A good open-world game lets the player experience the world as they please while delivering the experience as was originally intended by the developers and for this best open world games on Xbox Game Pass list, I’d like to think that it’s not the destination that’s really important but the journey along the way.
The Xbox Game Pass open world games on this list more or less embody that remark. Some of these games, all point to one final destination, but everyone takes a different path to get there. Others don’t follow any path. To them, the freedom to do whatever they want is more than enough.
And without further ado, here’s our list of the best open world games on Xbox Game Pass that’ll broaden your horizons.
In Day Z, the zombies are the least of your concerns. More likely than not, it’ll be another player who will put a bullet between your eyes. More likely still it was a fellow survivor you thought was friendly. In truth, trust is a rare commodity in the open world of Day Z. Long-time players of the game are keenly aware of this fact, and the ones who have paid the price are usually new players. It would help if the world of resets items spawn, but that wouldn’t be in line with the theme of the game. Still, if you get lucky loot and find the right people, the open world of Day Z is yours for the picking.
There is no rhythm or reason in Goat Simulator. The open world is there for you to mess around with. Interacting with the world usually involves you ramming it with your horns or sticking to it with your incredibly long tongue. Don’t expect anything resembling a story either. The closest you’ll get comes from completing “challenges” which act as mini-stories, even then that would be a loose translation. Nevertheless, there is a reason why Goat Simulator was as popular as with the Let’s Play crowd. Stupid acts make for engaging content. It’s just for laugh really. And that should be more than enough to recommend this game.
Conan Exiles is a survival game in the world of Conan the Barbarian. Surviving in this open world requires you to tame a wild world under the guidance of your chosen god. The game has come a long way since the game was first released all these years ago. The kinds of structures you can build are also quite impressive as well. You can build entire compounds with high walls using different designs from other regions on the map. Though it is not without the odd glitch here and there. The general presentation is good enough to get potential players curious.
Destroy All Humans
“Cryto-137 demands your compliance!” In Destroy All Humans, players are tasked of subjugated the whole of the United States from the quiet farm towns, all the way to the head of government, Washington D.C. itself. Players can either go around the map using alien weaponry to assert their dominance. Or they can choose to fly up high in their spaceships to rain some death-from-above. But don’t forget the bigger picture of harvesting human brains. A live human is only as useful as the genetic material they are carrying, after all.
Destroy All Humans is a chaotic sandbox game and sometimes you wanna let loose and raise hell to destress. This game will allow you to express your destructive creativity.
When Fallout 76 first came out, the open world of Appalachia was mostly empty and buggy as all hell. And I don’t blame anyone for not giving this game a chance. If that was still the case today, I wouldn’t recommend it. But Fallout 76 these days is far more lively than it was. Player numbers are never high but the ones actively playing are in it for the long run. It’s still lacking in some aspects but the open world is full of activities ranging from story quests and repeatable multiplayer timed events.
The game has expanded greatly with the additions given from the Wastelanders and Brotherhood of Steel DLC. This year’s upcoming major delves into the raiders from Pittsburgh, or the Pitt to the locals.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
If you can ignore Catalyst’s clunky and rather frustrating combat, there is an entire playground for you to run around in the form of the city. Parkour is at the heart of the Mirror’s Edge series and this game takes it to the next level. Movement just feels “right” in this game. Smooth traversal and thrilling leaps into the unknown were more awe-inspiring as seen through the perspective of Faith.
It’s also fair to mention that the game’s side missions are just as meaningful as the main missions, if not more. It doesn’t offer much in the long term, so enjoy it during the brief time you’re in the city.
As an open world game, Sable is a meditative experience where we guide the titular character through her Gliding, a rite of passage to find her place amongst her people. This journey we take the protagonist will take us across vast deserts and the remains of a space fairing people. Unlike, many other open world games in the market, Sable doesn’t have a fixed story to follow. Instead, the game relies on the player to shape a narrative for themselves and allow them to create an outcome from the choices they create. This coupled with the fact that there is no active combat gives Sable the unique distinction of being a pure narrative-driven game.
