When done right, open-world games provide an unbeatable experience. These PC titles, which can be played offline, represent the genre at its best.
For a while, it seemed like open-world games had plateaued. Video game design is often at its best when developers seek to reach new heights, permitting the studio has the resources to justify its ambition. Franchises like Assassin”s Creed are continually pushing the envelope for scale and design, and that is just one franchise that has helped establish the conventions of the open-world genre.
RELATED: Open-World Games That Take The Longest To Beat
Open-world games excite players because of their lifelike nature, and the online scene has led to plenty of great titles. Projects like Red Dead Online and GTA Online seem to be neverending, offering a forever evolving multiplayer-focused world backed with constant updates to keep players coming back indefinitely. MMOs are incredibly popular on PC, with the likes of Black Desert Online, Final Fantasy 14, and Guild Wars 2 presenting gorgeous and engrossing settings for fans to immerse themselves in.
As exciting as online games can be, sometimes a solo, offline experience hits the sweet spot. What are some of the best open-world PC games that can be played without a constant internet connection?
Updated July 27th, 2021 by Mark Sammut: Open-world games are probably the most popular sub-genre in the industry. Due to the rise of live-service projects, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find open-world games that do not require a constant internet connection. Naturally, the vast majority of PC games require players to go online periodically to download updates; however, once that is done, which titles will not throw out a cease and desist order as a response to a shutdown modem? This article has been expanded to include a few more offline-friendly open-world games, all of which happen to be pretty fantastic.
In some cases, Steam will need to be set to “Offline Mode” for a game to start when there is no internet connection. This setting is found by following these steps:
Log into Steam Select the “Steam” menu Select “Go Offline” Select “Restart in Offline Mode”
For more information, Steam has a support page dedicated to offline play.
Saints Row 4 is insane in the best possible way. Despite starting out rather similar to Rockstar”s Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row embraced a wackier tone by its third entry; for the franchise”s fourth main outing, Volition threw away any semblance of reality and opted for a pure power fantasy.
Set in a virtual version of Steelport, Saints Row 4“s world is, unfortunately, very similar to its immediate predecessor. While the landscape might be familiar, the gameplay is drastically different, playing out like a mix of Crackdown and inFamous. For those looking to just go wild in a decent sandbox, Saints Row 4 delivers.
Avalanche Studios” Just Cause license arguably peaked with its second entry, although the third game comes in at a close second. When a dictatorship needs to be toppled and an army blown to smithereens, Rico Rodriguez is the one to call. Armed with all of the weapons in the world and the determination to make creative use of them, Rico parachutes his way into Panau and gets to work.
Just Cause 2 is a pure sandbox game; simply explore the map and destroy anything that remotely threatens to get in the way. In fact, just destroy everything.
After decades of inactivity, Mad Max returned in a huge way in 2015. Along with the stellar Fury Road, the franchise also dropped a shockingly great game. Developed by Just Cause“s Avalanche Studios, Mad Max recreates the harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland seen in George Miller”s movies. The world is big but purposefully barren, which enhances the game”s atmosphere.
RELATED: Every George Miller Movie, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes
Mad Max offers some of the best vehicular combat in gaming history, and this feature only improves as the Road Warrior upgrades his Magnum Opus.
2007″s S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and 2009″s Call of Pripyat are two of the best open-world survival games of all time. Even though the latter is the more polished experience, Shadow of Chernobyl should be played first by newcomers to the franchise.
Set in the Zone, Shadow of Chernobyl captures a sense of dread better than most other games on the market. Dated visuals aside, the world is still impressive today, and simply exploring the map can be frightening. The world is split into different areas that come with load screens, but Shadow of Chernobyl is non-linear.
At release, Assassin”s Creed Odyssey had the most massive map in Assassin”s Creed history. At 90.7 miles squared, according to twinfinite.net, the game will leave players mesmerized by its rolling green hills and thriving wildlife. It should be noted that size includes the sea, so it is not all land. In terms of land, Assassin”s Creed Valhalla is also very impressive.
This game can be played entirely offline, so players don”t have to worry about lag spikes if they meet the PC game”s recommended requirements. From an exploration standpoint, Assassin”s Creed Odyssey is one of PC”s best open-world games.
