The 10 best open world games September 2023

For those wanting to get lost in massive fictional worlds, we’re helping you choose the perfect one with our up-to-date list of the best open world games.

Best open world games: a grassy mountainous backdrop with three characters imposed on top: The Witcher's Geralt unsheathing a sword, GTA 5's Michael cocking a pistol, and Assassin's Creed's Bayek holding an ornamental bow

What are the best open world games? The big boom of open-world games started in the early 2000s, and as technology has progressed, so has their ambition. Nowadays, we find ourselves often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of gigantic fictional worlds that want us to explore every corner and experience long odysseys. As a result, it’s often hard to pick the finest ones that deserve most of our attention. We’ll try to make choosing easier for you with our guide to the best games open world games in July 2023.

If you’re limited to a single current-gen console, we recommend checking out our best PS5 open-world games and best Xbox open-world games lists so you know for sure you can play them. This guide gathers the best open-world games available right now regardless of platform. We also must stress we’re mainly focused on more hand-crafted worlds, leaving creative playgrounds like Minecraft out.

The best open world games are:

  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Ghost of Tsushima
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition
  • Fallout 4
  • Elden Ring
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Best open world games: Two cowboys fire revolvers in Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

It’s probably Rockstar Games who kickstarted the modern open-world formula, and it’s still the best at making it as deep as possible. On the surface, the second Red Dead Redemption installment (which is actually a prequel to the first game) might look familiar, but its reactive world and layered systems have yet to be topped. This isn’t a game you can jump in and out of easily, but one that rewards you for settling into its more methodical pace instead.

On top of what it has to offer as the best Wild West simulator ever, its story is profound, emotional, and cinematic in all the right ways. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of those rare games that doesn’t need to sacrifice top tier production values to be massive in size.

As a result, it remains the modern open-world king and will probably keep that title until the GTA 6 release date arrives. You can grab it on Xbox platforms here, or on PS4 and PS5 here.

Best open world games: Franklin from GTA 5 wearing a green shirt and holding a baseball bat

Grand Theft Auto 5

The fact Rockstar Games outdid itself with RDR2 in 2018 doesn’t make the last Grand Theft Auto installment any less impressive. GTA 5 is one of the best-selling games of all time, and for good reason.

Back in 2013, it wowed everyone with a deeper (yet still chaotically-funny) story told from three different points of view, a highly-dynamic game world, and an online component which still receives meaty content updates because there simply isn’t anything like it. If the open world of Los Santos wows you in GTA 5’s story, it truly comes to life in GTA Online.

GTA 5 has also endured through three different generations of consoles because it’s evolved over the years, incorporating new graphical enhancements and offering better performance whenever and wherever possible. And of course, we can’t ignore the huge community creating GTA 5 mods on PC, despite its troubled relationship with publisher Take-Two.

The spruced-up, Xbox Series XS version of GTA 5 and GTA Online is currently available on Game Pass, and you can pick up a sub if you don’t have one below. Alternatively, you can buy it outright on the Xbox Store or the PlayStation Store.

Best open world games: A person in ancient Japanese clothing looks out across a red field

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is one of PlayStation’s biggest success stories in recent times, yet it didn’t receive all the attention it deserved in the summer of 2020 as it launched under The Last of Us: Part II’s shadow. It’s not Sony’s plain, riskless take on Assassin’s Creed either; SP Productions definitely gave it a voice of its own, born from many influences that just feel right for the setting and the main concept behind the game: mixing together the classic Kurosawa-like samurai path with the dishonorable life of an assassin.

Sucker Punch killed two birds with one stone, as Ghost of Tsushima feels like a more than adequate successor to the long-forgotten Tenchu series despite largely behaving like a leaner and meaner version of Assassin’s Creed, which takes very useful cues from more ‘natural’ open-world games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

It also looks and runs beautifully even if you’re still stuck on PS4, which is a remarkable feat given it was released at the tail-end of last gen.

As a Sony exclusive, those with a PS Plus Extra or Premium subscription can enjoy the Director’s Cut of Ghost of Tsushima as part of the service. Alternatively, you can pick up a physical copy below.

Best open world games: An assassin riding a camel fires arrows from their bow at enemy soldiers

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Many gamers have understandably grown tired of the long-running Assassin’s Creed series and other open-world titles from Ubisoft because of the basic template they’ve been reworking for years now – but that doesn’t make many entries any less fun. In fact, Assassin’s Creed remains popular because of its renewed creative direction as the most expansive historical action-adventure games around.

2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins was the series’ first foray into the open-world action RPG realm, and while it might not be the top of our best Assassin’s Creed games list, it definitely boasts the best open-world experience in our view.

Some fans understandably prefer the more recent Odyssey and Valhalla to Origins, but Bayek’s journey might be the most memorable of the most recent trilogy. Moreover, its Ptolemaic-period Egypt setting still is the franchise’s most distinct and immersive one. We also think it’s the Assassin’s Creed entry that has just the right amount of secondary content – it’s big without feeling ridiculously overwhelming and bloated.

For those subscribed to either PS Plus (Extra and Premium) or Xbox Game Pass, you’re in luck, as Origins is available on both services.

Best open world games: Spiderman swinging on a web through a city street

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

While we wait for the Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 release date to arrive later this year, revisiting its predecessor or playing it for the first time is definitely a fantastic idea. Insomniac was at the top of its game with its first game based on a Marvel IP, and its original story walks easily among Peter Parker’s best in any medium.

