[Top 15] Best Open World RPGs

Best Open World RPGs
Open worlds have something for everybody. But mainly, they build a setting for you to create your own adventure.


15. Albion Online - 2017 (PC, Mobile)

Albion Online is a fantasy sandbox MMORPG notorious for its classless system and player-driven economy. Yup, that’s right - every single item drop has been crafted by another player. Even those you loot from PvE.

The game has incredibly satisfying yet unforgiving PvP gameplay - if you die, you’ll likely never see your gear again. To boost your chances of survival, you’re better off joining a guild. With your new comrades, you can fight in massive Guild vs Guild wars, as well as challenging PvE boss fights that require coordination and complex strategy. But no matter how prepared you are, there’s always the lingering threat of a gank, getting stomped by another guild, or even a group of mobs. 

And that’s what makes the experience of playing Albion Online unforgettable - the high stakes. Working hard to become powerful and always being on the verge  of your seat to hold onto that power. These moments of tension, survival, and triumph create quotable memories that you’ll cherish forever.

PvE is also very fun and tense. From gathering crafting materials from mobs to conquering dungeons and raids, there’s always a lingering threat of other players laying an ambush. For those who like to roam around and chop down trees peacefully, though; well, Albion is a true sandbox. The world is your oyster.

Albion Online is an achievement in video game crowdfunding - raising $10,000,000 and actually publishing and running the game for over 5 years. A game for gamers, by gamers.

Fun factor score: 75/100

Exploring the depths of the Corrupted Dungeon hides more threats than just a Final Boss.

 

14. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord - 2022 (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

Bannerlord stands on its own as an absolute masterpiece with its smooth combat, deep strategy and unit control, and role-playing elements. Not to mention an absolute killer soundtrack and historically-inspired cultures and armor.

There is a story embedded into the world, but your goal is what you make it. Do you want to join an existing kingdom and help them conquer the world? Or become lord of the underbelly, rallying thousands of bandits and looters to your side? Perhaps you want to start your own kingdom and have children who will conquer the world in the name of your clan.

The choice is yours, and no meta-of-the-week or rules are stopping you. Best of all? It’s a complex game that isn’t hard to get into. You’ll find that unlike many games rooted in strategy, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is intuitive and TOO fun to explore.

Fun factor score: 80/100

Sieging cities and castles is key to seizing more power. But brute force doesn’t always win - be ready to outsmart your enemies and use your resources to their full potential.

 

13. Valheim - 2021 (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

An indie game by a team of five, Valheim plays like a AAA title. This gem is proof you weren’t born in the wrong generation.

Valheim is a beautifully crafted survival sandbox set in the (procedurally generated) world of… well, Valheim - the Norse realm so dangerous, even the Gods fear it. But venture into it, and you’ll discover an extraordinarily rewarding exploration experience with simple but satisfying combat and a unique progression system. Not to mention a realistic and thought-provoking building system that allows you to design the Viking fortress of your dreams.

Valheim’s graphics are a prime example of artistic direction laughing in the face of graphics. The lighting is top-notch, the weather is dynamic, and the enemy designs are just… (chef’s kiss) *Mwah!*

If you want to reignite your passion for survival games, get Valheim on Steam. You can also hop on the game with up to 9 friends. But heed my warning: you will sink countless hours into this masterpiece, and you will like it.

Fun factor score: 85/100

Yes, this is a real shot from the actual game. Exploring a vast and randomly generated world has never been so immersive and relaxing yet dangerous and challenging.

 

12. Grand Theft Auto V - 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S)

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this massive smash hit by Rockstar? They’re arguably the leaders in open worlds. GTA V has reached its success because it managed to foster a world that’s truly a sandbox - with multiplayer, mods, and unparalleled player freedom, the fifth edition in the series is a perfect place to create memorable experiences, roleplay, fight, run businesses… the list goes on and on.

