Updated at: 05-06-2023 - By: Leo Hall
The best upcoming open-world video games of 2018 are listed below. View the newest releases, trailers, and gameplay videos.

The gap between console and PC gaming is closing, and as a result, open-world games are becoming more realistic and complex than ever before.

While role-playing games, action/adventure games, and survival games make up the vast majority of open-world games, we’ve highlighted a few that try to break the mold.

Here, we’ll take a look ahead to 2022 and highlight the best open-world games coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

In the future, we will add more titles to this list, so come back to see if we’ve added any of your most anticipated open world games.

The Day Before

Due out on June 21st, 2022.

Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One X/S.

Survival in a post-pandemic United States rife with flesh-eating infected and untrustworthy survivors is the focus of The Day Before, an upcoming open-world MMO.

After regaining consciousness with no memory, your protagonist will need to scavenge for food and other necessities while also searching for the truth.

You’ll search through wrecked cars, houses, and other structures for weapons and supplies as you fight your way through a once-beautiful world gone mad.

Despite the lack of an official release date, the game’s current state of polish has left us wondering if the final product will maintain this level of quality.

Saints Row

Due out on August 23rd, 2022

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One, Xbox X/S

Saints Row is an open-world action-adventure video game developed by Volition and published by Deep Silver, set in the American southwest. The original game was released in 2006.

Saints Row®: The Third™ Remastered | Download and Buy Today - Epic Games Store

Santo Ileso is a city in which three rival criminal gangs—Los Panteros, the Idols, and Marshall Defense Industries—vy for control. Players must make their way through this dangerous environment.

Players assume the role of “Boss,” assembling an army of disgruntled thugs-for-hire to overthrow rival gangs and seize control of the city.

It is expected that the new Saints Row will have a more balanced tone between comedy and seriousness than the original.


Time of Publication: October 11th, 2022

Windows, PlayStation 5

Luminous Productions is a new Square Enix studio made up of former Final Fantasy 15 developers working on the upcoming open-world action-adventure game Forspoken.

You take control of a quick-footed young woman, most likely named Athia, as she travels through snowy mountains, lush forests, and ancient ruins in a “world not her own.”

The teaser trailer reveals that Athia can cause roots to sprout from the ground and that enemies including fire-breathing wolves will be encountered.

If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy series, you should keep an eye on this one because of the developer’s obvious love of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs).

Gotham Knights

Date of Publication: October 25th, 2022

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One, Xbox X/S

The team at WB Games Montréal, who brought you Batman: Arkham Origins, is back with another game in the DC Universe.

Gotham Knights follows Batman’s protégés with superpowers as they are called upon to protect Gotham City after Batman’s supposed death.

The game is presented as a four-player cooperative action role-playing game in which you assume the roles of Batgirl, Robin, Red Hood, and Nightwing.

In the game’s single-player campaign mode, the player takes control of any one of four playable characters at any time.


When: November 11, 2022, for release

System Requirements: PC (Windows) or Xbox (X/S)

Since Bethesda’s 2018 announcement of Starfield with a teaser trailer, we haven’t heard much beyond a few hints that point to an update at E3 2021.

The game will launch simultaneously on Xbox One and PC, and it will be available on Game Pass from the get-go.

Starfield is the next massively multiplayer online role-playing game from Bethesda, and it’s going to be like Skyrim, only in space.

There’s still some mystery surrounding why people are looking to the stars, but if we had to take a stab at it, we’d say it has to do with extraterrestrials.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

Due out on December 8th, 2022.

Microsoft Windows and Xbox One S

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are well-known for their realistic depiction of post-apocalyptic open worlds.

Despite their obvious similarities to the Metro and Fallout RPG series, development on the series halted after only three games.

A radioactive wasteland called “The Zone” surrounds the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and players will explore this area.

The high radiation levels in the area give the scavengers special powers that help them move around and fight.

Hogwarts Legacy

Date of Publication: Not Currently Known

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One, Xbox X/S

We haven’t seen many games that delve into the wizarding world of Harry Potter outside of movie tie-ins and the occasional mobile release.

The upcoming open-world action RPG Hogwarts Legacy by Avalanche and Warner Bros. is set to change that.

It’s set in the late 1800s and players take on the role of a new student at Hogwarts who must select a House, enroll in classes, and investigate the school’s mysterious grounds.

