Top 5: Favorite Open-World Games

As much as I enjoyed my first trek through Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game left me a bit soured with regard to open-world games. Surely the feeling is only temporary, but as I search for something to take its place that’s not Borderlands 2 (so fun!), I find myself avoiding anything that resembles an open-world experience (even though Borderlands 2 does kinda, sorta fit that bill). The dilemma, though, lies in the fact that I’ve woven my way through some fantastic sandboxes in the past, so why not pick one to play again or for the first time? Why not choose an open-world game that gives players freedom, provides an excellent story and a beautiful (or beautifully dangerous) environment, along with substantial or unusual side quests that are worth pursuing? Once I started looking at my options, the floodgates opened. I eventually came up with many more than five games, so for the purposes of this list, I chose to approach it from the “desert island” angle, picking five games that could satiate my open world tendencies forever and ever. Narrowing things down was a challenge, it goes without saying. So here are my top five favorite open-world games, in no particular order.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Image by Flickr user Silvio Sousa Cabral (CC BY 2.0)

The GTA series is a rather polarizing one, but for me, GTA IV remains a milestone in my personal gaming history. It was the game that introduced me to the series, and it delighted me for months on end. Niko Bellic’s story may not have been the most invigorating, but the sights and sounds of Liberty City made up for the main story’s shortcomings. It’ll always have a special place in my heart and in my gaming collection.

Red Dead Redemption

Image by Flickr user Colony of Gamers (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I’ve blathered on enough on this site about my undying love for this Western melodrama in game form, so I’ll refrain from being too loquacious. Everything about this game is right for me. But most importantly, it’s just open-world enough to feel immense without also feeling empty.

Saints Row IV

Image by Flickr user Community Mag (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Having now played through the second, third, and fourth games in the Saints Row series, the thing about SRIV boils down to two words: unadulterated enjoyment. It’s a game that revels in its own ridiculousness as much as it celebrates stellar and solid gameplay. Much like GTA IV’s Liberty City, SRIV’s “virtual” city of Steelport is chock full of secrets and goodies just waiting to be uncovered by intrepid players.

Fallout: New Vegas

Image by Flickr user Simbach (CC BY 2.0) [also used for lede]
Much like with Red Dead Redemption, I’ve no shortage of love for Fallout: New Vegas. Having only played it for the first time earlier in the year, it quickly shot to the top of my favorite games list generally, let along favorite open-world games. For lengthier prose in which I effuse profusely about how wonderful this game is, you can click here. Suffice to say, Fallout: New Vegas is an all-around masterpiece.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Image by Flickr user Rob Obsidian (CC BY 2.0)

I’ll admit that when creating this list, those first four games popped out immediately. When it came to picking the fifth game, I had a lengthy list to wade through that included the like of Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. But in the end, I had to go with Xenoblade Chronicles, a beast of a game that’ll chew up and spit out even the most hardcore among us. But, it’s also one of the most amazing and eye-opening games I’ve ever played. Yes, it’s difficult and dense at times, but there’s no denying the sheer magnitude of the game itself. Ambitious, unforgiving, and yet totally worth every amount of effort, Xenoblade Chronicles is like nothing else among open-world games.

What are some of your favorite open-world games?


  1. Mr. Panda says:

    I haven’t played very many open-world games, but the ones on your list look like ones I should try! I have played Xenoblade Chronicles, at least, and Xenoblade Chronicles X is definitely near the top of my favorites. I also loved Breath of the Wild, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Someday I’d love to play both Xenoblade Chronicles X and Breath of the Wild. They each seem to offer pretty solid gameplay and stories, though I’ve read that XCX is something of a challenge overall. I know I’d enjoy the heck out of Breath of the Wild – been thinking it might be a good one to get around the winter holidays…but that’s a long way away! 🙂

      Some open-world games are really great, but the trick is finding the time to enjoy them as fully as possible. And there aren’t really any “short” open world games…or are there? Hmmmm….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Karl Weller says:

    Would definitely recommend Horizon Zero Dawn. Absolutely stunning locale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I watched most of Horizon Zero Dawn being played, and I absolutely agree. It’s a truly beautiful, expansive, and heartfelt game. It’s certainly on my to-play list.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris Scott says:

    Saints Row IV is a super fun game.

    I fell off Xenoblade Chronicles very fast. I should give it another go.

    As for great open world games, The Witcher III jumps to mind. As does Breath of the Wild, which I just started playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Oh, The Witcher III! That’s on my to-play (someday) list as well.

      I initially gave up on Xenoblade Chronicles as well. The first time I tried to play it, the experience we simply too overwhelming, and I just didn’t understand it’s combat schema. But when the chance to try it again came up, I had to give it a go. It’s a tough one to grasp early on, but it’s a game that pays off in droves if you stick with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sahilgamer says:

    Hii plzz add gta v

    Liked by 2 people

  5. sahilgamer says:

    And sahilgamer this is my blog

    Liked by 2 people

  6. sahilgamer says:

    Gta v is better than saints row and Watchdog and sleeping dog and farcry

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      If my list was longer, GTA V would have been on it. 🙂 I had a blast with that game, truly, but I didn’t connect with it as strongly as I did with GTA IV, which is why it made the cut. But there’s no denying that GTA V is a great open-world game with a solid cast of characters, exciting gameplay, and excellent controls. And with such a loyal fan base, it seems to be the game that keeps on giving!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sahilgamer says:

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        Liked by 1 person

      2. sahilgamer says:

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        Liked by 1 person

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        Liked by 1 person

  7. Imtiaz Ahmed says:

    Definately agree on Xenoblade Chronicles and even it’s sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X. The worlds in both games are unlike anything we’ve seen before.

    Another great mention for me is Morrowind, this is a game that introduced me to the concept of open world and really made my jaw drop. There was nothing like it at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Having heard how great Morrowind was, it makes me wish that I had started with the Elder Scrolls series there. (Skryim was my entry.) I can only imagine how fresh and new gaming must have felt through Morrowind. Like you said, at the time, there was nothing quite like it. I’m sure it helped hook a whole generation of players on Bethesda’s magic!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. montyvijh says:

    Great list!! I am a die hard fan of Red Dead Redemption and can’t wait for the part 2. I got into open world games through GTA : Vice city and never looked back.

    Some mentions from me which took most my awake time : Witcher, Far Cry and Mafia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I’m pretty excited for RDR2 myself! I really hope it turns out better than we expect.

      You offered some other fantastic games, none of which I’ve played, sadly. Someday, maybe, right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. montyvijh says:

        Definitely!! by the way I actually like that your blog color matches RDR 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. cary says:

          The colors do match, don’t they? 🙂 That must have been a little subconscious trickery, haha.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    So here’s a story. I just started replaying Skyrim. The end.

    Well, I didn’t say it’d be a very exciting story.

    I’ll have more to say on Skyrim later this week, but for now, it’s worth revisiting this post I recently wrote for Virtual Bastion on my some of my favorite open-world games. Sans, Skyrim. But I already told you that story.


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