But there’s a beauty to this game that isn’t always appreciated. The beauty of the world. Of Los Santos.

Simply driving through the streets is a joy - admiring the complex, rich, and detailed world that Rockstar has hand-made for us. Going for a ride, observing the weather, immersing yourself, escaping for just a moment. Sometimes, the perfect song will come on the radio while you’re in your (probably stolen) car, the rain pouring on your windscreen. These are the magical moments that we play games for. And aren’t games all about feeling?

And if you’re looking for a great story with fun characters, GTA V delivers, as always. There are so many quotable moments in the main narrative it’s hard to keep count. This is a staple in modern gaming, and if the number of sales doesn’t prove it to you, try it out - there’s something in there for everybody.

Fun factor score: 90/100

The experience of living in Los Santos is powerful on its own. But if you plan to expand your horizons, the active modding community has created completely different and unforgettable experiences.

 

11. Kenshi - 2018 (PC)

Kenshi is a… weird game.

It’s a truly free sandbox set in an unforgiving post-apocalyptic world, thrust into a technological dark age, where you create your own story. The lore is deep, but you don’t get it spoonfed to you - if you want to read it, you can. And if you want to be a limbless, legless merchant on a mission to fulfill a truly bionic existence, you can.

That’s right. In Kenshi, combat can have permanent consequences. Stranded out in the desert with no legs? Tough luck. Acid rain is pouring down, and you have no means to protect yourself? Sorry, better find cover. When I say Kenshi is unforgiving - it might even be an understatement.

But what makes you stay is that you can be creative with your resources. You’re encouraged to think and make your way through this tough world. It’s what makes the game’s post-apocalyptic setting feel authentic. You can seek the help of the many factions that inhabit the world or make them your enemies. It all depends on your goals. And each playthrough is entirely different, which gives Kenshi astounding replay value.

Oh, and just so you know - it’s a damn bloody game. You have been warned.

Fun factor score: 85/100

One of the best things about Kenshi is the crazy escape stories, the epic fights, and the impossible odds to survive.

 

10. Monster Hunter: World - 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Kill monsters, skin them for materials, craft armor to kill stronger monsters, repeat. This fight-grind formula should be overdone and boring, right?

Wrong! Monster Hunter is a franchise that manages to keep you invested with its iconic combat mechanics and stunning enemy design. With 14 weapon types that each takes real effort to master, unique and difficult-to-slay monsters and endless armor sets to craft, Monster Hunter: World can keep you engaged for hundreds of hours and have you longing for more.

What truly stands out about this edition of Monster Hunter is how seemingly self-sufficient the world is. While it’s not open-world in the traditional sense, the environments feel like they would live and thrive even without you. With such an organic world design, it’s no wonder millions of players spend so much time enjoying this monster-fighting classic.

85/100

Enemy types are different enough to make combat fresh and new while maintaining the unique style and feel of the series all throughout the game.

 

9. Hogwarts Legacy - 2023 (PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch)

Wait - a beloved popular franchise receives a video game adaptation… and it’s actually good?

That’s right. Hogwarts Legacy is a breath of fresh air. It’s the perfect interactive Harry Potter world for fans to finally observe firsthand, and it’s obvious that it was made with love and attention to detail. Graphics and absolutely stunning visuals aside, the experience of finally exploring Hogwarts on your own, and doing so in a totally different time period, is so rewarding and breath-taking that at times you wonder how you’ve deserved to enjoy such a great game.

The combat is responsive and very satisfying. The customization of one’s personal quarters makes each player’s experience different. And the world itself…

You can fly if you wish. But the open world is interesting enough to make you want to walk around. But in case you are in a rush, simply breezing through the wind is astonishing - turn on that motion blur and look around from the sky to witness what appears to be one of the most beautiful level designs in modern gaming. Thank you, Avalanche Software, for making our child’s dreams come true.

