The latest Zelda entry redefined how open-world games should feel, look, and behave. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece, so finding games like Breath of the Wild is not an easy task.
Even though it’s a Nintendo Switch exclusive, Breath of the Wild is one of the most friendly Zelda games for newcomers. Instead of being part of one of the three complicated timelines in the series, it is rather at the end of either timeline.
So, effectively, it doesn’t truly follow the storylines or rules of previous entries. Casual Zelda fans can enter and understand without issue.
We’re talking about the story, though. The world, the mechanics, and the pacing is on another level, vastly different from most AAA open-world games.
Selecting Games Like Breath Of The Wild
Before selecting games like Breath of the Wild, we needed to understand the elements of the Nintendo exclusive.
In essence, we believe BotW fans would love games featuring a mix or a tweak of the following elements:
- Genre: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an action-adventure open-world sandbox game.
- Open-world design: The world has no markers, set goals, and boundaries. The map is also full of secrets, temples, treasures, hidden areas, and more.
- Limitations: Link’s limitation is the “Stamina Wheel.” It determines how long he can climb, run, swing, glide, sprint, and spin-attack.
- Quest design: The game starts with a quest, defeating Ganondorf. There’re no indications of how to do it.
- Sandbox: Similarly, players can approach the main quest, and the game itself, with massive freedom. There’re endless possibilities of exploring the world.
- Gliding: The glider is one of the most recognized elements of the game. This is a tool Link has to glide across the map.
- Puzzles: Breath of the Wild is full of physics-based and platforming puzzles. They are challenging, compelling, and reward treasures and lore info.
- Visuals: The game looks gorgeous. That’s because it uses cell-shaded graphics and a stylized cartoony world instead of going for realism.
- Gameplay: Moving around Hyrule happens in third-person, in a 3D world. Link unlocks attacks and items as the game improves his traverse and battle tools.
- Combat: The combat starts with basic action-adventure moves (dodge, parry, attack, block). Over time, more complex defensive and offensive abilities.
- Character progression: Players can get better gear, upgrade armor, upgrade HP and stamina via items, and unlock additional item slots.
- Physics engine: The engine determines the physical properties of all in-game objects. Therefore, the world is interactive and rewards experimentation.
- Crafting: Objects in-game can have multiple uses. For example, a wooden weapon can become a torch, or a shield can become a snowboard.
- Cooking: Players can hunt for meat, collect herbs and fruits, and pick up scraps from enemies to cook food and elixirs.
- Map marking: The Sheikah tool can mark “interest” points in the map. Over time, they can evolve the tool to earn extra magical skills.
Overall, Breath of the Wild is a gorgeous exploration-based sandbox action-adventure game. A Zelda game has a compelling enough story to push forward, rather than hanging around the open world forever.
Games like Breath of the Wild should feature similar freedom. Yet, it should have something extra, something amazing to keep you coming back. For example, Breath of the Wild features an outstanding soundtrack that ties everything together.
Games Like Breath Of The Wild
Horizon Forbidden West
- Developer: Guerrilla Games
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release Date: February 2022
- Platform:PS4, PS5
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best games for PS4. Many would consider it a perfect entry in the open-world action-adventure RPG genre. The second entry, the first major PS5 2022 exclusive, seems even better.
The sequel develops Alloy as less of a one-note character and dives deeper into a full-on sci-fi setting. The graphics, performance, mechanics, and music are also a massive improvement upon the first.
That said, Forbidden West is a massive open-world title. It also focuses on exploration, as you have to roam around the map to find gear, scraps to craft, and creatures to hunt for parts. There’s also a glider, as well as swimming mechanics.
As before, it’s also a Monster Hunter game in disguise. Each mechanic monster requires a different strategy and features various weaknesses. The weapon variety is wide, the melee abilities are better, and the skill threes are varied.
