Top 10 Hardest Open World Video Games

Top 10 Hardest Open World Video Games
VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Aaron Brown
Open world games give you freedom, but that can come with a lot of trouble. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the games that tested our abilities to survive in their dangerous worlds. Our countdown of the hardest open world video games includes “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” (2018), “Don't Starve” (2013), “The Forest” (2018), “Darkwood” (2017), and more!

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the games that tested our abilities to survive in their dangerous worlds.

#10: “The Long Dark” (2017)

These days, it’s rare for a game to truly immerse the player in its isolation. While “The Long Dark” does offer a story mode, for those who truly want to test their skills, the game’s Survival mode offers the most realistic challenge for players. Not only will they need to monitor the normal hunger/thirst and damage meters, but also how much the elements affect their character. Everything from wind chill to body temperature can affect their ability to navigate and scavenge the world. Few games fully lean into their survival elements the way The Long Dark does, leaving players without a map, completely alone with the elements and a perma-death system that forces the player to restart from scratch should they succumb to the elements.

#9: “Don’t Starve” (2013)

Don’t let the Tim Burton-esque art style fool you; the world of “Don’t Starve” is specifically designed to kill you in a myriad of horrific ways. With its randomly generated world, the game gives players the tools and materials for their own survival, but leaves it up to you to figure out both how to use it and if the risk is worth the reward. Daytime offers a reprieve as the player can easily collect food and materials. However, once night falls, your mental health also begins to dwindle and your imagination itself emerges from the shadows to kill you. The survival loop is rewarding once you get the hang of it, but you’ll find yourself fighting for every resource.

#8: “Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen” (2013)

While the world of “Dragon’s Dogma” will be familiar to anyone who’s traversed the “Elder Scrolls’” Tamriel, the enemies within Gransys are far more challenging than many other fantasy RPGs. Most enemies players encounter tower over their character. And if players don’t get a handle on the game’s combat system, as well as their ability to scale their larger foes and target specific areas, it’s going to be rough. You’re also given NPCs called Pawns to accompany you, which helps alleviate some of the challenge, with their skills growing alongside the yours. You can also issue them direct commands. While not as difficult as the Dark Souls series, until combat clicks, the game will offer a more significant challenge than many players might expect.

#7: “Darkwood” (2017)

The oppressive darkness of “Darkwood” is only the beginning of the struggles players will encounter exploring a procedurally generated world filled with Lovecraftian horrors. Not only will players need to find crafting materials to survive, but there are also limited weapons and resources to fend off the creatures of the dark. And some of those creatures are only visible in the light of the player’s dwindling flashlight. “Darkwood’s” top-down camera adds to the difficulty as players can’t be sure what’s lurking around the next corner until it’s too late. This can result in the loss of valuable resources or, depending on the selected difficulty, perma-death and a complete restart from the beginning.

#6: “Rust” (2018)

The only online multiplayer game on our list, “Rust” is not for the faint hearted. Starting the game with only a rock and a torch, every single resource in the game must be collected and crafted from materials or wildlife in the environment. But there are also other players attempting to do the same and can easily steal your hard-earned resources, sending you back to the start with nothing. Advanced players can create more high-tech weaponry, and some have even created communities within the game to help one another survive. The game’s persistent world adds another sense of challenge and danger as the more time you spend away from the game, the more likely you are to lose hours of work to scavengers.

#5: “The Forest” (2018)

The realistic world of “The Forest” and its unforgiving natural splendor is the least of your worries. As you explore further into the wooded depths of the peninsula, foraging for resources, you’ll encounter tribes of mutated cannibals. But these are unlike any other creatures you’ve encountered before. These flesh-eaters are incredibly smart and keep the player on constant alert, unaware of when or if they’ll attack and keeping players forever on their guard. The forest itself is already an unrelenting environment as players build their shelters and maintain their own health. But in the dark, foreboding woods, is the player really the hero of this story or are they the invader?

#4: “Far Cry 2” (2008)

Long before the “Far Cry” series became known for its over-the-top spectacle, Ubisoft attempted to take a much more grounded approach with “Far Cry 2.” Not only does the player constantly suffer from malaria, but must also treat their injuries before succumbing to them. “Far Cry 2” offers players a far more realistic world to explore. Enemies learn and adapt to the player’s tactics, and you’ll encounter numerous forms of wildlife all attempting to make you their next meal. Players even need to use a map and GPS to plan their own routes to objectives. The game does very little to hold the player’s hand in the African savanna.

#3: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (2017)

As one of the first titles to pioneer the open world genre way back in 1986, “The Legend of Zelda” series managed to once again reinvent the genre in 2017 with “Breath of the Wild.” By unleashing us into a massive open Hyrule, we were given very little direction and were even allowed to -however foolishly- take on the game’s end boss right from the start. Weapons and shields break, and players need to cook meals with materials collected from the world just to survive its encounters. Nintendo’s new approach to the series allowed players to create their own solutions through trial and error and wasn’t afraid to knock them down should they get overconfident.

#2: “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” (2018)

While many games attempt to create realistic worlds and characters for players to lose themselves in, few have reached the same level as “Kingdom Come: Deliverance.” Dropping the player in a fully realized medieval world, gone are the fantastical elements of many other similar RPGs. Players are forced to develop skills through experimentation as well as living the life of a simple villager learning how to survive one of the harshest times in history. Combat is equally unforgiving, and players will need to maintain their character’s health and well-being in order to remain in fighting shape. Navigating the world is equally challenging; the game’s open-ended structure allows for multiple solutions to the many objectives you’ll encounter throughout the game’s lengthy campaign.

#1: “Elden Ring” (2022)

Arguably responsible for the surge of games requiring players to “git gud”, FromSoftware managed the impossible. It took the lovingly crafted worlds from the “SoulsBorne” series and expanded those ideas and lore into one of the most challenging open world games ever. With every encounter possibly leaving the player at Death’s Door, the ability to flee and fight another day with better equipment makes “Elden Ring” one of the most approachable Souls-like games FromSoftware has ever crafted. However, the team didn’t forget what made the series such an industry icon. Enemies are relentless and the bosses won’t hesitate to exploit any mistake made by the player, making anyone who enters The Lands Between very familiar with the “You Died” screen.

Which video game put your survival skills to the test? Let us know down in the comments.