There are a lot of good open world games on PlayStation 4. The genre may not be universally praised these days, but a great open world game can really pull you into an experience like few other genres can. Typically boasting huge sandbox environments for you to explore, open world titles roared onto the mainstream scene during the last generation, and since then, they've been expanding, growing, and evolving thanks to more powerful hardware.

In truth, this is a difficult list to put together. 'Open world' is a very broad term -- now more than ever -- but we like to boil it down to its base meaning: 'open world' applies to any game where you're free to go off and do your own thing. You're not always tied down by a story or stage progression, and there's optional stuff to sink your teeth into.

As such, this list focuses on the open world aspect of each included game: how cohesive the open world is, how enjoyable it is to explore, and how it improves the overall experience.

Without further ado, here are the 20 best open world games currently available on PS4.

20: Dragon Quest Builders

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release date: 11th October, 2016 (NA), 14th October, 2016 (EU)

A great little action RPG, Dragon Quest Builders boasts multiple open worlds that are yours to explore, farm, and survive within. They're certainly not the most intricate environments on this list, but being a craft-'em-up, Builders lets you sculpt them to your liking. Whether you're dotting the colourful landscape with makeshift shelters or unearthing resources by digging deep into the earth, there's great fun to be had in making the land your own.

19: Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: Monolith Productions
Release date: 10th October, 2017

Made up of several open world areas, Middle-earth: Shadow of War uses these environments as backdrops for its superb Nemesis System. Truth be told, the locations themselves aren't all that impressive or even very interesting, but it's the way in which they house the many orcs of Mordor that makes them feel like living, breathing ecosystems. Shadow of War is a good example of a title that uses open world design in a fairly unique way. It's not the star of the show, but it's an important part of the overall package.

18: NieR: Automata

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Platinum Games
Release date: 7th March, 2017 (NA), 10th March, 2017 (EU)

You can’t play NieR Automata without feeling like there’s subtext in every facet of its design, and that expands to its open world, too. Whether it’s the monochromatic space station that serves as 2B and 9S’ base hub or the abandoned theme park that some machines have assumed as their home, the role-playing release’s sandbox plays a huge part in shaping your emotions throughout. This may not be the most elaborate setting on the PS4, but its visual variety and impact on the narrative make it standout.

17: Dragon Age: Inquisition

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare
Release date: 18th November, 2014 (NA), 21st November, 2014 (EU)

Dragon Age: Inquisition sees you travel to various open world environments as you look to right the wrongs of a troubled fantasy setting. Some tedious fetch quests can drag the overall experience down at times, but they don't take away from the game's stunning scenery and richly detailed locations. There are some truly wondrous sights to behold throughout Inquisition, and each area has its own unique feel and charm. Loads of secrets ensure that exploration is well rewarded, too.

16: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release date: 15th November, 2013 (NA), 29th November, 2013 (EU)

Stretching back to the launch of the PS4, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag still offers a unique open world to explore -- mainly because most of it is water. Taking to the seas as the captain of your very own pirate ship, Black Flag encourages you to pillage your way across the Caribbean, soaking its crystal waters with the blood of your enemies. A selection of lovingly crafted port towns are also on the agenda, should you get a bit seasick.

15: Dying Light

Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: Techland
Release date: 27th January, 2015

Unforgivably cliched story aside, Dying Light is a great option if you're looking for open world horror. With the city of Harran overrun with zombies, it's up to you and your first-person parkour skills to save the day. The game does a really good job of making its setting seem quite claustrophobic while also allowing for plenty of freedom, and the best part is that you can enjoy the vast majority of the adventure with up to three other players. Surviving together as a group of baseball bat-wielding free runners is fantastic fun.

14: Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release date: 7th March, 2017

Ghost Recon: Wildlands is like the mother of all cookie-cutter open world games, packed with map markers and approximately 12 billion things to collect. However, Ubisoft's squad-based shooter really shines when it comes to co-op play with up to three other people. Thanks to its truly gigantic and completely open map, there's always something for you and your buddies to do -- even if you're just looking to cause absolute chaos. With the right team at your back, Wildlands can be an absolute blast.

13: inFAMOUS: Second Son

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sucker Punch
Release date: 21st March, 2014

Seattle may be best known for being the birthplace of grunge, but there’s no such grime in inFAMOUS: Second Son’s glittery rendition of the Emerald City – apart from that which is supposed to be there. As one of the smaller sandboxes on the PS4, the drizzly urban environment has less scope to impress compared to the enormous alternatives also available on the console. But it succeeds in serving as a stellar playbox for protagonist Delsin Rowe’s powers, which see him sprinting up the Space Needle and gliding into China Town with ease.

12: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release date: 1st September, 2015

Metal Gear Solid V excels when it comes to player freedom -- freedom that's afforded by the game's open world structure. You can have Big Boss tackle missions however you want, with the wide open maps giving you reason to carefully consider your approach. And, when things don't quite go to plan, the open world can become a gloriously chaotic sandbox. In typical Metal Gear fashion, you can spend hours just playing around with enemies and the many gadgets at your disposal.

11: Final Fantasy XV

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release date: 29th November, 2016

Final Fantasy XV takes place in a lush open world that successful combines fantasy with reality, with roads weaving through monster-infested wilderness. It's an incredibly unique setting, and one that begs to be explored. A glamorous day and night cycle works wonders, too, and the fact that powerful creatures appear at night can give the game a surprisingly tense atmosphere. More than anything, though, it's the title's road trip theme that makes its open world really click, with Noctis and the gang adventuring by day before retiring to a cosy campsite to see out the darkness.

