The market for open-world games is incredibly saturated. Open world games have always been at the pinnacle of what a studio can accomplish. They have to break previously set standards, and they should not feel empty.
Designing open worlds for video games is a daunting task, but with pre-existing engines and frameworks, developers can almost always build upon their previous work or borrow ideas from other studios, within reason, of course.
Open world games are seen as an escape from reality. There is a reason for it being a popular genre among game devs and fans. Games that find a perfect balance in providing a relaxing experience and a challenging one are rare to find.
Not all video games need to be challenging, but they will require a modicum of skill, and they will be that much more fulfilling.
Five of the most relaxing open-world games that are perfect for taking a stroll in
1) No Man’s Sky
The team at Hello Games should be incredibly proud of No Man’s Sky. They did not abandon their beloved project after its disastrous launch, and they have kept the cogs turning even now.
Sean Murray was once seen as the poster child for failed video game launches and now his game is one of the best space survival and exploration games ever made.
No Man’s Sky has a couple of game modes, but "Normal" is the best way to experience everything the game offers. No Man’s Sky has unparalleled freedom in exploration and the path a player chooses to take.
Players can build intricate bases, manage a colony of settlers, or even become space-Indiana Jones. It is hard to call this an open-world game, but it hits all the marks extremely well. No Man’s Sky is also available in VR.
2) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls series has always been iconic. Groundbreaking games like Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim have their cult following and a huge impact on the gaming industry.
Most gamers worldwide have experienced these games or the games that they have later inspired. The Scrolls series needs a part 6, and it is all up to Bethesda to make that happen.
The open world of Skyrim, when compared to most modern-day ones, does not look unique or groundbreaking, but back in 2011, this was massive. In a seemingly endless landscape littered with so much to do, there is very little that takes away from the whole experience.
The game also has a fantastic modding community that has taken to polishing the game better than Bethesda has. Setting aside the sometimes dangerous dragon encounter, the Skyrim experience is that of a relaxing open world.
3) Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
A timeless Nintendo classic, Breath of the Wild breaks all expectations of what a true open world could be. Up until the release of this game, open-world games had followed the same formula. Designs vary a little here and there, but as stated before, these games have completely saturated the genre. Breath of the Wild is a ‘breath’ of fresh air in a world dominated by open worlds.
Breath of the Wild can be seen as a genre shift for the series. They ditched almost everything from past games and cultivated an experience that excites and intrigues the mind.
If players get lost exploring Skyrim, Breath of the Wild is an even better experience. The game can get a little challenging at times, but that adds a ton more flavor. Exploring this open world feels laid-back and serene.
4) Death Stranding
Hideo Kojima is one of gaming's best-known figures. He pioneered the espionage genre in the Metal Gear series and has been at the forefront of the mysterious, alluring narrative style.
After splitting from Konami, Kojima’s next project was one of the epic proportions. The marketing campaigns for Death Stranding were a giant success, with the game garnering support by seemingly showing off very little.
Death Stranding takes place in a vast, desolate world where an extinction event has ravaged. The remnants of humanity live underground in huge bunker-like cities to protect them from a very harsh environment.
All these elements should categorize it in the dangerous category, but Death Stranding is a long, quiet game. There are action moments, but the game shines in the lull moments.
The music, the atmosphere, and the traversal all play a significant role in walking through the lonely world of Death Stranding, making it one of the most relaxing open-world games available to play.
5) Red Dead Redemption 2
The last entry for this category has to be Red Dead Redemption 2. There is no game quite like it, and with a smashingly beautiful open world, there is no game that looks as gorgeous as this one.
Rockstar has done a lot of things right when developing Red Dead Redemption 2. RDR2 boasts one of the biggest open-world maps, and the dynamic interactions make it feel that much more populated.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is best enjoyed in long, quiet stretches. The game has some incredibly well-designed characters that carry the story with brevity and gusto. Red Dead Redemption 2’s beautifully written story cannot be summarized as it does not do any justice to the title.
