The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a spectacular entry in the storied series, and easily one of the finest examples of an open-world game done right. The massive, handcrafted world invites players to explore its many secrets and mysteries, and players are constantly rewarded for poking their heads towards anything that looks even remotely suspicious.
It’s a truly rich experience and shows us what entries in the ever-popular open-world genre should always strive to be. Then there’s the opposite side of the spectrum, where countless, overly ambitious, and genuinely foolhardy games constantly fumble their attempts at being the next, great open-world experience.
There's nothing worse than big open spaces without a single worthwhile thing to do, and that’s exactly where we’re talking about on our list of The 20 Largest Open World Games (With Nothing To Do.)
20 The Xenoblade Chronicles Series
In stark contrast to the actual title of this list, there’s no shortage of things to do in Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X. In fact, there’s so much to do that side-quests are streamlined to the point of resolving automatically.
Oddly enough, despite the impressive amount of content between the games, it still feels like there’s nothing to do.
The problem is that the worlds are needlessly colossal and, while there are certainly quests and things to do, they all feel like tedious busywork that not even the games themselves seem to care about.
Minecraft’s chunky, randomly-generating worlds are astronomically large, maxing out at around 8 times the size of the Earth (seriously.) That’s definitely a big world, but is there stuff to do? Yes and no. Minecraft can be a confusing experience for those who don’t “get it.” For some, it all seems pointless. For others, it’s a rich canvas awaiting creativity and adventure.
Although we’ve spent countless hours enjoying everything the game’s world has to offer, we felt we had to include it for those who simply aren’t picking up the blocks that Minecraft is putting down.
18 No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is one of gaming’s greatest comeback stories.
After releasing in a state comprised of almost nothing but broken promises, the game’s developers have been constantly chipping away at its problems, and implementing vast amounts of new content.
So, while the current form of this galaxy-spanning adventure has plenty to do, its original release most certainly did not, and that’s why we’re putting it on the list.
17 Dragon Age: Inquisition
Like we’ve already mentioned a few times so far, just because there are technically “things” to do in any given open-world, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the tasks at hand have any worth whatsoever.
Alas, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s massive open-world falls victim to that exact problem. While a good game overall, the world is far too large (and needlessly so), and it’s filled with to the brim with the most painfully boring and banal of tasks.
16 The True Crime Series
After GTA III set the world (or Liberty City) on fire, a slew of “copycat” games attempted to get on the newly refurbished, open world bandwagon. Some found success… and others were the True Crime series.
In all seriousness, these games had good ideas behind them, but they’ve aged considerably and lack the amount of insane side-activities and general mayhem of the series they were so desperately trying to ape.
Naturally, this left players with a big world devoid of anything worthwhile.
15 Infamous: Second Son
We guess it’s safe to say that the Infamous series was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Heck, even if it did have some kind of future, Second Son’s terribly worthless open world probably buried it. Check almost any review for the game, and you’ll quickly notice that most critics shared at least one complaint: the dull open world.
Nothing about it feels like it’s alive, or even that it’s “really there.” Instead, it just comes across as a wasteland of unfeeling, lifeless code autonomously carrying out useless tasks.
14 Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Realistic, first-person military simulators aren’t exactly the most popular genre in the world. That’s okay, though, because games like Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising give their fans exactly what they want… which means they want gigantic maps of which there is practically nothing of value to do or discover?
We know we’re being harsh, but with so much ground to cover, it’s a shame that it's all so boring.
13 Far Cry Primal
Far Cry Primal’s prehistoric concept is an interesting departure not just for the series, but for video games, in general, so it’s a shame that a world as wild, natural, and rich as you might expect it to be instead turns out to be lifeless and, frankly, cheap.
Far Cry Primal’s map is hiding something: rather than being an original creation, most of it is reused from Far Cry 4.
Rehashed map aside, Primal commits an even worse sin: a land ripe with prehistoric wildlife somehow ends up being boring.
12 The Fable Series
The Fable series is predominantly associated with one particular trait… and it’s not something that they want to be associated with.
In short, the Fable games are all victims of Peter Molyneux’s lies, exaggerated claims, and far too many promises that were impossible to keep.
We were promised lush worlds and sweeping narratives that would be directly influenced by the player’s choices… but we ended up with lifeless realms devoid of even the simplest of joys.
The Arma series is known for its white-knuckle intensity and strict adherence to realistic, authentic-feeling simulations of military engagements.
While that kind of attention to detail and dedication is admirable, it can come off as a little too much, especially to players outside of the hardcore, devoted fan-base, who are merely getting their toes wet.