10: Yakuza 0

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Release date: 24th January, 2017

The red light district of Kamurocho certainly isn't as big as some of the other open worlds on this list, but its seductive atmosphere more than makes up for its size. Full of flashing lights and people looking for a good time, it's an engrossing slice of Japan -- albeit a virtual one. And when you're done walking the streets and soaking up the sights, a bunch of brilliant minigames are on hand to keep you entertained for as long as you like.

9: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release date: 3rd October, 2017

Gransys is a foreboding place -- a fantasy setting that has a dark and dangerous edge to it. Again, this is an open world that isn't as expansive as some, but it's utterly drenched in atmosphere. Brilliantly designed beasts roam the land, and the game does an amazing job of making even the blandest of tasks seem like an epic quest due to the potential danger that's involved. To top it all off, reanimated corpses and other horrors appear at night, when the light of your lantern illuminates only your immediate surroundings. Gripping stuff.

8: Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release date: 14th April, 2014

As an MMORPG, a huge, open map is somewhat expected of Final Fantasy XIV, but genre expectations don't make the world of Eorzea any less impressive. A diverse and beautifully designed land packed with adventure, it's no wonder so many players lose hundreds upon hundreds of hours to A Realm Reborn. Travelling from one side of the map to another on the back of your trusty chocobo really opens your eyes to just how much effort has been poured into each gorgeous location.

7: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release date: 28th October, 2016

Bethesda has crafted many an open world, but the frosty land of Skyrim is easily one of its most cohesive creations. From the vast plains of Whiterun to the autumnal forests of The Rift, Skyrim's still one of the most memorable open worlds to have ever graced PlayStation. Compared to more recent blockbusters, this 2011 release is starting to show its age when it comes to dynamic encounters and other details that we associate with the genre, but there's just something so magical about Tamriel's Northern province.

6: Watch Dogs 2

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release date: 15th November, 2016

If the original Watch Dogs’ dreary depiction of Chicago made for a fine but forgettable backdrop for Aiden Pearce’s hack-heavy adventure, then its sequel’s sunny San Francisco is the polar opposite. Much like Los Santos, the Golden City is practically bursting with life, and you can’t drive down a single street without spotting something worthy of snapping on your ctOS-connected smartphone. The colourful spirit of the urban location reflects the title’s uplifting freedom fighter fiction nicely, but Ubisoft’s sense of humour is what shines most brightly, as it pokes fun at practically all of ‘Frisco’s inhabitants.

5: Horizon: Zero Dawn

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release date: 28th February, 2017 (NA), 1st March, 2017 (EU)

While it may have a dearth of sprawling cities compared to its open world counterparts, Horizon: Zero Dawn fills its vast open plains with something much more unique: a vibrant ecosystem of blood-thirsty machines. In this post-post-apocalyptic adventure, emergent set-pieces lurk around every corner, as you journey between the greenery of the Nora lands through to the sun-baked sands that the Carja call home. Imaginative and rendered in obsessive detail, it’s not hard to immerse yourself in Guerrilla Games’ fantasy world.

4: Fallout 4

Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release date: 10th November, 2015

Who knew that post-apocalyptic Boston could offer so much fun? Boasting Bethesda's first current-gen open world, Fallout 4's greatest strength is its setting, which is intricately designed and stuffed with mutants. The devastated American state is dense and always intriguing -- there's something new and potentially deadly lurking around just about every corner, and it's topped off by settlements that are yours to build and expand upon, establishing small pockets of hope in what is otherwise a hellish wasteland. It's all beautifully bleak.

3: Grand Theft Auto V

Publisher: Rockstar
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release date: 18th November, 2014

Well, you knew this was going to be on here somewhere. Rockstar is a studio synonymous with open world titles, and with each new release, it seems to step its game up significantly. Grand Theft Auto V knocks it out of the park with Los Santos -- a varied and gorgeous setting that's bursting with life. It's an open world where you can stand in one spot for minutes at a time and just watch the game tick along as people go about their business. Even now, years after its original release, Grand Theft Auto V is so impressively dynamic.

2: Assassin's Creed Origins

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release date: 27th October, 2017

Ubisoft has achieved something truly special with Assassin's Creed Origins. Set in Egypt, the developer has crafted an utterly stunning open world -- one that boasts a frankly insane amount of detail for how colossal it is. From gloriously golden deserts to meticulously modelled ancient cities, this is Ubisoft's best open world work -- and that's saying a lot. Dynamic wildlife, encounters, and sandstorms make it all feel alive, and that's without even mentioning how good it looks. Simply put, Origins is a joy to be a part of.

1: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Publisher: Warner Bros. (NA), Bandai Namco (EU)
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Release date: 19th May, 2015

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt doesn't care all that much for clearing markers off maps and peppering itself with collectables -- and that's what makes it stand out from most other open world games. The title's dark fantasy setting is vast and stuffed with things to do, but everything feels like it has a purpose -- it's not just fluff or filler. Wild Hunt is rightfully praised for the depth of its side quests, and these tasks tie directly into the game's open world design, always giving you a real reason to journey across a land plagued by monsters and war. The Witcher 3 strikes a perfect balance between linear storytelling and open world exploration.


Are you a fan of open world games? What is it that you like about them? Be sure to vote for your favourite in our poll, and then get ready for adventure in the comments section below.

What's your favourite open world game on PS4? (112 votes)

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

2%

Assassin's Creed Origins

4%

Dragon Age: Inquisition

2%

Dragon's Dogma

1%

Dragon Quest Builders

1%

Dying Light

  0%

Fallout 4

7%

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn

  0%

Final Fantasy XV

3%

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

  0%

Grand Theft Auto V

8%

Horizon: Zero Dawn

27%

inFAMOUS: Second Son

2%

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

4%

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

  0%

NieR: Automata

4%

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition

4%

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

29%

Watch Dogs 2

  0%

Yakuza 0

3%

Other

2%

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