The dominant genre of gaming for the past several years is by far the open-world game.
Since designing a linear experience is somewhat difficult and god knows game devs are not being treated nearly well enough to make it worth the trouble, much better to just make a big open world and drop a bunch of random activities into it and call it good.
However, the open world is an art form in and of itself. If done well, the open-world game is the most immersive form of gaming there is until VR fully catches up to the rest of the industry. A great open-world game brings a universe to life like nothing else can, letting players walk down its streets, meet its people, and feel the weight of the epic quest on their shoulders.
Doing that right isn't easy, especially with how bloated the industry is with the things. It takes a clear vision, a writing staff that's completely on the same wavelength with the tone, story, and world-building, and almost OCD levels of attention to detail. All of this is on top of the game having to not only be fun to play but having a central hook to help it stand out from the pack.
These are the ten games that best managed it. The greatest open-world games made thus far.
10. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Never underestimate the innate appeal of sailing around singing sea shanties.
The one part of Assassin's Creed III that everyone agreed was fun were the short segments where you got to sail a boat (except for that one stealth mission we don't talk about) so Ubisoft decided, screw it, let's build an entire game around it!
What resulted was Black Flag, a game built entirely around being a pirate and sailing around raiding the high seas. As seen with similar games like Skies Of Arcadia, that alone can be enough to be entertaining, but Black Flag takes it a step further by making this game OOZE detail out of every pore.
From every port having its own personality and subculture, to the sea shanties sung by your crew, to the awesome raids you can pull on enemy ships and bases, this game does everything in its power to make you feel like a pirate, and it understands that the best way to do that is to make the seas you sail feel alive.