Open-worlds have become a cornerstone of modern gaming, with many new titles now advertising a large open-world with tons of hours of content as a way to shift units. The appeal of an open-world isn’t too difficult to understand, as not only do many players enjoy the sense of freedom, but they also appreciate that the subgenre tends to be good value for money with the numerous quests and activities available.
However, open-world gaming isn’t without its issues. Not only do many titles favor quantity over quality, but they also frequently inundate players with gameplay mechanics and lore to learn, something that more casual players aren’t a fan of. To help out casual gamers who are looking for an open-world game that is of great quality but not too complicated to play, here are 10 great choices.
10 LEGO City Undercover
If someone were to put LEGO Star Wars in a blender with Grand Theft Auto, it would probably look something like LEGO City Undercover. The 2013 Wii U game, which is now available on numerous other systems, took the collectathon formula that Traveller’s Tales created with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and applied it to a Los Santos-like world.
LEGO City Undercover was designed to utilize the Wii U’s unique controller, which does harm the game’s multiple ports. However, TT Fusion’s open-world adventure is still great fun to play and offers around 50 hours of content for completionists.
9 A Short Hike
The winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival Awards, Adam Robinson-Yu’s A Short Hike is a fantastic indie open-world game that ditches combat in favor of exploration.
The PC and Nintendo Switch game requires players to jump, swim and glide their way around the map as they try to locate golden feathers required to scale Hawk Peak. Like any great open-world game, the main adventure is supplemented by numerous side activities. Players can go fishing, locate treasure, and compete in the unique sport beachstickball to pass the time.
8 The Sims 3
The Sims series initially hit stores in 2000 and was a pioneer in casual gaming. Electronic Arts’ The Sims showed that gaming wasn’t all about action and violence like Resident Evil 3: Nemesis or Medal of Honor, which had both released the previous year, and that the form of media was ready to appeal to a far wider audience than it currently was.
The Sims 3 is still considered the series’s best entry today, as its open-world gameplay immediately elevated it from its predecessors. Freely exploring the map’s town added a whole new layer to the series and is still fun to do today.
7 Immortals Fenyx Rising
Whereas LEGO City Undercover is a combination of the LEGO movie tie-in games and Grand Theft Auto, Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising is like a mixture of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The link between the game and Odyssey is more than just in the playstyle and development teams, as the idea behind the game was formed when a glitch during Odyssey’s development made all of the characters look like cyclopes.
Immortals Fenyx Rising isn’t able to hold a candle to the quality of Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild, hence why it’s been giving the unfortunate nickname of Breath of the Mild among the community. However, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable open-world game worth considering for those who either want an experience like Link’s latest adventure or don’t have a Switch.
Although the term “casual” is subjective, there won’t be too many people arguing against the idea that Eastshade is the most casual game on this list. Eastshade starts somewhat dramatically, as the player washes up on a beach after being involved in a boat crash, but it soon finds a far more gentle and meditative pace.
Eastshade lets players explore the game’s beautiful island and paint the world around them by simply capturing what they’re looking at with a mechanic similar to a photo mode.
5 Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, much like Eashshade, starts with a boat crash; the game ups the non-casual ante from Eastshade, however, by having the boat utterly obliterated by a bolt of lightning. Much like the previous entry, Prideful Sloth’s game soon finds a relaxing pace once players reach an island. Yonder doesn’t only have similarities to Eastshade, as, like Immortals Fenyx Rising, it has a similar open-world design to Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild.
Yonder‘s goal is to help the island’s residents by clearing a substance known as Murk, usually by completing fetch quests. Although fetch questing can sometimes be a tedious task in open-world games, it’s enjoyable in Yonder due to the excellent design of the game-world.
Rockstars’ Bully was released in 2006 and quickly earned the tagline “GTA but in school.” The game ditches guns and grenades for slingshots and stink bombs and swaps heists and car theft for school lessons and house egging.
The game consequently has a far more laid-back tone than GTA, with a more forgiving difficulty level and a heavier emphasis on dumb fun than Rockstars’ iconic series. The feature of Bully that makes it appealing to casual players is that simply wandering around the school and neighboring town center can be a joy, with the game’s charismatic NPCs providing hours of entertainment.
3 The Witness
Jonathan Blow’s The Witness was released in 2016 and offers players a Myst-like island to explore. The game is by far the toughest on this list, as some of the puzzles can have players scratching their heads for up to or even over an hour with how complex they are. Despite the difficulty of the line puzzles, The Witness still qualifies as a casual game as there are no enemies to be wary of, no skill trees to keep on top of, and no influx of lore to learn. The game can be completed at any pace and in any order, with many things to find and discover along the way.
2 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
With an eye-watering Metascore of 97, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. The game takes the series back to its roots of the very first Legend of Zelda game by giving players an open-world to explore that can be traversed in any direction and in almost any way.
Breath of the Wild can be fairly difficult to begin with, but once players complete a few shrines and increase their heart and stamina meters by a few notches, casual gamers will find hours of entertainment in simply exploring the post-apocalyptic Hyrule, completing side quests, and creating their own adventures.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone interested in casual open-world games hasn’t given the modern classic Minecraft a go yet. Still, the second highest-selling video game of all time deserves a spot on this list nonetheless, as it’s an almost perfect open-world title for casual players.
Mojang’s game has kept players engaged since its initial 2011 release thanks to the game’s unparalleled level of freedom, diverse seed generation that offers an endless amount of adventures, and wonderful ability to allow players to flex creative muscle and spend hours crafting incredible structures, houses, and much, much more.