Overall, the Forbidden West features an interesting world free of clutter and unnecessary filler. The game rewards your exploration with lore, great side content, and gear.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
- Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: December 2020
- Platform:Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Ubisoft intended to make a similar game, as the Nintendo exclusive was their main inspiration. That said, Fenyx Rising is also an open-world action-adventure sandbox game.
The game follows Fenyx, a mortal man stranded in the realm of the Gods. He must stop Typhon, an evil from the underworld, to save humanity. The story happens alongside a narration that feels humorous and light-hearted cell-shaded graphics.
Then, there’s the open world. There’re markers for the quests, but you have to discover the rest of the secrets. You can do so by exploring or using your Far Sight ability. The world hides treasures, gear, temples, bosses, puzzles, and more.
Combat starts basic and then evolves by unlocking Godly Skills, traversal moves, weapons, defensive abilities, combos, and wings to glide! Nevertheless, it relies on a block/dodge/parry/light attack/heavy attack/ranged attack system.
Lastly, the world has various areas, and you have to complete the main quest on each in any order. However, your limitation is your stamina and combat prowess. You need to improve your character by finding the right items along the way.
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Release Date: May 2019
- Platform:PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch
If you’re looking for the ultimate open-world sandbox, Outer Wilds is the game to pick. It’s one of the most relevant and praised indies in recent times.
Outer Wilds is an open world with no markers and a single quest. It’s a time loop game that resets the world to default every time you don’t solve the mystery, like Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
You’re a recruit of the Outer Wilds Ventures, a space program. Your job is solving the mystery that keeps a solar system in a time loop. You’re free to do it your own way, though, and you can try it as many times as you want.
But as you explore a massive solar system full of planets and hazards, you’ll uncover more secrets and information. Every clue you pick up can lead you to solve the one puzzle you need to solve.
That said, the game has no combat. Instead, it’s an exploration-driven game full of puzzles and hidden locations. Moreover, areas can change with the day/night cycle of the game.
- Developer: 343 Industries
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
- Release Date: December 2021
- Platform:Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows
Halo Infinite added sandbox elements to a long-running franchise to breathe new life. It’s the same case as Zelda, and it also relies on a hefty physics engine. Moreover, it has one of the series’s best plots and shooting mechanics.
The latest Halo game offers its multiplayer portion for free and enables cross-play between Steam and Xbox Store players. The campaign sells for the AAA standard fee, though.
We’re talking about the campaign, mostly. It’s the first open-world map in the series, and it asks players to use every tool to survive. In particular, players need to rotate weapons constantly to defeat different enemy types.
There’re also vehicles to traverse the land and plenty of physics manipulation features. For example, there’re gravity canons, hoovering vehicles, or grenades capable of propelling bodies and crates.
Lastly, the plot follows Master Chief confronting a new foe, the Harbinger. At the same time, the Spartan is dealing with the betrayal of Cortana, his AI assistant, who joined forces against humanity with her creation in Halo 5.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
- Developer: Ember Lab
- Publisher: Ember Lab
- Release Date: September 2021
- Platform:PS4, PS5, Windows
Bridge of Spirits is an indie game that feels, looks, and behaves like AAA games. It’s also as magical, expansive, and cute as Breath of the Wild fans expect. Moreover, it relies on similar mechanics.
This is an action-adventure semi-open-world title. You play as Kena, a young spirit guide who wields magical abilities to heal the spirit world. sS such, she has a staff for melee and ranged attacks.
The combat evolves as the game progresses. Kena unlocks weapons, dashes, gadgets, and combos to defeat progressively complex enemies. The action gameplay is familiar, but the performance is flawless.
That said, the game is significantly shorter than Breath of the Wild. Kena is a condensed, 40 hours mostly linear experience. Yet, the world still encourages exploration, and there’s also plenty of lore to see.
Lastly, the game features a light-hearted story and cell-shaded graphics as well. Its fictional tale is original, though, and it centers on collecting spirit companions she must lead to the afterlife.
