Open world games are typically set in a large sandbox with few barriers on where you can go and what you can do. This sense of freedom can lead to a sense of diffusion or even repetition, where meaningful objectives are spread too thinly. However, there are a handful of games out there that really take the open world format and nail it. Here are the best of them.

Pure masterpiece: The Witcher 3

Few games really come close to the level of The Witcher 3, which still represents the best of open world gaming on Xbox One, despite its age. Geralt of Rivia is one of a dwindling number of "witchers," warrior monks who task themselves with eradicating the monsters that plague the wilds. Geralt is one of the best, and he finds himself caught up in all sorts of political intrigue, including an occult plot to take over the world. This game borders on perfection.

$50 at Amazon

Wild West: Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 has achieved more than most games in this list for its high-quality cinematic performances, industry-leading world building, and ridiculous Xbox One X graphics. Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in the closing years of the classic "wild west," where one of the last surviving gangs clings to existence at all costs. It is a genuine masterpiece.

$40 at Amazon

Heart of Darkness: Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is the culmination of everything the series represents. Explosive action in a contemporary "what-if?" scenario, involving a rural doomsday cult in a secluded fictional area of America. It's you versus the crazies, armed to the teeth Rambo-style in one of the most gorgeous open worlds ever conceived.

$60 at Amazon

Settle in space: Astroneer

Astroneer is a creative exploration sandbox set on a huge variety of procedurally-generated planetoids. Manage your oxygen and power, and research new equipment as you traverse alien worlds, building up to fly over to even more dangerous planets. Astroneer is a great open world chillout game that's well worth your time.

$30 at Microsoft

Open Apocalypse: Fallout 4

Fallout 4 might not be the best Fallout game, but it pushed the franchise's open world chops considerably in its fourth installment. Taking place in an expansive Boston wasteland, Fallout 4 is one of the most dynamic open world games out there, with tons of interiors to explore, monsters to destroy, and loot to plunder. And hey, if you don't like what you see, you can build your own settlements!

$42 at Amazon

Block 'em up: Minecraft

Few open world games offer as much creative opportunity as Minecraft, allowing you to reconstruct above and below infinite randomly-generated maps. Build giant towers, complex machines, and plunder the depths for powerful gear and crafting materials. Throw in some add-ons, and Minecraft potentially offers endless fun.

$20 at Amazon

Through history: Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Assassin's Creed is a pioneering open world franchise, and Odyssey is among the best of the lot. Taking more cues from RPG titles, Assassin's Creed Odyssey takes place in an expansive open world inspired by ancient Greece, with a bit of Assassin's Creed sci-fi mythology thrown in. Satisfying combat, great progression systems, and stunning visuals make this a solid bet.

$60 at Amazon

Assassination sandbox: Hitman 2

While Hitman 2 isn't a continuous single open world, it follows many of the principles with its large, highly-detailed open levels, designed to test your ingenuity and skill. Hitman 2 tasks Agent 47 with a series of assassinations in a set of gorgeous mini open worlds, each with a unique target to eliminate and evolving problems to circumnavigate on the road to the kill.

$50 at Amazon

Zombie apocalypse simulator: State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 is a woefully underrated zombie apocalypse survival simulator that takes place in fictional counties in America. As a small band of survivors, you're tasked with setting up a settlement, stocking it with supplies, while responding to threats, both from the undead and the living, in the outside world.

$50 at Amazon

Open world racer: Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 takes the concept of "open world racer" and delivers like no other, set in a gorgeous representation of contemporary Britain. Alongside winding rural lanes and more urbanized areas, Forza Horizon 4 also depicts the four seasons on a global rotation. Across dozens of activities, Forza Horizon 4 is a must-buy for racing game fans.

$60 at Microsoft

If I had to recommend just one title on this list, it would easily be The Witcher 3, for the depth and intrigue of its story, the detail and dynamism of its open world, and infectious combat systems. I also have to shout out Astroneer, for its relaxing, yet addictive, exploration gameplay, as well as State of Decay 2, for helping me realize my most paranoid zombie apocalypse fantasies.

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