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The Open World Video Game That Takes The Longest To Beat

Once restricted to the RPG genre, the floodgates have opened for open world games to take over other genres where the format might not traditionally work. Games like "Sea of Thieves" let players sail the seas alone or with a group of friends in its online open world pirate setting, while recent games in the "Forza" series feature a blend of open-world exploration and races. Most gamers are familiar with the "Grand Theft Auto" series which, while open world and lengthy, proves that the time it takes to beat a game doesn't necessarily correlate to how good that game is.


The site howlongtobeat.com serves as a public database of community-submitted completion times for a huge variety of games. There are four categories for completion: "Main Story," the time it takes to beeline to the end, "Main Story + Extra," which also includes side quests, "Completionist," which requires 100% game completion, and "Average Time," an average of all user submissions. The open world game that takes the longest to beat, taking only the "Completionist" category into account for the games' full length, is a familiar one for classic RPG fans – in fact, it's a game that has held the top spot for two decades.

Honorary Mention: World of Warcraft (and other MMOs)

It's impossible to discuss the longest games of all time without mentioning MMOs, but it's difficult to define what counts as "beating" an endless game. Downing the guy on the front cover, reaching max level, getting every achievement for true "completion" – no matter what endgame task a player sets themselves to, it will take hundreds of hours to get there. No MMO is more evident of this than the original version of "World of Warcraft," and the release of "Wrath of the Lich King Classic" is reminding players of just how tough a task it is to get to level 80. It's such an undertaking that Blizzard's controversial level boosts have been far less attacked by the "World of Warcraft" community with this "new" expansion release.


The problem with ranking MMOs among the longest games of all time is that there is so much variance in how long it takes to reach typical end-game goals. In "Wrath of the Lich King Classic," leveling from 1 to 80 can take upwards of 200 hours – and that's if you know what you're doing. Now double or even triple that to get to max level (without a boost), acquire good enough gear to join end-game raids, and beat the guy on the front cover – Arthas, the Lich King himself. Though most MMOs do have a place on community-submission sites like howlongtobeat.com, there isn't a consensus on what single accomplishment should count for completion.

At 330+ hours, Morrowind is the longest open world game

According to howlongtobeat.com, the now 20-year-old "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind" still reigns as the longest open world game of all time at about 330 hours for full completion. "Morrowind" was revolutionary when it released, not just because it and the "Elder Scrolls" series helped to popularize the first-person RPG as gamers know it today, but because of the sheer scale and depth of the game. Vvardenfell is stuffed with things to do, factions to join, secrets to explore, and so much more content than first meets the eye. Beating the main storyline by defeating Dagoth Ur can take a mere 44 hours, but to 100% "Morrowind" is a months-long journey that only the most determined fans will ever complete.


"The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind" just narrowly beats out "Kenshi," the unique top-down apocalyptic RPG, by about 30 hours. "Xenoblade Chronicles X" for the Wii U is infamous for its lengthy story, but it still falls third at about 275 hours to complete. Indeed, "Morrowind" beats out other "Elder Scrolls" titles like "Skyrim," too, which comes in at just 230 hours to 100% on average – and "Oblivion" isn't even listed on the same page. The truth of the "Elder Scrolls" games' lasting success comes down to the freedom players feel exploring Tamriel, and no fan of the series would argue that "Morrowind" has the most complex, in-depth mechanics of the lot.