- Developer: Shedworks
- Publisher: Raw Fury
- Release Date: September 2021
- Platform:Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows
Sable is another indie title. As Breath of the Wild focuses on exploration, it delivers a rich open-world and presents action-adventure mechanics. Its art style and story make it quite unique.
You play as Sable as she goes through the Gliding, a rite of passage. It’s a journey that takes her across deserts, ancient wonders, and derelict spaceships. It happens through a third-person perspective, in a hand-drawn world.
The gameplay is about exploring stylized dunes with your hoverbike. You can also climb, glide, interact with other nomads, help other tribes, and uncover the mystery of a long-gone civilization.
All the while, players will uncover the mystery of Sable, who always uses a mask. Speaking of which, you can customize your mask and your outfits with collectibles you find. Similarly, you can customize your glider.
Lastly, the game has a unique art style and an original soundtrack by the Japanese band Breakfast. Overall, it’s an immersive, story-driven, and exploration-based experience Zelda fans would love.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
- Developer: Game Freak
- Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
- Release Date: January 2022
- Platform:Nintendo Switch
Arceus is an action-RPG game. It’s part of the eighth generation of the series, and it’s a prequel to Diamond and Pearl (2006) and the 2008 Pokemon Platinum. The plot is easy enough for newcomers to understand, though.
The entry takes a few steps away from the classical formula. It doesn’t have the open-world freedom Breath of the Wild offers, but it’s a game both Pokemon and Zelda fans would enjoy.
Even so, the world is semi-open, and the areas are wide to encourage exploration. The game has 5 zones featuring wild pokemon, enemy trainers, hidden items, secrets, and other dangers.
Another new element is how players can ride certain Pokemons to travel faster, swim, climb, or fly. Additionally, the game introduces “Alpha” Pokemons, larger and more powerful versions in the wild.
Overall, Arceus packs significant new features while using a wider world than usual. It also features a more complex turn-based RPG battle system, multiple endings, and 242 Pokemons.
Super Mario Odyssey
- Developer: Nintendo EDP
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: October 2017
- Platform:Nintendo Switch
The Switch was released alongside Breath of the Wild in 2017. A few months later, Super Mario Odyssey debuted. It became another classic title with a successful modern and creative formula like its Zelda counterpart.
Super Mario Odyssey is a platform game. You control Mario across various interconnected Kingdoms. Altogether, it represents a wild open world with no markers but full of platforming puzzles and color.
The plot is about rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser. The dragon is looking to marry her by force. Mario uses his hat-shaped ship, Odyssey, to find the Power Moons across the Kingdoms and find the princess.
Its gameplay happens in 3D and features a mix of old and new. Mario can jump, double jump, triple jump, and wall jump. His spirit hat, Cappy, also offers multiple attacks and traversal skills. For example, it temporarily captures enemy abilities.
That said, the game is rich in platforming puzzles and challenging enemies. Likewise, Mario can improve his HP by finding “Life-Up Hearts.” Lastly, as far as features go, a co-op mode allows other players to control Cappy.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Release Date: November 2011
- Platform:Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
Breath of the Wild focuses on exploration, a way of giving players the freedom to play the game. Skyrim did the same many years ago, but, luckily, it’s still a relevant game, with over 20K concurrent daily players on Steam.
Skyrim stands as one of the best open-world immersive RPGs in the industry. And even though it has a great emphasis on the story, and a hefty plot to follow, it also rewards players immense freedom.
The plot happens 2,000 years after Oblivion, in Tamriel. You play as the Dragonborn, and your destiny is defeating Alduin the World-Eater, a dangerous dragon. There’re also various expansions with new areas and enemies.
You unlock Dragonborn skills and develop skills across dozens of trees along the journey. You can also explore the world at your will for any task, sub-plot, or main-story path you desire.
The amount of things it offers is staggering. Aside from dozens of builds, you can become a thief, a vampire, a werewolf, craft, trade, dungeon-crawl, and more. Moreover, there’re hundreds of mods available for further customization.