90/100

The common rooms are intricately decorated to be loyal to the books. It really feels like you belong. Which house will the Sorting Hat pick for you?

 

8. Kingdom Come: Deliverance - 2018 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Luna)

Kingdom Come took the gaming world by storm in 2018 for its realism and realistic combat system. Though there’s one word that truly captures the essence of this game - immersion. But here’s the thing - its most endearing qualities can only be appreciated in  Hardcore mode.

While the game has its flaws, it makes up for them in stunning environments and historically accurate themes - in every single aspect of the game. For example - food is essential; hygiene is too. Everything has an impact on your combat performance and social interactions. The night is dark - really, pitch dark. Sleep is essential. But it all feels so natural, and it’s far from annoying or redundant. You actually feel like you’re in that world, and very few games make the experience of just sitting on a log in the forest so enjoyable.

Kingdom Come is an ambitious title with a lot of content. The main storyline is captivating, and there’s hardly a better motivation for a medieval character than that of revenge. You’ll meet many interesting characters; however, make sure you look at them through the lens of a medieval citizen. Deliverance is not a movie - it’s a realistic depiction of a violent and cruel era. But it’s really, really fun.

Fun factor score: 85/100

In Kingdom Come, you play Henry. You’re just a normal guy, not a superhero. You’ll have a tough time taking on multiple enemies, especially in the beginning. Choose your fights wisely.

 

7. Cyberpunk 2077 - 2020 (Stadia, PC, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S)

I’ll say it right off the bat - Cyberpunk 2077 is not a perfect game. In fact, it had one of the rockiest AAA launches the gaming industry has ever seen. But the reason there was so much noise about it is that this game, behind its flaws, is a fascinating gem. No one would care if it wasn’t great.

We’ve all been waiting for an open-world experience set in a dystopian cyberpunk city. Ever since Blade Runner, the cyberpunk aesthetic has been highly regarded as a very intriguing and even possible look at the future of the metropolis.

Coupling this theme with a compelling story, a dynamic world, and unforgettable characters (come on, it’s Keanu Reeves!), Cyberpunk is a game that will forever remain a lesson in game design - for what to do right and what not to do.

Side quests leverage the cyberpunk setting masterfully, the combat feels great, and the city is incredibly immersive and free to explore. There’s something hidden behind every corner - it’s up to you to find it.

Fun factor score: 80/100

The lighting in Cyberpunk 2077 is unparalleled. The colors are bright and sometimes overwhelming - exactly what makes the dystopian city believable and unique.

 

6. The Elder Scrolls® Online - 2014 (PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

A reverie of every Elder Scrolls fan, ESO is an MMORPG that offers an insane amount of content for group and solo play. Each quest is voiced by exceptionally talented voice actors, and most of the time, the plots leave a lasting impression on the player.

You’ll discover a smooth and very engaging combat system with a dynamic meta, keeping the game consistently fresh. PvP is chaotically fun, while PvE offers a challenge to even the most experienced MMO raiders.

Players can revisit their favorite Skryim, Morrowind, and Oblivion zones and cities, which really makes you appreciate the scale of Tamriel.

The housing system is arguably the best of any MMO, and the assortment of cosmetics allows you to customize your character with a surprising amount of freedom. You can show off your drip to the many players in the world, which is highly populated due to the mega-server system, meaning you’ll never be alone or bored, unlike many contemporary MMORPGs.

Fun factor score: 80/100

ESO is best enjoyed with friends. Join a guild and explore the world and content with the dedicated and passionate community.

 

5. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat - 2009 (PC)

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. IP has been around for a while, from the 1972 Soviet novel “Roadside Picnic” to the 1979 film, and now the games. The game series is now more popular than ever, and with good reason. Call of Pripyat, the third one in the series, is a post-apocalyptic open-world FPS with some horror elements and very deep survival and faction mechanics.

