The top 15 best open-world games out right now, ranked

Immerse yourself.

The amount of freedom offered by open-world games is hard to resist, and they do a fantastic job of scratching that exploration itch. The genre also lends itself well to long games chocked full of activities, and some immersive open-world titles can even be played indefinitely. For adventurers who want to experience the best of what the genre has to offer, these fifteen games are not to be missed.

Recommended Videos

Our top 15 best open world games out right now

Below, we’ve listed what we believe are the 15 best open world games you can play right now. They’re ranked from those you should play first in position 1, to those you should play last in position 15. However, we recommend open world game fans play every single entry on this list. There are no bad games here, just ones we think you should prioritize and those you can sit on for a while.

15. Forza Horizon 5

Image via Playground Games.

When open-world games are discussed, racing games are often neglected, yet they have a noteworthy presence in the genre. Forza Horizon 5 features curvy roads that wind through Mexico, exposing racers to picture-perfect scenery. It’s a must-play title for all gearheads, and with a massive catalog of customizable cars available, it has the potential to provide endless hours of fun.

14. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV
Image from Ubisoft

I adore the Assassin’s Creed series, but the one game I keep coming back to out of all of them is Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. This pirate take on the franchise put the core idea of the Assassins and Templars to the side for most of the story and simply focuses on making you a pirate.

Skull and Bones was brought to life based on how good the sailing and moment-to-moment gameplay in this title is. In fact, most fans would say Black Flag still has better sailing all these years later. the tangible open world that you can disembark and climb around comes to life while you play, and there really is nothing else like it out there.

13. No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky: a battle between ships in space with a planet in the distance.
Image via Hello Games/Steam.

Since its initial release in 2016, Hello Games has continued to support and update No Man’s Sky with new features and mechanics that make it bigger and better than most of the games on this list. You could be a trader, a pirate, set up a city on an unknown world, establish a major trading hub for other players to visit, or build complex computers all within the game. The most basic element of gameplay is exploring a procedurally-generated universe at your own pace. A universe that still has me in awe almost a decade later.

The latest update introduced a new Expedition and a way to access old ones. These are extended questlines for players to follow that get them to engage with almost every system ever introduced as a feature, even those you didn’t know about. I’ve put hundreds of hours into No Man’s Sky and I never tire of it. There’s definitely a learning curve to get started with, but once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave.

12. Subnautica

Image via Unknown Worlds

Subnautica is an open world survival game with one of the best unique angles on this list. It’s set on a planet almost entirely covered by an ocean. You’ll crash onto this planet and must build a base, gather food, and hunt for survivors. While the sequel, Subnautica: Below Zero, is much more story-focused, this game has the best world for surprisingly deep exploration and a satisfying gameplay loop. It’s not a horror game, but it’ll give you a few good jump scares too.

11. Ghost of Tsushima

ghost of tsushima horizon aloy dlc
Screenshot by Destructoid

Anyone who loves Japan and Japanese culture absolutely has to play Ghost of Tsushima. It’s far from your standard open world game, with the location, Tsushima, brought to life with incredible attention to detail by developer Sucker Punch. In it, you’ll experience a tale of loss, betrayal, and revenge as a samurai living through the area’s Mongol invasion. It’s a classic samurai story based on real-world events. It’s heartfelt, has a beautifully stunning world, and deep gameplay systems to keep you enthralled all the way through.

10. Death Stranding

Image via Kojima Productions

Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding is a polarizing game. Players must deliver packages across a vast open world while creating routes they and others can use. The story is complex but well worth your time if you’ve got the hours to spare for the cutscenes. This game isn’t for everyone. To some, it’s a big walking simulator, while to others is a profound experience. With Death Stranding 2 on the way in 2025, I’ve seen people replay this game and discover how good it is when given a chance. Don’t miss out.

9. Grand Theft Auto 5

Screenshot by Destructoid.

GTA 5 presents a massive urban map for players to raise hell in, and it manages to go a step further than its predecessors by featuring three protagonists that players can switch between on the fly. The storylines of the trio intertwine satisfyingly, and their antics provide hours of high-stakes action. As one of the bestselling games of all time, GTA 5 has cemented its place in gaming history, and despite its age, it still manages to compete favorably against recent open-world titles.

8. Shadow of the Colossus (Original, Remaster & Remake)

Screenshot by Destructoid.