They’ll level up and learn to use a variety of spells, concoct potions, tame magical beasts, and fight enemies while navigating a morality system that takes their actions into account.

My Time At Sandrock

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and Nintendo Switch.

Developer and publisher Pathea Games recently announced that a sequel to the farming simulation role-playing game My Time At Portia would be released in late 2021 or early 2022.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the developer had hoped to release the game in Steam Early Access in 2021. However, problems with the game certification process have delayed the release.

The gameplay in My Time At Sandrock is very similar to that of the original game, with the exception of a new Western setting and numerous supplementary quests and characters.

A new and improved combat system, along with additional materials, crops, tools, and workshop items, will be included in the sequel.


Date of Publication: To Be Determined

Microsoft Windows

In the upcoming open world adventure Tchia, players assume the role of a young girl who sets out to discover a physics-based sandbox.

There are exotic locales to explore, interesting characters to interact with, and secrets to uncover at every turn in this game.

Tchia can also magically change into more than thirty different animals and more than one hundred different objects.

This is reflected in both the plot and the gameplay, as Tchia makes use of her abilities to aid her companions, discover new areas of the island, and avoid peril.


The date of release is currently unknown.

Windows Is The Platform

Palworld, the upcoming open world game from Pocketpair Games, best known for Craftopia, straddles the line between weird and genuinely exciting.

It’s a survival crafting game with a Pokemon-like twist, as you can catch and train a variety of creatures called “Pals.”

Various activities, from combat to farming to building to fishing, can benefit from the unique abilities of the monsters you collect.

The concept of Palworld is intriguing, even if it is a little disconcerting to see cute animals coexisting with weapons like shotguns and assault rifles and even rocket launchers.

Slime Rancher 2

Publication Date: Still Undetermined

Released for PC and Xbox One X/S.

The independent game developer Monomi Park is hard at work on a follow-up to their bouncy and colorful farming sim, Slime Rancher.

Slime Rancher 2 follows Beatrix LeBeau into a new world called Rainbow Island, which is full of ancient mysteries and exotic wildlife.

You’ll be able to collect and breed a wide variety of slime creatures, each with its own unique traits and personality, thanks to your arsenal of slime-wrangling tools.

You can earn newbucks to spend on ranch improvements and new gadgets once you learn how to take advantage of the game’s plort-based economy.

Hazel Sky

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Windows PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

In Hazel Sky, you play the part of a young engineer who must face the perils of an uninhabited island.

On your quest, you’ll travel across the island in search of components that can be assembled into impressive mechanical marvels.

The objective is to construct a device that will allow you to leave the island and return home safely; however, we anticipate that there will be many obstacles in your path.

The story of Hazel Sky also shows a lot of promise, and we can’t wait to find out more about Shane, the game’s main protagonist, despite the game’s focus on mechanics.

Crimson Desert

Time of Publication: To Be Announced

Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One

Developed and published by Pearly Abyss, the team behind the popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game Black Desert, Crimson Desert is an upcoming open world game.

The game was reworked from its original concept—a prequel to Black Desert—into a stand-alone, medieval fantasy adventure.

Players assume the role of a mercenary and must complete missions and find other mercenaries to join their cause in order to survive the game’s war-torn world.

The additional support will be greatly appreciated, as the game’s open-world regions are said to feature challenging weather conditions.

Skull & Bones

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

System requirements: Not Known

Due to the departure of the game’s creative director midway through development, Skull & Bones has been plagued by numerous setbacks, restarts, and internal turmoil.

The initial release date is currently estimated to be after March of 2021.

Many of you, and with good reason, can’t wait to get your hands on this.

Using landmasses as cover and territory control and hiding your ship by flying the enemy’s flag are two of the game’s more intriguing features.

Atomic Heart

Time of Publication Announcement

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 S, Xbox One, Xbox X/S

Atomic Heart has had one of the more intriguing development histories, with rumors suggesting it may not even be the same game anymore from when it was first announced for release in 2018.

The Russian indie studio Mundfish is well into development on a game described as a “first-person shooter with RPG elements.”

Atomic Heart is set in an alternate reality where the Soviet Union’s research has led to a technological revolution, and it is reminiscent of such classics as BioShock and Fallout.

The player takes the role of a Soviet KGB agent tasked with breaking into a radio silent facility.


The date of release is currently unknown.

