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The Longest Open-World Video Games, Ranked By How Many Hours They'll Steal

The Longest Open-World Video Games, Ranked By How Many Hours They'll Steal

Lose yourself in the moment

Everybody knows that when it comes to video games, quality should always take priority over quantity. Sure, a massive open-world that promises hundreds of hours of gameplay sounds good on the surface, especially if you’re about to fork over £60, but what happens when you’re stuck with a game that has nothing except wide empty spaces and hours of uninspired quests? It happens. 

The upcoming Dying Light 2 recently came under fire for promising players 500 hours of gameplay. The reaction was… clearly not what Techland had anticipated, and the developer was quickly forced to backtrack and assure fans you don’t need to play anywhere close to 500 hours to get the most out of the zombie adventure. 

But it got me thinking: what are the longest open-world games? And is there a link between length and quality? Eager to learn more, I headed to HowLongToBeat to find the 10 open-world adventures that gamers have sunk the most time into. Unsurprisingly they’re all stone-cold classics that, somewhat crucially, have a minimum required playtime that’s nowhere close to the completionist playtime. In other words, build a game that’s actually manageable to beat, and your players will want to stick around for hundreds of hours more. 

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age (56 to 122 hours)

Dragon Quest XI /
Square Enix

I recently played through Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age on Nintendo Switch, and was completely taken aback by how ridiculously, comically long it is. 

Even by JRPG standards, Dragon Quest XI is a beast of a game. Assuming you’re only interested in the main story, you’re still looking at at least 56 hours of playtime. And you can pretty much go ahead and double that if you want to see everything the adventure has to offer. 

The Long Dark (20 to 171 hours)

The Long Dark / Hinterland Studio
The Long Dark / Hinterland Studio

First-person survival horror The Long Dark can be wrapped up in a very respectable 20 hours, meaning most average players who actually stop to eat, drink, and shower would probably polish the game off in the space of a few days. 

But there’s a huge gulf between the minimum and maximum playtimes here. This is where the game’s challenging survival mode comes into play, giving gamers a chance to drop into a random part of the world and fight to survive against the elements. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 (49 to 173 hours)

Red Dead Redemption 2 /
Rockstar Games

Much like Dragon Quest XI, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that simply refuses to end. Clocking in at nearly 50 hours, Arthur Morgan’s journey across the wild west is epic, emotional, and arguably far too long. 

While I’d certainly have happily cut a chapter or two from the critically acclaimed Rockstar release, I can’t argue that its world and characters are masterful creations. It’s no surprise, then, that a lot of players who beat the campaign choose to spend another 100 hours simply exploring the stunningly detailed open world and meeting its many bizarre characters. 

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (50 to 188 hours)

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild /

As someone who has put over 300 hours into Breath Of The Wild over several playthroughs, I’m not at all surprised by this one. In fact, if anything, I feel like 188 hours is a little on the low side.

Breath Of The Wild’s massive open world is the real star of the show. It’s essentially one giant puzzle box filled to the brim with secrets and grounded by an incredible physics engine that begs players to experiment at every turn. Yes, you can run straight to the end of the game and beat it in about an hour. But who among us can pass up the opportunity to dick around in Hyrule for as long as we want? 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY Edition (55 to 190 hours)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt / CD Projekt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt / CD Projekt

The Witcher 3’s campaign is long and winding, and not that many players actually end up seeing it through to the end. That’s not too shocking, given that CD Projekt RED asks us to concentrate on the one very important task of finding Ciri… immediately before dropping us into a massive world filled with hidden tombs, deadly monsters, fascinating side quests, and a deeply addictive card game. 

Exploring The Witcher 3’s various regions is a delight. You’re as likely to be killed dead by a massive demon as you are knocked off course by a trail of question-marks on the map or an optional story that you have to see through to the end. Yes, my adopted daughter might be missing, but this lady has lost her frying pan, damnit. 

Fallout 4 (31 to 216 hours)

Fallout 4 /

Fallout 4’s hugely underrated campaign only comes in at a lean 31 hours, but you’ll need to put in a lot more time if you plan on seeing everything the game has to offer. 

Unfortunately, time hasn’t been all that kind to Fallout 4’s post-apocalyptic open world. Aside from a handful of cool side quests and companion characters, I’d argue Fallout 4 is easily the least interesting one on this list, and the idea of spending 216 hours foraging through draws for bits of old scrap to build bases is not something I’m in a hurry to do. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (34 to 232 hours)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim /

Like Fallout 4, Skyrim can be polished off pretty quickly if you keep your head down and follow the main questline. Unlike Fallout 4, Skyrim offers an astoundingly rich world that players will struggle to tear themselves away from. 

Every inch of Skyrim has a story to tell, a ruin to explore, or a character to meet. It’s an endlessly engaging, constantly surprising world packed with action, adventure, and intrigue. It’s little wonder players are still sinking hundreds of hours into the game all these years later, is it? 

Xenoblade Chronicles X (69 to 269 Hours)

Xenoblade Chronicles X /

Xenoblade Chronicles X is one of those games that will only ever be beaten by the hyper-focused individuals who are willing to ignore all other games for a few weeks and crack on. It is, to put it mildly, a slog to make it to those credits. 

On average, it’ll take players 69 (nice) hours to beat Xenoblade Chronicles X. But if you’re dead-set on seeing everything across the game’s many vast continents, you’ll want to slap another 200 hours onto that. For context, that’s over a week of your life. But if it’s what you enjoy doing, who are we to judge? 

Kenshi (80 to 271 hours)

Kenshi /
Lo-Fi Games

Arguably the most obscure game on this list, Kenshi is a massive sandbox RPG that delights in throwing players into the middle of the world and asking them to go onwards with zero help. 

Much like the original NES Zelda, Kenshi is all about letting go of your hand right away and allowing you the joy of exploration and discovery. There are very, very few limits to what you can do or be in this game, which is why even the bare-minimum playtime comes in at an astonishing 80 hours. 

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (44 to 330 hours)

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind /

I have to say, this is a bit of a shocker! My secret shame is that I’ve never really properly played Morrowind, but I can absolutely see why it remains a firm favourite among Elder Scrolls fans. The 2002 RPG is weird, massive, and just vague enough that players can explore and adventure without ever feeling like they’re being told where to go or what to do. 

Gamers who came to the series with Skyrim might find the lack of quest markers a little hard to stomach, but getting used to the idea of simply paying attention to the characters and following their directions can make for a wonderfully immersive experience that you can lose hundreds of hours to. 

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo/Rockstar Games/Bethesda

Topics: The Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Square Enix, Rockstar Games