The biggest open worlds in gaming

The Witcher 3 World

There is nothing worse than playing an open world game and as soon as you think you are on an endless journey into the vast distance a siren screams and you see the dreaded words “turn back” or “out of bounds”.

Those words are heartache to every gamer out there as you can literally taste the other side of the lake but the game’s engine limits you to going to see it for yourself.

Luckily there are games that do not limit us to where we walk and give us freedom across multiple lands and locations. Some of these are big, others are nigh immeasurable. Here are the games that had the biggest open worlds that they never let us down with a “turn back” sign, not ever.

Just in case these numbers get lost somewhere:

1 km2 is equal to:

  • 1,000,000 square metres (m2)
  • 100 hectares (ha)

Minecraft – 4,000,000,000 km2

To think that Earth is 500 million square kilometres kind of makes it looks like one of those tiny gardens at the back of those overpriced apartments in Sandton when comparing it to Minecraft.

I personally had no idea there was an end to Minecraft but it seems that there is. You just need to travel what would be a couple of thousand Earths to get there.

Minecraft


The Crew – 1,900 km2

The Crew changed the way we looked at open world racing games when it became a replica of the United States of America. The game is the entire country mapped into one huge open world.

There is nothing as real as a road trip across the US in The Crew as it is basically the closest you will get to do it in your lifetime unless you get the urge to pack up and leave for a month as you hit the open road.

The Crew


Just Cause 3 – 1,036 km2

Just Cause is a lot of space filled with a lot of water. Sure, it might not be the most densely populated open world in gaming, but it has beaches and pretty ocean water — and I can always respect a game that has great water in it.

Medici makes up a series of giant islands scattered across the sea with various ecosystems and places to explore. It hits just over 1000 square kilometres and is impressive for an open world game. I still wonder how there can be a frozen mountain, a desert, and a tropical island all in one place, but it is a video game so no judging.

Just cause 3


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands – 400 km2

Talking about ecosystems, Ghost Recon Wildlands has its own unique world map that packs over 10 unique ecosystems into the game.

Every region is different and offers a unique way to play the game. It also matters that Wildlands has one of the most gorgeous open worlds in gaming and playing through the game is filled with eye candy. It is 400 square kilometres of HDR beauty all wrapped up in a stunning real-time lighting system with dynamic weather.

Ghost Recon Wildlands


GTA V – 80 km2

While Red Dead Redemption 2’s open world size is still a mystery to us, at least we can throw some GTA into this list. GTA V was the biggest in the series, coming in at 80 square kilometres. This was pretty impressive given that it packed a mountain area, the beach of Los Santos, and even the dry wasteland where old Trevor comes from.

GTA V also felt alive as the world around you moved, the people spoke the biggest load of rubbish, and the weather and lighting system brought every inch of it to life. Red Dead Redemption 2 will probably push the envelope even more (without the cars and snobbish celebs though).

GTA V


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It was the first time that Nintendo ever created an open world as ambitious as Breath of the Wild, and it showed that Nintendo truly can do anything. Every region was unique, and with the game’s survival aspects it was the most engaging world we explored with Link to date.

The world itself was brought to life with a unique cel shaded art style, beautiful sound design, and let us not forget the day/night cycle that impacted various gameplay elements, including the temperature in the world.

It was big, it was Zelda, and we loved it.

The Legend of Zelda


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Considering how early The Witcher 3 released it still holds its own as one of the most beautiful games this generation, mainly thanks to its open world. Every corner of the game was handcrafted to perfection with different regions hosting a range of monsters that lived and belonged in the world around you.

It was not as big as others on this list, but it felt dense and alive at every turn. There was no doubt much love put into it and it goes to show that size does not always matter.

The Witcher 3

Did you think these were actually that big? Let us know in the comments and forum.


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The biggest open worlds in gaming

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