Open-world games have been fairly common in recent years. The freedom to explore worlds and tackle challenges as you see fit is a big draw for gamers. These eight games are great examples of the genre.


Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV offers up a world that makes fun of pretty much everything, and then adds super powers to the mix. It’s not only goofy, but it’s fun. You can outrun a car, jump over tall buildings, and collect a bunch of crazy weapons, including one that lets you inflate you enemies until they explode, or the Dubstep gun that that makes them dance themselves to death. You could probably put Saints Row the Third here as well, because they’re both great.


Fallout New Vegas

You might like one of the other Fallout games more, but for my money, Fallout: New Vegas is the best of them. The game kicks off with you getting shot in the head, and you’ll spend the rest of your time finding out who did it, why they did it, and how you’re going to take your revenge. Not only can you wander the wastelands of Arizona, California, and Nevada, you find all sorts of things to do there. If you’re bored, hardcore mode makes water, sleep, and food extremely important, adding another layer of challenge to the game.


Just Cause 2

While some people may argue for the third game in the series to be included here, Just Cause 2 was one of the most empowering open world games to come along in a long time. There’s a huge world to explore, and thanks to main character Rico’s grappling hook and parachute, you can get to every inch of it. Even better, you can blow pretty much everything you find to smithereens.


Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the area around the Chernobyl Power Plant, Stalker lets you do it. As an amnesiac “Stalker” known as The Marked One, you’ll spend your time exploring “The Zone,” collecting artifacts. You’ll encounter mutations ranging from strange plants to deadly monsters to mutated humans. As a plus, you’ll get the chance to cure you radiation poisoning by drinking copious amounts of vodka.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim may be the most discussed game in history. It’s been released across two generations of consoles, and there are tens of thousands of mods available for it. You’ll travel the world of Skyrim, discovering everything from dragons to giants to tombs and more. It’s such a big deal in gaming that it’s spawned memes that continue to be used today.


Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar’s take on the Wild West managed to create a world that felt alive, but left enough open space to make the setting feel believable. John Marston was a well-crafted protagonist that was trying to escape a life of crime but couldn’t get away from his past. You’ll go from a shootout to a poker game to riding your horse through a gorgeous desert setting. With Red Dead Redemption 2 coming in the spring of next year, it’s time to check out the original now.


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

CD Projekt Red’s penultimate game in The Witcher series won hundreds of awards, including a number of Game of the Year awards. It offered a massive open world filled with things to do. There were hours of story quests to enjoy, and actual, meaningful side quests that had stories of their own. Add in the two large expansions full of interesting things to do, and you’ve got one of the great open world games of all time.


Grand Theft Auto 5

There are open-world games that sell well, and then there’s Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s shipped 80 million copies since it released in 2013. It put you in control of three unique characters: Michael, the mobbed-up middle-aged guy; Franklin, the former gang-banger looking to make it big; and Trevor Philips, the somewhat psychotic criminal that teams up with the other two protagonists. The city of Los Santos and the countryside of San Andreas give a huge playground for you to explore, and you seem to always be able to play one more things to do.


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