Best open-world games on PS4, Xbox One, PC and more to explore during lockdown
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands
With most of the world now on lockdown, this is a great time to go on a virtual tour
Thanks to coronavirus, we're now broadly confined to our homes. If you're climbing the walls in frustration then why not take your boots off and explore the world from the comfort of your own console? Open-world games are the perfect (and now only) way to explore somewhere new.
For the purposes of this list, we're sticking to real-world locations or fictional landscapes that are strongly based on actual places. Also, because of current events, we're keeping this light – so no post-apocalyptic worlds here (sorry, Fallout 4, The Division and Mad Max). Here's a pick of the best real-world destinations to explore right now.
Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
GTA III is the granddaddy of open-world gaming and its, er, grandson is an extraordinary technical and artistic evolution which is somehow almost seven years old. It still holds up remarkably well on today's hardware, presenting an exceptionally detailed evocation of Southern California (the fictional San Andreas) and Los Angeles (here called Los Santos). Its multiplayer mode, GTA Online, is still incredibly popular thanks to significant regular updates.
Find Grand Theft Auto V on Amazon.
Watch Dogs 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
This adventure about a group of hackers features a superbly realised recreation of the vast San Francisco Bay Area, albeit somewhat scaled down. While it's no real competition for Grand Theft Auto V, the environment is stunningly recreated and it's a refreshingly bright and sunny place to explore. And the hacking mechanics are a novel way to interact with the environment.
Find Watch Dogs 2 on Amazon.
Far Cry 5 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Set in a fictional recreation of Montana, this action adventure about infiltrating a doomsday cult allows you to tame the local wildlife so they become your loyal pets. Other animals fair less well – virtual hunting is a must in order to craft improvements to your gear. Its vast American wilderness is navigable by land, sea and air although, with enemies surrounding you from all sides, you'll struggle to find the peace to enjoy it all.
Find Far Cry 5 on Amazon.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Not only an opportunity to visit a far-off land but also a historical one. Set in 1899, RDR 2 allows you to roam the Western, Midwestern and Southern United States before the land had been tamed. Like its forebear it's an open-world game in the truest sense and you're free to explore the land at your own pace, hunting and fishing for food and crafting materials. The wildlife is modelled accurately enough that you could also treat this as a virtual safari. Like GTA V, it is has an immensely popular online mode enabling you to form your own posse.
Find Red Dead Redemption 2 on Amazon.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Another historical epic, this time set in the medieval Kingdom of Bohemia. Kingdom Come strives for historical authenticity, with extraordinarily deep RPG mechanics which will delight hardcore gamers while potentially alienating anyone looking for an easy time (almost every single action has far-reaching consequences). Regardless, its depiction of 1403 Bohemia is fascinating to explore, and it includes some of the best-looking forests in gaming.
Find Kingdom Come: Deliverance on Amazon.
LA Noire (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS3, Xbox 360)
Prior to its fictional recreation of Los Angeles in GTA V, Rockstar created a facsimile of the City of Angels as it looked in 1947. While it lacks the extraordinary detail of GTA V, LA Noire is a stunningly atmospheric crime drama that uses costumes, props, music and performances to evoke the post-war period. Mad Men fans will be thrilled to see most of its cast put to superb use throughout a series of fascinating crime investigations.
Find LA Noire on Amazon.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
If you can ignore the typical Tom Clancy imperialism (a fictional US elite special operations unit is tasked with saving the poor people of South America by murdering vast swathes of its population), this is one of the biggest and most diverse environments to explore. Set in an astonishingly vast recreation of Bolivia, the landscape features an incredible range of biomes, from mountains to forests, desserts to salt flats. The lighting and weather effects are consistently stunning and, coupled with its extraordinary audio, it's so atmospheric that you can practically feel the heat of the South American sun burning through your screen.
Find Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands on Amazon.
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One, PC)
This open-world street racing game is set in a highly condensed representation of Great Britain. Here, you can race around the Lake District, the Cotswolds, the Highlands and – its headline feature – a beautifully evocative version of Edinburgh that has been edited comprehensively enough to really confuse anyone familiar with the capital's famous twisty streets.
Find Forza Horizon 4 on Amazon.
Assassins Creed Origins (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Reinvigorating a series that had grown stale with repetition and a punishing annual release cycle, Origins transports you to Ancient Egypt (c49-47 BC). You can explore all the major landmarks, including the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, and it's particularly interesting to see how different (and alive) the area looked in more verdant times. The Discovery Tour mode, an educational tool curated by historians and Egyptologists, allows players to visit the game's major sights without fear of attack – it's available within the game and as a standalone release. Its sequel, Assassins Creed Odyssey, does the same for historical and mythical Greek locations.
Find Assassins Creed Origins on Amazon.
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