Top 23 PlayStation 4 Exploration Games Of The Last Five Years

Note: This article was updated in November of 2018.

Some video game developers really spend their time crafting the game world. There are so many titles out there in the market that is filled with extra visual goodies to discover as you explore. From open-world titles that toss the players into an oddity location along with the classic adventure style games, exploring your surroundings just comes naturally.

In this video game list, we’re going to showcase some of our favorite titles that left us spending plenty of time looking around the in-game world rather than pushing to progress the narrative along. To establish some guidelines, this list will only contain titles that are readily available today on the PlayStation 4. Likewise, we’re only focusing on video game titles that have been released in the last five years.

With all that said, take a look below at some great video games filled with spectacular exploration elements. Furthermore, let us know what video game you spent the longest exploring within the world rather than progressing the campaign by leaving a comment!


#23 Just Cause 3

  • Developer: Avalanche Studios
  • Publisher: Square Enix

Just Cause 3 is the third game in the long-running Just Cause series of third-person action games. Offering a vast open world setting on a fictional Mediterranean island known as Medici, series protagonist Rico Rodriguez returns, this time to oust a dictator named General Di Ravello from power.

The game’s map size is similar to that of Just Cause 2, offering 400 square miles of content–but with increased verticality. This game installment also marks as not only the biggest but most over-the-top entry to date.

#22 Firewatch

  • Developer: Campo Santo
  • Publisher: Panic, Campo Santo

Firewatch is the debut title for development studio’s Campo Santo. Within the game, players take on the role of a forest fire lookout named Henry. Set back in 1989, Henry’s only form of communication is through a walkie-talkie to another nearby forest fire lookout named Delilah.

Overall, Henry is tasked with maintaining the safety of the forest and preventing forest fires if possible. However, there seems to be something more going out in the woods leading to potential sabotage. During this narrative adventure title players will discover the reason behind Henry taking a job that essentially secludes him from the outside world.

#21 Dying Light

  • Developer: Techland
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Dying Light was created under Techland, who was also the developers behind Dead Island and as such, there are some clear similarities between the two. However, between the two video game titles, Dying Light certainly carries a more mature tone and bleak world.

The video game follows an agent named Kyle Crane who is tasked with infiltrating a quarantine zone city of Harran which has become infested with a virus turning civilians into ruthless zombies. Interestingly enough, there’s a twist on the day and night cycle in Dying Light. During the day, the zombies are more lethargic and easier to deal with, though once the sun set’s they become more aggressive and harder to escape.

Developers have also tossed in some parkour elements within the game allowing players to easily traverse the city and its obstacles when fleeing the undead hordes. Combat as well has been changed from the melee focus from what we seen within Dead Island to gunplay, giving players an action-adventure experience.

#20 Middle-earth: Shadow of War

  • Developer: Monolith Productions
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Following after the events of Shadow of Mordor, Middle-earth: Shadow of War will continue to showcase our main protagonist Talion as he forged a new Ring of Power. However, conflict may arise between Talion and his infused spirit of elf lord Celebrimbor when it comes to their end goals.

Outside of the narrative, most of the gameplay mechanics you’ve become acquainted with in the first installment makes a return as you take down orcs and travel across the open lands completing quests and slaying orcs.

#19 The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

  • Developer: The Astronauts
  • Publisher: The Astronauts

The development team known as The Astronauts, currently only has one title out, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. This an adventure game that follows Paul Prospero who is a paranormal investigator that received a fan letter from a young boy named Ethan Carter.

Inspired by the letter, Paul ventures out into Ethan’s hometown only to learn that something tragic had happened. Now players are left to solve the mystery and find out where Ethan is and the events that occurred prior to his arrival.

#18 Far Cry 5
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft

The fifth main title within the franchise, Far Cry 5, takes place within the United States of America in a fictional Montana area known as Hope County.

Within the narrative, Far Cry 5 pins players against Joseph Seed, a leader of a cult who has forced his way into controlling Hope County. As more innocent civilians become trapped and forced into submission under Joseph Seed’s rule, only a handful of resistance stands in his way.

Just as before, players can expect the title to deliver as a first-person shooter in an open world environment which can be explored either on foot or through vehicles. However, the campaign can be experienced both as a single player narrative or through cooperative multiplayer.

#17 Hitman 2

  • Developer: IO Interactive
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

If you enjoyed the Hitman video game release back in 2016 then you won’t want to miss out on its sequel. Hitman 2 will continue on with the narrative journey left off in the previous installment. Players will once again step into the role of Agent 47 where he will be taking on contracts and killing off the designated targets. However, the overall goal in Agent 47’s mind is taking out the Shadow Client from the previous video game storyline.