There’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to some of the secondary tasks, and those obligatory stealth sections with MJ and Miles are dreadful, but Spider-Man is both one of the best (if not the best) comic book games ever and a surprisingly breezy open-world adventure that makes the simple act of traversing New York super addictive. Plus, if it leaves you craving more, its Miles Morales-centric interquel is great too.

Like Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a Sony exclusive – sorry Xbox players. While you can enjoy Spider-Man Miles Morales as part of PS Plus, Spider-Man Remastered is sadly not on the service right now. You can pick it up digitally here though.

Best open world games: A Skyrim character wearing medieval armor walking through a village

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition

It’s been more than a decade, but the last mainline Elder Scrolls game still hasn’t let go of millions of players after three different console generations, several expansions, and thousands of user-made modifications. Its world is lively and deep like few others, and its accessible action RPG systems have eased countless casual players into checking out more role-playing titles. That’s no small feat.

In our humble opinion, what sets Skyrim apart from newer competitors is how detailed and interactive it is despite its massive scale. Bethesda Game Studios excels at this, and even the two Fallout games released after The Elder Scrolls V struggled to capture that same magic. Even if you’ve already played it for hundreds of hours, one little adventure ahead of Starfield might not hurt.

The Special Edition of Skyrim for PS5 and Xbox Series XS is currently available on PS Plus (Extra and Premium) and Game Pass, respectively.

Best open world games: A mysterious silhouetted figure walking through a dimly lit street

Fallout 4

Yes, we’ve just told you Fallout 4 didn’t match Skyrim’s greatness and eternal charm, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an amazing open-world game. It doesn’t pack the most memorable Fallout story, and some of its procedural quests are rather annoying, but Fallout 4 still offers the best open-world experience in the series and has plenty of creative systems that have shaped a good chunk of Starfield.

While Fallout 3 and New Vegas are more like open-world RPG adventures you want to play through every few years, Fallout 4 offers more of a post-apocalyptic life simulation on top of the usual quests, combat, and in-depth exploration we’ve come to expect from the talented folks at Bethesda. Preston Garvey will forever be annoying about outposts under attack, but building and expanding settlements in the middle of nowhere is really fun.

Just like Skyrim above, you can play Fallout 4 as part of your Xbox Game Pass, PS Plus Extra, or PS Plus Premium subscriptions. If you can’t tell already, those subscription services are rather good…

Best open world games: An armored knight performs a heavy slash attack on an enemy as sparks and blood fly

Elden Ring

There are many things that make Elden Ring special. It’s a culmination of everything that FromSoftware has done since the release of Demon’s Souls in 2009, but perhaps the most important aspect is how it broke the traditional Soulslike structure in a way that felt directly influenced by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

For the first time ever in a game of this subgenre, you could circumvent entire areas or get lost for dozens of hours before attempting to defeat that one tricky boss again.

Elden Ring is also the anti-modern open-world game in a way; its bigger scale didn’t come with a map filled to the brim with icons. In fact, the map is merely a guide that you’ll have to learn to navigate. There are entryways into massive optional areas where you least expect them, and its layered world holds many secrets often as memorable as the main adventure (which is mind-blowing). Don’t be scared by its difficulty; this is an odyssey worth embarking on. If you still don’t believe us, check out our Elden Ring review.

You can pick up Elden Ring digitally on Xbox here, or on PlayStation here. Alternatively, you can grab a physical copy below.

Best open world games: Link stands on a platfrom high in the sky and looks down on Hyrule through the clouds

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Breath of the Wild had been perceived as the modern gold standard of open-world design for years, but remarkably, Tears of the Kingdom improves in every way the impressive achievements of its predecessor. All the praise you’ve heard may sound hyperbolic, but we assure you it’s well-deserved – our Tears of the Kingdom review dishes out a rare 10/10 score from us. Could we safely say it’s among the best games of all time? Certainly.

You’ve probably seen countless videos of players crafting complicated contraptions and vehicles, but there’s so much more to Tears of the Kingdom. Its world is mesmerizing to explore, no matter which fork in the road you take; the story is richer; and the creativity behind its overall game design is simply stunning. We’ll be wondering for a good while about how the hell Nintendo EPD pulled this one off on aging Switch hardware.

While we’re mostly about Xbox and PlayStation here at The Loadout, we couldn’t not include Switch-exclusive TOTK in this list.

Best open world games: someone riding a horse through a picturesque wood as a deer appears from the trees

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It’s going to be a while before both the next all-new Witcher installment and the remake of Geralt of Rivia’s first adventure arrive, which means there’s plenty of time to replay (or experience for the first time) The Witcher 3.

It’s true that fellow open-world epic Cyberpunk 2077 has come a long way since its troubled launch, but the third Witcher game should be a top priority for anyone into videogames with huge worlds. It’s simply CD Projekt Red at its best.

While you may step into The Witcher 3 looking for an expansive fantasy world, we’re pretty sure the engaging story, memorable side quests, and charming cast of characters will make you stay in the long run. After a solid current-gen upgrade, there’s never been a better time to jump in. Be sure not to skip its two fantastic expansions either, please.

So those are our picks for the best open-world games. These are some of the best PS5 games, best Xbox Series X games, and best Switch games ever made, and will keep you engrossed for dozens (maybe even hundreds) of hours.