The 15 Best Open World Steam Games

Image credit: CD Projekt RED

Open world games can be an exciting addition to any gamer’s library, but with a large number of options available, it can be hard to tell which ones are worth purchasing.

Those broad areas in these titles allow players to immerse themselves in the game’s world, leading to hours of exploration and enjoyment that often revolve around walking around and seeing how far an area goes.

There are hundreds of open-world games available on Steam, with new ones added every day. It can be hard to determine which ones are worth your time and money, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for in an open-world game.

For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of the best open-world games that can be played on Steam, from RPGs to strategy to horror games. Some of these even have multiplayer options, so you and your friends can team up to explore these massive worlds together!

The problem with Steam is that it features so many different types of games and genres that it can be hard to choose the right game for you at the moment you’re in the mood to play it. So what do you do? I guess you check my list with the best open-world steam games!

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV is one of few MMORPGs that has kept me playing for more than a couple of weeks, most likely because it is also one of the best story-rich games on Steam.

I’m not fond of MMORPGs, but I do love Final Fantasy titles, especially when they allow me to enjoy the world the way FFXIV does. When it comes to the art of this game, I love almost everything that’s in it, from its visuals to its musical score.

The large open world and fantastic storyline are enough to keep me going, but there’s so much more. If you like MMORPGs, I believe you will enjoy this game much more than I did. There’s a lot to be done here, from crafting to raiding, that I was not particularly interested in.

The open world of Final Fantasy XIV has some soft locks. You can go anywhere in the world, but some areas are connected by a load screen, while others might have monsters that will one-hit kill you. Still, you do have the freedom to walk around; you just have to deal with what is thrown at you.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar has crafted one of the most immersive and vibrant open-world games to date. If you’re a fan of Westerns or just an avid gamer looking for a deep story, RDR2 is sure to please.

With countless details in every environment and memorable characters, it’s easy to get lost in Red Dead Redemption 2’s world. Maybe that’s the reason it is frequently referred to as “Grand Theft Auto in the wild west.”

This game features a massive, beautiful map with a lot of content to explore and a lot of fun things to do. Gameplay is tight and smooth, with tons of guns and mechanics that I didn’t expect to be in the game.

The triple-A graphics make each environment feel vibrant and unique. It’s easy to get lost in gameplay for hours at a time. This game is a must-play for fans of Westerns and open-world games.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, commonly referred to as GTA V, is an open-world action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, but you already know that. After all, that’s one of the most popular franchises of all time.

The single-player story follows three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency. Players may play as one of three characters: Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips, or Franklin Clinton—all of whom feature different appearances and personalities.

GTA V is by far one of the best sandbox games on Steam and possibly the most well-known open-world sandbox games ever. We have all played a game of the franchise without ever completing any missions. In fact, when I was younger, I didn’t even know that one could actually finish GTA.

The open-world allows players to explore the city by either foot or to use vehicles to cause mayhem around town; there are also many other activities you can take part in, like taking part in races, climbing mountains, or hunting down collectibles.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 takes place in an open world where you’re free to do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want it. That, and being graphically superior to the other games of the franchise, makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt a fantastic RPG for you to try out.

The game features a main story as well as several side quests. Still, your overall experience can also be impacted by how you choose to interact with non-player characters and what choices you make during dialogue.

There are even moments where combat is entirely optional, allowing players to complete objectives using non-violent means if they wish. If there was ever a perfect example of an open-world game done right, The Witcher 3 is it. Well worth playing, even if traditional fantasy isn’t your cup of tea.

If you do decide to solve things in violent ways, the combat is super fun in this game. In the end, witchers will always have to deal with monsters at some point. Still, you get to guide how most of your experience will be by choosing when and how to tackle the game and the plot.

Mad Max

Mad Max is one hell of an exciting drive and one I’ve had more fun than I’d ever expected from such a game. Most games that are tied to movies tend to be not so good, but this is not the case here at all. Plus, if nothing else, the game gives you an excuse to watch all the movies again.

The free-roaming in Mad Max is superb. There are missions with specific goals attached, making traversing through many of these open landscapes easier, but there’s a whole open world to explore.

Although many people might call it a GTA clone, Mad Max feels extremely fresh for me because of how authentic it is. There’s also a focus on vehicular combat, vehicle building, and exploration that gives this game a distinct feel.

