This generation of gaming has really given players more freedom than ever before. While it’s true that not all games should go down the open world route (Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, anyone?), it makes a lot of sense for franchises to adopt a more expansive experience. With Sony dominating the market, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is not shortage for the best PS4 open world games.
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Below you’ll find our picks for some of the platform’s best picks for those who just want to go an adventure, perform some bank heists, or blow up some cows. The demand doesn’t look like it’s going away for them for a long time as long as the likes of Rockstar and Ubisoft keep building playgrounds for players to become lost in.
Quick qualifiers: the list of the best PS4 open world games below is in no particular order and only includes one entry per franchise, which means that the likes of Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed will have a sole representative. What do you think we’re missing? Want something more general? We have a list of the best open world games overall that may suit you.
The Best PS4 Open World Games
1. GTA V
Developer: Rockstar Games Publisher: Take-Two
Let’s kick things off with an absolute moneymaking beast, and that’s even without considering the revenue from GTA Online. Played offline, GTA V lets you pick and choose between three questionable characters: Michael, Franklin, and the sadistic Trevor. The three unlikely friends must work together to overcome shady government officials and also become rich in the process.
Or, if you like, you could just pop a wheelie or blow a small fortune at a strip club in the hopes of seeing digital boobies. GTA V was such a success for Rockstar that they put off releasing another game for half a decade, so if you are in the one percent who’ve yet to play, that’s a good sign of the game’s quality.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: SIE
A point of curiosity in Sony PS4 exclusive line-up before it was released, Horizon Zero Dawn shouldn’t really work. Hunting robot animals with a crossbow might seem shlocky on paper, but Guerrilla somehow managed to find a way to make HZD a serious and seriously inviting affair with dozens of hours of playtime.
You play as Aloy, a young woman who sets out on a quest to uncover the mysteries of her lineage and to also find herself in the process. A post-apocalyptic delight, the wasteland provided by HZD invites exploration with you first encounter with a Tallneck unlikely to be one you will forget in a hurry. Once you’ve done all there is to do, Frozen Wilds should be your next port of call.
“Horizon Zero Dawn boasts a stunningly realized vision of the post-post-apocalypse, accompanied by a fascinating and chilling mystery surrounding the fall of civilization and surprisingly deep and strategic combat which combine to create one of the best new IPs in years.”
3. Dragon Age: Inquistion
Developer: BioWare Publisher: EA
While Inquisition may split some members of the Dragon Age family, it’s a damn sight better than its predecessor. Inquisition returns the franchise to its “true RPG” roots and embraces the open world and the litany of sidequests that come with it. Honestly, Inquisition is stuffed, and with it going for a pittance these days, it’s certainly good value for money.
You play as The Inquisitor, who is chosen to do things, but nevermind that: have sex with this giant bull guy and make him your concubine. No RPG is worth its salt unless it has a deep well of interesting characters to draw from, which Inquisition has in abundance. Thanks to the open world, you’ll also have countless hours of exploration ahead.
4. Watch Dogs 2
Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
Released almost as an apology to the first game promising much and delivering little, Watch Dogs 2 brightens the colour palette and decides to have some fun. A vibrant and polished world awaits, one in which you can yo-yo people to death and even swat a gamer during a mission.
While its attempts to be edgy and cool are cringeworthy at best, Watch Dogs 2 is a definite upgrade on the dreary greyness of Aiden and one of the best PS4 open world games as a result. It’s not the most “artful” of games on this list, but if you have nothing to play and feel like playing hacker for a while, it’s a good bet.
“A solid game that is worth dipping in and out of. With an interesting storyline and rich game world, it offers a new and unique style of play that we haven’t seen very often.”
5. Dying Light
Developer: Techland Publisher: WB Games/Techland
We won’t stop talking about this game until it receives the recognition it deserves. Undoubtedly one of the best zombie games ever made, Dying Light is one step ahead of its close cousin Dead Island because it’s not only a polished game but it also lets you climb buildings. That should be a selling point on its own.
You’re taken to Harran, which is the midst of a zombie outbreak and must play ball with the local survivors and gangs. While the story is nothing to write home about, its gameplay is. The melee combat feels meaty and satisfying, though Dying Light really comes alive at night when the worst of the worst come crawling out. With a sequel on the way, there’s never been a better time to try out this gem.
6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Developer: Kojima Productions Publisher: Konami
While there could be an argument made that Kojima didn’t really need to dump Snake into an open world, The Phantom Pain offers the best gameplay in the franchise (seemingly at the expense of the story) by allowing you to get up to all manner of nonsense. If you didn’t know that you needed to try and slide down a hill while inside a cardboard box in your PS4 open world games, you do now.
The areas are certainly destitute, but that just really gives Snake ample opportunity to sneak his way through to glory, or just go in all guns blazing before attaching a balloon to enemies and watch as they fly away. The Phantom Pain is barmy in all the right ways and decent way for Kojima to sign off from the franchise, though the missing content does hurt it somewhat.
7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt Red Publisher: CD Projekt
Where to even begin with The Witcher 3? How do you praise a game that’s already been given every superlative in the English language? The excellence of Geralt’s last hurrah is unquestionable, an example to the entire industry that if you put the time and heart into a single-player experience, the people will come.
Prepare to lose yourself in the rules of Gwent, failed seductions, and very ugly children with The Witcher 3 across hundreds of hours of playtime. Hailed as the template for its competitors to follow, once you’re done with the main game, its DLC is also just as time-consuming and worthwhile.
8. No Man’s Sky
Developer: Hello Games Publisher: Hello Games/505 Games
Two years ago, No Man’s Sky would not have deserved a spot on this list of the best PS4 open world games. One of the most controversial games of this generation, all looked lost for Hello Games following wave after wave of backlash for missing content and not being all it was made out to be.
With the release of Next, Hello Games are making amends. Featuring multiplayer and a host of welcome changes and tweaks, No Man’s Sky is now the game it was meant to be — and Hello Games ain’t finished with it yet. Explore the great unknown at your leisure or with friends in one of gaming’s true redemption stories.
9. InFamous Second Son
Developer: Sucker Punch Publisher: SIE
Poor Second Son. Released at a time when Sony didn’t really know what they were quite doing with their line-up of exclusives, the third mainline inFamous entry was burdened with gimmicks to show off the DualShock 4, as well as featuring a supremely unlikable protagonist in Delsin Rowe.
However, while most open world games seem to have forgotten this generation that being a superhero is fun as heck, Second Son shone brightly as a good excuse to leap around a mayhem and cause destruction. Second Son is not without its flaw, sure, but it’s still a bunch of fun if you approach it with an open mind. Now, if only inFamous 4 was in the works and Cole could somehow also be brought back…
Listen, you want nuance? Something with depth? A game that isn’t the equivalent of bombing down several cans of Red Bull and jumping on a bouncy castle? Look somewhere else because Just Cause 3 knows exactly what it is and that is a whale of a time without a need to engage your brain at almost any time.
From rappelling up to a helicopter and commandeering it for yourself to severely mistreating some cows, Just Cause 3 affords the kind of freedom that you would expect from one of the best PS4 open world games. There’s a story here, something about a dictatorship, but who cares when you can just wingsuit away and kill a small army all on your lonesome?