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Gaming 101:
Open World Games
 

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry, we are looking at Open World games.

Video games create space in which to play. Open World games offer a space that is very large, and possibly unlimited. As opposed to games that funnel your movement in a particular direction to create a directed experience, Open World games let you wander in any direction.

These games populate their open worlds with architecture, characters, quests, items and discoveries. The appeal of these games is that when a particularly exciting moment of play occurs it hasn't been pre-ordained by the developer but has emerged from the interactions of the player with the game world.

Open World games come in many forms. Adventures and Role-Playing in large open spaces invite exploration and create a sense of grandeur. Simulation games that offer large explorable worlds offer a chance to experiment with how the game's physics, political, economic or even religious models work at scale. Strategy games played in Open Worlds are a chance to innovate techniques that take advantage of the landscape and terrain in which you find yourself.
 
This list includes 16 games from the last 17 years, with 1,226 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play your first open world game.

Related Lists
We have 16 Getting Started lists of games, like these:
 

A Short Hike

Release Date: 05/04/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Open World, Pixels and Weather

A Short Hike is an adventure traversal game where you play the penguin-like character Claire, who needs to climb a mountain in a beautiful national park to receive an important phone call. Presented in cute pixel graphics, the game invites you to...

Journey

Release Date: 14/03/2012, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Journey is an adventure game set in a desert. Exploring the eerie sandscape, you discover a world abandoned by the race that created it. The sense of space and scale evokes feelings of aloneness and being lost. But then the game pairs you with other...

Everything

Release Date: 21/03/2017, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Everything is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in...

Go Vacation

Release Date: 01/10/2011, updated in 2018

Out Now: Switch and Wii

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Go Vacation is a resort exploration adventure where 50 mini-games can be discovered and played. The mini-golf, skating, surfing, volleyball, car racing, tennis and other games use the Wii and Switch motion-sensitive controllers and are simple fun for...

Lego City: Undercover

Release Date: 04/04/2017

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Cartoon and Open World

Lego City: Undercover offers an open world to explore. While most Lego games have an open-world element in at least some areas, this one keeps play open throughout so that children can enjoy exploring at their own pace.

Proteus

Release Date: 30/01/2013

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS3

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Proteus is a narrative adventure game which takes you to a pixelated island. As you explore you discover that your presence changes the seasons and time of day. Delving deeper, there are rudimentary interactions with the creatures that inhabit the land,...

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Release Date: 18/08/2020

Out Now: PC and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Microsoft Flight Sim 2020) is a flight simulator game in the long-running series. Along with a huge range of aircraft, you can learn to fly, the game recreates the entire Earth using textures and data from maps and...

Endless Ocean

Release Date: 09/11/2007, updated in 2010

Out Now: Wii

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Endless Ocean (Endless Ocean: Blue World in the US) and its sequel Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep are versions of a diving adventure game where you explore the Manaurai Sea to identify different fish and recover artefacts. As experience is...

Disney Pixar Toy Story

Release Date: 30/09/2010

Out Now: DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Disney Pixar Toy Story is a running, jumping and exploration game from the developers who went on to make Disney Infinity. It is loosely based on the film and features the voice cast from the film.

The Pathless

Release Date: 12/11/2020, updated in 2023

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

The Pathless is a mythic adventure about an archer and an eagle in a vast forest. You use timed button presses to use your bow and discover the open world, unlock a mystical island and dispel a curse of darkness that grips the world.

Feather

Release Date: 05/04/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Feather is an adventure traversal game that brings you, as a bird, to a beautiful island. You can explore freely, collecting items and soaring on the breeze. Often, other players will join you to create a flock of birds to fly together, making music on...

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

Mail Time

Release Date: 27/04/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Mail Time is a running and jumping adventure where you play a novice Mail Scout on their first delivery. With only a name to identify the recipient, you explore the wild Grumblewood Grove, helping the animal inhabitants in exchange for clues. While the...

Car Quest

Release Date: 25/10/2018

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Car Quest is an exploration puzzle adventure you navigate by driving your car. With no time pressure and a relaxed vibe, you can take your time to drive, collect, explore, solve, and discover.

The Crew Motorfest

Release Date: 14/09/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: Day and Night, Open World and Weather

The Crew Motorfest is an open-world racing and exploration game. It's a sequel that takes 2018's The Crew 2 to a Hawaiian island you traverse with cars, trucks, boats, and planes. It stands out for the many ways to explore the...

Hello Kitty: Island Adventure

Release Date: 26/06/2023

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night and Open World

Hello Kitty: Island Adventure is a role-play game where you're stranded on an island with other Hello Kitty characters. You build a town, interact with the villagers, and explore the island for resources and to meet new characters. It brings Animal...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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