No list of open-world games is complete without Breath of the Wild, but its inclusion here serves two purposes.
The latest Zelda entry increases the difficulty and obscures the world’s lore in equal measure. Elden Ring won’t be as opaque as previous Souls games, nor might it be as difficult, but FromSoftware’s promised a huge amount of player choice nonetheless.
Both Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring are departures from norms established with previous series and related entries. No Zelda game save Wind Waker has been fully open world, and Wind Waker’s world is incredibly sparse even compared to Breath of the Wild.
Like the Zelda games, most From Souls games flirt with being open world but always run right up to the line without crossing it to embrace total freedom. Elden Ring shakes off whatever chains remain, experimenting with the freedom a vast play space allows.