Exploration is one of the main facets of video games, especially modern ones, that take games well beyond the territory of Pong and Super Mario Bros. and invite them to immerse themselves within worlds fantastic.
Well beyond completing mission objectives and furthering the storyline, games that offer exploration as a choice allow players to fully immerse themselves within these virtual environments, discovering facets of the game that otherwise elude players who’d choose instead to breeze through the story for the sake of finishing the game.
To incentivize exploration, developers hide quests, bits of collectibles, as well as easter eggs for adventurers to find and discover, providing them with countless memories to call their own.
In this list, we cover some of the medium’s best exploration games of all time. If you think we left anything out, feel free to chime in the comments below, and be sure to tell us what you’re looking forward to playing–what game you’re interested in exploring.
#25 Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch Productions has been around since the late 1990s and they have delivered two big franchises for the Sony PlayStation platforms. We received the Sly Cooper and Infamous IP thanks to these folks and while it was a bit of a longer period of development from their last video game release, Infamous: First Light which came out in 2014, we finally got their latest video game title release this year with Ghost of Tsushima. This is a PlayStation 4 exclusive that follows a samurai named Jin, who is the last samurai standing to fight off a Mongol invasion.
With all his samurai allies fallen due to the invasion, Jin learns quickly that the old ways of fighting will not protect his home from these ruthless invaders. As a result, Jin takes on a more stealth approach to eliminate these enemies and it’s also an open-world game which means that players can freely explore for new locations. There are quite a few areas worth checking out as well which can further expand your health, resolve, or simply take for images for the beautiful scenery. It might not be as full of a game for collectibles or other content to seek out as some of these other games on the list, but you can still find yourself getting lost within the world crafted by Sucker Punch.
#24 No Man’s Sky
When No Man’s Sky was first introduced to the world there was some massive anticipation with players eagerly awaiting to get their hands on a copy. Unfortunately, when the game released a lot of expectations and even features players were excited for were simply missing. It was a big letdown with fans no longer interested in going back to replay the game rather shortly after its release. However, over a slew of updates, No Man’s Sky has shaped into being an incredible experience for fans and well worth playing today if you haven’t touched the game since it first launched.
This is very much an exploration game as well. Set to venture off into countless planets are procedurally generated, there’s no telling just what you’ll find once on the planet. From a variety of unique aliens to toxic landscapes, players not only can explore to seek out some resources but chart out their discoveries for other players to view in a massive database. You can easily sink countless hours playing through this game and with more content being added into the title, you’ll find that there is more to discover on a regular basis.
#23 Far Cry New Dawn
Note: Spoilers for Far Cry 5
If you enjoyed Far Cry 5 then you know that the ending leaves you hanging. At the end of the game, you find that the world is on the brink of collapsing due to the end of the world and you find yourself stuck with the antagonist where the game ends following credits. Now if you’re hoping to find out what happens after the credits roll and what has happened to Hope County after the nuclear blast then you’ll get the opportunity in Far Cry New Dawn. This title takes place seventeen years after the events of Far Cry 5 where you will find returning characters from Far Cry 5 and the result of the protagonist and antagonist of Far Cry 5.
With Hope County mangled and distorted by the nuclear blast, players will find new landmasses to explore. Survivors have started to rebuild the world but a new threat of bandits has prevented Hope County from truly being free from tyranny control. Players will be stepping up to free up outposts and preventing from the new bandit group controlled by twin sisters from destroying Hope County and the innocent citizens who dwell within it
As previously mentioned, this game takes place years after the events of Far Cry 5 which means that if you played the game then you’ll be a bit familiar with the surroundings. However, it has been noted before that because the Far Cry 5 installment ended in a nuclear blast, there will be new areas formed to explore along with past locations inaccessible. Ultimately, you’re going to have some enjoyment exploring the new areas rather than getting the same overall land terrain of Far Cry 5.
#22 Far Cry 5
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.
#21 Final Fantasy XV
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 on 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. Gamers are encouraged to explore the wide-open environments likewise, there was much to discover in the game’s open world as you completed the lengthy campaign.
Find more great exploration games on the next page!