The eighth generation of gaming really gave 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.
Below you’ll find our picks for some of the platform’s most inviting open worlds 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 below only includes one entry per franchise, which means that the likes of Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed will have a sole representative. Also, thanks to the magic of backwards compatibility, all of these open world games will also work on PS5.
The Best PS4 Open World Games
27. Watch Dogs 2
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.
From our Watch Dogs 2 review:
“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.”
26. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Developer: Kojima Productions
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 and weak story does hurt it considerably.
25. No Man’s Sky
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games/505 Games
A few years ago, No Man’s Sky would probably not have deserved a spot on this list. 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 and many great (also) free expansions since then, 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.
24. InFamous Second Son
Developer: Sucker Punch
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 flaws, 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…
23. Just Cause 3
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
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?
22. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Square Enix
The best game of 2014 in the eyes of many (though the competition was not exactly great), Shadow of Mordor became an exception to the rule of licensed games being complete ass. It may have something to do with it going on its own path into taking Tolkien’s lore and allowing you to became the Master of Orcs. Just a feeling.
Featuring Arkham-esque combat, a large region to explore, and the pioneering Nemesis system, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is the perfect way to spend your weekend, hacking and slashing through hordes of Saruman’s army.
Its sequel, Shadow of War, is not bad either, but Mordor is a leaner and more fun ride overall — sometimes less is more, as the saying goes.
21. Ghost Recon Wildlands
Wildlands isn’t really a Ghost Recon game, but just like Siege isn’t really a Rainbox Six game, that might not be a bad thing. Bolivia is yours to discover either on your own with friends, though there isn’t quite as much satisfaction to be had from griefing AI as there is your mates.
Like most of Ubisoft’s open world games, there’s a story but you can just ignore that as quickly as you like. Instead, you’re here to cause mayhem, like a slightly more tempered Just Cause game. Teamwork is also supposed to be key in Wildlands, but again: who wants to bother with such trivial nonsense when you can incessantly run your friends over?
20. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Your money might be on Origins for as the AC pick for our list of the best PS4 open world games, but does Origins allow you to fully realise your dreams of being a pirate? Not quite, which is why Black Flag gets the nod here as well as just being an all-round fun time.
Released just before Assassin’s Creed fatigue set in, Black Flag bridged the gap between this generation and the last admirably, showcasing some very beautiful seas and a scale that most games could only dream of.
It’s also surprisingly deep game with an underrated protagonist, so be sure to set sail for this one if you somehow haven’t already.
19. Far Cry 5
While it may not be as colourful as its predecessor instead opting for an altogether darker palette in colour and mood, Far Cry 5 makes the cut here as one of the best PS4 open world games as it does away with some of the franchise’s biggest irritants. The radio towers are no more, which means that if you can see it in Far Cry 5, you can visit it.
By bringing the action to more familiar surroundings in the United States, the game could have lost its mojo. Instead, by throwing a nutty cult into the mix, an impressive Arcade mode, and more fishing than you could ever need, it’s one of the best open world games on PS4.
From our Far Cry 5 review:
“The gunplay is as meaty and satisfying as it’s always been and the promotion of exploration has never been more keenly felt — anyone who’s ever enjoyed a Far Cry game will likely feel right at home here.”
18. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
It’s Skyrim. You know about it, we know about it, hell, even your grandparents know about it. Available on more platforms than there are planets, Skyrim was given a fresh lick of paint and re-released on PS4 as its Special Edition with the magic of it all still being present, albeit if a little ropey around its edges.
It’s easy to see how people spend hundreds of hours in Skyrim as there’s just so much to see and do, even when you think you’ve seen it all. With its introduction to the new generation of consoles, Skyrim also began to support mods.
While there is nowhere near the scale of mods available when compared to its PC version, there are still more than enough for you to squeeze even more hours out of this classic as one of the best PS4 open world games around, even if it’s all a bit familiar.
17. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Quite possibly the most underrated open world games of all-time, Sleeping Dogs never received the attention it deserved in the last generation — a simple GTA clone it was not. With it arriving on PS4, unfamiliar players were able to find out why it had become such a cult favourite, which should be evident after you kick someone in the face for the fifth time.