The game is difficult - but in a very unique way. Usually, greater difficulty is designed through bullet-sponge enemies, lower character health, or making resources harder to get. In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the highest difficulty makes you easy to kill, but you kill enemies just as easily. A headshot is a kill. You’re not special - you’re just another stalker in the God-forbidden Chernobyl nuclear power plant exclusion zone.

The open world is dangerous and full of mysteries. Stalkers wander the Zone to collect artifacts - powerful radioactive objects - and sell them to collectors. But amidst the dangers of the Zone, factions form. Not your average RPG factions where you have to choose the lesser evil, though. These factions have realistic motivations, and each one makes a solid point on how to approach life in the zone.

The game looks beautiful for its age and perhaps even benefits from its older graphics and engine, only adding to its rough and rugged themes of the pale existence of a surviving stalker.

Fun factor score: 90/100

Anomalies are (un)natural phenomena that often cost stalkers their lives. These unpredictable disasters range from simple storms to inexplicable lethal gas formations. Find shelter or push through to find valuable artifacts.

 

4. Elden Ring - 2022 (PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

Some would say Elden Ring is the game of the decade so far, and that would be a totally justifiable statement. The pinnacle of the Souls-like, where FromSoftware finally introduces the open-world setting (and absolutely nailing it).

There are too many reasons why this game is a masterpiece. For one, the world is so gorgeous that every frame looks like a painting. The voice acting is extremely powerful, and the story is an epic one.

But many are on the fence about playing it due to the difficulty inherent in Souls-like games. In reality, the game is only unplayably hard only if you condition yourself that it is. The secret to breezing through the game (while taking a few deaths to learn) is to play it however you want. There’s no better way to ruin your fun than looking at “what’s meta and OP.”

The game is designed for you to collect powerful resources, abilities, and weapons and come back stronger than before in order to feel that you actually progress in this world. And it’s damn satisfying when you finally defeat that one boss.

Ultimately, Elden Ring is proof that video games can be a form of art. Don’t trust me? Spend a single minute in the open world and thank me later.

Fun factor: 95/100

Most fantasy RPGs rely on established enemy types - orcs, goblins, dragons. Elden Ring always surprises with totally novel and interesting enemies that feel threatening yet mesmerizing.

 

3. Fallout: New Vegas - 2010 (PS3, PC, Xbox 360)

Highly regarded as the best Fallout game in the entire series, New Vegas is a “true” be-who-you-want-to-be-RPG. It’s now 13 years old, but besides its graphics, it has aged surprisingly well. With visual overhauls, you can easily modernize the game to fit your needs.

Bethesda, who holds the Fallout IP rights, outsourced New Vegas’ development to another company (Obsidian Entertainment) to capitalize on Fallout 3’s massive success. Due to the time crunch, what came out was a heavily flawed but legendary game that carries so much replay value that even 13 years later, the player base seems stronger than ever.

So what makes New Vegas so damn great? I instantly want to say “the soundtrack,” but I will contain myself. New Vegas shines in that the player can approach the game in so many unique ways that each playthrough will seem like a totally different game. Having multiple endings is just the cherry on top. Depending on your skills, weapon choice, stats, gender, and decisions, you can actually make a difference in the post-apocalyptic Mojave desert. Of all the games on this list, Fallout: New Vegas is where your decisions matter the most. If a game makes you regret a choice because it made you feel like a bad person, it successfully presented its themes thoughtfully and authentically.

Give New Vegas a go in Hardcore mode. It makes collecting loot, using your resources, and doing side-quests even more rewarding. Just look out for Deathclaws, alright?

And, of course, New Vegas comes with some of the best DLCs gaming has to offer. You have hundreds of hours of content, accompanied by an addictive and sing-along-able soundtrack (Had to say something about the music. The soundtrack slaps!)

Fun factor score: 95/100

The wasteland is full of interesting places and exciting interactions. But you’re never truly safe, even in the city of New Vegas. Especially there.