While Shadow of the Colossus certainly packs both good gameplay and a surprisingly emotional story, its unique place in gaming is, to some degree, a product of the atmosphere created by the open-world design. Wander ventures through a hauntingly empty world, though it is not a void. Crumbling architecture and hidden ruins tell ancient stories without words. Nothing is ever fully explained, and the world remains a mysterious realm filled with structures and forces far beyond Wander’s comprehension.

This phenomenal game has both a remastered version and a remake for players to lose themselves in. While you might not have the time to play through all three, you really only need to experience this story and world once to appreciate it. We’d recommend the remake, the most recent version to release, because it boasts a beautiful world, solid controls, and it’s just easier to get a hold of.

7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Image via CD Projekt Red.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, released in 2015, proved to the world that CD Projekt Red can box with the best in the open-world genre. It follows Geralt on his quest to rescue Ciri. Along the way, players get to explore an enormous world filled with quests that seldom feel like busy work. A late 2022 re-release of the game on current-gen systems has polished the game even further, giving fans a reason to jump back into Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy world.

6. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Image via Bethesda

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim made its first appearance on the now-iconic date of 11 November 2011, and it has remained a permanent fixture in gaming culture, with re-releases on the Nintendo Switch and current-gen consoles ensuring that it can be played almost anywhere. Skyrim has yet to overstay its welcome in part due to the active modding community that has developed around it. With the right mods, it feels like an entirely different game.

5. Horizon Forbidden West

Screenshot by Destructoid.

Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of open-world gameplay, and there are plenty of other games that follow a somewhat similar structure. What sets it apart from its competitors is its beauty. It manages to artfully blend sci-fi robots with primitive tribes and wild jungles, and the result is an admirably unique aesthetic. Best of all, this is presented to players with graphics that make the game one of the most gorgeous of all time.

The game’s DLC, Burning Shores, extends the story even further and, in my opinion, is the best conclusion to an open world game on PS5. The region adds new mechanics and dozens of hours of content to get stuck into. The best part is how it looks forward to the third game in the series, though.

4. Elden Ring

Screenshot by Destructoid.

FromSoftware’s critically acclaimed Elden Ring blends the studio’s notoriously difficult combat with an open-world dripping with enchanting fantasy elements courtesy of A Song of Ice and Fire‘s George R.R. Martin. The game’s greatest contribution to the genre comes from its willingness to turn its back on popular modern conventions that emphasize easy-to-understand user experiences propped up by detailed HUDs. In comparison, Elden Ring adopts a minimalist approach, allowing players to get lost and carve out a unique adventure.

The Shadow of the Erdtree DLC adds a region the size of the base game’s starting area and an obscene number of new weapons and bosses to master. It’s also packed with lore for those who like to overanalyze FromSoftware titles to dig into. Out of every game on this list, Elden Ring is certainly the one that could suck up the most hours of your life.

3. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Screenshot by Destructoid.

Metal Gear 5: The Phantom Pain continues to innovate the franchise’s stealth gameplay, though it is applied to an open-world environment. As usual, players find themselves on solo missions that involve infiltrating enemy bases. However, the sprawling open world allows for an almost infinite number of ways to complete objectives. Snake also has a plethora of weapons – including cardboard boxes and water guns – to use ingeniously.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Screenshot by Destructoid.

Like other highly critically acclaimed titles in the genre, Breath of the Wild features an awe-inspiringly intricate world. The sequel, Tears of the Kingdom continues to build on Breath of the Wild‘s successful foundation.

Perhaps most notably, Link now can fuse items. This has opened a new realm of creativity, as players can now craft new weapons and build structures that allow them to interact with the world in new ways. When it comes to emergent gameplay that rewards imagination, Tears of the Kingdom has set a new bar.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Screenshot by Destructoid.

Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the Van Der Linde gang as its member attempt to cope with the growing wave of industrialization and societal changes that spell the end for their outlaw days. Players take the role of Arthur Morgan, and the world presented is one teeming with things to do.

Though the game is primarily an American Western, it has strong naturalist themes, and players can put the guns away and just enjoy the untamed acres. When it comes to intricate open-world design, Red Dead Redemption 2 sits at the top, providing an unparalleled example of just how immersive open-world games can get.

Of course, open-world games do have their downsides. They tend to be buggy, and poor game design can result in titles that are filled with repetitive tasks and other forms of tiresome bloat. Nevertheless, when the developers get it right, as is the case with the above titles, they provide some of the best gaming experiences available.

Destructoid is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Smangaliso Simelane
Smangaliso Simelane
Staff Writer - Smangaliso Simelane is a writer with a passion for all things related to video games. He has been writing about video games since 2020.
Image of Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.