You play as an undercover cop, but never mind that: there’s a vibrant Honk Kong area to explore. Initially a True Crime game, Sleeping Dogs embraces the good cop/bad cop routine, meaning that you don’t have to always follow the thin blue line as Wei Shen.
With it now being perennially available for a crazily low price, you ought to pick up Sleeping Dogs to hopefully inspire Square Enix to commission a sequel. We can dream.
16. Elite Dangerous
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Much like No Man’s Sky, Elite Dangerous is one of the best PS4 open world games because it’s only really limited by your imagination. You play the game however you want, whether that’s as a simple trader, villainous pirate, or the guy who can’t fly out of the hangar. We see you.
Elite Dangerous is a game all about making your own stories as there isn’t really one over-arcing narrative to keep you hooked. Role-players will certainly be in their element with Elite, especially as it genuinely fosters a feeling of accomplishment over many hours of progressing from a humble spacefarer into someone who can go down in infamy in the eyes of other players. Just don’t expect to “get” what the fuss is about right away.
15. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Lovably ropey and a little bit unrefined, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an open world game unlike many others. It doesn’t hold your hand for even a second, which makes it feel like something of a security checkpoint for casual players. You can’t just dip in and out of Kingdom Come, you have to allow yourself to become fully immersed in the trials and tribulations of being a regular bloke with a sword.
You play as Henry, a relative nobody who finds himself embroiled in conflict when war erupts in his tranquil village. Over time, you take Henry from a walking potato into a fearsome warrior, though everything up to that point is hard damn work. It has plenty of mechanics that pitch it as a “realistic” RPG, so for anyone looking for a AA open world game that makes no apologies for its learning curve, dive in.
From our Kingdom Come review:
“Its problems may deter many players and arguably should until it’s in a better state, but it’s hard to deny that with some more polish and a couple of tweaked systems, Kingdom Come: Deliverance could be one the year’s best.”
14. Burnout Paradise Remastered
Developer: Criterion Software
Now here’s one of the best PS4 open world games if you just want something to dip in and out of. Burnout Paradise Remastered is, in all honesty, not that noticeable an upgrade on its PS3 brethren, though it still feels as fresh and oddly relaxing as it did way back when.
You can cruise around Paradise City at your leisure, either taking on immediate races or dipping into the many other modes that it provides, such as the infamous Road Rage. You can compete against other players, too, though there’s something weirdly cathartic about just driving around and listening to Axl Rose beckon laryngitis.
13. Death Stranding
Developer: Kojima Productions
As polarising a game as yin and yang penguins at separate poles holding magnets, Death Stranding is not for everyone, that much is certain. Slow to really find its groove and not a conventional game in the slightest, Death Stranding is either something you’re going to really love or hate.
For those who love it, though, its post-apocalyptic open world is one worth exploring. Given the task of reconnecting a broken America, Sam Porter Bridges sets off across the country to deliver packages and bring people together, all while backed by a rather lovely, Low Roar-heavy soundtrack.
Say what you will about it, but Death Stranding is absolutely the most unique experience on this list.
12. Batman: Arkham Knight
Pretty much everyone’s least favourite Arkham game, Arkham Knight made a few simple missteps in design that really hurt it. The dependence on the Batmobile was one of the biggest criticisms of the game, though whether inside or out of the vehicle, Gotham is still worth exploring.
Following the events of Arkham City and a deadly confrontation, a new threat emerges, one with personal connection to The Bat himself. As much as the plot splits opinion, the (at the time) innovative combat and sheer joy of vertical movement thanks to Batman’s gear makes this one open world to happily punch your way through.
To say that Minecraft is “just” an open world game wouldn’t really be reflective of the reality. While it features giant open worlds for you to explore, it’s also a pet simulator, this generation’s equivalent of Microsoft Paint, and much, much more.
The game plops you down in a world and simply says “go”. You’re left to your own devices in Minecraft, so whether you want to become a successful farmer and invite your friends over for a nice dinner or become a tyrant holding villagers hostage, that’s entirely your call.
While the overall goal is to defeat the Ender Dragon, try to remember that as you sculpt your fifth mural to Bob Ross.
