It’s no secret that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was an incredibly influential game. It spawned numerous copycats while shifting both our understanding and expectations of what open-world games can be. But what if you’ve scoured all the nooks and crannies of Hyrule and still want to explore something? Well, this list should give you some ideas! So, to mimic my colleague Ethan Gach’s Destiny 2 post, let’s take a look at 13 titles that in some way or another hit a similar vibe as Nintendo’s big-arse open-world game.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Speaking of climbing and nature, Ubisoft Quebec’s Greek caper Assassin’s Creed Odyssey feels closer to Breath of the Wild in terms of overall aesthetic and design than 2020’s Viking-themed adventure, Valhalla. There isn’t any weapon degradation to speak of in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and yet Odyssey, bolstered by the revamped combat system introduced in 2017’s Egyptian journey Origins, makes swapping gear more enjoyable than BOTW ever could. But what makes Odyssey so similar to BOTW, aside from the obvious open-world environment, is the way in which it urges you to overturn every stone for gear and, in particular, to solve its many puzzles. It’s bigger and longer, sure, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a solid BOTW follow-up if you’re looking to get lost in the exploration of it all.
One of the most remarkable things about Breath of the Wild is the way that it makes you really feel the terrain of Hyrule under your feet as you run along its hills and flatlands, under your hands as you clamber up its rough-hewn mountains. In a way, the central relationship in BOTW is the one between Link and Hyrule itself, its geography and its history. If you want more of that, Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding delivers it and then some. It’s a game that requires you to really contend with the land, and that as a result delivers a far more tactile experience of movement and travel than most games can even approach. The world it offers is in many ways very different from BOTW’s, but there’s a similar feeling of tranquil satisfaction to looking down from a high vantage point after a tough journey, seeing your destination below, and knowing it’s all downhill from here. – Carolyn Petit
Forza Horizon 4 and 5
For some, the joy of BOTW is the level to which it lets you get lost — truly lost — in its expanse, to point your compass to the horizon and just…go toward it, with no agenda, pretense, or expectations. In that regard, few games capture the vibe better than Xbox’s aptly titled Forza Horizon series of open-world racers. The two most recent entries (2018’s Forza Horizon 4 and this year’s Forza Horizon 5) are particularly best-in-class. Yes, they’re rife with objectives and notifications and an overly detailed map. But they’re best enjoyed when you turn all that stuff off, let yourself get lost on the open road — and off it. (Bonus: Both games are available via Game Pass.) – Ari Notis
Genshin Impact was heavily compared to Breath of the Wild at launch, with fans so convinced they were exactly the same, the devs got tons of public criticism for it. And sure, there are similarities in the bright open-world visuals, the air glider, your ability to climb anything you see, elemental attacks, and traversing a natural world. But Genshin Impact also represents a post BOTW world, where some of those design elements are merely a starting point for a totally different experience. Unlike BOTW, which stars a single character, Genshin is all about building teams of different characters that enhance the entire party’s capabilities. So if you enjoyed BOTW but felt that the game was a little bit lonely, Genshin Impact might be a better fit for you. – Sisi Jiang
Halo Infinite, much like Breath of the Wild, represents a reinvention of its long-running franchise through sandbox design. Halo has always encouraged systemic, physics-driven interactions — including deadly ammo crates propelled by one too many grenades, one-ton spartan bodies being fired through gravity canons, and deliciously floaty vehicles. Halo Infinite takes all of these elements and transports them into a larger open world, and then demands you use every tool at your disposal to survive. From the open-world design, which appears to use sightlines in similar ways to Breath of the Wild, to the constant need to rotate weapons during combat to fit the situation, and even map spanning physics manipulation — the comparison between these two games is easy to draw. – Renata Price
While a little closer to old-school The Legend of Zelda games than Breath of the Wild, what Runic Games’ Hob does is evoke the grand mystery of Hyrule in its world design. Controlling the eponymous Hob, the game takes you on a journey through a ruined mechanical world to understand what happened to the machines that once coexisted with nature. With a variety of tools at your disposal, from the main character’s big-arse left arm to their various upgrades, Hob tasks you with solving puzzles, bashing enemies, and exploring the environment to mend the pieces of a broken world, all while unlocking shortcuts to make the adventure smoother as you go along.