Xbox Series X/S on Windows

Obsidian is hard at work on a brand-new intellectual property called Avowed. It’s a first-person role-playing game set in a fantasy world called Eora.

You take on the role of a mysterious hero in this game, swinging a sword and casting spells with stylized hand motions.

When you consider that role-playing games are Obsidian’s specialty, you can understand why they’re in such a hurry to create another one. All the Fallout games, KOTR2, Pillars of Eternity, and so on.

It will be interesting to see what Obsidian comes up with, as the themes in Avowed are much darker than anything we’ve seen them explore before.

State of Decay 3

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Compatible with Windows and Xbox Series X/S

State of Decay 3, the next installment in the zombie survival horror series, is in production for Xbox Series X and PC.

If the announcement trailer for State of Decay 3 is any indication, developer Undead Labs is well on its way toward creating the “ultimate” zombie survival simulation.

State of Decay 3 liệu có vực lại cả một dòng game triển vọng? | Mọt Game

Fans can expect to face off against more human zombies, as well as a new challenger in the form of brain-eating zombie deer.

We believe the next-gen hardware and overall reduced load times will greatly improve the game’s visuals.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justic League

Publication Date: Still Undetermined

Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One X/S.

Coming soon, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is an action adventure game based on the DC Comics universe from Rocksteady Studios, developers of the acclaimed Batman: Arkham series.

There are four playable Suicide Squad members—Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and King Shark—and the game is set in an open world based on Metropolis.

After Brainiac invades Earth and brainwashes the Justice League, the story focuses on the four-man wrecking crew as they attempt to defeat him.

The story of Suicide Squad is built around cooperative play, so players can either join forces with friends or take on the mission on their own with the help of AI allies.

The Elder Scrolls VI

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

System: To Be Announced

Despite the fact that Bethesda is currently focused on Elder Scrolls: Online, they still like to remind us every so often that Elder Scrolls VI is on the way.

However, since the last update was in 2018, it seems likely that Bethesda will unveil something this year.

The announcement trailer for ES6 showed a mountainous northern province, leading some to speculate that it will be set in Skyrim’s neighbor, High Rock.

The ongoing conflict with the Thalmor is also said to play a significant role in the game’s plot.

Sonic Frontiers

Date of Publication Not Yet Determined

Supported Systems: PC, PS4, PS5, XB1, XB2 S, and Switch

Sonic Frontiers, the upcoming entry from Sonic Team and Sega, is intended to breathe new life into the venerable platforming franchise by serving as a soft reboot.

Players will be able to freely roam the Starfall Islands in what is being called the first open-world Sonic game.

In this location, you can find a wide variety of ecosystems, from flower-filled meadows to verdant forests to crumbling ruins to barren deserts.

It will be interesting to see what new ideas are explored in Frontiers and how far they will go toward revitalizing the series, given that development on the game began in 2017 after Sonic Forces.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Nintendo Switch is the platform.

Nintendo’s announcement that development on a follow-up to 2017’s Breath of the Wild has begun was one of the biggest surprises of E3 2019.

From the looks of the reveal trailer, the next installment will continue in the vein of BOTW’s visual style but with a much darker tone.

The camera cuts from an interior shot of Ganondorf’s reanimated corpse to an exterior shot of Hyrule Castle rising into the sky.

Already, fans are drawing parallels between the new game and Majora’s Mask, another Zelda classic with mature themes and motifs.


Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 Series X/S

A new Fable game is in the works at Forza Horizons’ developer Playground Games, though it may not be the long-rumored Fable 4 sequel we were hoping for.

Fable is a reboot of the series that will stay true to the original games by giving players the chance to interact with magical creatures in fantastical settings.

We have very little information about the game’s gameplay or story beyond a cinematic trailer.

The release date is still far off, but the game is planned for the Xbox Series X, PC, and Xbox Game Pass.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Date of Publication: To Be Announced

Supported Systems: PC, PS4, PS5, XB1, XB2 S, and Switch

Daedalic Entertainment, a German video game studio, revealed in 2019 that it was developing a licensed Lord of the Rings game for next-gen consoles.

The upcoming game is being billed as an action-adventure that will “tell Gollum’s story from a perspective never seen before, in any storytelling medium,” while remaining “true and faithful” to J.R.R. Tolkien’s canon.

As a cinematic stealth adventure, LOTR: Gollum will have you exploring environments that have never been seen before in a Lord of the Rings video game.