10. Days Gone
Developer: SIE Bend
A game that was somewhat unjustly dogpiled at launch, Days Gone didn’t endear itself to too many critics, whether that was down to zombies being a tired idea or the game lacking polish, but it’s gone on to become somewhat of a fan favourite among the PlayStation community.
You take control of Deacon St. John, a grumpy (though that may be underplaying it) biker dealing with grief as he makes his way through life in post-apocalyptic America.
Featuring some jaw-dropping setpieces, a creepingly excellent sense of character progression, and an outrageous amount of death on-screen at once, Days Gone may also just be one of the PlayStation’s most underrated games in its half-decade history.
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Just when you think you’ve seen everything the open world survival genre has to offer, along comes Subnautica. A beautiful game packed with mysteries and genuinely intriguing lore, Subnautica sees you trying to escape an alien planet consisting mostly of ocean after your ship crashes.
Starting off things gently before chucking you into the depths where Eldritch nightmares await, Subnautica is a game of constant intrigue. What will happen if I go further down? How much further can I go out without oxygen? What the hell is that giant shaped moving towards me so quickly? It’s not an easy time, though the mere fact that Subnautica makes underwater gaming enjoyable deserves all the accolades.
One of the best indie games ever? We think so.
From our Subnautica review:
“Subnautica was one survival game that I didn’t just want to survive in — I flourished and revelled in creating my own life under the sea.”
8. Dragon Age: Inquisition
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.
7. GTA V
Developer: Rockstar Games
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: the ageing and cynical Michael, the moral centerFranklin, 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.
Now, we think it’s about time they announced something about GTA VI. GTA V is really a PS3 game, after all.
6. Dying Light
Publisher: WB Games/Techland
We won’t stop talking about this game until it receives the recognition it deserves. Undoubtedly one of the best horror games on the console to boot, 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.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Games
At long last, there’s a Spidey game to rival one found on the PS2. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a triumphant return to video games for the icon, suitably so with his renaissance as part of the MCU. This is an entirely new Spidey story, however, and one worth exploring.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the best open world games on PS4 not because it boasts the biggest world, but because of how satisfying it feels to explore New York City. Shooting from skyscraper to skyscraper never gets old, and neither does plummeting down from the top of one before safely swinging away at the last second.
Shame you can’t piledriver the bad guys from a very tall building like before, though.
From our Marvel’s Spider-Man review:
“With all the freedom it gives you to web-sling through New York City and stick goons to walls, Spider-Man for PS4 is the best Spider-Story I’ve had the pleasure to experience, and even on its own is a brilliant game.”
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games
A point of curiosity in the 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 on offer.
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 your 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.
From our HZD review:
“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. Ghost of Tsushima
Developer: Sucker Punch
Are you sensing the pattern yet? Sony really went whole hog with their open worlds in the back half of the PS4’s life, yet none felt quite as original (despite obviously having some inspirations) as Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima.
You play as one of the last surviving samurai following a Mongol invasion on the titular island of Tsushima. What that means from a gameplay perspective is pure Kurosawa indulgence: moonlit duels, beautiful vistas, and an underlying tinge of sadness that’s hard to shake.
Also helps that Ghost of Tsushima makes you feel like an absolute badass. From the moment you ride out into a glade and experience the best title card sequence of the PS4’s whole life, you’ll be hooked.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
It looked for years and years as if Rockstar were fully comfortable with the pile of money GTA Online made them, but the announcement and subsequent release of Red Dead Redemption showed that they still had plenty to prove. Even if they maybe need to modernise the controls a bit more next time.
A prequel to the first game, you take control of Arthur Morgan, a grizzled outlaw with one of the best character arcs across all of gaming, during the final days of the van Der Linde gang. The level of detail poured into its open world, whether that’s its many secrets or the amount of interactivity, is staggering with the fading Wild West telling plenty of stories of its own.
If you want an open world that doesn’t stop surprising, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a brilliant option.
1. 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, and that’s without even considering the room for role-playing with your choices really mattering. It’s nearing half a decade in age as we write this, yet The Witcher 3’s world design, writing, and depth of characters have yet to be beaten.
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.
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