There’s something special about the best open world games on PC today. They’re immersive to the point where you might not even think about the story for hours at a time, following side quests and uncovering secret locations. After all, these games are all about being transported to a new world to explore, not just winning. It’s all about the journey, which might take days, weeks or months, not the destination.
The best open world games on PC today have come a long way from where the best PC games and gaming PCs were 10 years ago. They have become so widespread that it’s not just the biggest studios making these huge sandbox adventures. You’ll find that some of the best indie games are getting in on the action, with smaller studios taking advantage of the concept to tell their stories.
Take a look at our pick for the best open world games on PC today. There are some obvious inclusions such as The Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as co-op games like Ghost Recon Wildlands. Read on to see which of these games will take over your free time for the next couple weeks or months.
Hideo Kojima’s post-Konami return to the digital stage has come with the surreal Death Stranding. Not only is it a fever dream in the form of a game, but it also does something new with the open world format.
You control Sam Porter Bridges, portrayed by Norman Reedus, as he delivers cargo across a stark, beautiful and unsettling landscape. In this post-apocalyptic world, you have to deal with an assortment of strange enemies, most notably BTs, which ghost-like creatures only visible to Sam thanks to a fetus strapped to his chest. That’s the tip of the iceberg on what makes this game so strange and fascinating. When you die, you have to find your strand of life in an ocean to come back to life. And, your initial weapon of choice is a rope coated with your blood.
This game is not for everyone. However, if you like genre-bending and thought-provoking games, you’re in for a treat.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The first two Witcher games were compelling, complex and challenging, even though it only relished minor success. All the word of mouth about the first two games led to the Witcher 3 getting big when it was released. It was a huge step up in quality as well, which makes it undoubtedly one of the best RPGs of all time.
You step in the shoes of Geralt, a mutated monster hunter or witcher, and you’re tasked to scour the world for your adopted daughter in a medieval period ravaged by war. Geralt can walk, ride or sail across the war-ravaged lands (and seas) of Novigrad, Velen and Skellige. You can even forage for herbs, explore under the seas or the city back alleys, and encounter all kinds of folk and creatures. The other elements of the game are spectacularly polished as well - limber, agile combat, a deep levelling system and a storyline with some unusually-smart storylines. Plus, with the Blood and Wine expansion, you’ll be able to take on a clan of Vampires in the colorful land of Toussaint, too.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is now four years old, but it definitely stands the test of time and is still one of the best open world games on the market right now. This well-realized world blows the likes of Skyrim out of the water.
Red Dead Redemption 2
One of the reasons open-world games are so popular is because of how immersive they can be, and Red Dead Redemption 2 draws you in like almost no other. Explore a fictionalized Wild West where you can spend hours just hunting, robbing trains or coaches, or just riding and bonding with your favorite horse. Or just spend hours just gambling, if you want.
It’s not just the world-building that makes RDR2 such a fantastic game, however. The tale of Arthur Morgan and his gang, and their exploits as they try to stay a step ahead of the law is about as epic and operatic a story as they come. On top of that, this game is gorgeous. Let’s just say there’s a reason this game features a cinematic mode camera view.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Like the Assassin’s Creed games before it, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla continues the tradition of dropping you into the middle of a vast, somewhat historically-correct open world that will probably take you the better part of a month to fully explore. In the case of Valhalla, as the name suggests, you play as a Viking exploring dark ages England. This game also introduces the ability to raid villages in true Viking style as well as build and expand your own settlement.
Like most Assassin’s Creed games, and AAA open-world games, it’s easy to get lost in the gorgeous and immersive setting. But there’s plenty of action here too. Not only can you climb over everything, stealth-kill just about anyone, and stealthily skulk about, but you can lead assaults on whole fortresses. The game still ties its story into the overarching Assassins vs Templar conflict that permeates all the titles in the series. But, even if you don’t care about that and just want to play as a Viking, this game has plenty to offer.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V has been out for quite a while now, but because we’re still waiting for Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC, it remains to be the best open world game on PC from Rockstar. It’s a massive pastiche of L.A. through which you can fly, run or drive across. It’s an incredible achievement, and the fact that it works in multiplayer is amazing.
What makes it such a success, however, is the freedom it gives you. When you’re not running around and robbing banks during the campaign, GTA V basically lets you do whatever you want – even if it breaks the game. You can go anywhere, do anything and commit however many brutalities as your wicked heart desires.
There are also a number of activities on hand for you on the side. This means that when you’re not busy initiating all sorts of mayhem, you can alternately take up tennis, do yoga or even kick your feet up and watch some TV. There’s a reason this game is so beloved.