There is also another change up from the past title and that this time around players will not have to deal with an episodic release. Unlike Hitman, Hitman 2 will have a more standard video game launch with the entire game being available right from its release. However, the game will still be supported post-release as developers IO Interactive will be delivering DLC expansions.

Gameplay will still be the same where Agent 47 will have to blend into his environment in order to stealthily take down his target.

#16 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

  • Developers: Ubisoft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed latest installment is known as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The video game is set in 431 BCE where players will have the choice of being a mercenary that fights for Athens and the Delian League or the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Either way, players will be a descendant of Spartan King Leonidas I during the Peloponnesian War.

Much like the previous Assassin’s Creed installments, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will feature a modern day protagonist as well. Ubisoft will be reintroducing players to Layla Hassan who was present during Assassin’s Creed Origins.

Developers over at Ubisoft seems to also be working more on an RPG progressive system in this upcoming title which ranges from dialogue choices to a skill tree that can help in aspects such as stealth and combat. Likewise we will see dialogue options which can alter the story narrative and gameplay.

#15 Final Fantasy XV

  • Developer: Square Enix Business Division 2
  • Publisher: Square Enix

Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing video game and the fifteenth main installment to the Final Fantasy franchise. Overall the story of Final Fantasy XV will center between two empires that have declared war, Lucis and Nifheim, though after Nifheim successfully captures the kingdom’s crystal of Lucis, a group of friend’s sets out to regain it.

Players take control of Noctis, prince of Lucis, who teams up with his fellow friends in a grand journey against a massive empire force. The game is also set in an open world environment with available quests and collectibles to gather.

#14 Assassin’s Creed: Origins

  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the latest installment within the Assassin’s Creed series. Players are taken to the end of the Ptolemaic period in Egypt as they witness the origins of the long driven conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. Being an Assassin’s Creed game, you can expect a heavy emphasis on stealth with Origins being more opened world to explore during your game progression.

This is also one of the more highly regarded Assassin’s Creed installments for the franchise. Likewise, because the game sets up the story between the Assassin’s and Templar Order you won’t have to play any of the past installments to really enjoy the game.

#13 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition

  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Skyrim is the fifth game in Bethesda’s ever popular series of role-playing games, The Elder Scrolls. Like its predecessors, Skyrim takes place in an open environment which is full of exploration, wonder and a whole slew of quests. You can easily spend countless hours within this fantasy world and we’d honestly be surprised to find a gamer who has yet to experience this journey. If you have yet to do so, pick up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition as it comes with past DLC and begin to weave your very own tale.

#12 Watch Dogs 2

  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher: Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 2, much like the first installment of the Watch Dogs franchise, is set in an open-world environment. Players take on the role of Marcus Holloway, a hacker that is affiliated with the infamous hacking group DedSec.

Set in San Francisco, the city starts to roll out the Central Operating System, otherwise known as ctOS, which allows everyone and everything to be connected. After Marcus Hollow is framed for a crime and ctOS recognizing him as a suspect, Marcus opts to work with DedSec to take down the system while also freeing innocent citizens of being ruled by the privacy invading city security system.

#11 Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

  • Developer: Sega
  • Publisher: Sega

For those familiar with the Yakuza series, the latest main installment of the series, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, will pick back up the narrative storyline players have been following over the years. Just like previous installments to the franchise, gamers can expect a brawler fighting title with a slightly open world environment to explore.

As players go through the game, they can level up and unlock useful skills to use against other Yakuza thugs. When it comes to the narrative, players will step into the shoes of Kazuma Kiryu once again who is on a mission to learn what has happened to Haruka after being locked away for three years.

#10 Night in the Woods

  • Developer: Infinite Fall
  • Publisher: Finji

Night in the Woods is another title that has become a favorite for fans of the adventure genre. Within the game, players take on the role of a young character by the name of Mae who dropped out of college.

Now back at her hometown and living with her parents, Mae discovers how much time has passed which changed not only her hometown but the friends that she grew up with. This adventure title quickly takes Mae into the woods where she begins to uncover a hidden secret that the town kept long ago.

Digging deeper into the history of Possum Springs, Mae will learn of the reason the coal mines were officially shutdown and the disappearance of her childhood friend.

#9 Fallout 4

  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

If you’re a fan of the Fallout franchise then it’s likely you’ve already picked up the latest release. However, if you’re completely new to the series, Fallout 4 still marks as a great first entry. Set during the events of a nuclear war, players manage to escape annihilation by being secured safely inside a protective vault. Players are then awoken hundreds of years later to a world that is nothing more than decay.