Surviving in a hostile world dominated by dinosaurs with nothing more than just your fists to gather resources is never an easy task. And then dozens of hours later you’re kitted up, carrying rifles and whatever explosives you’ve managed to put together in your futuristic ray shielded base on top of a volcano. It’s crazy how things quickly escalate in the world of ARK. But we wouldn’t want it any other way. Especially if you can still ride your pterodactyl buddy as you scan the forest floor for any dinos with a high enough potential to be part of your growing army of super OP killers. Good times.
No, the cute low-poly art style isn’t trying to deceive you. Astroneer is bright, colorful, and pretty chill despite the premise of you being stranded on an alien planet. More puzzle game than a survival game, Astroneer succeeds in being a welcoming title for all ages. Mostly because of the tether system that serves the dual purpose of keeping your oxygen topped up and as a guide back to base. As far as exploration and progressions are concerned, Astoneer has a simple yet effective loop of having multiple planets and specific resources. You’ll spend most of the time gathering said resources to improve all your items. Thankfully, the constant progression keeps the game from getting stale.
There are a few mysteries to uncover too if you’re up for a challenge.
We Happy Few
We Happy Few takes place in an alternate version of England in which the Germans beat the British into submissions. To get through the bad years of post-occupation, Brits consumed a drug known as “Joy” as a means of forgetting everything and living a life in blissful denial. The twisted system worked for a while until a small group of people started to form a natural resistance to the drug. What follows is a series of events that closely resemble something from an episode of Dr. Who.
Exploring the countryside and the hamlets is the best way to know more about the complex social woes of fictional Britain. Side quests are often fun to undertake even though some quests are locked to specific characters.
Fallout New Vegas
There’s no denying that Fallout: New Vegas carries a special place in many gamers’ hearts. But more than an offshoot of the Fallout series, the open world post-apocalyptic adventure has some of the best gunplay seen ever experienced in a Fallout game. Additionally, the story of the unfortunate carrier left for dead in the deserts of New Vegas makes for a compelling story. Even if you took you hundreds of houses to finally take your revenge on good old Benny. (Better to triple-tap next time, bud.)
On a final note, Fallout: New Vegas is supported by hundreds of hours of additional content both through official expansions and unofficial mods created by a loyal fan base.
There’s no predetermined story in Generation Zero, you are a normal teenager who gets swept up in a mysterious robot invasion in 1980s Sweden. But in true open world game style, you are free to piece together the chain of events in the greater narrative through environmental storytelling. Of course, you are also free to ignore all that and pursue hostile robots in a way that would make Schwarzenegger’s Dutch Schaefer proud.
Though far from a complete open-world experience, Generation Zero does enough to keep players engaged for a good amount of time, especially if you take advantage of the game’s numerous DLC packs. If you can get past the game’s janky AI and limited procedural generated areas, there is a good time to be had.
Steep is an extreme sports game first and an open world game second. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stop and smell the roses. The visuals are stunning in this game, especially when gliding past on your parachute. Not only that, the open world design encourages exploration to the point that you can find challenges in just about every distinct location possible. On the flip side, you can just freestyle it down the mountain at max speed. That’s cool too.
Just Cause 4 Reloaded
Just Cause 4 doesn’t stray away from its predecessor, Just Cause 3. But it’s not an entirely bad thing. The map is more diverse, the objectives are varied, and there are more toys to play it. On top of that, there are spontaneous twisters that appear out of nowhere. It is a visual spectacle, no doubt about that. As an open-world game, it fulfills a certain power fantasy you just won’t in other modern titles. Realism be damned.
The Just Cause series isn’t a complicated series. All you need is a parachute, wingsuit, and grapple, that along is a recipe for hours of fun. Throw in gadgets like the ballons and grapple hook upgrades, and you’ll pass the hours away doing fun things. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
Survival open world games on alien planets are beginning to become more common these days. But none are as in-depth and immersive as Subnautica. From its earliest days, the underwater survival game’s unique hook drew players in and dared them to solve a mystery that was far removed from their comfort zone. When the game started to receive narrative updates, that’s when this cute indie title really took off. To this day, the pattern of discovering, upgrading, and going deeper is just as fun and engaging as it was in the beginning.