There is, quite literally, nothing to do in one of Arma’s massive maps but travel towards the next encounter, and while that’s a perfect representation of real life military movement, it’s still a big, empty video game world.
10 GTA V
We’re all familiar with the concept of “too much of a good thing” being bad, right?
Welcome to Grand Theft Auto V.
Frankly speaking, GTA V is a brilliantly made game, and arguably one of the most richly detailed games ever made. Its world is massive and filled with side-activities to keep you occupied in between your mayhem, but there’s a problem: they are nothing more than meaningless fluff in a game world that’s been so intricately and overly designed that it ends up being as boring as real life.
We don’t play games to experience real life.
9 LA Noire
The developmentally troubled LA Noire is, unsurprisingly, a divisive game. Some believe it to be a unique and wrongfully underrated gaming experience, while others compare it and its foibles to hot excrement.
We won’t take sides in this debate, but we will say that LA Noire’s large, open world is not just devoid of meaningful content, but that its very existence is entirely pointless.
Notoriously linear, traveling from point A to point B is an absolute waste of time, and there’s no reason whatsoever that you shouldn’t fast travel.
8 Superman Returns
There’s definitely potential for a really cool, open-world Superman game, but you won’t find it in this. Seemingly unfinished, the majority of Superman Returns revolves around you, as Superman, zipping around Metropolis and beating on the same adversaries ad nauseam.
That’s not even an exaggeration, either.
Due to its absurd lack of depth, 80 square mile map, and a dearth of meaningful stuff to do, Superman Returns easily makes the list.
7 Fallout 76
Bethesda is no stranger to creating expansive worlds for players to explore. They’re also no stranger to having inexplicable (and often hilarious) glitches, bugs, and crashes throughout each and every one of their projects.
For whatever reason, Fallout 76 ended up with the worst of both elements, creating a torturous experience mired in the miasma of eternal despair.
Occasionally bordering on being totally unplayable, this MMO faux pas strips away everything that makes Fallout’s open worlds so fun, and leaves behind nothing but suffering.
6 Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs was supposed to be one of the chief examples of next-gen supremacy. Watch Dogs would end up being many things, but that was certainly not one of them.
In a surprising contrast for the masters of by-the-numbers busy work and generic open-world templates, Ubisoft somehow left out any sort of worthwhile extras and content in Watch Dogs’ world, robbing the genre of one of its simplest pleasures in the process.
5 Final Fantasy XV
We consider it something of a miracle that Final Fantasy XV ended up seeing the light of day, but it’s an even more impressive that it turned out pretty darn good.
Though, that’s not to say that it’s a flawless experience, because it most definitely is not, and a large portion of its issues stem from its garbage implementation of an empty open world.
While traveling around via car, camping, and visiting diners is incredibly charming for a while, things slowly lose their luster as you realize just how little meaningful content exists within the vast empty space.
4 Almost Every Assassin’s Creed Game
Ubisoft is notorious for finding out how to boil down open-world games into their most basic building blocks, essentially creating the “generic brand” template for the genre that they, and many others, continue to follow.
There’s no better example of this phenomena than most of the entries within Ubisoft’s very own Assassin’s Creed series.
None of them are really “bad games,” per se, but they generally have the worst elements of “open-world quests:” long, boring to-do lists that are dressed up as “content” but are actually just meaningless busywork.
3 Shadow Of The Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is an absolutely stellar game and an incredible artistic triumph.
We also want to point out that its gigantic, barren world, known as “The Forbidden Land,” is SUPPOSED to be unsettlingly empty, so we’re not knocking on it.
We’re merely including it on this list for obvious reasons: it’s a huge open world, and there’s basically nothing to do (except fight Colossi)… and that’s okay.
2 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
This isn’t an exaggeration: Daggerfall’s world is so large that it’s comparable to the real life size of Great Britain. And, unlike many on this list, there’s actually A LOT to do in Daggerfall… so why are we including it?
Easy: Daggerfall’s gargantuan realm is so unfathomably gigantic that it’s almost an impossible task to see all of it and, frankly, you won’t want to go everywhere and do everything… there’s just too much.
Just pick a province and stay there for the next 300 hours. Trust us.
1 Metal Gear Solid V
For a game rife with controversy, surprisingly little attention has been paid to how utterly barren its two (or three, if you count Ground Zeroes) maps are.
It’s a total shame that Kojima and his crew couldn’t figure out how to create meaningful objectives and tasks to breathe life into their gorgeously rendered landscapes, because there ain’t much there.
Much like the rest of the game, you can honestly sense the potential greatness… but it will always be forever out of reach.
Sources: Polygon.com, IGN.com