Horizon Zero Dawn
In the first few months of 2017, a sprawling open-world game blew everyone’s minds. You’d spend a lot of time spelunking the derelict ruins of lost civilizations. Combat was oriented around pre-industrial weaponry, with a heavy focus on bows and spears. You’d often have to climb — cliffs, mostly, but also the occasional seven-story-tall creature. The world itself was speckled with a smattering of ramshackle villages scraping together what they could, hints of a society laid low by self-wrought apocalypse. BOTW? Huh? No way! It’s Horizon Zero Dawn, Guerrilla Games’ action-RPG about giant robot dinosaurs, currently playable on PlayStation and PC. (A sequel is currently planned to launch in February for PS4 and PS5.) – AN
Immortals Fenyx Rising
This one might as well be called Breath of the Fenyx Wild, as it’s one of two obvious nods to Link’s open-world escapade. With a vibrant colour palette, its emphasis on close- and ranged-combat, a big-bad that feels much like Calamity Ganon, and its “go anywhere” ethos, Ubisoft Quebec’s Immortals Fenyx Rising will quite literally scratch the same itch as Breath of the Wild.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
The second incredibly obvious nod to Link’s open-world adventure, Oceanhorn 2 by Cornfox & Bros. is a straight-up mirror of Breath of the Wild — perhaps more so than Immortals Fenyx Rising. Oceanhorn 2‘s art style resembles BOTW. The combat, while it doesn’t feature weapon durability, feels like BOTW. Hell, even the main character, the silent protagonist Hero, looks like Link in BOTW with his blonde hair, blue tunic, and sword and shield in tow. The equivalence is truly uncanny here! But what really sells the commonality is the game’s environment, which is littered with lush trees, signposts, enemy-populated forts, and the occasional puzzle dungeon. You really can’t get more BOTW than Oceanhorn 2 — unless you replay BOTW.
Red Dead Redemption 2
One of the more head-scratching entries on this list, Rockstar Studios’ Red Dead Redemption 2 has a lot more in common with Breath of the Wild than you think. If BOTW is all about exploring, losing yourself in a world and uncovering random events along the way, then RDR2 definitely embodies that. Along with its high emphasis on exploration, RDR2 includes horseback riding that’s just as satisfying as taming and riding a mount in BOTW. And then there’s protagonist Arthur Morgan’s sprawling adventure, which hits similar peaks and valleys as what you experience with Link. The similarities end there, but RDR2 shouldn’t be missed if you want a beautiful world to spend some time in.
Sable eschews the physics-driven combat, crafting system, and high stakes of Breath of the Wild, for a quieter, more personal adventure — and it works beautifully. Despite its sparse gameplay systems, which consist almost entirely of light platforming, Sable manages to craft a gorgeous world worth exploring. By borrowing the freeform “climb anything” attitude of Breath of the Wild, Sable gives you a delicious degree of freedom to explore its gorgeous, Moebius-inspired desert landscape without much inhibition. – RP
Shadow of the Colossus
An unforgettable experience whether you’re playing Team Ico’s 2005 original on the PlayStation 2, the 2011 remaster for the PS3, or the one on PS4 from 2018, Shadow of the Colossus is a game about a boy and his horse, riding through a vast fantasy world, occasionally stopping to climb hills, mountains, or gigantic sentient monsters with visible weak points. Silent hero Wander channels Link as he raises his sword towards the sky, a beam of light leading to the next challenge. It’s a more guided experience than BOTW that still evokes the game’s adventurous spirit. – Michael Fahey
A Short Hike
Maybe not immediately recognisable as a game influenced by BOTW compared to other entries on this list, but the similarities do reveal themselves gradually once adamgryu’s A Short Hike gives you free rein to explore its beautiful world. From serenely gliding down the top of mountain peaks to solving rudimentary puzzles with very specific pieces of gear, A Short Hike is a cosy, reflective adventure that’s great for simply existing in some nature.
And that’s that, 13 games that should fill the gaping The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild hole in your heart. Sure, there is a sequel on the way, but we know very little about it right now. So until Breath of the Wild 2 comes out, if that’s what it’s even called, I suggest trying these games to scratch that incessant itch.