Subnautica Below Zero
After you are done with the base game, there are more stories to tell in the spin-off, Subnautica: Below Zero. Which is basically the same game in a new location and a few new ways to play the game. In the game, your character wasn’t fortunate enough to land in tropical waters. Instead, they have to contend with ice, ice, and even more ice. At least the penguins are friendly… and useful.
State of Decay 2
“Death is permanent.” That’s the main thing that sets the State of Decay series from other open world survival games. State of Decay 2 expands on the idea, fixing many of the issues from the first game while improving upon every facet of the game. The biggest addition to the game is, of course, multiplayer. You and 3 other friends can just together and take on the red-eyed freaks as a posse of zombie hunters.
Whether you decide to play it alone or with friends, you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself popping zombies’ heads in your bid to rid the countryside of the zombie menace.
You can also check out our review of the game here.
More than just 2D Minecraft, Terraria is beloved the world over by many fans who find the simplicity and the vast range of activities so endearing. Hundreds of hours can be lost simply from the act of making a base and exploring the gloomy depths of the Earth. This open-world game is also a “make your fun as you go” kind of game where there’s no wrong way to play. Living a quiet life in the woods? You can do that. Hunt dozens of bosses for the hell of it? You can do that too. Rules apply so much if you’re neck-deep in all sorts of powerful gear, which is in abundance in this game.
In Wasteland 3, there are no wrong answers. Heck, after playing it several times, I’d say there are no right answers either. There are only decisions you can live with. I think that’s the best I can describe this unrelenting top-down turn-based survival game. Very rarely do you feel like you are actually winning in this game. Even being overpowered feels like a loss to some degree. But that’s the appeal of this game – your choice matter, even when you think that everything is out of your control. Even your so-called allies take note of your actions. They’re not going to follow you if you do something they don’t like. Which sucks but it totally makes sense.
In terms of an open world game, you are free to take on whatever subplot you wish to do on the way to completing your higher goals. You can take a completely different route and exhaust your options by entering random settlements and “resolving” some lost-standing issues. It’s not for everybody, but if you happen to like high-stakes tactical action games, look no further than the Wasteland series.
You can also check out our review of the game here.
Does Minecraft even need to have an introduction anymore? This is Minecraft we’re talking about. A true culture icon in gaming, beloved by millions the world over, and endlessly replayable – this is the one game even your grandparents know of. At this point, Minecraft’s so big that we’re counting speed runs by the millisecond. It’s that darn competitive. On the flip side, you can invest hundreds of hours making 1 to 1 models of things like the USS Enterprise or places like the Minas Tirith. As open world games go, none are as recognizable as Minecraft.
Btw, if you are interested in making something like the Enterprise, please use redstone to make everything from the automatic doors to the ship’s control panel.
The very definition of an over-the-top open-world comic book game, Sunset Overdrive reminds us that we can have a lot of fun with grind rails and lots and lots of explosives. The zombie apocalypse hasn’t even been this bright and colorful and it hasn’t been since. The writing alone is pretty noteworthy but I’ll tell you right now, you’re probably too busy taking in all the sights and discovering parts of towns you swear weren’t there on your last couple of playthroughs. The game’s greatest achievement is this sense of non-stop motion. Traversal options is an important to the game as the variety of weapons you’ll pick up to blow zombies up. Needless to say, there’s plenty of fun to be had in this sandbox.
Sunset Overdrive also turned the act of respawning into a running gag. In case you’re wondering. But don’t use that as an excuse to respawn multiple times. Oh, did I forget to mention the zombies? Well too bad. They can growl and howl all they want but If they can’t keep up with me in the air, on the ground, or on top of the water, then they’re hardly worth mentioning.
