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8 Best Open and Semi-Open World JRPGs, Ranked



8 Best Open and Semi-Open World JRPGs, Ranked


  • Few truly open-world JRPGs exist despite the genre’s growing popularity.
  • Some JRPGs use interconnected zones to create an open-world feel.
  • Titles like
    Octopath Traveler 2
    Shin Megami Tensei 5
    , and
    Ni No Kuni 2
    offer notable semi-open-world experiences.

Once a niche genre in the West, JRPGs are more popular than ever before. Likewise, the open-world genre is incredibly popular, with every other big AAA release seeming to be an open-world game (more often than not, with some RPG elements thrown in). It’s strange, then, that there are so few truly open-world JRPGs.


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If one takes a look at any list of the best open-world games ranked, they’ll find shockingly few JRPGs. There are, however, plenty of JRPGs who share the open-world spirit. Rather than having one continuous map, like Grand Theft Auto 5, their worlds are stitched together using different zones or areas. While not technically “open-world,” they foster the same sensation of exploration and adventure. The games on this list were ranked by their overall quality, as well as how good their world designs are and how “open” they feel. We’ve omitted games like Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,Elden Ring, and Dragon’s Dogma 2. Not because they aren’t amazing open-world RPGs, but because there’s too much debate about whether they count as true JRPGs.

8 Octopath Traveler 2

Metacritic Score: 85

Various Octopath Traveler 2 charactrers traveling in five different boats facing a treasure chest that is sitting on the shore

Octopath Traveler 2

February 24, 2023

The original Octopath Traveler was released to almost universal praise. Critics and players alike loved how it blended old-school JRPG gameplay with a stunning HD-2D art style that made the eyes water. Instead of a seamless open world, the original Octopath Traveler was made up of a series of connected zones that the players could visit in any order they wished (although some areas were best avoided until later). Unfortunately, there weren’t all that many interesting ways to interact with the world or use the special skills each character came with.


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Octopath Traveler 2 greatly improved on this by having a more dynamic and interactive-feeling world. In the game’s semi-open world, it’s all too easy to forget about the main quests and just go off the beaten track exploring or simply get distracted by how beautiful everything is. Besides the improved world, the sequel took an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, meaning it was just as fun to play as the original. With its excellent gameplay, immersive world, and excellent combat, Octopath Traveler 2 is one of the best isometric JRPGs ever made.

7 Shin Megami Tensei 5

Metacritic Score: 84

Shin Megami Tensei 5 Vengeance Steam screenshot 6

Shin Megami Tensei 5

November 12, 2021


It’s always exciting when a franchise as old as Shin Megami Tensei decides to shake things up and introduce a new feature. That’s exactly what Atlus did with Shin Megami Tensei 5 by introducing a semi-open-world structure. It was a major departure from the franchise’s traditional dungeon crawling and a welcome one at that.

It made for a much less linear experience that encouraged players to go exploring, find side-quests, and search for hidden items. It helped that the game’s post-apocalyptic Tokyo setting looked so good and made for a location the player actually wanted to look around. Combined with challenging but excellent combat, the open world also made hunting down and collecting new demons seem much less repetitive. It made for a game that felt familiar but justified the long wait since Shin Megami Tensei 4. Perhaps the only complaint was that the desert aesthetic got a little boring after a while, and it would have been nice to explore more biomes. It’s a minor complaint when the rest of the game is so good, but it pushes one of the hardest Atlus games toward the bottom of this list.

6 Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Metacritic Score: 84

ni no kuni 2 revenant kingdom town view

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

March 23, 2018


The first Ni no Kuni game was somewhat of a surprise hit as well as being one of the best JRPGs made by Level 5. Fans had high hopes for the sequel, Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom, but it was a bit of a flop compared to its predecessor. That’s a shame because if one ignores the high expectations that came before the game’s release, it’s plenty of fun.

Ni No Kuni 2 was a pretty big departure from the first game. It got rid of the turn-based battle system and replaced it with real-time hack-and-slash combat while adding city-builder elements. Its open-world was akin to the overworlds found in older JRPG titles but was much more detailed and more to scale. Most fans would likely agree that it was the biggest upgrade from the original game. Unlike the first game, Studio Ghibli didn’t work directly on the sequel, but it shared the same beautiful art style that made the game’s open-world/overworld so pleasant to explore. Unfortunately, outside of battle, there wasn’t that much else to do in it, landing Ni no Kuni 2 a slightly lower ranking on this list.

5 Ys 9: Monstrum Nox

Metacritic Score: 80

Crimson King in Ys 9 Monstrum Nox

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

Nihon Falcom

Despite being one of the oldest JRPG franchises around, the Ys series is nowhere near as famous or popular as the likes of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. That’s probably because, compared to most JRPGs, it’s always been an outlier when it comes to gameplay, thanks to its focus on flashy real-time combat rather than turn-based tactics.


