8 of the Best Open World RPGs
If you’re reading this now, then chances are good that you already think that open world games are awesome. That would make you right, by they way. One the reasons, in my opinion, that they are so great is that they fit in so nicely with other video game genres. It’s possible to find open world games across the entire spectrum. Perhaps the most represented, though, are open world RPGs (role-playing games).
As I’m sure you’re aware, RPGs are wildly popular in their own right. Like open world games, they have a tendency to run the gamut. Turn-based games like Final Fantasy, MMOs like World of Warcraft or even FPS games like Borderlands have role-playing elements in them. But, when coupled with an immersive open world, it can make for some engaging and exciting gameplay.
How popular are RPGs, you ask? Millions of copies of RPG games are sold every year! Also, with TV hitting a golden age, games such as The Witcher are becoming touted shows (The Witcher is based on a book as well).
Not all open world RPGs are created equal though, and there have been plenty of misfires over the years. We’ll just forget those exist and focus on the best of the best. Here’s a list of eight of the best ones (in my opinion, of course, and in no particular order).
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Even if you’re a casual gamer, you’ve heard of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The series has had its highs and lows, but Assassin’s Creed: Origins is definitely one of the highs.
Taking place in ancient Egypt, the game meshes a fictional story with real-world events, which turns out to be fairly historically accurate. The story and characters are solid and the visuals are absolutely incredible, even if the pacing is a bit off. The combat system has been overhauled from previous games (to much acclaim) and the world of Egypt is immersive and fun.
If you are a fan of Assassin’s Creed, or new to the series, Origins is a great game.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No RPG list would be complete without at least one Zelda game. The franchise is so good, you could probably make a top ten list complete with Zelda games. But, we are talking about open world games here, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild shines brightly in that arena.
It’s far more unstructured than previous games in the series, and rewards you for taking an unconventional, non-linear approach to the game. If you are into Zelda, and a fan of open world games, this one is clearly a no-brainer.
Who says RPGs have to be fantasy-themed? Okay, no one says that, but Fallout 4 successfully mashes together several genres to make an incredible game. Think of is as an open world, first-person shooter, role-playing game. Yeah, it covers a lot of bases.
The name more or less gives it away, but Fallout 4 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by a deadly nuclear war. Unlike the more pristine and clean landscapes of other games on this list, the open world of Fallout is much more dilapidated and damaged.
But, don’t let that steer you away! The game world is incredibly immersive and stunning in its own right. In my opinion, this game is the best in the Fallout series.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Quick disclaimer, this is most likely my favorite game on this list. Imagine if Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim had a baby. What would that look like? I submit that it would look a lot like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt.
There’s no shortage of things to love about this game. In the game, you are Geralt of Rivia, a monster-slayer for hire who is searching for his adoptive daughter (she herself is being pursued by the Wild Hunt). Along the way, you will have a huge and beautiful open world to explore and side quests to complete. The characters are strong, the storylines are strong (even the side ones), and the gameplay is fun and exciting.
Honestly, if you haven’t played this game, you need to do yourself a favor and give it a try. Then you’ll see what I’m raving about. It really is one of the best open world RPGs out there.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Seeing an Elder Scrolls game on here can’t be a surprise, right? It’s hard to find a bad thing to say about the series (with minor exceptions perhaps) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is no exception.
The game takes place during a civil war and the return of dragons to Skyrim. Your character (which you are able to customize and create, by the way) is a Dragonborn, a human with the soul of a dragon. Because you can speak with the voice of dragons, it is up to you to stop the dragons from ravaging Skyrim.
Chock-full of lore, side quests and interesting (and stunning) places to visit, Skyrim is as solid an open world game as you can hope for. Trust me, it’s good.
Ok, I’m going to stretch the definition of open world so that I can include Borderlands 3 on this list. Actually, it’s not all that much of a stretch. Although exploration isn’t a focal point of the gameplay, the game does have a large open world (spread across several planets) with main and side quests to complete in any order you’d like.
Just like in previous Borderlands games, you are a vault hunter and you can choose from several different classes of characters. Specifically, in this game you are searching for the “Great Vault” are you must find it before the psychotic (doesn’t that apply to ALL characters in Borderlands?) Calypso twins who are the figureheads of a violent cult. There is plenty of mayhem and destruction to be had and over one billion (that’s not a typo) guns out there for the taking.
If you want a break from the fantasy-themed RPG, and you want an FPS open world RPG, give Borderlands 3 a try and never look back.
Final Fantasy XV
I already said this about Zelda, but honestly, no RPG list would be complete without a Final Fantasy game as well. Final Fantasy XV has been given the label of the first Final Fantasy game to be open world. The arguable depending on who you ask, but it definitely belongs on this list.
The game takes place on the world of Eos, you control Prince Noctis and true to Final Fantasy form, you are accompanied by several companions. You must reclaim your kingdom after the Niflheim empire invades and steals a powerful Crystal.
The open world of Final Fantasy XV is huge and you can explore it in a variety of ways including vehicles and, of course, chocobos. This game is a great continuation to the series.
Horizon Zero Dawn
If you are thinking that Horizon Zero Dawn is just another fantasy-themed RPG, think again. When you first begin the game, you can easily think that. But, you’ll soon realize that instead of mythical creatures and medieval setting, the game is actually set in the future in a world dominated by robots!
You play as Aloy, a hunter who was cast out of her tribe as a child. Through a series of events (avoiding spoliers) you find that cultists have gained control over corrupted robots and that the Earth was nearly destroyed nearly 1,000 years ago. Humans were far more advanced in the past, and you set out to find out what happened to the “Old Ones”.
The open world of Horizon Zero Dawn is really varied and the gameplay is unique and fun. Only downside is that it’s exclusive to Playstation 4, so if you don’t have one, get one or you’re out of luck. Still, it’s one of the better open world RPGs, so it may be worth it.