 

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - 2015 (PS4, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X/S)

Arguably the king of fantasy RPGs, The Witcher 3 took the world by storm in 2015. A treat for both fans of the franchise and those new to the series, Wild Hunt is easily one of the most engaging and replayable open-world games of the 2010s.

What this game did so well is to combine the open-world exploration of Elder Scrolls games with the rich and story-driven world games like Fallout - a feat that had never been done before, at least on this scale. This means that you’re constantly rewarded for exploring while being immersed in a world that has its own political, economic, magical, and cultural systems..

The story is touching and incredibly compelling, only topped by the excellent characters. The Witcher 3 also makes sure to mask grindy quests with exciting premises, which not only extends your playtime but makes you grateful for being thrust into cool new adventures - ones that feel authentic for a professional monster slayer like the infamous Geralt of Rivia.

The graphics are ridiculously beautiful and very memorable. They make you feel at home and seriously mourn the end of your playthrough. Some even say they have a hard time picking up another RPG after The Witcher 3.

The combat is complex enough to have a lot of room for mastery but simple enough to get into quickly. You can pick between 3 main ways to approach combat - Combat, Signs, and Alchemy. They are all equally powerful in their own way and allow for mixed builds that spice up your gameplay and make your Geralt stand out.

DON’T WORRY IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED THE FIRST TWO GAMES. God, did I stress about this on my first playthrough... The story and the world are very friendly to newcomers. Of course, you will miss some cameos and perhaps have a slightly weaker connection to the characters, but the writing helps you empathize with them quickly and deeply. If you insist, check out a quick recap of the previous games.

The DLCs are so much fun, adding over 60 hours of hand-made content that truly sticks out.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a life-changing experience, and I envy those who haven’t played it before. Do yourself a favor - play the game, talk to every NPC, cherish your first stroll through the streets of Novigrad, and kill monsters like there’s no tomorrow.

Fun factor score: 100/100

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt constantly faces you with themes of morality. The juxtaposition of humans and monsters poses the question: “Are we really much different than the monsters we condemn?”

 

1. Red Dead Redemption 2 - 2018 (PS4, PC, Xbox One, Stadia)

Now, what exactly makes this Western-themed RPG so successful and universally beloved? On a game design level, the attention to detail is through the roof. The scenery, the traces you leave on the ground, the dynamic weather, the small but meaningful easter eggs.

The combat is responsive and fun, and the music and ambiance are astonishing. But that makes a great game. What makes Red Dead 2 the GOAT?

It’s the main character you play - Arthur Morgan. His daily routine - talking to his campmates, eating a meal, getting a bath, feeding, and washing his horse. Buying cigarettes at the general store, singing songs by the campfire, hunting for food, or robbing a train. You see every little and trivial aspect of his life, and you never get bored.

Throughout the story, Arthur goes through a significant change. And you are there to witness it all. No wonder you get so attached to him and the other characters. You are part of an almost real community. The laughs, the cries. The highs and the lows. There’s no better game for one to simply… exist in.

Forget about “collect this, kill that” quests. Red Dead Redemption 2 makes every single mission a memorable one, loaded with passion, moral choices, plot twists, and iconic characters. I dare you to try to play it for just 1 hour per day. You can’t. The world is so immersive; it grips you and doesn’t let go.

It’s a ride (no Western pun intended) that leaves a mark on you forever. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a look at a strange world through the eyes of a strange man. Is there a better way than this to understand and empathize with the world around us?

Fun factor score: 110/100

Set at the end of the “Wild West” era, Red Dead Redemption 2 is indeed a story of redemption. Similar to the first game of the series, the game questions morality and what it means to live with a history of vice.

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No stealth archers policy. Adrian is a prolific writer, inspired by stories and popular culture.
Gamer Since: 2009
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Outward
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mount & Blade: Warband, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind


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DarthRevan501st 1 year 5 days ago

I agree with this list. Good Job!

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