Open world games can be massive. We have seen games like Grand Theft Auto V and Cyberpunk 2077 span over 80 and 100 square kilometers respectively in recent years. However, those are among the smallest worlds in the games released on the market. Game developers have pushed the current and last-gen consoles to their limits with games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, which virtually includes the entire Earth as its map. Open worlds have come a long way since their inception in the late 1990s and became one of the most expensive and ambitious genres today. This article includes the top 10 biggest open worlds in recent years, more precisely, the last three.
10. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
Map size: 75.1 square kilometers (29 square miles)
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the biggest project Rockstar Games ever undertook. When the game came out, Rockstar said that RDR 2 is the largest video game open world they have ever made. While that is not quite the case as Grand Theft Auto V is slightly bigger at 75.8 square kilometers, the world of the late 1890s does feel much larger. This is partly because players spend most of their time traveling on the back of a horse. This is unlike the hypercars players get in Grand Theft Auto V. Also, the roads in RDR 2 are quite winding and complex, which makes it a lot harder to get from point A to point B.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is so huge because it includes parts of the original Red Dead Redemption. Thus, it is pretty much two game worlds stuck together, with the Mexico part of the original map left out. Red Dead 2 takes place in five virtual states, each with its set of vegetation, weather, look, and feel. The first of five states is New Austin, where the first chapter of the original game takes place. Next, there is the dusty western Elizabeth that contains the cities of Blackwater and some flat and rolling plains.
After that, we have New Hanover, which is a grassy area with some rolling hills. Lemoyne, a South American state, follows closely and doubles as the smallest state in the game. The state boasts several alligators, swamps, and a special characteristic: heart-melting heat. Lemoyne is also home to Saint Dennis, the largest in-game city. Finally, we have Amberino, which is set at the highest elevation and filled with snowy mountains.
Each of these states has its variety. The immense visual detail, dense vegetation, and unpredictable geography make Red Dead Redemption 2 a gigantic game to explore. On top of that, fast travel is limited. Thus, most of the travel has to be done on foot or while riding a horse, which makes the game feel larger than it truly is.
9. Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)
Map size: 106 square kilometers (40.9 square miles)
Cyberpunk 2077 was pitched as the game of the decade. Although bugs and overhype killed the game, it looks fantastic and truly next-gen. CD Projekt Red upped their game with the high-res textures, a dense game world, and a sprawling urban scenery of Night City. While the map of Night City and its outskirts is slightly smaller than that of Witcher 3, most of the buildings in the game can be explored. This makes the game feel even larger than CDPR’s award-winning title from 2015.
However, despite being bigger than RDR2 in reality, the game feels a bit smaller while playing. It is because players get fancy high-speed sci-fi cars to roll around with. Also, fast travel is well-made and most of the game takes place within Night City. Thankfully, the whole city does not look uniform — there is a lot of variety in different areas. However, it is not as varied as RDR 2 and does not feel like one of the biggest open worlds in the past few years, although it is.
Night City is based in Los Angeles. You have the sloping Hollywood Hills, which the game calls Heywood. Then there is the City Center area with the Corpo Plaza and the Downtown and sub-districts like North Oak and Charter Hill in Westbrook. It has everything you would expect to see in Los Angeles, just a tad more sci-fi and high-tech.
8. Forza Horizon 5 (2021)
Map size: 107 square kilometers (41.3 square miles)
Forza Horizon 5 is the first racing game in this series, and it is massive. Playground Games’ latest festival takes us to Mexico. Although this title lacks the periodic season change like its predecessor, it has eleven distinct biomes built within. They will take you from the deserts of Baja California to the forests and dense jungles of Gran Pantiano and the volcanic crater named La Gran Caldera.
Forza is one of the few video game series that gets better with every successive iteration, and this one is no exception. The game includes some ground-breaking features like dynamic weather conditions, smooth season cycles, real-world locations like ancient Mayan ruins and Guanajuato, and one of the most detailed maps ever seen in modern video games. The tremendous attention to detail throughout the 107 square kilometers is utter proof of how much work Playground has put into making Forza Horizon 5 their best game ever.
Forza Horizon is an arcade-like racing experience. However, the veteran Forza Horizon fans come back for the iconic settings, the overall vibe, and the awesome music this series is famous for.
7. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (2020)
Map size: 140 square kilometers (54 square miles)
Assassin’s Creed games have grown a lot bigger since Ubisoft turned it into an RPG series, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s map is no exception. It is huge and even bigger than what it looked like at first. The game does not have the entire map of England but involves a large chunk of the southeastern part of the island. That does not mean the game world feels any smaller. The game showcases the included part of the map on a very realistic scale, unlike previous games.
Despite this, things are massively scaled down because the world does not just include a small portion of England. It includes parts of Norway and two mythical locations as well. These include Asgard and Jotunheim. On top of all these, the game also includes Finland (the American continent). This area opens up for players down the road as the story develops.
The game is huge, and it is both visually impressive and includes a decent amount of visual variety. A lot of England looks repetitive, but, from the cliffs of Dover to the autumn forests to Lincolnshire, the game’s world is truly dynamic. Valhalla also comes with easy fast travel, but the game does need you to travel from one area to another during gameplay.
6. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)
Map size: 234.9 square kilometers (90.7 square miles)
Although Valhalla may be more ambitious than Odyssey, the former could not beat the latter in map sizes. That makes sense. Valhalla’s setting and the story did not require a larger map. However, Odyssey is the largest that we will have for quite some time. The nearly annual series is taking a turn as Ubisoft recently announced that they were working on a live-service-based title as the next game of the series, and it would allegedly be called “Assassin’s Creed Infinite”.