I absolutely loved traveling across post-apocalyptic Australia while completing quests as I leveled up my character alongside upgrades to my car. The fact I was able to enjoy traveling through the deserted lands was pleasantly surprising, and it motivated me to drive around and finish all side quests I could.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is a unique gem, but it wasn’t always the awesome game that it is today. It had various technical glitches and slow loading times. Most importantly, however, it wasn’t fun enough for some gamers at launch.

It felt empty for many players even if they saw planet after planet with alien life forms populating them. Thankfully, the developers took all that money made from the initial release and worked to launch several free updates, turning No Man’s Sky into one of the richest open-world sandbox experiences in a sci-fi game. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the best sci-fi game of the genre.

You play as a visitor in a vast galaxy with 18 quintillion planets to explore, creatures to encounter, and things to see. In No Man’s Sky, you can do whatever you want, and it’s up to you how exactly you’ll play.

Will you be a fighter, preying on the weak and taking their riches? A trader? An explorer? Or something else entirely? Since there is no such thing as an optimal way to play this game, just find whatever seems fun and do it. Experience everything science fiction has imagined in a single, incredible universe with endless possibilities.

Fallout 4

In Fallout 4, players will experience a new open-world game set in post-apocalyptic Boston. The player is free to explore anytime they want on their own terms.

Fallout 4 allows you to create your own character and complete quests without being confined to specific locations, allowing you to roam around and explore the gigantic map in any way you want.

You can build your settlements in many different areas, allowing you to fortify your home base as enemies roam outside its walls. On top of all that, you can become someone who uses high-tech weapons and technology or go low-tech with baseball bats and knives.

There’s a noticeable sandbox element to Fallout, which only makes it much more fun. On top of that, you get the usual Fallout experience with a well-written plot, fully fleshed NPCs, many different choices when handling a situation, and so much more.

Valheim

Valheim is an open-world survival game that can be played cooperatively with up to 10 players sharing the same world.

You play as a hero taken to Valheim by the Valkyries, the 10th Norse world. Your mission is simple, survive and kill Odin’s old rivals to bring back order to the world where you currently reside.

The world is procedurally generated, so no experience is entirely equal in Valheim. There are many different kinds of enemies, builds, biomes, and things to build. In fact, the crafting system is incredibly robust.

The combat system is very punitive, making you manage your stamina, block, and dodge carefully if you want to live. The sandbox part of the game is certainly one of its most essential features.

Valheim uses pixelated textures on 3D models, granting it a distinct visual identity that does not demand a powerful computer. If survival games and Vikings are two things you like, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this title.

New World

New World has a new take on fantasy RPGs. It has players explore a mystical island where you and others that were in the same expedition crew must make settlements and survive.

Unlike many games of its kind, it drops the point-and-click battles in favor of a more action-oriented combat system. Make no mistake, though; there’s still plenty of strategy and teamwork involved in keeping your party alive during dungeon crawls.

In addition to taking down powerful enemies with well-timed attacks and healing spells, you’ll need to carefully manage your inventory since there’s a limit to what you can store and carry.

Crafting in this game is essential, and the ingredients you need might be scattered around the world. Traversal can be a bit harsh, there are no mounts in this game, but it is entertaining to explore new areas and discover good spots to farm items, mine, and harvest resources when you are getting to know the world.

New World has indeed had many issues since its release, but it can still be a good game if you look past them. If you like games with adventure and where battles are more action-oriented than clicking away in menus, then it might be worth trying. I didn’t spend that much time in New World, but it is a relatively cheap game, so I got my money’s worth.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is undoubtedly one of 2017’s best games due to tight third-person battles and its vast open-world regions. Offering a gigantic open world full of things to do and explore, fans will have hours upon hours of gameplay from start to finish.

Players take on control of Talion and Celebrimbor as they conquer over 50 fortresses across Mordor. The gameplay is a significant improvement over 2014’s Shadow of Mordor, offering more variety in its approach to combat, missions, and side quests.

It has all of what made Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor great while improving nearly every aspect in significant ways; while it lacks innovation or bold new ideas, it executes the old ones very well.

Filled with fantastic visuals and an incredibly immersive story that goes beyond its predecessor makes for one heck of an experience for anyone who enjoys action open-world games and, of course, Lord of the Rings.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is one of the best open-world games of 2013 and one of the best open-world games you’ll find on Steam. This fantastic title set in Hong Kong tells an excellent crime story and lets you play as an undercover cop, Wei Shen, tasked with bringing down Chinese Triads.