The game is a must-play for any gaming individual out there. This is the most laid-back and relaxing experience for an open-world game about Outlaws in the nineteenth century.
Five open world games that are challenging to conquer
The entries in this category will feature a ton of open-world games with online multiplayer. Rust is not the first of its kind, but it is certainly revolutionary. The game was designed by Facepunch and Double Eleven and is a survival game that borrows many elements from Minecraft.
Rust is a challenging game to get into, and truth be told, it is not meant for everyone. Players who find solace in Rust’s harsh, unforgiving open world find it an engaging experience.
Like No Man’s Sky, Rust offers all players starting in the game an unbiased start, but unlike No Man’s Sky, other players can potentially take away hours of work. This can be extremely disheartening, and Rust follows this philosophy to the grave.
Players will have to combat environmental threats and other players with better gear. Rust is an open-world game that has pain around every corner.
2) Arma 3
This next entry on this list has fooled many people by being “too real.” Arma 3 is a realistic military multiplayer game set in a couple of different maps that can be referred to as an open world.
Arma 3 is just a massive game. It is highly detailed, and the game is set up to mimic real-life combat situations. The game's design is quite good and has come a long way since its launch.
Arma 3 is an open-world game set on fictional islands where special forces units have to accomplish many objectives to reach their goal. The game has a seamless co-op mode where players can play with their friends and become special operatives.
Arma 3 features real military vehicles, equipment, and highly realistic combat. Arma 3 is a game to play for any military nut out there.
3) Cause 4
The last entry was about how serious and realistic a game can be. This one just straight-up throws that out the window and is one of the most adrenaline-inducing games. Just Cause 4 is the latest entrant into the storied Just Cause series and follows the same fast-paced action that the franchise is well known for. The game has its signature protagonist, Rico Rodrigues, and he is out to free another oppressed nation from an uncaring regime.
Calling this game difficult is a bit of a stretch for veterans of the series. The game does have a tiny bit of a learning curve for new players just coming into the franchise.
Dying in this game is not easy, but it is not out of possibility. The biggest danger to players in this game would be themselves, as they might get caught up in an explosion or parachute straight into helicopter blades. Just Cause 4 is a game that prides itself on its freedom and it is honestly just a fun experience.
4) Dying Light (2015)
The Zombie Trope is one of the most used tropes across all media. Michael Jackson did it, the silver screen did it, and games have done it. Zombies serve as excellent antagonists.
Developers don’t have to put much effort into coming up with a backstory for the zombies as they are overused and can only put in the bare minimum. What separates these games is how they treat gameplay and characters. When the proper balance is achieved, gamers are treated to a fantastic experience.
Dying Light (2015) is a first-person survival horror open-world game set in a fictional Middle Eastern city. The city is destroyed and cut off from the outside world as survivors are left to fend for themselves against the zombies.
Dying Light has a day and night cycle, which adds a ton of flavor to the game. The night is dark and scary. Foes are faster, stronger, and more vigilant. At times, Dying Light is a terrifying and challenging game. This title has given the zombie trope a revival, and it plays beautifully.
5) Elden Ring
The final entry to this list requires no introduction. Elden Ring is one of the best games ever made, period. No other open-world game can live up to the absolute beast that is Elden Ring, and it will remain on that throne for a long time.
When comparing any open world to Elden Ring’s, there is just so much Elden Ring has to offer. And with FromSoftware’s trademark game design, there is very little criticism that the game has.
Elden Ring is a challenging game. The enemies and bosses are fast and brutal. They hit hard and asked the player to adapt and react on the fly. That being said, Elden Ring is the most accessible game in terms of difficulty.
There are so many branching paths to take when playing this game. It has a dynamic difficulty mode where players are encouraged to learn the various bits of information that are present throughout. Elden Ring is massive and has danger lurking all around for the unprepared.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer.