The Biggest Open-World Video Games Ranked by their Size
In order to make an open world game, there is a whole bunch of challenges and all kinds of things that need to go into an open-world game to make it feel truly alive.
Characters their gaming fashion, and lore need to be on point to help establish your surroundings and ground them in some kind of history. Quests and missions need to be varied enough that you're always finding new ways to engage with the world. And frankly, the more secrets you can cram into a map, the better.
But what about size? How important is the scope of an open-world, really? It depends on who you ask. I'd suggest that an open-world game needs to find a balance between being big enough to reward exploration, but not so big that you spend ages wandering from point to point without finding anything of note.
Below you'll find 11 of the largest open-world video games of all time. We're talking games with open worlds so ridiculously vast that you've probably not even come close to exploring every nook and cranny of them. But as impressive as some of these creations undeniably are, if you've played through as many of them as I have? You might be forced to agree that size really doesn't matter that much when it comes to open worlds.
1. Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft, 2017)
- 105 sq. miles
Ghost Recon Wildlands / Credit: Ubisoft
Ubisoft has always been known for grand open worlds filled with things to do. Ghost Recon Wildlands happens to be one of the several Ubisoft games that is simply too big for its own good.
It's not that Wildlands' recreation of Bolivia isn't stunning to look at - it is. It's that you'll be carrying out the same small handful of missions over and over again no matter where you are in the game's massive world... which makes you wonder why it ever needed to be so big at all.
2. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (Codemasters, 2009)
- 135 sq. miles
Operation Flaspoint: Dragon Rising / Credit: Codemasters
Much like Ghost Recon Wildlands, Codemaster's Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a game that threw all of its weight behind the wrong things.
Rather than focus on tight tactical shooting and tense engagements with various enemy squads, the real star of the show is a large - ultimately empty - open world that only serves to expose the game's limitations.
3. Burnout Paradise (Criterion Games, 2006)
- 200 sq. miles
I don't really have anything bad to say about Burnout Paradise. It's a pretty great game, and who really cares about vast chunks of empty open world when the entire point is to speed through that emptiness as quickly as possible?
The fictional Paradise City is incredibly stylish, ambitious, and wonderfully fun to just zip around in. A fantastic open-world that makes use of its size in all the right ways.
4. True Crime: Streets Of LA (Luxoflux, 2003)
- 240 sq. miles
True Crime: Streets Of LA / Credit: Luxoflux
You have to hand it to developer Luxoflux for attempting to beat Grand Theft Auto at its own game. When True Crime: Streets Of LA launched in 2003, it was one of the largest open-world games console owners had ever seen.
True, it wasn't exactly stuffed to the rafters with content, but it gave us a way to see LA without ever having to actually go to LA - and I can't stress enough how valuable that is.
5. Just Cause 3 (Avalanche Studios, 2014)
- 400 sq. miles
Just Cause 3 / Credit: Square Enix
Just Cause 3 is a sandbox in every sense of the word. A truly colossal open world with so much to do and see - most of it revolving around you setting up and then attempting to pull off the dumbest stunts you can possibly think of.
I don't know that it needed to be as big as it was, but the size of the world really ties in to the over-the-top nature of the rest of the game. Just Cause 3 is a real chungus in more ways than one.
6. Test Drive Unlimited 2 (Eden Games, 2011)
- 618 sq. miles
Test Drive Unlimited 2 / Credit: Eden Games
I'm all for a racing game with a massive world. As I said in regards to Burnout Paradise, the more space you give me to burn rubber, the better. Test Drive Unlimited 2 offered a world to race through that was - at the time - one of the biggest we'd ever seen.
Some critics took aim at various bugs and glitches that plagued the open-world experience, but if you could fight past those technical issues there was a wide world of multiplayer mayhem to dive into.
7. Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix, 2016)
- 700 sq. miles
Final Fantasy XV / Credit: Square Enix
Square Enix rarely does things by halves when it comes to Final Fantasy, and Final Fantasy XV is no exception. A game that turned travelling across its mighty world into an endearing road trip between friends, I have a lot of love for this one.
My only real issue with Final Fantasy XV is that not all of the game's open world is truly open. Still, you can free roam through the vast majority of it, and it's easily one of the most beautiful of Square Enix's creations.
8. The Crew (Ivory Tower, 2014)
- 1,900 sq. miles
The Crew / Credit: Ubisoft
The Crew is another racing game that really sold itself by hammering home what a huge world it had created for players to explore. Sure enough, it wasn't long before there were whispers and rumours that the game would allow you to drive from New York to LA.
