The Top 10 Sandbox/Open-World Games Since 2000

Before reading, here is my criteria for what qualifies a game as applicable to this list. Many of these games are RPGs, but this is not about RPGs; many games simply adopt RPG elements, even shooters like Call of Duty.

  1. Aside from central story quests, tasks/quests can be completed in a non-linear manner.
  2. The player can roam freely in an interactive, dynamic world.
  3. There is no “right way” to play the game.

This list is mainly comprised of games that are from the same series and/or the same developer. This shouldn’t be viewed as a flaw with list, as these developers excel at their specific sort of game design, and are hardly ever even matched by leseer-known studios.

As with all Top 10 lists, this is very opinionated, and there is no doubt in my mind that many will disagree, but that’s okay; it’s part of what makes mankind so diverse and intriguing. Anyway, here is my list of the best open world games since 2000.

10. World of Warcraft

Being the most popular MMORPG of all time isn’t an easy task by any means, but WoW has managed to rein king of the genre since its release in 2004. This game differs from others on the list in that it is a MMO. This makes the virtual world have a significantly different feel than, say, Fallout 3, which can change drastically according to your decisions (nuking Megaton was always a blast). In WoW, the world does not revolve around you; you’re just one of roughly 10 million others across countless servers carving their own little path. WoW also managed to perfectly balance that addictive loot-getting that Blizzard is famous for (I’m looking at you, Diablo series), and a massively diverse combat system that players could tailor to their tastes to a very specific degree. Its open world really made you feel like you were there, fighting with Murlocs and raiding dungeons with way too many Leeroy Jenkins references from the noobs.

9. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

When the Xbox 360 came out, our jaws were on the floor. Thus far, we only had Half-Life 2, Conker: Live and Reloaded, and Halo 2 to show us the extent of graphical power in that era. But here comes the slick, white machine Microsoft had been so eager to set upon the world, and with it came many games at and near launch that stunned us with their graphical prowess. Arguably the best-looking game of its time, and one of the most time-consuming in history, Oblivion was both innovative and refined. As is a common factor amongst almost all of these games, you could be whoever the hell you wanted. Want to be a humanoid cat? Go right ahead. Cast some crazy spells and join a guild while you’re at it. This was one of the first true examples of what seemed to be a living, breathing world that shaped according to your actions in a plausible and logical way. Bethesda knows how to make open-world RPGs, and this isn’t even their best effort.

8. Fallout 3

Sometimes called “Oblivion with guns,” Fallout 3 is actually much more than a derivative of the Oblivion formula. Fallout 3 is one of my personal favorite games. We all remember when we first emerged from Vault 101, with the bleak, depressing world full of distraught grays and brownish-greens miles in every direction. Fallout 3 was one of the first games that I simply enjoyed being in. I didn’t necessarily have to be completing a quest, leveling up, or trading weapons and items to enjoy the game (although those helped). I just enjoyed walking around the Wasteland with my Chinese Assault Rifle and killing anything that dared threaten me of Fawkes. Though, I’m pretty sure nothing could ever truly threaten Fawkes. Fallout 3 made me fall in love with gaming all over again, and it’s something I could put in the ol’ 360 decades from now and get a very enjoyable sense of nostalgia.

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  • KingOfArcadia

    I spent a grand total of 240 hours playing Fallout 3 GOTY edition, then stupidly sold it. I am now trying to get a cheap copy of it so I can do it all over again. I’ll never part with it again, I swear!

  • eeeee

    why is mass effect on this list? OPEN WORLD rpg…. smh