Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best Open World Games Of 2022

Certain genres dominate the world of gaming, with first-person shooters, racers, and role-playing games often topping the charts. Open world games have also seen a popularity surge in recent years. Boasting titles ranging from "Grand Theft Auto 5" to "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," the genre has transformed into one of the most successful and popular in the world, selling millions of copies.


Open world games typically offer sprawling worlds for players to explore and hundreds of additional quests and secrets to discover. According to Ars Technica, true open world titles hinge on non-linear stories, giving players the freedom to choose how they want to progress. This makes them appealing to those who don't want to be told where to go, what to do, and when to do it.

2022 saw a great collection of open world games hit store shelves across every major platform, from first-party exclusives to multisystem big hitters. A select number of titles among this group stood out as the best of the best.

Slime Rancher 2

Monomi Park's sequel to its 2017 hit "Slime Rancher" has yet to get a full release, but it did make it to early access in September 2022. Anyone who has played the first entry in the series will find the basic gameplay hook familiar. Users once again take control of Beatrix LeBeau as she raises and farms a variety of slimes in a new area known as Rainbow Island. Like its predecessor, "Slime Rancher 2" has an open world, with players given free rein to go out and investigate the in-game map. Exploration plays a necessary role in the experience, as it allows players to discover new types of slimes and food to earn better tools or upgrades.


Despite its early access status, "Slime Rancher 2" has still attracted plenty of praise from players and reviewers alike. GamingBoulevard felt the follow-up does little to innovate, but highlighted the introduction of new materials, slimes, and items to make it a bigger game than the original. Meanwhile, GamesRadar+ noted the beauty of Rainbow Island and the way that the mysteries hidden away in the world provide even more motivation to go around and uncover all of its secrets.

  • Release Date: September 22, 2022 (Early Access)
  • Genre: Simulation, Action-Adventure, First-Person Shooter, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: N/A (PC), N/A (Xbox Series X|S)

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

After years of following the same formula, developer Game Freak has begun to experiment with the "Pokémon" series, implementing ideas and features that many modern games have used for some time. "Pokémon Scarlet and Violet" evolve the open world concept first hinted at in "Pokémon Sword and Shield." As laid out by Ars Technica, the twin titles offer a proper free-roaming area that players can explore at their own pace, choosing what direction they want to go in at any given point.


This new approach makes the latest installments in the long-running franchise feel the most ambitious and contemporary of any "Pokémon" title since the first two generations. While reviewers agreed that "Scarlet and Violet" have a lot of technical issues, the open world format provides a level of freedom never seen before in the series. Trainers can go out and survey the new Paldea region without having to stick to the basic mechanic of beating gym bosses to earn badges.

A series of small but important gameplay improvements also makes exploration feel like the right approach to take, such as the fact that players can now fast travel to any Pokémon Center they have already visited (via Inverse). Ultimately, the "Pokémon" blueprint only needs a few tweaks rather than wholesale changes and "Pokémon Scarlet and Violet" have moved the IP towards providing a far less linear experience.

  • Release Date: November 18, 2022
  • Genres: RPG, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Online Multiplayer (Co-Op and PvP), Local Co-Op
  • Metacritic Score: 72 (Switch)

Need for Speed Unbound

The "Need for Speed" franchise has seen plenty of ups and downs over the last decade. Once one of gaming's premier racing series, "Need for Speed" has since fallen from grace. While most critics have not identified it as a truly outstanding title, "Need for Speed Unbound" does manage to partially course-correct an IP that has come to lack notable entries. Developed by Criterion Games, this 2022 entry sees players explore Lakeshore City in an open world setting similar to the other recent "Need for Speed" offerings.


"Need for Speed Unbound" doesn't try to reinvent the wheel or do anything too drastic. Instead, according to Eurogamer, it nails the basics in a "return to form" that makes driving around Lakeshore fun as players try to discover everything the Chicago-inspired location has to offer. It also features a good mix of different areas that allow for various race types, from the sprints of the busy downtown to the more generous tracks of the suburbs. Few racing games manage to make driving around an open world quite as enjoyable as "Need for Speed Unbound," a setting that Polygon felt looks pretty great as well.

  • Release Date: December 2, 2022
  • Genre: Racing, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Online Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 73 (PC), 77 (PS5), 77 (Xbox Series X|S)

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Despite the fact that Bethesda, a company now owned by Microsoft, published "Ghostwire: Tokyo," a pre-existing agreement with Sony secured the game as a timed console exclusive for the PlayStation 5. This means that Xbox owners have yet to get a chance to try out the action-adventure title — a shame considering the unique setting and distinctive gameplay that it contains. 


In "Ghostwire," players fight various ghosts and spirits in Tokyo using a variety of psychic abilities. Unlike previous offerings from developer Tango Gameworks, such as "The Evil Within 2," this title puts the emphasis more on open world exploration than linear storytelling. NME found the district of Shibuya, the game's primary location, a compelling and faithful digital recreation of its real-world counterpart. Full of detail, the paranormal events of "Ghostwire: Tokyo" serve to make it look even more stylish.

