The best open world games on PC bring massive, almost alien worlds to life through our screens. Recently, the releases of Elden Rings, Grand Theft Auto V: Next Gen Update, and Horizon Forbidden West for PC and consoles have increased the interest in these games. These open world games bring excellent new maps that you can dive into and forget about reality. Moreover, they feature superb storylines and memorable characters that will leave an imprint on your memory.
The PC platform brings even more freedom to developers. The lack of constraints allows the developers to create huge worlds filled with activities and stories at every corner. Furthermore, they don’t have to limit themselves regarding technology as most PC players have powerful gaming PCs. This is why you’ll find some fantastic open world games on PC. From multiplayer shooting games in massive open worlds to single-player storylines in historically accurate vistas, there’s something for everyone here.
We’ve curated a list of the best open world games for PC that you can play right now. Without further ado, let’s dive into the list!
Ever since FromSoftware, the Japanese video company, released Demon’s Souls in 2009, the gaming world was shaken. Demon’s Souls was a video game that changed everything about gaming. The punishing difficulty, mixed with a dark atmosphere and no clear goal, led to players discovering each aspect of the game by themselves. While this requires plenty of patience, it eventually grew on gamers. Soon enough, the world of gaming was craving for more. Following this, they released the Dark Souls Trilogy, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. In each of these games, the basics remained the same. However, FromSoftware continued to improve on its already successful formula.
Fast forward to 2022, and Elden Ring was released. Elden Ring is a culmination of everything the developers have learned over the years. The gameplay is more varied, there’s a vast open world to explore, and the story is intriguing. There’s plenty of freedom for the players as well. They can explore the open world at their own pace and tackle the areas according to their liking. This time, the game is also more welcoming to beginners without reducing the difficulty that became the bread and butter of FromSoftware games.
If you’re someone who loved playing the Soulsborne games, or if you want to dive into this open world ARPG (action role-playing game), Elden Ring would be an excellent place to start. Oh! Did we mention that George R. R. Martin (the writer of Game of Thrones) is one of the writers for this game?
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Hideo Kojima is a veritable auteur of video games. His brainchild, the Metal Gear series, is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. Members of the gaming universe were left shellshocked when Kojima left Konami in 2015. He then took four years to develop his next IP, Death Stranding. The game was released in 2019 and divided the player base into two halves. Since then, other editions of the game have been released, including a new Director’s Cut edition for PC.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the USA has been devastated by an event. The event led to the rise of alien creatures that destroyed everything in their path. Players take control of Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame) and have to reconnect isolated colonies by delivering supplies and setting up communication networks. The game’s world is gorgeous and massive, and you might have to spend a lot of the game walking from one point to another, avoiding the creatures on the way. However, you can connect with other players and marvel at the nature of the rebuild. Death Stranding’s visuals and soundtrack are mesmerising and will leave you in awe of what Kojima has created.
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Would this even be a list of open world games for PC if we didn’t include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? The answer is a resounding no. Referred to popularly as “Skyrim”, the game has been instrumental in paving the way forward for new open world RPGs. We find ourselves replaying this game repeatedly, thanks to the multiple ways in which you can complete the game.
There’s no set order for completing the missions either. After the opening sequence, you’re already left to make a faction choice that can have significant consequences later on. After that, you’re on your own. You may walk through the entire map, traversing through open plains or climbing snowy mountain peaks. You might even come across a small marker that interests you. Soon enough, that marker can turn into a full-fledged side-quest that can last for hours. There’s almost no limit to what The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brings. Furthermore, constant updates and mods from the gaming community provide vast amounts of content and replayability to this day!
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Watch Dogs Legion
When the first Watch Dogs was initially showcased in E3 2012, gamers worldwide were shocked at how gorgeous the game looked. Fast forward to its release, it was clear that the developers had downgraded the graphics and optimised the game poorly. Moreover, the story wasn’t all that intriguing. However, Ubisoft learnt from its mistakes, and the third game in the franchise, Watch Dogs Legion, is a game worth playing.
