The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild certainly wasn’t the first open-world game, but it did make meaningful changes to the open-world formula. Since, there have been a few, surprisingly good, copycats. To hold you over until Breath of the Wild 2 finally releases, here are eight games like Breath of the Wild that you should play.
Note that this guide is focused on Breath of the Wild, not just Zelda-like games (we have a list of the best Zelda games if you’re interested in that). In particular, we chose open-world games with a strong emphasis on exploration.
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Immortals Fenyx Rising is Assassin’s Creed without the baggage. A change in setting and a generous dose of imagination pushes Immortals further than even the best Assassin’s Creed games. It’s still an open-world game, and it still abides by the open-world tropes that Assassin’s Creed is known for. Even then, Immortals stands out, not only because of its lightweight approach to the open-world action RPG but also because it isn’t concerned with being realistic.
The game borrows liberally from Breath of the Wild, from managing stamina while climbing to tackling small dungeons focused on puzzles and combat for upgrades. Even the art style is similar to Breath of the Wild.
The combat — which is a big chunk of what you’ll be doing in Immortals — isn’t, however. Combat feels like a proper action RPG, fit with screen-filling combos and massive AoE attacks. Exploration is great, too, with Immortals‘ lush, mythical world calling players back each time they respawn at the Hall of the Gods. Even with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla releasing mere weeks before, Immortals Fenyx Rising is Ubisoft’s best game of the year.
Read our Immortals Fenyx Rising review
Genshin Impact‘s marketing pegged it as a Breath of the Wild rip-off and nothing more. It didn’t help that the game came from miHoYo, a company known only for developing mobile games before the release of Genshin Impact. The jump to a full-fledged console and PC release usually isn’t graceful, but miHoYo managed to pull it off. Genshin Impact borrows a lot of Breath of the Wild, but no more than Immortals Feynx Rising borrows.
In fact, Genshin Impact adds a lot more to the formula. It’s a bonafide RPG, with a cast of unique characters and the Adventure Rank system, which improves as you complete challenges (and, in turn, unlocks new quests and challenges). Genshin Impact is free-to-play across PC, PS4, and mobile, too, and it even support cross-platform play (once you unlock co-op, that is).
Genshin Impact is more than a Breath of the Wild clone, so much so that our own Tom Caswell actually thinks it’s better.
There aren’t many games that seamlessly encourage exploration quite like Horizon: Zero Dawn. Actually, the closest game that comes to mind is Breath of the Wild, but for a different reason. Horizon: Zero Dawn, like most open-world RPGs, has unique loot, crafting materials, and currency hidden around the world. However, it’s the game’s world design and overarching concept that keeps players coming back for more.
Horizon: Zero Dawn has a beautiful world, but more importantly, it has an interesting world. From seeing machines of impossible scale overgrown with vegetation to traveling through settlements and witnessing the devolution of humanity, Horizon: Zero Dawn’s world tells a story without saying a word.
It helps that Horizon: Zero Dawn is an excellent game outside of the world, too. Aloy is a believable protagonist that you’ll want to sympathize with, and combat is excellent, with multiple paths to approach every encounter.
Read our Horizon Zero Dawn review
Immortals Fenyx Rising is Assassin’s Creed with a little Breath of the Wild thrown in, while Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is just, well, Assassin’s Creed. Valhalla doesn’t pull any punches with the storied franchise, adopting the same AnvilNext 2.0 engine that Ubisoft has been using since Assassin’s Creed Unity. It also borrows the combat of Odyssey and the open-world design of Origins.
Valhalla is not a unique game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great game. The snowy hills of Anglo-Saxon England are gorgeous to explore, and you’ll be rewarded for turning over every stone. It may not be unique, but it doesn’t need to be. It presents the same formula in a different setting, and remarkably, that formula still works just as well.
Read our Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review
Hob: The Definitive Edition features an open-world design, but unlike our previous recommendations, it isn’t just a mad dash to finish points of interest around the map. Despite the difference in approach, it shares so much with Breath of the Wild and Zelda as a whole that we need to give it a mention. Hob is a top-down adventure-puzzle game from the developer of Torchlight and Torchlight II — Runic Games. The game begins without much to go on. All you know is that something terrible has happened to the world and that it’s your job to piece it back together.
Most of your time in Hob will be spent exploring dungeons and solving puzzles to piece the world back together. The game never really tells you that, however. It’s a wordless experience, and it’s better for that. Instead of guiding players down a linear path from one puzzle to the next, Hob gives players the freedom to explore. The top-down view and various upgrades you can pick up scream Zelda, too.
Hob is like if Breath of the Wild was designed as a traditional, top-down Zelda game. We recommend The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch over the original version on PC and PS4, however. In addition to running better on Switch, Hob: The Definitive Edition features redesigned menus and a few changes to make navigating the world easier. Even better, the original Hob is included with The Definitive Edition, too.
Even with Cyberpunk 2077 making the rounds, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remains CD Projekt Red’s magnum opus (and one of the bestselling video games of all time). It’s easy to see why, too. From world design to combat to quest design and everything in between, The Witcher 3 does exactly what it should. If you like lore, there’s plenty to uncover in Continent, and if you like combat, The Witcher 3 has the swordplay, spells, and abilities to satisfy. It even has one of the best digital card games built-in — Gwent.
The connection between Zelda and The Witcher 3 isn’t that weak, either, with level designer Miles Tost citing Zelda as a key influence on the game’s world design. The Witcher 3 goes further, even. While similar games reward players with loot and upgrades for exploration, The Witcher 3 rewards the player with world-building. And the fact that world-building is a reward in the first place should say something.
Read our The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
Yes, Death Stranding is like Breath of the Wild, even if the two games share very little mechanically. In Breath of the Wild, you use the world to earn new gear, gather ingredients to cook, and push through dungeons to upgrade Link. In Death Standing, you instead fight with the world. It doesn’t have any combat — or anything on the level of Breath of the Wild, at least — but Death Stranding does have an open-world and it does encourage players to, begrudgingly, explore.
Death Stranding is Breath of the Wild for masochists. The world is almost its own character, presenting the biggest obstacle in the game for the player to, quite literally, overcome. Breath of the Wild’s focus is different, and it has a good dash of other mechanics to keep gameplay interesting. However, there is a central thread that ties the two games together — an open-world that holds just as much weight as the characters that inhabit it.
Read our Death Stranding review
Final Fantasy XV is far from the best Final Fantasy game, but that’s a high bar to clear. Like Breath of the Wild, Final Fantasy XV took a lot of risks with the franchise. In addition to being the first truly open-world Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy XV also did away with any sort of turn-based combat, rather letting battles play out in real-time while allowing players to pause and issue commands to other party members.
Although the story suffers for these changes — unless you’ve consumed all of the Final Fantasy XV supplemental material, that is — the game overall does not. Final Fantasy XV‘s world is gorgeous, and although it doesn’t encourage exploration quite like Breath of the Wild, there’s still plenty to do. Plus, Final Fantasy XV’s combat system is a treat, so simply taking on hunts around the world is entertaining.
Read our Final Fantasy XV review
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