VG247 compared "Ghostwire" favorably to the more formulaic Ubisoft-style sandbox games, which often come down to unlocking parts of the map and completing a series of side quests. The more targeted take on this formula used by "Ghostwire" prevents the title from feeling as bloated as other offerings. The reviewer also highlighted that the missions feel more meaningful and come in punchier, more impactful forms that don't linger for too long.

  • Release Date: March 25, 2022
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: 77 (PC), 75 (PS5)

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

"Dying Light 2: Stay Human" serves as the sequel to 2015's "Dying Light," both of which were developed and published by Techland. Like its predecessor, "Stay Human" utilizes RPG and survival mechanics, focusing on the goal of surviving in a hostile world following a zombie apocalypse. The gameplay largely revolves around fighting enemies and using parkour-like skills to get around the map and safely avoid confrontations.


Critics gave "Dying Light 2" plenty of praise, especially compared to the first entry, though they also identified some problems. The criticism mostly focused on the predictable story and the lack of any meaningful character development. However, the game makes up for this in other areas, especially when it comes to its massive open world and means of traversal.

The parkour gameplay, which allows players to smoothly move around the hellish city as they find the most efficient route through the various buildings and structures, impressed Tweak Town. Dexerto went so far as to identify the environment as the true standout of "Stay Human," presenting a "terrifying escape room and parkour playground" for gamers to spend many hours in.

  • Release Date: February 4, 2022
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Survival, RPG, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Online Co-Op
  • Metacritic Score: 77 (PC), 76 (PS5), 77 (Xbox Series X|S), N/A (PS4), N/A (Xbox One)

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

The "Lego" series of "Star Wars" games have long found success thanks to the irreverent humor, charming gameplay, and playful assortment of Easter eggs. "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga," the latest entry in the TT Games series, functions as a comprehensive installment that adapts the stories from all nine major movies along with some of the spin-off films and television shows.


Beyond the fact that it contains content from the IP's biggest properties, "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga" also differentiates itself from the other games in the franchise through its approach to missions. The developers present an open world where gamers can choose how they want to proceed, tackling quests from any of the movies in the order that they choose. They can also explore a wide range of planets from "Star Wars," including Tatooine, Coruscant, Kashyyk, and Hoth.

Receiving widespread praise, "Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga" drew particular attention for its updated combat, the addition of proper voice acting, and the inclusion of the series' signature humor (via Shacknews). ComingSoon also highlighted the open galaxy concept, suggesting that it gives fans of "Star Wars" a good reason to buy the entry simply to traverse the different planets and discover more about them.

  • Release Date: April 5, 2022
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Local Co-Op
  • Metacritic Score: 82 (Switch), 78 (PC), 82 (PS5), 82 (Xbox Series X|S), N/A (PS4), 76 (Xbox One)


Although "Grounded" entered early access in 2020, its full release didn't come until September 2022. Created by the Microsoft-owned studio Obsidian Entertainment, the survival game sees players take on the role of a person shrunk down to insect size who must stay alive while facing a host of threats. This process involves gathering resources and fighting off insects, such as ants, that can attack and kill the player.


Something of a surprise hit, "Grounded" has an in-game area that Windows Central described as an "incredibly detailed open world packed with content and secrets." The reviewer also praised the way the game tempts users to go out and explore as much of the massive backyard as possible. Along a similar line, Rock Paper Shotgun praised the way that the environment feels like a truly living world, with each area interacting with the others.

Eurogamer also noted how the setting of "Grounded" can be a truly terrifying place, with the insects moving in a realistic manner and making hissing noises that might scare some players. Combine that with the sheer amount of things to find and it's easily one of the most interesting maps to explore in any game released in 2022.

  • Release Date: September 27, 2022
  • Genre: Survival, Action-Adventure, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Online Co-Op
  • Metacritic Score: 83 (PC), 82 (Xbox Series X|S), N/A (Xbox One)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

"Pokémon Sword and Shield" first introduced the idea of an open world to the famous Nintendo franchise but a proper open world experiment didn't unfold until "Pokémon Legends: Arceus." While it took Game Freak until "Pokémon Scarlet and Violet" to fully implement this kind of gameplay feature, the early 2022 title has a number of open areas that players can enter and roam around. "Arceus" does require returning to a central hub like in the more recent "Monster Hunter" entries rather than simply moving around the map freely, however (via Kotaku).


Overall, "Pokémon Legends: Arceus" offers a more relaxing approach than most other "Pokémon" entries. Rather than emphasizing battles, it favors research and exploration. Set in the distant past, players must take on the task of surveying the Hisui region and discovering everything it has to offer. According to Den of Geek, the developers have hidden secrets across the different biomes for Pokémon trainers brave enough to venture out into the wild to discover. The changes to the standard "Pokémon" formula were enough to impress critics and give it one of the best Metacritic scores of any game in the series for some time.