Lake is a narrative-focused adventure game that takes the idea of delivering mail and turning it into a zen-like experience like very few games like it. You take control of Meredith, a programmer who wanted to get away from it all and decided to take a couple of weeks off by going back to your childhood home of Providence Oaks. But instead of relaxing as planned, you take over your dad’s mail carrier duties during the duration of your trip. But that gives you an excuse to go out and meet new friends and reconnect with people Meredith hasn’t seen in years.
Sounds strange for an open-world game, right? But once you find out that there’s a degree of freedom when it comes to stuff you choose to deliver, in whatever order you want, however way you want. You can also choose to get to know people, or just spend time alone time at home during the evenings. The choice is ultimately yours. With excellent writing, this game is more than worthy of a couple of playthroughs, even if the town is kind of quiet most of the time.
Mass Effect Andromeda had a lot to live up to, being the successor to one of gaming’s greatest sci-fi adventure trilogies in recent memory. Unfortunately, Andromeda buckled under the weight and was crushed, along with any hope of this game getting an expansion to its story. This was unfortunate since this game had some pretty good moments throughout its lengthy single-player campaign.
The role of Pathfinder is a heavy burden but protagonist Ryder (whichever sibling you choose) proved to be more than capable of settling planets while delving into an ancient mystery of the system’s sole inhabitants, the Angara. It is still your typical point A to point B standard affair within multiple sandboxes but the gunplay, powers, unique setting, and “interesting” characters saved this game from being too boring.
Oh, and don’t worry too much about the early reviews. The game has actually improved over the years, receiving update after update. So much so that the game is very much playable in 2022. Give this game a chance, especially after you’ve played Mass Effect Legendary Edition. (Just temper those expectations, okay?)
Batman Arkham Knight
The final chapter of the Arkham series. Arkham Knight sees the caped Crusader pull out all the stops as his enemies declare open war with the Bat. In this regard, Batman responds in kind with a batmobile which is more tank than anything previously seen in a Batman game. On the narrative side, it’s good that Batman has a chance to finally clean up the streets once and for all. As an open world game, however, I am haunted by the sight of Riddler trophies to this day. Even after locking up Riddler and throwing away the key, the feeling of dread still remains. Knight Fall Protocol, couldn’t have been initiated sooner.
No Man’s Sky
The ultimate comeback story in gaming, the development, and the release of No Man’s Sky was mired in broken promises and overreaching ambitions. That was back then. No Man’s Sky today represents what a small indie studio can do if they rolled up their sleeves, ignored the noise, and worked like heck. The game we see today is nothing like the empty worlds initially seen by players. There are hundreds of hours of content added to this game, and one can be forgiven if they’ve had their fill. As an open world game, the number of things you can do starting out is staggering. It’s a good thing that the game rolls out its features in waves, lest players are overwhelmed by options.
Basebuiling, raiding, trading, exploring, – it’s all here now. And with more things being added in the near future, all I can really say is that “you’ve completed your mission, Seam Murray of Hello Games.”
Yakuza Remastered Collection
A collection of the remastered Western releases of Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, and Yakuza 5, the Yakuza Remastered Collection presents a very daunting challenge.
Do you dare complete all the side content?
Look, I love the Yakuza series, the characters, the intrigue, and the twists are some of the memorable I’ve experienced in gaming. But the amount of the things you can do in the open world just gets more and more over the top with each new entry. It was fun when you had to deal with a random rival gang but it’s a completely different matter to be asked to be a manager for a bar that requires time and money to become successful. I’ll still do it though. Because it makes Kiryu look like a proper boss. And don’t get me started on all the different weapons all the characters can unlock by the 5th game. It’s ridiculous.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas – The Definitive Edition
To many of us, the original Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is Rockstar’s magnum opus in terms of an open world sandbox game. CJ is a very likable character, your actions and inactions affect CJ’s character model and can determine who would like to date him. The streets of Los Santos are a never-ending tug-of-war between multiple factions. While the countryside is full of crazies who, oddly enough, are more welcoming than your typical city dweller. I can go on and on singing the praises for this game. And it would all be ruined once we start talking about the Definitive Edition.