The popularity of Lord of the Rings spin-offs like Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War, shows that there is a hungry audience of players eager to experience Middle-earth from a new perspective.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Indeterminate Release Date

Sony’s PS5

Insomniac Games is currently developing a sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 5 only.

We don’t know much about the plot or the new features of the gameplay just yet, but we do know that Peter Parker and Miles Morales will be returning as Spider-Man (or Spider-Men?).

In addition, well-known Marvel villains like Kraven the Hunter, Venom, and probably many others will show up.

We expect Spider-Man 2 to fully utilize the PS5 hardware to enable faster load times, smoother performance, and more detailed environments, just like the original PS4 exclusive.

Ark II

  • Studio Wildcard, Inc., the developer
  • Studio Wildcard is the publisher.
  • PC, XBox, and PS4
  • Launch Date: 2022

Players in Ark, a popular open-world survival game, begin the game with nothing. You’re dropped into a dangerous environment full of wild animals and other players. Fans of the original game will be pleased to hear that development has begun on a sequel. While we await additional details, previous players of the series can expect a similar open-world survival experience. Players will engage in activities such as resource gathering, item crafting, meeting other players, and subsequently forming alliances or waging war over looted equipment.

Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown

  • KTR Concepts, Inc.
  • Nacon, Publisher.
  • Computer, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo DS
  • Due out on September 22nd, 2022

The first game in the Test Drive series was released in 1987, so it has been around for a while and you might remember it. After the release of Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends in 2012, there was a relatively quiet period. However, Nacon bought the rights to the Test Drive IP in 2016 and is currently relaunching the series. What we do know is that the game will include a wide range of high-end sports cars, including the likes of the Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini, and that the setting will be an exact recreation of Hong Kong Island. We haven’t heard much about it yet, but if it lives up to its potential, it could be another exciting open-world racing game to pick up this year.

 V Rising

  • Stunlock Studios, the creators
  • Stunlock Studios is the publisher.
  • Mainframe Computer
  • To Be Announced

In V Rising, you get to experience life as a vampire. In-game, the protagonist emerges from a centuries-long slumber. You set out in search of easy prey, weak and in need of blood, before you can rebuild your castle. However, as a vampire, you must spend your days hiding and your nights feeding on the living. There will also be a multiplayer mode for online play. Here, players can compete against one another in PvP matches or team up to conquer the world.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

  • Creator: Adventure Games
  • Interactive Entertainment, a Warner Bros.
  • PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo NES.
  • Availability: 2022

This game’s inclusion on the list may come as a surprise to you. Most Lego video games follow a fairly strict plot structure, taking players through humorous parodies of famous works. It’s true that Lego Star Wars video games have existed in the past. But this is a new beginning of sorts, as you can play through all nine episodes of the Skywalker saga in this one game. The game can be played from beginning to end, and there will be plenty of open world to explore in between missions. This includes the capability of visiting other worlds. While some levels may be linear, there is still plenty of the world to discover in between missions.

GhostWire Tokyo

  • Tango Gameworks, Inc.
  • Bethesda Softworks, Inc., the publisher
  • Consoles: PS5 and PC
  • Due out in 2022

Perhaps the most memorable thing about Tango Gameworks is a more terrifying one. The development team at this studio has only released two previous installments prior to this upcoming game. For those unfamiliar with the name, this is the studio responsible for the original The Evil Within and its sequel. The team is currently developing a project that features more action than horror. Players assume the role of Akito in Ghostwire: Tokyo, a detective investigating the disappearance of Tokyo’s populace. Now ghosts from another world have taken their place. Akito, now endowed with new abilities, must use a variety of spells and supernatural attacks to vanquish the spirits and learn the truth about the city’s mysterious problems.