Sure enough, driving the width of America is something you absolutely can do in the game if you want to. In fact, it'll take you close to half an hour to do so - longer if you decide to stick to main roads and speed limits.
8. Fuel (Asobo Studio, 2009)
- 5,560 sq. miles
Fuel / Credit: Asobo Studios
Fuel's open world is so ridiculously vast that most YouTubers and content creators who promise to cover the entire thing one day end up giving up before they're even half way done. This post-apocalyptic racing game is stupidly big. You could start on one end of the map today, and you wouldn't have reached the other side until the last recorded syllable of time.
Does that make it a good game, though? No, not really. While technically impressive, Fuel is a pretty average game at best. You have to wonder how much better it might have been if the developers had focused on making an open world even half as big.
9. Guild Wars Nightfall (ArenaNet, 2006)
- 15,000 sq. miles
Guild Wars Nightfall / Credit: ArenaNet
First release in 2006, Guild Wars Nightfall is an MMO expansion that transports players to the fictional continent of Elona. It turns out Elona is really quite big, you guys.
Nightfall was largely well-received at the time, although nobody ever really made much of a song and dance about the size of the world itself, instead honing in on the new gameplay features that made the expansion worthwhile.
10. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (Bethesda Softworks, 1996)
- 62,000 sq. miles
Daggerfall / Credit: Bethesda
While games like Oblivion and Skyrim look and feel a heck of a lot grander, it's actually The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall that takes home the prize for biggest map. Not only is it the largest open-world Elder Scrolls title, it's the largest open-world video game in general.
Cards on the table: I've never played Daggerfall, so I'm not entirely sure how much the size of the world matters or even plays into the experience. What I do know is that you can freely travel pretty much anywhere on the map as needed, which is great. I've seen more than a few veterans point out that you'd need to draw up a real-life map if you really wanted to explore all of Daggerfall for yourself. As luck would have it, Bethesda is still offering a free download of this massive game, so dive in and see what all the fuss is about. That's exactly what I'm about to do.
The Greatest Nintendo 3DS Games Of All Time, Ranked
That's a wrap: the Nintendo 3DS family has officially been discontinued by Nintendo, nine-and-a-half years after the original model of the autostereoscopic dual-screen handheld rolled off the production line and into stores.
We already ranked the 3DS family as the number one handheld of all time in our recent list of, obvs, the greatest handheld consoles of all time. It's been a great system, offering amazing original games, a fantastic Virtual Console selection covering Nintendo and SEGA platforms, and backwards compatibility with what feels like an endless array of DS classics.
We'll miss the 3DS - but there's no doubt that the success of Nintendo's home/handheld hybrid successor, the Switch, has put it in the shade for a few years now. Nevertheless, it's racked up sales of over 75 million, so it's not like the 3DS hasn't been a hit - and to see the console off, here's our list of the ten best games you can play on it, right now.
Pullblox / Credit: Nintendo, Intelligent Systems
Known as Pushmo in parts of the world that aren't the UK, Pullblox is an addictive puzzler where you have to move stacked blocks around in order to reach stranded, um, smaller versions of you. I hesitate to say children, cos that sounds way creepier than this game is. Its cute visuals might have you thinking you're in for an easy ride here, but Pullblox can be quite the brain-tester, as you only have so many moves available to you per level. As a digital-only game, be sure to grab this for your 3DS before Nintendo closes the console's eShop.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies / Credit: Capcom
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
The fifth main game in Capcom's Ace Attorney series, you could definitely summarise Dual Destinies as more of the same, since much of this one plays out in a similar fashion to prior entries: you investigate, you go to court, you win. The twist comes via the game's trio of protagonists: Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice and Anthea Cykes. Each has their own unique way of examining a witness, with Cykes' 'Mood Matrix' able to see how underlying emotions do or don't align with what's being said.
Mario Kart 7 / Credit: Nintendo
- Mario Kart 7
The best Mario Kart game before 8 came along and raced into first place? Probably. Mario Kart 7 - the 3DS's best-selling game with over 18 million copies sold - introduced hang-gliders, which today feel like they never weren't a thing in races; and diving underwater in this one doesn't represent going off-course, but potentially a viable shortcut. These additions aside, you could argue that Mario Kart 7 was pretty formulaic and brought no real progression to the series; to which I would reply, you're no fun whatsoever, and get out of my house.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf / Credit: Nintendo
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf
I'm not sure that being the mayor of a town is ever this chill IRL, but I'll take it. And the objective is sweetly simple: ensure that your town is a lovely place to live. That's it. I mean, there's stuff that needs doing to get to the point where your townsfolk are all existing in harmony, but this is Animal Crossing - none of it's there to stress you out. This is the game that gave the world Isabelle, too, for which we should be eternally thankful. Club LOL 4 Ever.
