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The Greatest Open-World Video Games, According To Ranker – Screen Rant

The open-world genre has proved to be massively popular with gamers, accounting for the best-selling titles in recent years. The very best open-world video games have high replay value, memorable characters, incredibly detailed environments, and side quests that are just as engaging as the main storyline.

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This is easier said than done, as open-world games tend to be costlier to develop and are more prone to various bugs and glitches. Nonetheless, the vast community of experts on Ranker is at it again, and this time, thousands have chimed in to vote on the best.

10 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (2017)

Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild 2 BOTW Needs New Weapons For Link Knives Daggers Staffs Gauntlets

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild follows Link as he awakens from 100 years of hibernation to find a world scarred by war and since reclaimed by nature. Link must now defeat the evil sorcerer, Calamity Ganon, and restore the ancient lands of the Kingdom of Hyrule.

Upon its release, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was praised by critics as a triumph in open-world game design, with new features, like an advanced physics engine and unstructured sandbox design. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild went on to win many Game of the Year Awards in 2017.

9 Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Arguably the best entry in the Fallout franchise, Fallout: New Vegas follows a character known as The Courier, who is betrayed and left for dead in the post-apocalyptic southwest United States, around what is formally Las Vegas. Fallout: New Vegas also has several content-packed DLC, such as Honest Hearts and Dead Money, which are equally as good as the base game.

While initially met with a mixed reception, with some reviewers criticizing lifeless animation and game-breaking bugs, Fallout: New Vegas has since gained a cult following and has been reappraised as one of the best RPGs of the decade, spawning much fan-made content, from short films to mods and memes.


8 Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)

Marvels Spider-Man Screenshot

In this third-person action-adventure game, the player takes control of the titular Spider-Man as he traverses New York City, battling the evil mastermind Mister Negative. Spider-Man has had a long history in the open-world video-game genre, stemming back to the original Sam Raimi trilogy, most notably Spider-Man 2, which was the first superhero game to use an open-world design.

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Marvel’s Spider-Man perfected that formula by adding a web-swinging traversal system, which made web-swinging across the city intuitive and exhilarating, based in part on the physics system used in the aforementioned Spider-Man 2. Marvel’s Spider-Man became the fastest-selling game that year for Sony’s PlayStation system.

7 Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Red Dead Redemption Fan Makes Combined Map Of Both Games

A spiritual reboot to Red Dead Revolver, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption explores the vast Wild West like no game had done before. The story follows John Marston as he traverses the American southwest and northern Mexico and methodically hunts down his former gang. Set in a vast and detailed open world full of dusty saloons, scorching deserts, and endless prairies, players take advantage of new gameplay mechanics like Dead Eye, a morality system, and even an online open-world multiplayer.

Although one of the most expensive video games ever made, upon its release, Red Dead Redemption was met with resounding critical and audience success. With reviewers praising its attention to detail, stunning graphics, cinematic set-pieces, and engaging characters and story.

6 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Direct Sequel Grove Street CJ GTA 5

The fifth entry in the popular Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas follows gangster Carl “CJ” Johnson as he tries to retake control of the streets of California-inspired San Andreas.

San Andreas made a huge step forward in game design compared to previous installments, introducing features such as RPG elements, more customization, and a plethora of unique side-quests. The game was met with much critical and popular praise, especially for its gameplay, music, and story, becoming one of the best-selling video games of all time.

5 Minecraft (2011)

A Base Built in a Lush Cave

Simple yet revolutionary in terms of its sandbox design and crafting mechanics, Minecraft was the brainchild of Markus Persson, a Swedish indie video game designer. In the game, players must survive by crafting tools and building structures in a virtually limitless AI-generated world. Later versions of the game went beyond pure survival, allowing players to try user-created maps, build their own monumental architecture, and team up in multiplayer modes.

RELATED: 10 Hilarious Minecraft Memes Only True Fans Will Understand

Although having no publisher or massive marketing campaign when it first launched, Minecraft became an instant success mainly through word of mouth and glowing critical reviews, eventually becoming the best-selling video game of all time. The game has since become a cultural icon, inspiring many Minecraft mods, parodies, memes, spin-offs, and even helping teach chemistry.

4 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

poster for The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim featuring the Dragonborn with mountains in the background

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim follows the Dragonborn, a warrior with great power, on their quest to defeat an evil dragon, Alduin, and stop the end of the world. With its epic soundtrack, amazingly detailed open world, and vibrant modding community, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has benefited from its longevity more than almost any other game, through a slew of DLCs, several different editions, and a robust creation club feature.

While the main quest is fairly linear, the game encourages players to forge their path through various Elder Scrolls side-quests, deep customization, and sandbox world design. While initially mired by numerous technical issues, Skyrim nonetheless became a hit with both gamers and critics alike, becoming a cultural icon that goes far beyond video games and into mainstream internet culture. Fans now eagerly await the next installment, The Elder Scrolls VI, whose exact release date is still unknown.

3 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Eredin Fight

Based on the world and characters of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novel series of the same name, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the third installment of the Witcher video game series. The story follows Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, as he traverses the length and breadth of the semi-historical fantasy world known as The Continent to find his long-lost adoptive daughter, Ciri, who possesses a great power.

While the previous Witcher games were well received and gained a cult following, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt found a mainstream global audience, and introduced many to the world of The Witcher for the first time. Although Witcher 3 was initially plagued by some funny glitches, it garnered worldwide acclaim, particularly noting its grand scale, player choices that affected the story, and gameplay mechanics that seamlessly combined sword and magic combat.

2 Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

The long-awaited next installment in the Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto V returned to the fan-favorite location, the “California-inspired” San Andreas, and follows three memorable protagonists as they cause mayhem, pull off heists, and take down rival gangs across a fictionalized Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

Grand Theft Auto V added a unique gameplay mechanic that allows players to switch at will between the three protagonists, in effect creating a more dynamic experience for players, with the additional Grand Theft Auto Online adding near endless replay value. Grand Theft Auto V was met with universal acclaim, with critics particularly noting the herculean feat of technical prowess needed to make a game on such a large yet detailed scale.

1 Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

Red Dead Redemption II best weapons

The highly anticipated sequel to Rockstar’s ground-breaking Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption II surpassed its predecessor in almost every way. The game acts as a prequel to the previous installment, following the cowboy Arthur Morgan, who attempts to survive in an ever-modernizing Wild West as a member of an outlaw gang.

Arguably the most detailed and lifelike open world ever created in a video game, Red Dead Redemption II is one of the most expensive video games ever made. Built specifically for eighth-generation consoles, Red Dead Redemption II took advantage of recent developments in processing power to craft a masterpiece in terms of art design and graphics. While critics and audiences alike praised a number of its gameplay mechanics, more than anything, Red Dead Redemption II proved that a videogame can be a work of art.

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