Open-world games to lose yourself in this holiday

In 2020 there are numerous great games across various genres which offer expansive game worlds and take a non-linear approach to their story-telling.

From epic fantasy tales in medieval environments to lasers and space flight in sci-fi settings, the possibilities are myriad.

Whether you want to constantly wander and explore off the intended course, or just enjoy having a fleshed-out experience as you complete the main campaign, here are some of the best open-world games to play this holiday.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia

The latest instalment in Ubisoft’s ultra-popular Assassin’s Creed series is set in ancient Norway and England in the year 873 AD.

Players take control of protagonist Eivor, who leads a clan of Viking raiders as they pillage and burn the settlements of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, looting resources along the way.

Valhalla is more focused on stealth than its more recent predecessors and reintroduces the settlement system previously seen in the pirate-themed Black Flag.

Cyberpunk 2077

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia

While it may be true that the highly ambitious Cyberpunk 2077 failed to live up to nearly a decade of hype, there is still plenty to do for those who can bear with the bugs for now.

Night City is a brutal and unforgiving setting, only made more bearable by its colourful and eccentric characters.

Players can explore six city districts which span approximately 43 km² – around half the size of GTA V’s Los Santos.

However, this does not account for the additional vertical surface areas of Cyberpunk 2077’s skyscrapers and underground locations.

Death Stranding

  • Platforms: PC, PS4

While its main premise of balancing cargo across treacherous terrain may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying that Death Stranding’s post-apocalyptic American landscape is stunning to behold and its story

The game offers picturesque mountain scenes, roaring rivers, and lush green moss-filled landscapes.

Avoiding the dangerous ghost-like beached things (BTs) requires the utmost attention of players, however, adding just the right amount of suspense to the strange story-telling of Hideo Kojima.

Far Cry 5

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia

If explosions, religious fanatics, fast-paced off-road driving, and loud gunfights are more to your taste, then look no further than Far Cry 5.

This instalment takes place in the fictional region of Hope County, Montana, where the doomsday cult known as The Project at Eden’s Gate has taken over.

As an unnamed deputy sheriff, players are required to work and fight alongside a resistance group to neutralise or eliminate enemy outposts and ultimately overthrow the cult’s charismatic leader – Joseph Seed.

Exploration can be done on foot or per vehicle, while weapons come in the melee, ranged, and explosive variety.

Ghost of Tsushima

  • Platforms: PS4

Set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan by Khotun Khan, Ghost of Tsushima players swing the katana as samurai warrior Jin Sakai.

The gameplay is mainly focused around stealthy manoeuvring and melee combat.

The map includes three regions covered in fishing villages, towns, mountains and forestry.

To truly add to the immersive feel of its world, Ghost of Tsushima features no waypoints and lets players explore without guidance.

Rage 2

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

The apocalyptic open world of Rage 2 is filled with mad bandits and dangerous mutants.

As a ranger named Walker, players have the freedom to explore and fight on foot or engage in vehicular combat with trucks, buggies, and gyrocopters.

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia

As one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time, Rockstar Games’ second Western-themed instalment should be on every true gamer’s bucket list.

Set in a fictional version of the American Old West, players take on the role of Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van Der Linde gang.

RDR2 allows you to partake in shootouts, heists, and hunting as you explore an enormous map on foot or horseback, all the while progressing on Morgan’s epic tale of redemption.

Red Dead Redemption 2 screenshot 2

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Given the chaotic launch of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 will likely remain its magnum opus for some time.

In this epic fantasy game, players take on the role of Witcher Geralt of Rivia, a mutated warrior-sorcerer who is tasked with slaying all manner of dangerous and vile monsters which inhabit the world of The Continent.

There is a lot to do here, with a wide range of locations to explore – including gloomy swamplands, spanning woodlands, scattered villages and desolate battlefields – and plenty of quests and activities to complete.

A powerful main story which hinges on your decisions pulls it all together to deliver a powerful narrative.

No Man’s Sky

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Although its initial launch was met with huge disappointment, No Man’s Sky has since been updated with significant improvements and bug fixes, bringing it closer to what developer Hello Games had originally promised.

This title’s massive open game world is a procedurally generated universe of stars, planets, plants, and creatures.

Players take on the role of an alien humanoid planetary explorer called The Traveller and must explore, survive, combat, mine, and trade as they traverse planets and fly across star systems.

Watch Dogs: Legion

  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna, Google Stadia

Watch Dogs: Legion takes place in a near-future dystopian iteration of London, where rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and automation have made drones, self-driving cars, and mass surveillance commonplace.

The game’s plot centres around the hacker group DedSec’s attempt to clear their name after a series of bombings for which they were framed.

The unique premise of Watch Dogs: Legion lies in the fact that you can play with multiple characters with different abilities throughout.

Players can opt to carry out several types of missions, including those which progress the main story, liberation missions, recruitment missions, and various other side activities.

Now read: Physical video games are far from dead in South Africa

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Open-world games to lose yourself in this holiday