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Ys 9: Monstrum Nox has been a game-changer for the series, though. It received quite a bit more attention upon release, and that’s mostly down to how fun its open-world was to explore. Mostly centered around one city, the game is far from having the biggest open-world map. What it does have, though, is several interesting traversal mechanics that the player unlocks after recruiting certain characters. Balduq is packed full of secrets to find once all these mechanics are unlocked. Throw in excellent combat and a great story, and there’s a lot to love about Ys 9: Montrum Nox, even if it is a little janky in places.

4 Dragon Quest 8

Metacritic Score: 89

Promo art featuring characters in Dragon Quest 8

Dragon Quest 8: Journey of the Cursed King


Square Enix


November 15, 2005

The Dragon Quest franchise is one of the big dogs when it comes to JRPGs. It’s been around 1986, and in many ways, the series has barely changed over the years. Much more conservative than its ever-changing rival, Final Fantasy, it took Dragon Quest a shocking 19 years to go fully 3D.

The first fully 3D entry in the franchise was Dragon Quest 8, one of the most timeless PlayStation 2 RPGs. Being 3D allowed the game to shake up its structure somewhat. The game still had an overworld that linked separately loaded settlements, like most classic JRPGs, but it played like an open-world game. For the first time, the overworld was to scale, making journeying across it seem like a grand journey rather than a short trek from A to B interrupted by battles. Everything else about the game, from its beautiful art style to its classic good vs. evil story and awesome turn-based combat, remains beloved. The game was so good the series has barely changed since.

3 Xenoblade Chronicles X

Metacritic Score: 84

Xenoblade Chronicles X field

Xenoblade Chronicles X

December 4, 2015

Deciding which Xenoblade Chronicles game to put on this list wasn’t easy. The main entries in the Xenoblade Chronicles series aren’t technically open-world; instead, they’re made up of zones. However, some of those zones are so big they’re the size of some other game’s entire open-worlds. The series does have one fully open-world entry, however, Xenoblade Chronicles X. Unfortunately, it’s not the best Xenoblade Chronicles game.


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The game was hampered by a dull story and characters, as well as MMO-inspired progression systems that turned some players off. Look past those things, though, and Xenoblade Chronicles X was a great JRPG with a very impressive open-world, especially considering it launched on the WiiU. The game features five vast continents, each with unique ecosystems, landscapes, and tons of enemies that create a dynamic and immersive environment. Traversing those continents was sped up by the use of large mechs called Skrells that could be used to explore by land and air. It may not be the best Xenoblade Chronicles game, but X deserves credit for being one of the few truly open-world JRPGs, and a good one at that.

2 Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth

Metacritic Score: 92

final fantasy 7 rebirth cloud sephiroth

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

February 29, 2024

Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth isn’t open-world in that players can explore everywhere and anywhere from the beginning. Instead, it has a massive, unified world that can be explored without loading screens, but some areas are locked off until the player reaches certain points in the story. Basically, it took the traditional JRPG overworld design and made it open-world.

It’s the most open-world that series has been since Final Fantasy 15. Final Fantasy 15 had a large, beautiful open-world, but there wasn’t that much to do in it. There were vast expanses of nothing with the same old enemies thrown in, sometimes broken up by invisible walls. Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth is full of optional content, and its map is as densely filled as it is big. Outside the excellent open world, Rebirth has taken the combat from Final Fantasy 7: Remake and improved upon it, and continues Remake’s story nicely. For being a truly open-world JRPG that’s also just a great game, it gets the second spot.

1 Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Metacritic Score: 89

Street Surfer in Infinite Wealth

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

January 26, 2024

When Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio announced that the next game in the long-running Yakuza franchise was going to be a turn-based JRPG, it rang a lot of alarm bells. It seemed like a weird swerve for a series that had been a street-brawler for years and which had always had limited RPG elements. Luckily, what we got was one of the best JRPGS ever published by Sega, Yakuza: Like A Dragon.

Four years later, they followed it up with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. A first for this series, the game left Tokyo behind to explore an overseas location, an open-world Hawaii. It was a move that risked alienating long-time fans of the series, but it paid off. Hawaii makes for a nice change of pace and allows Ichiban Kasuga and Kauma Kiryu to get into some hilarious fish-out-of-water antics. Like previous Yakuza games, the open world is full of enemies to beat and insanely random minigames to complete. The main reason it tops this list, however, is the game’s spirit. Ichiban is a Dragon Quest mega-fan and both Like A Dragon games feel like an homage to the JRPGs of old but with a modern twist. Whereas other big JRPG franchises have slowly moved away from what fans originally loved about them, Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth embraces those mechanics wholeheartedly.


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