  • Pearl Abyss, the creator
  • Pearl Abyss, Inc., Publishers
  • Available on PC, PS5, and X/S.
  • Availability: 2022

Black Desert, a popular massively multiplayer online game, was Pearl Abyss’s first release. From there, they’re making progress on both Crimson Desert and a brand-new IP they’re calling DokeV. We don’t have a ton of details about this game just yet, but the visuals are impressive. Everything we have seen points to this being an open world action adventure where the primary goal is to amass a large number of unique creatures. While we wait for more information about DokeV, we can at least keep an eye on this promising game. Although its vivid and intricate setting isn’t for everyone, it’s hard to deny the quality of the writing.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

  • Creator: Huge Entertainment
  • Ubisoft is the publisher.
  • Systems: X/S, PS4, and PC
  • Due out in 2022

We don’t know a lot about the upcoming game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, but fans are excited nonetheless. We have only seen the trailer for this game at the time of writing, but we do know that it will put players in the role of Na’vi. In this new region of Pandora, we’ll be pitted against RDA forces. While we wait for more details to emerge, we do know that Massive Entertainment, best known for their work on Tom Clancy’s The Division and its sequel, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, will be developing the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

  • Nintendo, the creator
  • Nintendo, Inc., Publisher
  • Nintendo Switch Platforms
  • Availability: 2022

Breath of the Wild, the latest installment in The Legend of Zelda series, was a smashing success. Players were dropped into a massive open world, and it was up to Link to save the day once more. It came as a bit of a surprise to learn that Nintendo was already hard at work on a sequel to this must-have title for the Nintendo Switch platform. At E3 2019, it was announced that a new installment would be released with a brand-new storyline and gameplay mechanics, while also contributing to the development of the world we already know and love. We have no information about this sequel at this time, and its release date is unknown. But we’re curious to see how the world evolves, and whether or not new territories are added.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

  • Techland, the developer.
  • Techland is the publisher.
  • Platforms:
  • DATE OF RELEASE: 2/4/2022

The second installment of the critically acclaimed survival horror series Dying Light was announced at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The game’s action will take place in a brand-new urban setting, where warring factions are constantly vying for dominance. The developers, however, give players more leeway by allowing them to select from a number of paths, each of which leads to a unique set of outcomes. Like its predecessor, this game features a freely explorable open world. If you venture outside the city walls, you’ll have to fight zombies, but it seems that even staying put can be dangerous. Even though it takes place 15 years after the events of the original game, Dying Light 2 will feature the same hostile zombie creatures as its predecessor. Meanwhile, our heroes will have more options for parkour-based combat this time around.

Horizon Forbidden West

  • Design and Coding by Guerrilla Games
  • Sony Computer Entertainment is the publisher.
  • Consoles: PS4, PS5, etc.
  • Publication Date: February 18, 2022

Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn was a critically acclaimed PlayStation 4 exclusive. This role-playing game (RPG) took place in a dystopian future where humanity had already collapsed. Small tribal communities are all that survive after nature has taken over and large mechanical beasts roam the land. Due to the lack of information about the metal universe, exploring abandoned city buildings is frowned upon. Aloy, a young woman who was exiled from her tribe as a child, is the protagonist of the first game. Aloy, now an adult, is trying to learn more about her background and why she was abandoned as a baby by her tribe. It seems like we’re getting a sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn called Horizon: Forbidden West. A new pandemic infection is sweeping the land, and players will once again assume the role of Aloy to stop it. Aloy must go to the West Coast in search of the plague’s origin so that he can put a stop to it. However, new mechanical beasts and other hostile factions await her along the way.

Elden Ring

  • FromSoftware is the developer.
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment is the publisher.
  • Available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and X/S.
  • Published on: February 25th, 2022

Many people were looking forward to the release of Elden Ring. FromSoftware, best known for their Dark Souls games, has released a new game. The game will feature the same brutal combat and rich lore as its predecessor. This time around, we get to explore a vast, open world full of dangerous enemies, fortifications, and secrets. We expect the game to have a variety of outcomes and playthroughs. In the grand scheme of things, this means you can do what you want with your campaign. In addition, players will have access to mounts and a fast travel system to ease the burden of the game’s massive world.

ELDEN RING | Official Website (EN)

How to Make Levels: Level Design for Open World Games

Open World Design

Since the player has more freedom to move about in an open world game than in a linear one, level designers face new challenges. They can go where they please at any time. We need to work out a system by which we can direct the player’s actions in our open world.

To put it simply, in an open world, the player can go wherever, whenever. While this is true, players are often limited in how far they can go in many open-world games.

Consider “Grand Theft Auto IV” as an illustration. Only one island is accessible at the outset. More and more islands will become accessible as you make your way through the game.

The purpose of this is to help you become acclimated to the island you begin on. There is a critical location on the game’s map that the player must reach to progress the story.

As the plot progresses, the player will unlock access to new islands. This establishes a story anchor while also allowing the player to get a feel for the initial island. This is how the game can lead the player methodically through the game world and story.