It is hard not to compare this game to GTA, but Sleeping Dogs has some of its own unique mechanics, like martial arts fighting styles that force you to approach enemies strategically instead of shooting them all willy-nilly. In fact, the combat system is great fun and a refreshing experience, mostly because it’s so different from what we typically expect from similar games of the genre.

Also worth noting: Sleeping Dogs was developed by Activision subsidiary Beenox, who are behind other well-received open-world games like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time. So if you are looking for something familiar but different, Sleeping Dogs is probably a good title to try out.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim needs no introduction. This is one of the most known games in the world. Skyrim earned its reputation through excellence and memes, and its fame doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

For all intents and purposes, the game is what many gamers call a masterpiece. Although I wouldn’t go that far, there is a reason so many people love this game and keep replaying it. This single-player open-world RPG gives you control of a customized character as they explore a massive map filled with quests, monsters to fight, and secrets to uncover.

Skyrim is also a sandbox, so you can roam around and do a bunch of things on your own, taking forever to finish the game. The main story might not be that long, but if you look for things to do and side quests to complete, you will find out how big the world of The Elder Scrolls V is.

There are plenty of other systems at play here too. They will have you hooked for hundreds of hours, losing yourself in all that Skyrim has to offer. In other words, if you like western RPGs, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an absolute must-have title.

If you haven’t played it yet and are thinking about buying it, the Special Edition has updated graphics that make you even more immersed in this game’s fantastic world.

Death Stranding

No other open-world game from 2018 captured my attention quite like Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. Death Stranding blends stealth-action with traditional action and survival horror elements with an overarching feeling akin to Metal Gear Solid 2.

This is a title that unquestionably feels like a Kojima game due to its high level of polish in both graphics and gameplay coupled with an oddball narrative direction. While it wasn’t perfect, there is so much to enjoy when you’re exploring its open world that it’s hard not to recommend this title.

The one thing that is impossible to deny about Death Stranding is how different the game feels—incorporating aspects of so many different genres while adding a horror twist and Kojima’s storytelling style makes Death Stranding, at the very least, a remarkable experience.

In many ways, it felt new and fresh due to how weird it was for a AAA game. Even if you don’t like it, you must admire the courage of making something bold and unusual.

In an industry where everything is micromanaged to please as many people as possible, Kojima Productions has boldly created a strikingly unique IP, unlike pretty much anything else on Steam right now. It may not appeal to everyone, but those willing to invest in learning its intricacies will find some gratifying moments and one of the weirdest and most well-written video game plots out there.

Dark Souls

Before Dark Souls, From Software’s fantasy games were known for their intricate combat systems, and Dark Souls is no different. The lore is as dense as the game’s difficulty, but the gameplay is front and center.

Like Demon’s Souls before it, the game allows players to explore a world interconnected by a central hub. However, unlike FromSoftware’s previous game, Dark Souls has a physical spot that leads to many different regions instead of a single area with many portals.

Many of those areas are interconnected, causing players to sometimes seamlessly walk in circles and find shortcuts that they didn’t even know about. Once they reach a certain point in the game, players who want to really get into the heart of it all can use campfires scattered throughout the world to save their progress and fast-travel around the map.

The interconnected map and the tough-but-fair combat are two of the most significant elements in Dark Souls, setting the bar really high for any action RPGs that came after it. This alone makes it one of my favorite open-world games ever made.

This game is so iconic that it created a genre called souls-like. Nioh, one of the best loot games on steam, is a great game that only exists because of Dark Souls.

Even though it is not a traditional open-world game like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V, the world of Dark Souls doesn’t prevent you from going anywhere as long as you can open the doors and survive the enemies.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action role-playing game set in a dark future from CD Projekt Red, creators of The Witcher series.

This game is a deep, single-player experience. Although it did have its problems during launch, the price drops combined with the patches make it worth playing, in my honest opinion.

In Cyberpunk 2077, you play as V, a character you create, and explore Night City from a first-person perspective. Each person you meet has their own motivations and will react to your actions in different ways, making the world feel really alive.

There are multiple side quests, characters can be affected by your decisions, and the way you play can change how a quest ends. On top of all that, there’s also the main quest line with many different outcomes. This is a game with a lot of replayability with a fantastic representation of Night City, which is pure bliss to fans of the old tabletop Cyberpunk RPG like myself.

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