Watch Dogs features elements of hacking and role-playing. Basically, players can travel around the world with vehicles, engage in gunplay, customise their character, and hack objects to progress through missions and general free play. In Watch Dogs Legion, you no longer control a single character. In fact, you can control almost any citizen of this dystopian London setting. These characters have enough variety in their characterisations and skills to keep things interesting. Recruit any member into your DedSec hacking organisation, and take down the powers that control the dystopia.
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Batman: Arkham Knight
This is the swansong to Rocksteady’s immensely popular Batman: Arkham trilogy. Rocksteady crafted the definitive superhero games with the first two instalments in the series. From Batman and his villains’ characterisation to the FreeFlow combat system, these games provided the template for future superhero open-world games. In fact, Insomniac’s top-rated Spider-Man franchise owes plenty to Rocksteady’s magnum opus.
With Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocksteady reached a steady conclusion to their trilogy. The game is set in an open world Gotham City. In this game, Batman faces his biggest threat yet, not to mention a mysterious new villain called the Arkham Knight, his trauma from his parents’ death, and dealing with a nemesis he believed to be dead. This game has it all from solving crimes across the city to fighting some of the Batmanverse’s most notorious characters. The game’s PC version was outsourced and resulted in significant optimisation issues when it was released in 2015.
However, patches have been released since then, and you can now play this game with all its gorgeous visuals and smooth gameplay. Although the story and the Batmobile sections (which we were all looking forward to) weren’t all that impressive, the rest of the game is the reason why Rocksteady is now a household name for almost every gamer. Also, the original cast of the popular Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, lend their voices to Batman and Joker, respectively!
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Far Cry 3
Although Far Cry 3 was released in 2012, it still holds up today, considering the gameplay, visuals, and storyline. Far Cry 3 was a massive influence for open world shooting games on PC. Of course, it influenced further Far Cry instalments such as Far Cry 4 and Far Cry: New Dawn. Even the newest entry in the series, Far Cry 6, took its basics from the ground laid down by Far Cry 3.
It’s for this reason that we’ve included the game in this list. The game’s setting of the fictional rook islands was so good that it formed another secondary character by itself. Furthermore, the protagonist’s growth from a nervous frat boy to a stone-cold killer is shown in excruciating detail. In addition, if we’re talking about Far Cry 3, we have to mention Vaas Montenegro, one of the game’s primary antagonists. His stint as the antagonist was short-lived, but he became one of the most popular villains ever to grace the video gaming universe.
If you haven’t played any of the Far Cry games, Far Cry 3 is where you should start!
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This is another game that was released in 2012. Sleeping Dogs is one of the best action-adventure open world games for PC. Taking a cue from other similar games, such as Grand Theft Auto IV, the game is set in Hong Kong. You take control of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who has to infiltrate the most powerful Triad organisation in the city. The gameplay focuses more on martial arts, environmental destruction, and parkour for traversal. Of course, there are the usual gunplay and vehicle sections that govern games of this nature.
Sleeping Dogs is a highly underrated game. While the game’s setting may not appeal to some, the developers have worked hard on the cityscape, gameplay, and story. Sleeping Dogs‘ storyline is one of the most intriguing and gutwrenching storylines you can go through. The cast has put in exceptional performances that you’ll remember long after playing the game. If you want to go for an open world game for PC that isn’t part of the mainstream lineups, give Sleeping Dogs a shot!
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is one of the best games ever created. Period. Rockstar went above and beyond when crafting the magnificent state of San Andreas. The entire state feels lived-in, there’s always something to do in every corner of the city, and the storyline is borderline absurd. However, all of this combines to form a game that you’ll find yourself coming back to repeatedly.
Rockstar decided to implement something different with this game. Instead of following the antics of one protagonist, you get to control three. The best part is, you get to switch between the three whenever you want. Each of the three protagonists is wonderfully fleshed out, and the cast delivers on their lines in excellent fashion. While we’re still waiting on any announcement for Grand Theft Auto VI, GTA V will keep you occupied for a long, long time. Once you’ve completed the game’s storyline and side-missions, you can hop into GTA Online with millions of other players!