Beginning in a very small area of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s” map can be frustrating. After you’ve mastered the basics of the game in a couple of dungeons, you’ll be free to venture out into the world.

Level-based Progression

The level of opposition you face determines how far you can get in “The Witcher 3.” Once you enter the main map, you’re free to go wherever you like, but keep in mind that the difficulty of the local foes will vary depending on where you go. Therefore, the likelihood of being attacked and killed increases if you are out and about and come into contact with enemies of a higher level. This will prevent players from wandering off onto unintended paths.

Resource-based Progression

Even though it’s an open world game, “Minecraft” gives you a lot of say in the order in which you explore the world in order to gather the items and materials you’ll need to progress.


The strategic placement of landmarks is essential if you want your players to venture out and discover your world. All the major cities in “Skyrim” have distinctive icons to denote their status as landmarks:

A player can effectively use these points of interest to traverse the entire map. They will not miss any crucial details.

The three major landmarks in Grand Theft Auto V are dispersed throughout the game’s entire map.


In an open world, barriers can also be used to direct the player. In level design, there are two distinct kinds of obstructions:

  • Solid walls – immovable obstructions that the player must either traverse or bypass
  • There are two types of barriers in video games: soft barriers and hard barriers.

Most obviously, we see solid barriers in racing games, where we have a predetermined route to take and are prevented from straying from it by physical obstacles.

In video games, castles often serve as examples of solid barriers because they typically have only one or a small number of entrances and exits.

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Near the paths in “Skyrim,” there are numerous overhangs that serve as soft barriers. The player can choose to ignore the overhangs and walk right over them if they get in the way.

In “Subnautica,” the ocean’s depth acts as a supple barrier that can be overcome at the player’s own pace. You are initially limited in depth before your oxygen supply runs out, forcing you to wait to explore further until you upgrade your gear. You can dive further into the ocean and survive longer as your submarine levels up.


The challenge of open world game design lies in the fact that, unlike the more linear levels you may be used to making, players in open world games can go wherever they please.

So, let’s figure out a way to influence the player’s path through our open world, shall we? For the simple reason that freedom of movement is central to the concept of an open world.

While this is the case, many open-world games out there still restrict the player’s freedom of movement in regards to story advancement. And by that, I mean either the development of the plot or the improvement of the players’ skills, right?

When they gain experience and levels, acquire new tools, and increase their strength, of course! Let’s start by taking a look at an illustration. In this house, GTA IV resides. When you first begin Grand Theft Auto IV, you only have access to a single island. At the outset of the game, you have limited options beyond this single island.

More islands will become available as you advance in the game. Now, the reason they do this is because they want you to become acquainted with the initial island. They don’t want you to get a head start in the game, despite the fact that you have the whole world at your disposal. They don’t want you to just take off and go wherever you want, all right?

Simply put, the plot of the game requires that you be at a certain location in the world map. Both the story and the player’s exploration of the game’s opening island benefit from this setup. Get to know the island’s streets and landmarks as you progress through the game.

As the plot progresses, the player will have the opportunity to travel to and investigate other islands. This allows the game to guide the player more or less in a straight line through the game’s narrative and world.

Now, let’s look at Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as another illustration. And in this game, you’ll only be able to explore a small portion of the map at first. Once you’ve mastered the game’s controls by clearing a few dungeons, you’ll unlock the exit and be given a glider. After you leave this area, feel free to travel wherever your curiosity takes you.

In this hub zone, you’ll learn the basics of the game, including how to defeat enemies and which tribes control the dungeons. This way, you can confidently face the world when the time comes.

The Witcher 3 is yet another good example. Now in The Witcher 3, once you enter the main map right here, you can pretty much go wherever you want, although the game still has some control over your overall movement based on your level.

Now there are enemies of varying strengths in every region. You probably shouldn’t enter that area if you’re just wandering around and notice that the enemies there are twice your level. Since there is a good chance that you will be attacked and killed.

That way, you can stay in the zone where you feel most at home. As you progress and gain levels, you’ll be able to explore more of the game world. And it has everything to do with where you are and where you’re going in the story. So this is how you are led around The Witcher 3’s open world.

Minecraft is yet another illustration. When it comes to freedom of movement and action, Minecraft is up there with the best open world games. However, the main game’s progression is rather linear, so just bear with us.