- Developer: miHoYo
- Publisher: miHoYo
- Release Date: September 2020
- Platform:Android, iOS, Windows, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Genshin Impact is an open-world, free-to-play RPG game. The art style and the world design are similar to Breath of the Wild, but the mechanics belong to another genre.
In specific, Genshin is a “Gacha” game. That means it relies on unlocking characters, like Pokemons, to use in battle. You unlock characters by spending in-game currency.
Then, each hero features different abilities and elemental powers. You can swap heroes during combat at any time, so it’s important to mix and match elemental abilities for greater effects. Moreover, many feature unique progression systems.
The open world is cartooney and good-looking. It’s also vast and full of treasures, puzzles, secrets, and enemies. But aside from finding currencies and gear, you can also follow the main quest.
Overall, Genshin Impact is an addictive, fast-paced title. Lastly, its micro-transaction stores won’t hold your progress until reaching a certain point. Afterward, though, it may slow down your progress.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Publisher: CD Projekt Red
- Release Date: May 2015
- Platform:Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
The Witcher 3 is an open-world action-adventure RPG. Compared to Breath of the Wild, it’s a darker, angrier, and deeper game. It’s also more cinematic and features an equally amazing soundtrack.
You play as Geralt the Rivia, searching for Ciri, his surrogate daughter. The main plot is thrilling and takes Geralt across the various areas of a vast open world. Ultimately, the quest takes the heroes to face an ancient elven evil.
However, the side quests are equally compelling and fully-fledged. Players can get lost in the hours of side content the game offers. The world is massive, full of interactive NPCs, stories, and sights to see.
The fighting system is familiar as well. It relies on dodges, parries, blocks, attacks, gadgets, and magical skills. Geralt does have more classical skill trees and skill points to develop over time.
Overall, The Witcher 3 is an epic, cinematic game that ties multiple storylines together. It’s a widely recognized title that rivals BotW in the number of boundaries it pushes.
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
- Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
- Publisher: FDG Entertainment
- Release Date: November 2013
- Platform:iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Oceanhorn is a 2013 action-adventure game that looks familiar. It uses elements from the most cartoony Zelda games, like Wind Waker, but it’s an easier and simpler title overall.
Many consider it as a Zelda knockoff. Still, it’s a popular mobile game featuring surprisingly complex mechanics for the platform to this day. Moreover, you can play a portion of the game for free.
Oceanhorn features a 3D cell-shaded world, where a character answers a call to heroism. The protagonists go through a series of interconnected maps to follow the story, unlock gear, and learn new abilities.
Players explore dungeons, fight monsters, and solve puzzles. The game features various weapons, plus the ability to throw pots and cut bushes for hidden coins. That said, you play from a top-down perspective and travel interconnected areas.
Lastly, the game features gorgeous music and a compelling story. Even though it feels like a shameless Zelda copycat, it also has merits. For example, the island design is lovely.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
- Developer: Cornfox & Bros.
- Publisher: FDG Entertainment
- Release Date: October 2020
- Platform:Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, Apple Arcade
Oceanhorn 2 is a prequel to the first game, as the story happens 1,000 years before the previous plot. It’s light-hearted, cartoony, familiar, but not at all innovative.
The plot has you collecting relics worldwide to face an ancient evil. It’s a good story that introduces companion characters. The story doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it does an effective job of taking you from one quest to another.
The design, mechanics, and graphics follow Breath of the Wild. Moreover, the battle system relies on sword attacks, spells, and using items in creative ways.
Oceanhorn 2 also evolves the gameplay but still feels familiar and easy. As before, and like Link, the hero has no name, no voice, and likes to smash pots for coins and jewels.
Overall, Oceanhorn is a semi-open world game where you explore the world for puzzles, treasure, and the occasional combat. However, there’s no way to lock-down targets, and the AI companions rarely help in the heat of battle.