Words can’t describe the utter disappointment I felt when the Definitive Edition hit the market. It was a freaking dumpster fire. Worse still, it spat on a beloved classic like it wanted the original to be dead and buried.
But “why are you recommending this if was so bad?” you may ask. Dear reader, it would take more than that to kill the spirit of GTA San Andreas. Rockstar came close to doing that but they’re slowly but surely putting it back together. Like Humpty Dumpty. And all the king’s men. (Also, I would recommend finding an original version of the game, but the version on game pass is the Definitive Edition. We’ll take it if nothing else.)
Microsoft Flight Simulator Standard Game of the Year Edition
Nothing says freedom more than boarding an aircraft and going where the wind takes you. And Microsoft Flight Simulator will gladly grant you that feeling, along with the most comprehensive and mechanically accurate controls ever seen in video games. And that’s not to mention the game’s awe-inspiring visuals and painstakingly recreated real-world airports.
There’s no doubt that Microsoft Flight Simulator belongs on this list. As open-world games go, nothing is going to beat it in terms of places you can visit. (Unless there’s a game out there, someday, that allows for a true globetrotting experience. But that’s unlikely to happen.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, Octopath Traveler is an RPG through and through but that would mean ignoring the fact that you can tackle the game’s story in whatever order you choose through the eyes of your 8 potential traveling companions. And that’s enough to get the nod in my book.
In my humble opinion, Octopath’s greatest achievement lies in its ability to string together a story from the threads players create. It’s not the most revolutionary thing to happen in gaming but it was done so well that I wish more games could pick up on this non-linear technique as well. It also helps that the game allows you to travel to any place on the map, regardless of your party’s level. (Hey, I too like living on the end.)
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves wasn’t in the best state when it was first released. It was bare bones and had left a lot to be desired. But like No Man’s Sky, Sea of Thieves slowly built itself up from the depths to become the complete pirate experience we know it is now.
You can sail the opens, and fight skeleton creatures, merpeople, and giant monsters from the deep. You can even steal from other players, or burn their ship down with all their treasure on it. You can be a peaceful trader that turns into vengeance itself should anyone disrupt their trading.
Freedom is what lies at the heart of any pirate, or so says the Pirate Captains of old. And you know what, I’m inclined to believe them. (At least in the context of this game.)
Who would have guessed that shifting to an open map and retaining the Halo gunplay was a good idea? I certainly didn’t. I guess it’s because I was tired of all these franchises shoehorning open-world elements into their games. Most of the time, the product was an incoherent mess that doesn’t deserve to be called a video game. In the case of Halo Infinite, however, I am glad to be proven wrong.
The subtle addition of the grapple shot changed the way we look at Halo. It just fits so well in an open-world Halo game. You can use the grapple shot to reel enemies in, a tool for capturing banshees mid-flight, and as a traversal tool, it is without doubt, perfect.
The first few hours of the game might be a bit confining at first, but once you’re outside proper and roaming around Zeta Halo, you will like you’re back in Halo 1. At least what it feels like to me.
Forza Horizon 5
And I am ending this list with the best game on our best racing game list. Surprise, surprise! It’s Forza Horizon 5. As an open-world game, Forza Horizon 5 checks all the boxes for a top-notch open-world experience. The map of Mexico is large, detailed, and full of color. Barn finds are some of the exciting things to do on the map, not to mention the events that happen to pop up just from driving casually around the map. There’s no wondering why this game sits atop of this list.
And that’s our list of the best open world games on Xbox Game Pass. We got to see some narrative-driven games, sandbox destructive games, and the definitive open-world racing game. I’d say we did a good job of giving this bag an even mix. Now, if you excuse me, I’m off to my next adventure in an undisclosed location, through unnamed means. See you guys next time.
Check some of our listicles too if something catches your eye: