Open worlds in video games have come a long way since Rockstar Games changed the gaming landscape forever with the release of Grand Theft Auto III. Since then, we’ve seen open worlds grow to considerably massive sizes, and with those leaps in technology came more vivid, detailed worlds than ever before. Developers were able to squeeze tons of activities in their sprawling environments, all providing lengthy hours of play time. However, I’m sure many of you have asked the question, what exactly is the largest open world in gaming, and which game can claim that coveted crown? At the moment, with such a wide variety of open worlds to choose from, there’s an extensive list, so I’ll be focusing on some of the more well-known worlds before announcing what is the biggest in gaming yet.
Note: All map sizes revealed here have been collected from various forums, message boards, official (and unofficial) announcements, speculations, and general examinations from fans. As such, some may not be entirely accurate, but we’ll keep them within the realm of realism. Also, we’ll be excluding procedurally generated open worlds, so unfortunately as staggeringly massive as The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and No Man’s Sky are, they’ll be sitting this one out.
With the launch of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on the horizon, how big of a world is Ancient Greece and how does it stack up to Ancient Egypt in its predecessor, Origins? Well, Origins’ map is estimated to be around 80km² large, while Odyssey’s map is much more massive, sitting at around 130km². However, this also brings into equation not only land mass, but oceans and rivers too. By that assumption, Odyssey’s map isn’t actually the largest ever produced in an Assassin’s Creed game. That title goes to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which sits at 230km² – taking into consideration the vast, expansive waters of the Caribbean.
Other games have, of course, somewhat matched the size of Odyssey in the past. Take Fallout 4’s map of Boston, for example, which is estimated to be around 111km². BioWare’s crowning achievement in open world design is, to many, Dragon Age Inquisition, which boasts 117km². Rockstar Games, for being the king of the open world, have also shared this prestige with their competitors – Grand Theft Auto V’s map comes in at an estimated 127km², almost reaching the ambitious scale of Odyssey. However, if anyone is curious, take to the waters outside of the world map in GTAV and you might find it to be quite the lonely, desolate place – a factor that isn’t taken into consideration.
So let’s move on to the big boys of the open world. CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features one of my favourite open worlds in a video game to date. Not only is it densely populated and jam-packed with beautiful vistas and tons of activities, but it remains the pinnacle of open world design in its finer details; a truly living, breathing world that feels as if it moves on without the player. The Witcher 3’s unnamed map, expanding from the chambers of Kaer Mohren to the stunning landscapes of Skellige, comes in at an estimated 218km². Xenoblade Chronicles X also holds a little record of its own. Not only is it the biggest open world on a Nintendo exclusive, but also one of the largest of all time, coming in at a mind-blowing 398km². Unfortunately, even this size pales in comparison to what comes next.
For the longest time, I presumed that Just Cause 3’s map was the largest ever conceived in a video game, and for a very good reason. Even by today’s standards, it’s still one of the biggest open worlds ever created, with an estimated, enormous size of 1036km². Sadly, Just Cause 3’s massive size served as a detriment to the game in some ways, as it went for quantity over quality and failed to provide enough reasons to fully explore this behemoth of a map. However, there exists a game that is considerably larger than Just Cause 3, far more inventive in its open world design, and simply more stunning to look at. Fasten your seatbelts.
For a game that spent almost a decade in development, Final Fantasy XV was expected to break some boundaries or set new standards in the acclaimed Final Fantasy series. For many, including myself, it really did, presenting an incredibly touching story, extraordinary gameplay, and absolutely gorgeous visuals to earn it my pick as one of the best games of the decade. However, one record that the game has been bestowed with mostly goes unnoticed to many, and that’s the size of the world. Final Fantasy XV’s map is segmented into the main land mass, Eos, the sprawling city of Insomnia, the vast oceans leading to the royal city of Altissia, and the far desert lands of Niflheim. All of this culminates in an open world that’s estimated to be around 2020km² – whoa!
However, this is where we drop the bomb on you by saying that these aren’t the biggest maps – at least not by a longshot. One racing title has achieved far grander ambitions when it came to their sprawling open world. Ubisoft’s The Crew is gigantic. It’s not a surprise either, as the map was designed to be a replica of the entire North American continent, with some liberties taken, of course. This isn’t to say it’s a full-scaled representation, but it is nonetheless very impressive to look at. While you’re playing the game, the map’s size may not feel that big considering you’ll probably be doing 250km/h down vast stretches of desert, but altogether, the map comes in at a jaw-dropping 5000km².
So without further a due, I present to you the largest map in all of gaming. I’d like to give a quick shoutout to Fuel for having a map size of 14400km² (yes, it’s that big), but even that is dwarfed by the king of the open world, at least from a map size perspective. Guild Wars Nightfall currently holds the record for the largest open world ever created, coming in at a (very rough) estimate of 38000km².
While the size of open worlds doesn’t exactly dictate the quality of the game, it is always fun to know just how far developers are willing to go to create expansive, insanely huge maps. We could come to a point in the near future where gaming will evolve to accommodate larger open worlds with more detail, but I personally like my worlds to be manageable so that travelling from point A to point B doesn’t feel like walking from The Shire to Mordor. What do you prefer, quality or quantity? Let us know in the comments below.
For a more comprehensive list, read Twinfinite's feature on this console generations biggest open world maps.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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