  • Release Date: January 28, 2022
  • Genre: Action, RPG, Open World Elements
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: 83 (Switch)

Horizon Forbidden West

The "Horizon" series has seemingly always faced an uphill battle to get noticed, even among dedicated PlayStation gamers. As pointed out by one Redditor, this could be because each entry has released alongside arguably the biggest game of the year, with "Horizon Zero Dawn" coming out around the same time as "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" and "Horizon Forbidden West" launching a few weeks apart from "Elden Ring." Fortunately, the sequel still managed to attract plenty of praise from critics and players.


Carrying on the legacy of an already very good game, "Horizon Forbidden West" received near universal acclaim when it hit storefronts in 2022. Bigger and better than ever before, it introduces a wide array of new weapons, enemies, and even mounts to expand the gameplay. It also features an open world that stretches across a variety of distinctive regions, inviting players to explore. Gaming Bible argued that it contains the greatest open world of any game in 2022, showcasing impressive detail and an audacious range of terrains. Meanwhile, Wired praised the way that "Horizon Forbidden West" makes going out into the world exciting and hugely enjoyable.

  • Release Date: February 18, 2022
  • Genre: Action, RPG, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: 88 (PS5), 83 (PS4)


After showings at E3 in 2017 and 2018, "Tunic" quickly became a highly anticipated game, especially when it became clear that it had drawn inspiration from "The Legend of Zelda" and "Dark Souls" in terms of its gameplay, appearance, and even the way it tells a story — elements that Destructoid found particularly pleasing. Like classic SNES action-adventure titles, "Tunic" plays from an isometric view, with an anthropomorphic fox surveying the overworld to try and make sense of the land and their presence there.


Technically, "Tunic" does not function as a true open world in the traditional sense, as many areas are blocked off and can only be explored once the player has made enough progress. Yet, gamers enjoy much more freedom than they would find in a traditional linear loop and they have the ability to just wander off and do their own thing for the most part. This aspect compliments the beautiful setting of "Tunic," with each environment sporting its own stunning look, according to VentureBeat.

While it does bear a striking resemblance to "The Legend of Zelda," "Tunic" differs in the way it presents itself to the player, with a sort of ambiguity and lack of explanation more typical of titles like "Dark Souls" and "Elden Ring." This works in its favor, though, prompting players to discover the strange world for themselves rather than learning about it from other characters (via Inverse). The style adds an additional challenge, forcing players to think to overcome obstacles.

  • Release Date: March 16, 2022
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, RPG, Souls-Like, Open World Elements
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: 88 (Switch), 85 (PC), 86 (PS5), 85 (Series X), N/A (PS4), 85 (Xbox One

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

While not the oldest Nintendo development studio, Monolith Soft established itself as one of the behemoth's most talented with the release of "Xenoblade Chronicles" for the Wii back in 2012. Following up on the series' earlier success, the third mainline installment takes place in a land known as Aionios, where a duo of warring factions remain in a state of constant battle. Two heroes, one from each side of the war, join forces to finally reveal the truth of who is orchestrating events behind the scenes.


With the cast of characters all grouped together from the earliest moments of the game, "Xenoblade Chronicles 3" gives players the opportunity to form immediate attachments to them and learn about their motivations and backstories (via IGN). As well as setting the stage for an interesting story, it also encourages the player to go off and explore the world to find out more about Aionios and the various individuals that live there. With an open world setting that Screen Rant suggested could serve as "the blueprint for future JRPGs," "Xenoblade Chronicles 3" boasts a stunning collection of environments and areas that beg the player to set out to see what they have to offer.

  • Release Date: July 29, 2022
  • Genre: Action, RPG, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player Only
  • Metacritic Score: 89 (Switch)

Elden Ring

It is hard to look past "Elden Ring" as the best open world game of 2022 when many sources identified it as the best overall game of the year as well. Developed by the same studio responsible for "Dark Souls" and "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice," the action RPG sees players take control of a Tarnished in the Lands Between as they seek to become the Elden Lord. Essentially taking the "Souls" formula and transferring it to a truly open world setting, it combines the two elements to create a unique experience that has swept up awards since its release in February.


The fact that the developers built "Elden Ring" around the concept of not holding the player's hand makes the open world particularly engaging. Instead, the Tarnished treks out into the Lands Between to find their own path, tackling the vast majority of the world's bosses and challenges in any order they see fit, according to Game Rant. Den of Geek expressed that exploring this vast area and stumbling across hidden secrets, compelling NPCs, and powerful new items never gets old and "Elden Ring" provides a constant feeling of satisfaction and discovery. Both reviewers pushed the idea that FromSoftware's creation had brought the open world genre to new heights, shaking up what they felt had become a stale formula.

  • Release Date: February 25, 2022
  • Genre: Action, RPG, Soulsborne, Open World
  • Game Modes: Single-Player, Online Multiplayer (Co-Op and PvP)
  • Metacritic: 94 (PC), 96 (PS5), 96 (Series X|S), N/A (PS4), N/A (Xbox One)