GTA ripoff, but it’s a damn good one and it knows it. Plus nothing is more fun than jumping out of a helicopter onto a penthouse roof and killing everyone all to the song “Power” by Kayne West. Classic Saints…
16. The Kingdom of Khanduras – Diablo
The immense scope and variety of places and people in Diablo make it a model for how every RPG should be. From the gaping deserts to the wild jungles you never get bored exploring this magnificent world. The countless items for you to find and quests to do in pursuit of Diablo!
15. The Galaxy – Mass Effect
The fact that a game let’s you explore the galaxy dong missions is a feat unto itself. The fact that Mass Effect does it well means that it’s one of the greatest open world games. Although some people might argue with me on the fact of this game being a truly open world experience. Undoubtedly there is a certain magic to traveling from system to system through mass relays and scanning other planets for life, a magic not captured in any other game. And the worlds are unique and feel real, and lets not forget the citadel.
14. Peach’s Castle – Super Mario 64
Arguably the first great open world 3D game, Super Mario holds a special place in my heart and in the hearts of many other gamers around the world. My first hour was just running around the courtyard triple jumping (we all did it) and climbing trees. Never before had something like this been done, and nothing has quite done it since. Except maybe number 13.
13. Isle Delfino – Super Mario Sunshine
Delfino is everyone’s dream vacation. Beautiful beaches, delicious fruit, grass skirt clad citizens and of course raging piranha plants. Delfino’s dolphin shaped coin infested paradise is one of my favourite places to explore and jump around. Plus water shooting jetpacks!
12. Arkham City – Batman Arkham City
This snow covered Gotham is filled with bad guys to beat up, riddler puzzles to solve and gargoyles to grapple. Using City’s unique grapple system you can fly from one end of City to the other without ever stopping your glide, which is extremely fun. Just like Arkham Asylum, easter eggs are everywhere, but Arkahm City builds on it. The side missions were almost as good as the main missions. All of the miscellaneous DC villains and characters make this game a love letter to DC fans.
“Name your own world” in possibly the greatest sandbox game of all time. The never ending things to see, craft and most importantly: mine. Endless possiblities make it one of the best worlds in games.
10. Tropical Island in the Indian Ocean – Far Cry 3
This island starts out as a tropical paradise for Jason Brody. Until something terrible happens, and your now facing countless merciless pirates and raging animals. Most people describe it as “Skyrim with guns” they’re not to far off the money. This game puts countless guns at your disposal to explore and conquer the untamed jungle. Picking plants to make medicine, hunting the wild tiger, or searching for the countless treasures this mysterious island has to offer make it a terrific world to explore.
9. The Old West – Red Dead Redemption
The Old West has always been a favourite setting for movies and books. But the first game to make an accurate Old West for gamers to explore was Red Dead Redemption. I spent countless hours riding from mission to mission through the beautiful landscape and cacti filled deserts of this game’s massive world and I never got bored.
8. Azeroth – World of Warcraft
Of it’s 7 million players how many have sunken 100+ hours of their lives into exploring it’s massive world? Probably all 7 million. The sheer size of WoW and the expansions that it’s received make it one of the biggest MMORPGs ever made.
7. Liberty City – GTA IV
What’s basically New York City should be a no brainer. Although it had a couple technical hiccups at launch they’re all forgiven for what this game strived to achieve: the truest open world. And people would argue that it did. Some people complained about the lack of fast travel, but I didn’t care. It just gave me a chance to get lost in Liberty City and explore it’s countless streets and buildings.
6. PNF-404 – Pikmin 3
A world of the most endearing creatures and the most terrifying monsters. PNF-404 consists of four main regions each of which feels unique and has plenty of puzzles for you to solve to attain those amazing fruit. Though people will debate me on this one I loved PNF-404 (or earth) to death and will always go back to it when I just need to feel good and gather fruit.
5. Galaxy – Super Mario Galaxy
Arguably the best Wii game of all time, Galaxy is one of the most endearing games to explore. The gravity defying puzzles and upside down adventures Mario has across the countless planets that all feel unique and imaginative make this game the pinnacle of creativity. Never before has a game felt so amazingly unique to control, and never has a world had so many different areas to roam.
4. Johto – Pokemon
The greatest collecting game in existence, the suspense of running through long grass waiting for that pre-battle sound to start. And the anticipation of acquiring the bike so you can find Pokemon faster! The world of Pokemon is a beautiful place of wonder and poke-battles.
3. Tamriel – Elder Scrolls
Great open worlds never have much depth to them, they make you feel like the world was built for you. But Tamriel is something that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years and will exist long after you’re gone. It’s a world filled with mysteries and legends and it’s possibly the richest world in gaming. Although I’m including several games in this world I believe they all exist together and can’t be considered without the others.
2. Los Santos – GTA V
The pinnacle of this generation can be defined as GTA V. The size of it’s map is intimidating, it would probably take an actual day to get from one side to the other. You can do anything in GTA, from robbing liquor stores to skydiving to shooting clowns while under the influence (okay bad example). It’s bigger than any other game in existence and it will probably be played for many years to come.
1. Hyrule – The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda was the first open game and the greatest open worlds have always been Zelda games. Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and countless other Zelda games work under the simple formula of exploring dungeons and killing foes with a myriad of weapons and tools. Nothing has ever captivated gamer’s imagination like Zelda and nothing ever will. It’s the greatest open world in all of video games.
And that is the Top 25 Open Worlds in video games, thank you for reading!
Honourable Mentions: New York City – The Amazing Spiderman; Gotham City – Batman Arkham Origins; Chicago – Watch_Dogs