Where you go and when you go there is precisely regulated by what you need and what resources you need to collect. Thus, even Minecraft’s actual guidance through the game is quite linear.

Now, landmarks are something else we have to remember, right? Important landmarks should be strategically placed because your players will want to travel around your world. Let’s take a look at Skyrim as an illustration. All the major cities in Skyrim are marked on the map, so feel free to use them as landmarks.

If you want to see the world, you’ll either have to travel between these points of interest or to other nearby locations. The significance of these locations in Skyrim cannot be overstated. They are the source of the majority of your requests. You can put your wares up for sale there. You can do your shopping there. These landmarks contain numerous significant artifacts.

Take a look at what happens when I connect these landmarks with a straight line. A plane traveling between these points of interest will have almost total coverage of the map. And there is nothing they could possibly overlook, right?

There is no empty space; for example, the entire area to the right of the rift would be rendered largely useless without any objective to pursue. However, the presence of a city in that area gives the player exploring that region an incentive to visit.

Let’s take a look at a few more instances. The three most prominent landmarks in Grand Theft Auto V are arranged in a roughly vertical fashion. Again, if the town at the map’s top disappeared, there’d be no reason for a player to go there. In reality, they wouldn’t amount to much. Having these points of interest dispersed throughout the map encourages player exploration.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the same. As you can see, we dispersed our settlements across the map to give the player incentive to travel to new areas.

Additional cases in point. We have both Oblivion and Breath of the Wild. Games in the Elder Scrolls series excel at this. It’s clear that the same scarring is replicated across the entire map. Breath of the Wild is the same way.

Okay, so The Witcher 3 is a bad example. The three major locations in The Witcher 3—the two cities and the town—are all located in the upper half of the game’s main map. Now, if you’ve played the game, you know that these locations and the upper part of the map are already familiar to you. But I don’t think you’ve gotten down to the bottom half of it yet, okay? Particularly in the extreme bottom left of the map.

Very few people venture down there. That’s because there are no obvious landmarks to use as reference points once you’re underground. There are no major markets where you can buy or sell goods. It’s very dry and desolate there. The next step, then, is to consider potential obstructions.

Game developers recognize the value of barriers as a means of directing the player through an open world. So, to begin, we can categorize barriers into two broad categories. You’ve constructed sturdy walls. And these are rules the player must either adhere to or get around. We also have soft barriers to consider. These are there to help the player out, but they can be disregarded if they so choose.

The player has the option of passing over or through them. They are merely there to subtly steer the player in a particular direction. Let’s start with the obvious: sturdy walls. The most commonplace instance of this is in racing games, where we have to stick to a predetermined track. And on the other side, there are barriers that prevent us from simply driving off the edge of the map.

Just like castle-themed video games. Any wall in any game is there to lead the player to a specific entrance, just as castles have specific entry points and exit points that the player must sort of go through to enter and exit the castle.

But what about nonphysical obstructions? Here in Skyrim, for instance, there is a path that ascends directly overhead, but to the left, there is a kind of overhang that acts as a soft barrier. This overhang serves as a loose guide along the path and prevents the player from wandering off into the woods. While we are free to ignore it and continue our exploration if we so choose, its purpose is merely to keep us on the right path.

Similarly, the barriers in Subnautica, a game in which you play as a scuba diver, are pliable. Soft barriers, on the other hand, are more conceptual. And the ocean really is that deep, no kidding.

The game’s depth is determined by how far you can progress through it. Deeper and deeper exploration is possible as your oxygen tank and submarines gain levels. The problem is that early in the game, your oxygen supply is limited and you can only go so far. That’s a pretty pliable wall, then. The ocean’s depth prevents you from going any further without better gear.

And just like in video games, the real world is full of both hard and soft walls. The need for solid barriers is self-evident. Structures like fencing and entranceways. We need these obstacles, which we can’t avoid, to help us navigate around them.

Soft barriers exist everywhere in the real world, too. There are velvet ropes that we could technically step over, but we don’t because they’re meant to keep us on track.

Wet floor warnings. When you see a wet floor sign, you either take extra care or look for an alternative route. Like in video games, we aren’t bound by these things’ strict regulations, but they are in place to help us find our way.

How To Avoid Burnout And Finish Any Open-World Game

Start light

Although researchers have studied general human burnout for decades, to the best of my knowledge there are no peer-reviewed studies about how gamers approach and then tire of open-world games. The same strategies can be used to improve your gaming.