Picross 3D: Round 2 / Credit: HAL Laboratory, Nintendo
- Picross 3D: Round 2
I love Picross, okay? And Picross 3D: Round 2 is probably my favourite Picross game. It's just a great way to fill two minutes, 20, or two hours, tapping away at its blocky puzzles, carving out all manner of objects and creatures, from simple shapes to famous Nintendo characters via cats and dogs and so much more. There's no need to rush - but if you want to set your skills against the clock, or go for a zero-mistakes run, you can. It's one of those games that doesn't look like much before you start playing it, but once it clicks will be a friend forevermore.
Pokémon X / Credit: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
- Pokémon X and Y
The second-best selling 3DS game(s) after Mario Kart 7, Pokémon X and Y delivered all the traditional gameplay fans of the franchise had come to expect, with just enough freshness to make the leap to three-dimensional, polygon-built graphics feel special. Mega Evolutions were stirred into the mix, and a greater level of character customisation was warmly received. The game's France-inspired setting of Kalos attracted praise, too, with locations like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre represented in-game by Pokémon universe equivalents.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds / Credit: Nintendo
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A direct sequel to the Super Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds is one of few games that really made the best of the 3DS's stereoscopic display, which gave its dungeons a visible depth that really helped the player find their way through them. Its unique mechanic is that Link can merge with walls, becoming a painting-like version of himself to overcome obstacles and reach new areas. The popping in and out of the masonry never feels gimmicky, and is often at the very heart of this game's puzzle solving. Being able to rent items to open up new parts of the game world was great, too, giving A Link Between Worlds an openness, a freedom, that its SNES predecessor lacked. An essential - but then, everything in this list is, right?
Super Mario 3D Land / Credit: Nintendo
- Super Mario 3D Land
Bowser kidnaps Peach, Mario goes after: you know how the story goes. But in the tradition of the best Super Mario games, 3D Land is all about the journey rather than the destination. Made by the same Nintendo EAD team that'd guided Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel to classic status, this entry respects the past with its return of the Tanooki Suit, and also points to the future with its somewhat relaxed attitude to difficulty - it is truly a Mario game for all players, regardless of their experience with precision platforming.
Fire Emblem: Awakening / Credit: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo
- Fire Emblem: Awakening
The first Fire Emblem on 3DS, Awakening might just be the best the series has ever been - although, Three Houses stans, please, dispute away in the comments. Intelligent Systems' and Nintendo SPD's tactical role-player merged winning gameplay with a compelling story and meticulously planned characters worth giving a damn about, and was suitably rewarded with a raft of near-perfect scores from critics. Did you dare to play on permadeath mode? Not this guy, no way. My heart couldn't take it.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D / Credit: Grezzo, Nintendo
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Whoa. What's this? A Nintendo 64 game as the best that the 3DS had to offer. I mean, kinda - but Ocarina of Time 3D is a remaster of the N64 title, spearheaded by Grezzo (who more recently were behind the Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening). And it's rather more than your average remaster, too, with dungeons remixed and touch-screen compatibility for Link's tootling on the Ocarina of the title. Newly added cutscene clues hidden away inside lil statues help players find their way through a game that can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, and the 3D is fantastically implemented - if there's a little tear in your eye when taking those first steps onto Hyrule Field, it's okay.
As an improvement on one of the greatest video games of all time, there's no way this isn't the best game on 3DS, for me. But hey, other opinions are good. We don't have to agree - and there were a lot of other titles that just got squeezed out of this top ten (sorry, BoxBoy, so sorry). Whatever your favourite is, or was, on Nintendo's dearly departing handheld, I hope it brought you all the joy you wanted from it. The 3DS was a special console - and all that's left to say is, see ya.
Maybe we´ll see these worlds evolving with the industry, someday we might even get to see high end gaming fashion stores selling their goods in there, or will you ever si Starbucks selling coffee or 1nf1n1te selling gaming sneakers in some of this games?, truth is, there are no real limits on where the gaming industry is going at this point, with streamers, content creators, esports celebrities and fashion brands merging more and more everyday.