In an article published in 2017, author Mark Manson called life “the largest open world game known to date”. Come to think of it, he was right – except, of course, that it’s not a video game. But did you ever think of just how big Africa really is – it’s the second largest continent on our planet. Compared to the real world, open-world games are tiny (except for planet-jumping games – those tend to be pretty big) and they have a low resolution, even if they run on the upcoming Mad Box video game console. Still, there are some that have managed to cram massive pieces of virtual land into their gigabytes of files. Or megabytes, in the case of old school games, as you’ll see below. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest open worlds built and released by game developers to date.
Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011)
An open-world racing game with a world that would be nearly impossible to explore on foot (luckily, it’s a game that involves cars). Test Drive Unlimited 2, developed by Eden Games, comes with the accurate digital representations of the islands of Oahu (Hawaii) and Ibiza (Spain), complete with their road network that totals around 3,000 kilometers or more than 1,800 miles. There is a lot of landscape to explore – unfortunately, you won’t be able to see much of that considering the speed at which you race.
1999’s Midtown Madness was one of the first games to feature the digital representation of a real-life city (Chicago). Since then, open-world racing games evolved a lot, it seems.
Set in a future where the Sun scorched the Earth, leading to massive sea level rises, “Fuel” is an open-world car racing game with a style reminiscent of the “Mad Max” movies. The game came with exciting features (aside from the post-apocalyptic environment) like extreme weather like tornadoes and sandstorms and a variety of environments to race across, from snow to wetlands and desert. And it also came with a massive open world – more than 14,000 square kilometers (around 5,000 square miles) to explore.
The game was beautiful and came with many extras – like derelict cars that could be scavenged for paint jobs or added to the players’ garage, races with up to 16 players, 190 challenges, and many more. It fell short, in turn, when it came to racing, so it slowly descended into oblivion.
Guild War Nightfall (2006)
A fantasy role-playing game set in the Guild War universe, following a young officer in the Order of the Sunspears through a quest to prevent the nation of Kourna from summoning an ancient god called Abaddon from returning to the world through an event known as Nightfall. The game was one of the best RPG games released in 2006, named the “RPG of the Year” by MMORPG.com, and the “Best MMO” by PC Gamer US. Aside from the many other goodies, it also came with a vast open world: 15,000 square miles (almost 39,000 square kilometers) to explore.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996)
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is the role-playing game with the biggest open world ever (except, of course, space-jumping games): more than 88,000 square miles (around 230,000 square kilometers) to explore, or roughly the size of Great Britain. The world has thousands of cities, villages, and dungeons to explore, and 750,000 NPCs to interact with.
The game with the largest open world ever (that doesn’t take place in space, that is) is Minecraft, the open-world sandbox game created by Markus “Notch” Persson, released in 2011. It might not be a perfect fit in this list, considering that its world is procedurally generated but its size makes it the biggest: it’s 30 million blocks by 30 million blocks (it continues to grow as you explore it) – you can reach its “world border” by walking for 820 hours (more than 34 days) continuously.