Open-world games are the best genre of video games and are specifically built to induce a sense of awe and immersion in players that no other entertainment media can even think of to match.
We have compiled a list of some great open worlds worth experiencing this year that players might have overlooked in the past or are worth revisiting just because of their sheer quality. These are some of the best games that the genre has to offer in terms of world-building, player freedom, and above all, gameplay mechanics.
So without further ado, here are five open-world games that players should revisit in 2022.
1) Days Gone
Bend Studios' first foray into the open-world genre with Days Gone did not go quite as smoothly as the developers might have expected. The game, albeit with its quality open-world design and stellar narrative, was subject to massive criticism, mostly due to technical polish or lack thereof.
Days Gone is the story of one Decon Saint John, a former military veteran turned enforcer in a local motorcycle club in Oregon. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where most human populations have either settled into makeshift camps or have turned into zombie-like creatures called Freakers.
Days Gone at surface level is just like any other open-world zombie shooter with tacked-on survival elements like crafting and scavenging.
What makes it stand out amongst the saturated zombie-shooter crowd is its very personal story and amazingly written characters. The game is very much about Deacon and him coping with the loss of his wife, Sarah, during the zombie outbreak.
The story sees Deacon move from camp to camp either in search of information on his presumably dead wife or for other plot-related reasons. Deacon's most trusted companion throughout his journey is his drifter bike that players can upgrade and customise, though customisation is limited to just body work and paint.
Gameplay here is the same mix of stealth, action and survival loop, just like any other open-world zombie game. Players have an arsenal of weapons ranging from machineguns, sub-machineguns, and snipers.
They even have crossbows and makeshift melee weapons like a baseball bat infused with a circular saw-blade to kill or defend against human enemies as well as hordes of zombies.
Days Gone is an open world that is truly worth revisiting for players who may have abandoned it part way due to the game's numerous technical issues or have been avoiding it, given the negative press surrounding the title.
The game has ironed out most of the technical issues, was recently ported to PC, and received a 60fps patch for the PlayStation 5. It's the best time to jump back into the gorgeous but zombie-infested world of Days Gone.
2) Marvel's Spider-Man
Superhero games have always been a hit or miss in the video gaming landscape. Though most superhero video games try to copy the movies and comics, they lack any originality and give an infamous reputation to the superhero video game genre. However, some games are still present that are shining examples of superhero video games done right.
Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is one such superhero title that exemplifies what it means to be a superhero open-world video game. Released in 2018, Marvel's Spider-Man took the world by storm with its jaw-dropping graphics, amazingly good and original narrative, and outstanding gameplay.
This game embodies the notion of what it feels like to be Spider-Man, with web-swinging mechanics that rival any other open-world traversal system in games. It also has an excellent combat system with enough depth and challenge to keep players engaged for hours on end.
Add to that a story that naturally introduces players to a host of characters and villains from comic books, this game the best rendition of Spider-Man in video games. The story not only focuses on the titular friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man but also the man under the mask, Peter Parker.
It's this duality of the story, balancing the narrative around both Peter, his daily life and Spider-Man, and his adventures that makes this open-world adventure so much fun.
The game also has a spin-off title featuring another character from the story, Miles Morales, and his relationship with his friend and mentor Peter, while learning to be the next Spider-Man.
It was recently announced that Marvel's Spider-Man is getting a PC port for even more players to enjoy the web-slinging antics of one of the best superheroes in history. And with a confirmed sequel on the way for release sometime in 2023, it's probably the best time to play the game and 'feel like Spider-Man!'
3) Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar games have always been great when it comes to creating open worlds that feel authentic and lived-in. Their games are always grounded and give players some of the best experiences an open-world video game can provide.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is quite possibly the best open-world title that embodies everything Rockstar has learnt over the past 23 years of developing immersive worlds, and has implemented it in a Wild West setting to almost perfection.
From story and world-building to gameplay and quest design, everything in Red Dead Redemption 2 is crafted with utmost care and in meticulous detail. The story sees players take on the role of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and part of the Van der Linde gang.
