Given the sheer size and scope that open world games usually tend to aim for, it’s easy to understand why achieving outstanding, industry-leading levels of visual fidelity and graphical prowess isn’t as each for them as it is for relatively more contained experience. Even so, there are several that manage to break through those technological limitations and end up delivering truly gorgeous visuals. Here, we’re going to talk about a few that we feel stand hand and shoulders above their peers.
#15. GRAND THEFT AUTO 5
Rockstar is known for always pushing the technical envelope with its games, and back in 2013, when Grand Theft Auto 5 first released, it was nothing short of a revelation. Even now, in fact, ten years on from its release, it stands as one of the most visually impressive and detailed worlds we’ve ever seen, especially if you’re playing it on a PC or current-gen consoles.
#14. ELDEN RING
From a purely technical perspective, Elden Ring (like most other FromSoftware titles) perhaps isn’t at the level that many would hope, but it more than makes up for it with its astounding art design. There’s an abundance of breathtaking sights and vistas scattered throughout its world, all of it brought to life in spectacular fashion. The fact that it does that so consistently in spite of how mind-bogglingly large its world is also deserves a great deal of credit.
#13. INFAMOUS: SECOND SON
Back in the early days of the PS4, inFamous: Second Sons was a proper showcase for the console, and though it has of course been outdone by many open world titles in the years since then, it still looks really damn good. Second Son brings the city of Seattle to life in excellent fashion, and crams its world full of brilliant little visual flourishes that help it stand out even now, nearly a decade since it came out.
#12. FAR CRY 6
Say what you will about Ubisoft’s open world formula, but the one thing where the company’s open world titles never fail to impress is with their visuals. Far Cry 6 is an excellent example of that. Yara is a vast map, but every inch and pixel of it is rendered in stunning detail. From its dense forests to its more urban locations to how explosive the combat looks, the game deserves a lot of credit for its technical accomplishments.
#11. MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN 2
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s incredible utilization of the PS5’s SSD might be its biggest technical highlight, but even if you’re looking at the pure and simple quality of its graphics, there’s so much to be impressed by. The fact that the city of New York feels as dense and alive as it does is praiseworthy in and of itself, but add to that the fact that it maintains that level of quality without having to make cutbacks in crucial areas like the speed of traversal, and those strengths become even more impressive.
#11. DEATH STRANDING DIRECTOR’S CUT
A game coming from Kojima Productions (both pre- and post-Konami split) is always bound to be a graphical showcase, and that’s very much the case for Death Stranding as well. And though it is, of course, a technically impressive and visually sharp game, what really stands out about it is its artistic sensibilities. From the gorgeous natural beauty of its world to the striking visual imagery the entire game is teeming with, Death Stranding never runs out of ways to leave you absolutely floored.
#9. THE DIVISION 2
Massive Entertainment is probably one of the most technically gifted teams in the entire industry, and just as its predecessor did, The Division 2 exhibits that perfectly. On top of recreating Washington D.C. in thoroughly convincing and authentic fashion, the game also proudly boasts a level of obsessive attention to detail that’s very rare to see. On paper, The Division 2’s post-apocalyptic setting might not seem too unique, but the dedication with which the game brings it to life is truly commendable.
#8. DAYS GONE
Days Gone may have been a diamond in the rough, but where its visuals are concerned, the game deserves unequivocal praise. A lot of the heavy lifting is obviously done by its Pacific Northwest setting, which naturally lends itself to a smattering of visual splendour in the environments in the open world, but make no mistake- even viewed purely on its technical merits, Days Gone is an absolute beast. Experiencing even a single Freaker horde encounter should be enough to sell you on that fact.
#7. THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT
When The Witcher 3 launched in 2015, it was easily one of the best-looking games ever made, and somehow, more than eight years since its release, it still merits that sort of praise. The entirety of its vast world is stunning to behold, no matter where in the map you find yourselves, and little details like the way the light shines through a forest’s canopy, or the way the blood squirts out of someone’s arm after you chop it off in combat, only sell its technical vision that much more convincingly.
#6. BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
Speaking of older games that have aged with surprising grace, calling Batman: Arkham Knight one of the best-looking games of all time, even now, more than eight years since its release, wouldn’t be an exaggeration in the slightest. The fact that it still looks better than the overwhelming majority of open world games out there probably doesn’t get recognized as much as it should. It helps, of course, that it’s also one of the most authentic and atmospheric takes on the Batman universe we’ve ever seen.
#5. CYBERPUNK 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 may have been an absolute mess when it first came out (especially on last-gen consoles), but even then, you could see it had the makings of a graphical showpiece. In its current form, that’s exactly what it is. Night City is a dense, vibrant, and intricately designed map, and every area you visit just visually pops in a way that sears itself into you memory. When played on the right hardware, this is easily one of the most impressive open world experiences out there.
#4. FORZA HORIZON 5
The Forza franchise has never failed to amaze and wow the masses with how it pushes visual and technical boundaries with each new entry, but even in the might company of its many predecessors, Forza Horizon 5 stands out. Even on an Xbox One, this is an absolutely gorgeous game, but played on an Xbox Series X or suitably powerful PC, it’s nothing short of mind-bogglingly gorgeous.
#3. GHOST OF TSUSHIMA DIRECTOR’S CUT
There was absolutely no way we weren’t going to give Ghost of Tsushima the recognition it deserves in a list such as this one, and it deserves truckloads of it. It’s no secret that Sucker Punch’s samurai epic is as gorgeous as it is for its stellar art design (though it’s no technical slouch either), but no matter how much you praise that aspect of the game, it never quite seems like it’s enough. The stunning natural beauty of its environments and the way the game brings them to life make it easily one of the best-looking gaming experiences of all time.
#2. HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST
Pushing the limits of what games can achieve in a technical sense is something that Guerrilla has been doing for pretty much as long as it’s been around, but with Horizon Forbidden West, the developer touched entirely new heights. We cannot speak highly enough for how stunning this game looks (especially on a PS5, but even on a PS4), with a strong technical foundation and boundless artistic creativity coming together in perfect harmony. In fact, its expansion, the PS5-exclusive Burning Shores, somehow manages to be even more of an impressive accomplishment.
#1. RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is not only the best-looking open world game ever made, it may even be the best-looking game of all time, period. Even by Rockstar’s ridiculously high standards, the things that it achieves on a technical front can leave you gobsmacked, even five years on from the game’s launch (and even without any current-gen upgrades). From the astonishing fidelity, sharpness, and attention to detail it manages to achieve, to the overwhelming scale across it which manages to achieve it with such consistency, it’s truly an unparalleled experience.