As a game that was ridden with bugs on day one, Fallout 4 has since done quite a turnaround. The game is by no means perfect, but the community has added more mods over the years, some of which improve gameplay, story elements, the environment, and more.
Building settlements is one of the fun things to do in Fallout 4. Mods can greatly enhance the settlement building experience as well. Fallout 4 is played offline, with a connection only being needed to download updates or DLC packages.
The acclaimed sequel to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is available on PC. This offline game comes with a massive open-world that is easily traversed with Wraith powers. Wraith mode is like an eagle vision that allows players to find points of interest.
RELATED: Lord Of The Rings: Every Game Set In Middle-Earth Actually Worth Playing
Middle-earth: Shadow of War tosses gamers into the action with little explanation. The combat is unforgiving, so it can be considered a challenging game. If someone is willing to grind out some of the game”s final hours, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is worth the struggle. The Nemesis system also makes Shadow of War“s world feel alive, adapting to the player”s failures.
Ever since Hideo Kojima parted ways with Konami, Kojima Productions has gone on to bigger and brighter things. Death Stranding contains masterful storytelling and gameplay that grows more exciting with each passing hour.
The graphics might be the best of any game on the PlayStation 4, but this experience can be enhanced even further on a PC. The spacious world is mesmerizing, making Death Stranding a must-play PC game that can be also played offline. The game does offer some online interactivity, but it is not completely necessary. PS5 owners can look forward to playing Death Stranding Director”s Cut from September 24, 2021.
In comparison to Forza Horizon 3, Forza Horizon 4 has better graphics, sound, and a more expansive open-world. The roads might not be as fun for driving as the game”s predecessor, but it really boils down to preference: Australia or Scotland?
Forza Horizon 4 lets drivers go higher speeds with longer roads, whereas Forza Horizon 3 had more loops and turns. Although the game is arguably best experienced with its online features enabled, the bulk of Forza Horizon 4“s content can be played entirely offline.
Compared to some other games, Fallout: New Vegas can come across as somewhat dated. However, the antiquated appearance of Fallout: New Vegas still holds up on PC, and this game can be purchased on the Steam Store for a bargain.
It”s a spin-off game developed by Obsidian Entertainment, and New Vegas might be the best Fallout game in circulation. Taking place in a post-apocalypse, this open-world offline game lets players make story-changing decisions. Fallout: New Vegas has some great mods, which naturally require going online to download.
Horizon Zero Dawn follows Aloy”s adventures, a Nora Brave and a machine destroyer, who is deeply involved in the game”s plot. In a future where humanity has been pushed back to its primitive state, Aloy must uncover secrets about her mother and protect her people.
RELATED: Horizon Zero Dawn: Most Difficult Machines To Beat, Ranked
The game had issues at the PC launch date, but fixes have improved things. Horizon Zero Dawn is by no means a flawless experience on PC, but the game”s beauty, combat, and slow-building but satisfying story shine through despite some of the port”s rough edges. This single-player experience has some magnificent moments.
Depending on the person, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim might not be considered the greatest game in the series. At the same time, Skyrim is one of the most enduring and best open-world games ever made. The world is the ideal size for exploration and questing.
Skyrim”s regional design places it among the greatest open-world maps of all time. The landscapes can be traversed with a horse, but beware of dragons and other supernatural creatures. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not going anywhere.
Assassin”s Creed Valhalla has overtaken many of the greatest RPGs because of its breathtaking open-world. Set in Norway and England during the Viking invasion of Britain, the game is packed with lush green and snowy areas.
The different environments provide immersion like few other open-world games. Assassin”s Creed Valhalla is arguably the best Assassin”s Creed title, by extension making it one of the greatest (offline) open-world games on PC.
Commended for its strong protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, and masterful RPG elements, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt set a near untouchable standard for open-world games. Velen can be stormy, providing an atmosphere that is not often seen in open-world games. The diverse environments expertly blend realism and fantasy.
There are loading screens, but the bulk of the content is experienced in a borderless world. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a shining example of open-world design.