The game gives players full freedom on how to progress through the narrative and also gives them agency over a lot of important decisions in Arthur's life.
They can choose to mainline the story or choose to pursue several other activities littered around the map, like hunting, fishing, or helping the local populace and gang members with their daily lives.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of those games that don't come out very often, but when they do, they leave a long-lasting impression on players. With a world that is intricately crafted down to its tiniest of details, and a story that is a storytelling benchmark for open-world games, Red Dead Redemption 2 is worth a revisit.
4) Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 was undeniably rushed out way before it was ready to be launched. CD Projekt Red created a masterpiece of a role-playing game with The Witcher 3 and fans were expecting their next title to match, if not surpass, the standard set by it.
Cyberpunk 2077, when it launched, was virtually unplayable on its target consoles, i.e., PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and though the PC version was playable from start to finish, playing it wasn't a comfortable experience.
At launch, the game was riddled with frequent crashes, texture and asset rendering issues, and a host of bugs and glitches, some minor and some game breaking.
The Night City, from a distance, is truly the embodiment of a dystopian cyberpunk world, but upon getting close, the illusion quickly shatters. NPCs behaving erratically, glitching in and out of existence, cops spawning out of thin air and textures on buildings failing to load is more than enough to take the player out of the immersion.
That being said, the game, as it stands now, is in a very respectable state. CD Projekt Red stuck with fixing the title, and for the most part, they have succeeded in doing so. Game-breaking technical issues are mostly non-existent at the moment.
With a dedicated next-gen update for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, and the PC, harnessing all the available horsepower these systems have to offer, Cyberpunk 2077 is in a much better looking and playing state. Even on last-gen consoles, the game has substantially improved, for it to be an enjoyable experience albeit at a lower graphical fidelity and framerate.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world title that though was in a dreadful state at launch, has improved massively throughout the course of a year and a half. The game has a phenomenal story and an amazing cast of characters that alone make it worth a revisit.
Paired with a breathtakingly beautiful neon-drenched city and robust gameplay mechanics, it gives all the more reason for players to give it another go.
5) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo's open-world magnum opus, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, does not need any introductions. With its open world and sense of freedom, it truly revolutionised the open-world video gaming genre, setting a standard for games of the genre.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is driven by the principle of gameplay first, story second. The narrative here is the classic affair of Link going against Ganon to rescue princess Zelda. But that is just a means to drive the players into the outstanding open world of Hyrule.
From the get-go, players are free to explore the entirety of the first section of the game, where they may end up spending countless hours just traveling through various regions within the opening section of the map of Hyrule, or just beeline straight through the story quests.
Progressing past the opening section, and taking possession of the glider, opens up the entire open world to explore.
The sense of freedom and openness this game can provide is unmatched by any other game of the open-world genre. Players are free to tackle the various activities littered across the map in whatever creative way they see fit.
Want to tackle a camp of Bokoblins head-on? Its possible. Want to take a slightly stealthy approach? That is possible too, or why not just hurl a massive boulder at the camp and watch the ensuing carnage without ever stepping foot in enemy territory? Well, that is also possible. The moment-to-moment gameplay in Breath of the Wild is truly awe-inspiring.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild no doubt deserves a revisit just due to the sheer excellence of its open world. A sequel to the game was announced as well, and will potentially be released in 2023, giving more of a reason to delve back onto the beautiful plains of Hyrule.
How open-world games enrich players' experiences
The open-world genre gives players a vast open playground to explore and engage with, countless quests to pursue, great characters to meet, and experience some of the best stories to keep them busy for potentially hundreds of hours.
The idea of leaving players on their own devices to have their own fun in these vast and sprawling digital landscapes is truly an amazing feat for the open-world gaming genre. Games in the genre have only gotten better with time and massive leaps in technological improvements.
From the early open worlds of games like Ultima to the richly detailed ones in games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Horizon series of games, titles have seen massive changes throughout the years.
And with games like Elden Ring revolutionising the entire concept of the open world, the genre is bound to keep evolving further.