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The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
For the longest time, people thought that open world games could not be topped after games such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V. Gamers were beyond surprised when CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Being a followup to the highly popular The Witcher 2: Assassin’s Of Kings, expectations were high for this one. CD Projekt Red blew those expectations out of the park with their latest The Witcher game.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is everything you’d want from an open world PC game and more. The worldbuilding, soundtrack, visuals, characterisations – everything is on point. Moreover, there are so many different storylines to complete apart from the main campaign. Even then, the quality is maintained and even surpassed at some points. Controlling Geralt of Rivia has never felt more amazing, especially when Slavic music plays in the background as you watch the setting sun. This game is almost poetic in nature.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Finally, we come to possibly one of the best games of all time. Red Dead Redemption 2 was released for PC after plenty of hype. The first Red Dead Redemption was only available as a PlayStation exclusive unless you played it through a PlayStation emulator on your PC. However, the second game was updated completely to ensure that PC gamers had the best possible experience. With this, Rockstar delivered completely.
The world of Red Dead Redemption has been fleshed out extremely well. Although it takes a while to get habituated to the Wild West mixed with a modernism setting, the characters, general gameplay, pacing, gorgeous visuals, and gutwrenching storyline will win you over. The game’s protagonist, Arthur Morgan is one of the best characters you’re ever likely to find in a game. In fact, this game is one of the major reasons why video games are now considered a form of art. Rockstar has proved that it can deliver classics time and again. With Red Dead Redemption 2, it has proved to the gaming world why it’s still one of the best game development studios ever to exist.
Red Dead Redemption 2 should be on the playlist of every gamer, even if you’re more into online gaming. Once you’re done with the main campaign mode, you can move on to the immensely fun Red Dead Online mode for some multiplayer fun.
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You might not think of Terraria as the first game when you consider open world games. However, the game continues to bounce through genres like nobody’s business. There are plenty of things to do in this game. Some of these include exploration and combat, to name a few. You’ll have to build your house, storey by storey, by acquiring resources through exploration. Exploration can also yield some resources for armour and weapons.
These armours and weapons can be used to protect your home from the beasts that are bound to attack it. Furthermore, the boss battles tend to be quite spontaneous, so you’ll always have to be on the lookout. Preparation for every possibility and a constant desire for exploration are some of the most important ways to keep yourself afloat in Terraria.
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Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain
The Metal Gear series has been the stalwart in terms of action, stealth, and espionage games. There are hardly any games that work these mechanics as well as Metal Gear does. With Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain, all of these mechanics are taken up a notch. While the game’s mechanics have been refined, the AI has also been updated to keep the gameplay fresh and challenging.
The game offers you plenty of opportunities to approach the enemies and targets the way you see fit. It’s entirely up to you whether you opt for lethal tactics or non-lethal takedowns. However, lethally dispatching enemies isn’t encouraged and could lead to penalties and more challenging AI. You can’t repeat your tactics either. Enemies will become more aware as time passes and adapt to your strategy accordingly. Finally, the game’s world is enormous. There are plenty of areas to explore and include in your tactical masterpiece. It’s no wonder that this is one of the best open world games for PC.
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Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves capitalises on the nostalgia of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and everyone’s curiosity for pirates. In this game, the open seas are meant for exploration. You’re given almost complete freedom to approach the game in any way you want. There are islands to explore, treasures to discover, and crews to build. Give your personal spin on what you think a pirate should be like, through this game.
Moreover, the game has received continuous updates ever since it was released in 2018. This implies that the game’s mechanics have been refined, and the player counts have increased exponentially. If there’s any time to be a pirate and sail the open seas, it’s now.
With this, we end our list of the best open world games for PC. Whether you prefer fantastical open world games like Elden Ring and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, or the more grounded story provided by Red Dead Redemption 2, there’s something for everyone here. Linear storylines and gameplay have taken a backseat, with players preferring beautifully rendered open worlds. This could possibly be the future of gaming.
Writer, researcher, and avid gamer. Geeks out over postmodern novels and the latest PC games. Usually intends all his puns.