The first is the oldest tip in the book: Take it easy at the outset. Start your days off with simple tasks, as recommended by any productivity guru. If you refuse to view gaming as work, which is understandable, then consider it a form of exercise. You wouldn’t go all out right away, would you? You would preheat first. In the context of video games, this means completing easier objectives first, such as side quests or random points of interest.

Of course, this brings up yet another conundrum: if playing a game becomes laborious, perhaps it is no longer a game at all.

Ignore entire mission types

There are 15 unique types of side missions in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. In addition, there are over a half-dozen distinct collectible items, most of which are guarded by a puzzle or a challenge in the game’s hostile environment. All of this is great for immersion and other open-world buzzwords, but it also puts a firm hold on your spare time.

Let’s use a few of those eight thousand things to do as an illustration, without focusing too much on the game (okay, maybe a little bit). Pick a category of things to do that you either don’t enjoy or aren’t worth your time. Perhaps it’s the Fly Agaric puzzles, which are notoriously difficult to solve and award very little experience. Perhaps it is the Legendary Creatures that make people feel guilty about killing a majestic beast that was going about its own business. The value of a given activity type can be gauged after a single experience.

This is not to say, however, that you shouldn’t take advantage of the full game at your disposal. But if you try to answer every mystery on an infinite map, you’ll get exhausted quickly. If you can reduce the number of people trying to reach the goal, you will have a better chance of succeeding. And, hey, don’t worry about missing anything. In the end, these elements will still be present.

Consider what you’re getting out of it

Burnout is more complicated than giving up because you have too much on your plate. Six general causes were identified in a seminal 1999 study published in the Journal of Health and Human Services Administration called the “Areas of Worklife” model as contributors to burnout. Although “workload” is an important consideration, it is important not to overlook the other five: control, reward, community, fairness, and values. The cumulative effect of all six factors is exhaustion.

If you are being adequately compensated (with items, gear, and of course money) for your efforts (reward), then taking on a large number of missions simultaneously (workload) won’t necessarily fry your circuits. If you have the freedom to pick and choose which missions you complete (control) and when you think the difficulty of those missions is fair (fairness), you will have less chance of becoming bored. Finally, what about the group? Oh, well, that’s why you have your favorite gaming blog!

Don’t worry too much about morals and ethics. You won’t find an answer to that question in science, in games, or from a gaming blogger. Five out of six isn’t bad, after all.

Take three-day breaks, not week-long ones

It’s only human to want to take a break from a bloated game every once in a while, clear your head for a week or two, and then dive back in. Perhaps that’s not the best way to go about things. Instead, you should take infrequent breaks of three days here and there. According to social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, who was interviewed by the Harvard Business Review in 2015, taking multiple three-day weekends is more restorative than taking one or two two-week vacations. Each break is just long enough to refresh your mind without letting you fall out of practice. This idea also works for more substantial video games. Take a break from the routine for a few days and focus on a more manageable game before jumping back in. Taking a few minutes off here and there can help you avoid getting burned out during a marathon session.

You may not be fully invested in a game if you find yourself wanting to take a week off from it.

Mess around with the difficulty

One common cause of burnout is a lack of stimulation in one’s daily life. The more you struggle, the less likely you are to return. However, a change in challenge level can provide welcome variety. That’s not the same as saying you should merely increase the difficulty. You should search for other ways to alter the gameplay.

Over the summer, for instance, Sucker Punch implemented a “Lethal” difficulty mode for Ghost of Tsushima, which ramps up the damage you and your enemies deal to one another. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has options that let you recreate the classic Assassin’s Creed experiences. More interesting than “Oh, this is hard now” would be a change like that.

Burnout is, unfortunately, endemic to human nature. You can’t win forever, especially when you’re constantly racing through virtual worlds that have more hidden areas than a real city. These techniques, however, can be useful. A sprawling, cynical, divisive, neon-lit metropolis might be bearable for 174 hours, but who knows.


We appreciate your attention. And that’s just a taste of what we can do with open world level design to examine development, all right?

Because it plays a crucial role in directing players through your open world; you don’t want an aimless open world, right? You don’t want a game where the player has complete freedom to do whatever he or she wants, even though that might sound like a good selling point. So, I appreciate you tuning in.