Each installment to the Fallout franchise manages to bring out an incredible wasteland to explore and Fallout 4 is no exception to that trend. You’ll come across old ruins, new structures, and a fleshed out cast of characters to meet along your journey.

#8 What Remains of Edith Finch

  • Developer: Giant Sparrow
  • Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

What Remains of Edith Finch is a title from developers Giant Sparrow, the team behind The Unfinished Swan. Overall, the video game follows Edith Finch as he begins to explore a colossal house owned by her family. As she learns more of her family history, she begins to discover what happened to each member during their last day alive. It’s up to you as fit together the puzzle pieces which will reveal this family history.

#7 Nier: Automata

  • Developer: PlatinumGames
  • Publisher: Square Enix

Nier: Automata is a sequel to the 2010 video game release known as Nier, a spin-off title from the Drakengard series. Overall, the story is set within a proxy war between machines developed by alien invaders and the last surviving members of humanity.

Through the game progression we’ll learn more about our protagonist android who is tasked into saving a world for the human race. Still not persuaded on picking up Nier: Automata? Take a look of our detailed breakdown of the game within with our Before You Buy series upload right up above.

#6 Dragon Age: Inquisition

  • Developer: BioWare Edmonton
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

The third major installment to the Dragon Age franchise, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an action role-playing video game where players take on the role of an Inquisitor who is on a grand journey to deal with the civil unrest in the continent of Thedas.

While developers have set the game to be on the same continent of the past two installments, exploration for Dragon Age: Inquisition is rather massive in comparison. For instance, it’s been noted that the game features a map that is already five times larger than the setting of the first installment of the series. With all that said, you’ll want to set aside some time to really dive into the video game.

#5 Horizon: Zero Dawn

  • Developer: Guerrilla Games
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Horizon Zero Dawn marks as the first IP developed by Guerrilla Games since their release of Killzone in 2004. This is an action role-playing video game title that is set a thousand years into the future.

Mankind has mysteriously fallen with cities only a shell of a once thriving society. Now only small tribal groups remain with giant mechanical beasts roam the world openly. The plot will revolve around a female hunter named Aloy who sets out on a journey to explore the open world, meet with other tribes, and potentially learn of the reason she was banished from the tribe when she was just a baby.

#4 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom

Fans of western RPGs will no doubt have played at least one of the Witcher games. This series of Polish games based on the works of Andrzej Sapkowski has gained a lot of fans over the years, mainly thanks to its complex world, stories, incredible graphics and deep gameplay systems.

The third and final installment in the series sees a much older Geralt of Rivia – one of the titular Witchers – as he deals with the invasion of the Northern Kingdom by the Nilfgaard Empire and the otherworldly threat of the Wild Hunt. Offering a massive open world, hours upon hours of story content and sidequests, tons of NPCS to interact with and monsters to hunt, this title will keep you busy for quite some time.

#3 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami

Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, players can enjoy the last installment of the beloved franchise in which was directed under Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain follows Snake as he goes through a new mission that takes him to a Soviet-occupied Afghanistan territory.

During the journey, Snake seeks his revenge on those who destroyed his forces during the ending of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, however, to do so, Snake will be exploring an open world environment. For fans of the franchise, this latest installment is seen to be a bit different in terms of the gameplay with this time around, developers allow the players a little more freedom when it comes to how they can complete an objective.

#2 Grand Theft Auto V

  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto V is by and large one of the biggest open world titles ever developed and it really fleshes out the city of Los Santos. Players take control of three protagonists this time around with narratives dealing with old kept secrets and new beginnings. Outside of the cast of characters featured within the main campaign, Los Santos acts as the setting for the online component known as Grand Theft Auto Online.

Online, gamers can face against each other in a wide variety of game modes, join together and complete missions or even decide to wreak havoc while fleeing the police. Years after its initial release, Grand Theft Auto V continues to be a popular video game to play.

#1 Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Developer: Rockstar Studios
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games has crafted up a number of incredible pieces of work. Their beloved long-running series Grand Theft Auto, the single IP release of Bully, and of course their old western series, Red Dead Redemption just to name a few. Red Dead Redemption has a massive following and gamers all over the world have been waiting for a new installment.

Within Red Dead Redemption 2 players take the role of Arthur Morgan who finds himself on the run from the law with his fellow members of the Van der Linde gang. Outside of being another western adventure full of gun battles and forming your protagonist as a law abiding citizen or morally corrupt outlaw, the game also sets players on a massive open world. This open world environment will also feature a variety of landscapes, wildlife and interesting characters.