We have no set release date for this game, but considering it is in early development, it will easily take Ubisoft another 2-3 years. Until then, Odyssey might boast the title of having the largest map in any Assassin’s Creed game.
This huge map is justifiable, as Odyssey includes the entire country of Greece. It has all the major settlements of Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and more. The map consists of many rolling plains, towering mountains, and dense urban cities and villages. The scale is impressive despite packing so much, too. The fact that you can climb mountains and see all of these plains, cities, and landmarks from far away is extremely impressive. It goes to show how much work Ubisoft has put into this game.
Players might argue that the ancient Greece-based map might not deserve this position, as the majority of the map is water. Yet, Odyssey happens as much on land as on water. Ubisoft takes a Black Flag-like approach for the missions of this game, and thus, water is as important as land. This does make the world feel kind of empty, unfortunately. There are miles of water between the major hotspots. Also, the grasslands and cliffs feel repetitive, and they may not be as impressive and varied as any other open world.
5. Just Cause 4 (2018)
Map size: 1,024 square kilometers (395.2 square miles)
It is a shame that the 5th entry on this list is 300 square miles bigger than the last. This showcases how ambitious game development can be. Just Cause games have been historically known to boast maps of 1000+ square kilometers in size, and the latest entry in the series, Just Cause 4, is no exception to the trend. Set in a fictional South American country called Solis, Just Cause 4 brings a sprawling and massive open-world, considered to be one of the largest in sandbox-style open-world titles.
Unfortunately, the massive world does not set Solis apart from the competition. It is the unique movement style Rico can perform within the map that does the trick. Players can go from skydiving to grappling within seconds. These adrenaline-filled moves make the dense open world feel more alive, as a single misplaced grapple can cost Rico his life.
Solis is divided into four zones with different climate and weather conditions. You get jungles in the east, plains in the south, deserts in the west, and massive snowy mountains in the center. The map feels empty, but that is the style of these games. It is a relatively small capital area, with lots of military bases and an open country. Despite the fact there is a ton of stuff to discover, it is not the best game you will come across. It is the best at what it is made for, though, which is fast-paced movement in a wide sandbox open-world.
Map size: 2,022.8 square kilometers (781 square miles)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a prime example of “bigger does not mean better”. It sports the island of Aurora, which spans much more than Bolivia from Ghost Recon Wildlands. The latter consists of around 170 square miles. The game requires you to fight against a class of mercenaries who have taken over the island.
One look at the map might reveal that there isn’t a lot of variety in the world. This ends up being true. There are no separate biomes with various climates to explore. Nonetheless, the fact Aurora is an island inhabited by a tech company makes the world stand out. If you are an explorer, you will love traversing this huge world and exploring the several cool structures scattered around the map. The developers put a lot of work into making these structures stand out, and it shows.
Also, a massive chunk of the open world is inaccessible water. While there has been no actual word from the developers as to how much area we are missing out on, the actual area is way smaller than what was advertised. It is still bigger than what Wildlands had to offer, but not that big, considering the entries below.
3. The Crew 2 (2018)
Map size: 5,000-7,000 square kilometers (1,931-2,703 square miles)
The Crew 2 is the second car racing game on this list, and it is an ambitious title. Its map is a massively scaled-down version of the United States. Considering how big the US is, even a scaled-down version is enormous.
The game is an amusement park version of the United States, and it has every major landmark, starting from the Statue of Liberty in New York City to the Los Angeles Observatory. The landmarks have been significantly modified to make driving around them more enjoyable. The scale of the game is noticeable during the gameplay, as a Trans-America journey would only last you slightly over an hour.
What sets The Crew 2 apart from its predecessor is that it adds off-road vehicles and planes. It makes more sense to do much more in such a huge open-world other than just driving around. However, the open world is void of things to do inside it. Visiting American landmarks is a huge thing to do in itself, and will require some time. Other than that, the game world kind of makes you feel like a daily American commuter.
2. Atlas (2018)
Map size: 45,000 square kilometers (17,300 square miles)
Atlas is a game that no one remembers to date. There was a lot of hype around this survival game. Unfortunately, it quickly died thanks to the “awesome” trailer they showed before launch. However, the game isn’t anything like the trailer. It is a huge world with very little to do but tediously craft stuff and apply the basics of survival.
Although its map is among the biggest ever created in the history of video games, much of it is just a collection of bodies of water and empty islands. However, not the entire map is like that. There are a few landmarks to explore, but most players do not survive long enough to explore any island other than the one they spawn in. Also, players spend most of their in-game time creating stuff and staying alive, not traveling.
1. Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)
Map size: 510.1 million square kilometers (196.9 million square miles)
Microsoft Flight is the first “open-world”, pun intended. It is the entire map of the planet Earth jumbled into a video game. The game uses Bing Maps, so some weird things are going on, as they are with Bing Maps itself. Luckily, there are no scale constraints in the game — it is our planet, just virtual. It would take you the same amount of time to take a flight in the real world as it does inside the game.
The game is a technological marvel. You can land at any point in the world and even fly past your house, no matter how remote it is. The game also streams real-time weather conditions, which undoubtedly takes the gameplay to the next level. You can’t do anything other than fly your plane, although this is expected — it’s a flight simulator, after all. Also, the game has a steep learning curve, so it takes quite a while to master it.
Flight Simulator is one of the most remarkable achievements of modern video game engineering, and the majority of the world is streamed to your PC rather than rendered on your hardware. Microsoft uses its Azure service to achieve this alongside dynamic real-time whether streaming. Despite this, the game requires high-end hardware to run smoothly at 60 fps.
That was the list of the largest video game open worlds ever created in the last three years. As you can see, developers are pushing the current-gen hardware to its limits with newer titles. We can’t wait for the upcoming massive game worlds developers are going to create!