The Best Video Game Worlds You Can Explore In 2023

One of the most exciting aspects of playing video games is the fantastical worlds and environments you’re invited to explore. Whether it’s lush forests, gritty streets, or colorful cartoonish landscapes, you can’t help but get immersed. Whether using a unique art style or striving for realism, some games have a setting that becomes as important as the characters.

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While there are plenty of excellent examples of mesmerizing worlds over the years, 2023 has had several. If you aren’t familiar with all the games on this list, you’re missing out on some of the best entertainment experiences of the year.

10 Hi-Fi Rush

A third-person view of protagonist Chai wielding a grungy, scrappy guitar in a lava-flowing arena.

Hi-Fi Rush

Released
January 25, 2023

Developer(s)
Tango Gameworks

Hi-Fi Rush launched in early 2023 with flashy comic book-style visuals and a unique world that reacts to music. In this third-person action title, you fight, jump, and move to the beat of a kicking soundtrack that incorporates rhythm elements.

The environments are urban-industrial but very colorful and include elements that move to the music. For example, in one arena, you’ll notice a wall of enormous mixer controls moving along with the song as you battle using your guitar as a weapon.

9 Viewfinder

black and white bridge spanning gap viewfinder

Viewfinder

Released
July 18, 2023

Developer(s)
Sad Owl Studios

Publisher(s)
Thunderful Publishing

Viewfinder is a first-person puzzle game with an innovative mechanic that allows you to interact with the environment. You encounter seemingly impassable walkways until you realize you can step inside the photos you take.

For example, you may see a gap in the path ahead, and to progress, you lay a picture of a bridge over the gap and walk across it. Your photographs become part of the world in a game you must see to grasp fully.

8 Alan Wake 2

A shot of bright falls' mainstream

Remedy Studio delivered the long-awaited sequel to 2010s Alan Wake. Alan Wake 2 requires some GPU muscle but offers some of the best-looking graphics to date. You’ll explore the detailed town of Bright Falls, Washington, and a mind-bending alternate dimension, the Dark Place.

From dense forests to warped surreal locations, this game continually subverts expectations. The investigative gameplay, along with the creative setting, make for a unique experience not to be missed.

7 Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Mario Standing On A Dragon While Surrounded By Bubbles

You’ve seen a 2D Mario game plenty of times before over the years, so why is Super Mario Bros. Wonder extraordinary? One of Nintendo’s greatest strengths is reinventing its iconic characters for a fresh take on a familiar franchise.

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In Super Mario Bros. Wonder, you’ll notice a colorful and vibrant world filled with personality, such as talking flowers. After stumbling onto the Wonder Flower, Mario and the world become unpredictable and will have you smiling from ear to ear.

6 The Talos Principle 2

The Talos Principle 2 Fundamental Connections Puzzle wide view that shows multiple lasers pointing at once source

A sequel to the small puzzle game The Talos Principle, The Talos Principle 2 creates a fascinating sci-fi reality with robots. In this first-person puzzle title, you interact with your surroundings to solve problems using objects or tools.

You can explore over 12 new environments, such as a tropical island, thick forests, ancient ruins, and otherworldly zones. Unreal Engine 5 enhances the visuals with realistic lighting and fantastic detail.

5 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2, Screenshot Of Spider-Man Receiving A Spider Bot's Signal

If you enjoyed 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, buckle up for an even more extensive and detailed city with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. With a map double in size compared to the previous game, this one will have you web-swinging past places like the East River, Brooklyn, and Queens.

The enhanced size of New York also comes with more NPCs, more side quests, and sharper visuals. Great draw distance, realistic lighting, and famous spots like Times Square immerse you in the world of the webbed superhero.

4 Lies Of P

The Scrapped Watchman attacks Pinocchio

Lies of P

Released
September 19, 2023

Developer(s)
Neowiz Games , Round8 Studio

Publisher(s)
Neowiz Games

Heavily inspired by the Souls series, Lies of P takes a creative turn with the story of Pinocchio but incorporates darker elements. With intricate gothic urban environments cast in shadow and drizzling rain, you battle monsters in a quest to find the truth.

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The developers NEOWIZ captured an art style that suggests things were once beautiful but now have eroded and twisted. The environments in this game are an integral part of the storytelling and draw you in, wondering what awful events transformed the world.

3 Starfield

Starfield Player Using Jetpack Above City

Starfield finally launched in 2023 after significant development time and a colossal amount of hype. The sheer scope of this game’s world is staggering, with reportedly more than 1,000 planets to discover and explore in a game dubbed “Skyrim in Space.”

While some of the randomly generated content can feel repetitive, you can’t help but appreciate the hand-crafted locations filled with detail. With so much to do and see, you’ll likely continue to discover new facets of Starfield for upwards of 100 hours or more.

2 Baldur’s Gate 3

A party of adventurers in Baldur's Gate 3 looking down from a high cliff

One of the year’s most anticipated games, Baldur’s Gate 3 offers a detailed and interactive setting, the Forgotten Realms. Using the Divinity 4.0 engine, this RPG offers many options within a world so large that it may need multiple playthroughs.

Experience places like Underdark’s mystical caverns or the massive city of Baldur’s Gate as your party journeys onward. The developers have included locations with vertical options and secrets, so explore every corner.

1 The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

Link riding horseback across a field in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The land of Hyrule has never looked better in this follow-up sequel to 2017’s smash hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Tears Of The Kingdom uses beautiful color and cell shading for eye-catching visuals that stretch to the horizon.

Experience floating sky islands and maze-like caverns with greater freedom to explore. You can also gather materials to create your own vehicles, meet exciting characters, and continue Link’s unforgettable adventure.

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