So you’ve played, or re-played, the epic fantasy saga that is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its two critically acclaimed expansions, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Now you’re on the hunt for your next fantasy epic, but which to choose?
With so much to love about The Witcher 3, from its endearing and charismatic cast of characters to its engaging questlines, it’s tough to settle on just one single element of Geralt’s final adventure. (His final canonically, anyway: Our boy will return soon enough in a remake of the first game). And when it’s over, it leaves you wanting more.
Luckily, many of The Witcher 3’s great qualities can be found in other games, too. Some of these games match more closely than others; but none of these apples stray too far from the tree, meaning that any of the following adventures will make for a terrific follow-up to Geralt’s memorable saga.
The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
For more of: The Witcher’s world, characters, and soundtrack
Notable differences: Neither game is open world, and each feature slightly different takes on the combat system
The Witcher: Windows (Steam Deck OK), macOS
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV), macOS, Linux, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
We start with the obvious. Given that The Witcher was sort of a cult hit before the third entry catapulted it into the status of modern classic, a lot of folks haven’t played the first two entries. If that’s you, you should do something about it. Admit it; it’s hard to quit Geralt and crew.
Don’t worry, going back doesn’t feel too weird. In fact, as I discovered when I played the first and second games for the first time (which was after I fully completed all of The Witcher 3), it dramatically helps to contextualize the third game’s world and events — and after Witcher 2 you might find yourself itching for another playthrough its sequel, which is hardly a horrible problem to have. Both prequels are very, very different from The Witcher 3, and also from each other. But if it’s The Witcher you want more of, and in game form, this is it.
There’s one caveat: There is a remake of the first game on the way. Given that many people aren’t fans of the original as it exists now (I am not one of those; I thoroughly enjoyed the first and of its all jankiness) you may wish to hold off until the actual remake.
The Witcher 2 certainly feels like a more modern game. And if experiencing this saga out of order really has you in knots, consider reading the books to bide your time until the remake of the first game is complete. The games pick up directly where the books leave off, and they make for a great read.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales (And Other Gwent Games)
For more of: Gwent! And the world of The Witcher
Notable differences: Narrative-based deck-building game
Gwent, the lovely card mini-game in The Witcher 3, can really get its hooks into you. So what could be better following The Witcher 3 than more Gwent, set to a tale of warring nations in the game’s medieval fantasy world?
In Thronebreaker, you take on the role of Lyria and Rivia’s ruler, Queen Meve. Set before the first Witcher game, the story has you explore different regions of The Witcher’s world. You’ll command an army in a quest to reclaim land, with all of the combat and action abstracted through the game of Gwent. The story isn’t as fantastical as The Witcher 3’s, and is far more political.
There are also some specific differences between Gwent as it appears here, and how it works in The Witcher 3. Now there are three rows instead of two, and some familiar cards have different functions. The changes are notable, but still preserve Gwent’s strategic feel.
If you just want more of the card game itself, however, you may also wish to consider Gwent: The Witcher Card Game and the recently-released Gwent: Rogue Mage.
For more of: CD Projekt Red quest design, RPG mechanics
Notable differences: Customisable protagonist, first person perspective, quasi-immersive sim scenarios, cyberpunk setting, feels more like a first-person shooter from time to time
In Cyberpunk 2077, you take on the role of V, a cybernetically enhanced merc in the bustling dystopian metropolis of Night City. With a choice of three different openings, V soon gets wrapped up in a life-or-death scenario involving deep corporate secrets.
If the Witcher 3 turned you into a fan of CD Projekt Red’s work, odds are you might’ve played this one already. But in the time since its infamous mess of a release, Cyberpunk 2077 has dramatically improved. It also has an expansion on the way featuring Idris Elba — the best Dunder Mifflin boss.
Cyberpunk certainly falls short of the greatness that is The Witcher 3, and it’s a radical change of aesthetic, on top of being a first-person game. But there are a number of neat side-quests and a really awesome main storyline with a bunch of branching, though slightly more linear, narrative decisions to play through.
And while you can play Cyberpunk 2077 on last-gen consoles, PS4 and Xbox One, the game, despite many fixes, is best played on more modern hardware. It’s not a bad excuse to purchase a much-needed upgrade.
Also, at risk of being set on fire, I kind of like Cyberpunk’s character stats and RPG building mechanics a liiiiittle bit more than The Witcher 3’s.
Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West
For more of: Open-world (science) fantasy RPG goodness
Notable differences: Female protagonist, more action-oriented gameplay, stealth, platforming scenarios, robot dinosaur monsters
In Horizon Zero Dawn, you play as Aloy in a far-flung future in which our civilisation completely collapsed following immense technological heights. A woman compelled to unravel her mysterious past, you’ll slowly put the pieces of what happened on Earth back together as you fight against hostile human groups and robot dinosaurs. In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy must use what she learned from the first game to try and stop a blight that threatens all life on the planet.
Horizon Zero Dawn came out after The Witcher 3 already raised the bar for open-world RPGs, and it shows. The first game, Zero Dawn, sometimes feels like a post-apocalyptic science fantasy take on much of what makes The Witcher 3 so good. You’ll even get a little Bluetooth-like earpiece that functions similarly to Geralt’s witcher senses. With a far-flung post-civilisation setting that sees robot dinosaurs stomping around the remnants of Earth’s previous civilisation, you’ll explore gorgeous, haunting environments of a world now gone, taking down fearsome robotic dinosaur foes as the story progresses.
As an RPG, it has less stat maths to keep track of. Horizon falls more on the action side of action-RPG, so that might make for a nice reprieve from The Witcher. If you’re not a purist about playing every series from the beginning, you may also wish to consider skipping the first game, Zero Dawn. Though Zero Dawn was and still is a great action-RPG, Forbidden West feels a bit better to play and is also a visual treat on PS5. The opening of Forbidden West also briefly goes through the events of the first game, so you’ll be caught up pretty quickly as to who Aloy is and what she’s searching for.
Read More: Horizon Forbidden West: The Kotaku Review
And while Aloy isn’t necessarily a monster hunter, the game does require some patience and observation to spot the weak points of your robo dino foes, as well as opportunities to use a variety of tactics, weapons, and traps to take them down. In that way, Horizon contains some of the same “hunter” fantasy that The Witcher has.
Oh, and Lance Reddick is in it!
Final Fantasy VII Remake
For more of: Character-driven action-RPG
Notable differences: A linear story, sci-fi/fantasy hybrid setting, no open world, command-based actions and multiple party members feature very different, though still exciting, combat
In Final Fantasy VII Remake Cloud Strife, a mercenary with a mysterious and haunting past, gets tied up with the environmentalist militia Avalanche. With the mega-corporation Shinra destroying the planet, the task of saving the world falls to Cloud and an excellent cast of characters who’ll join him in a mind-bending adventure.
Read More: Final Fantasy VII Remake: The Kotaku Review
Final Fantasy VII Remake retells the opening chapter of 1997’s PSX game Final Fantasy VII. You’re probably wondering: Should I play the original? That answer is a definite yes, but if The Witcher 3 has you in the mood for another, great third-person action-RPG, then it’s hardly the worst thing if you play Remake first.
With a sequel, Rebirth, on the horizon, jumping into Remake is also a great way to get yourself ready for what looks to be a pretty epic RPG trilogy. Remake introduces some new narrative twists to the timeless tale of Cloud and crew that make for one of the best treatments of its classic and loveable characters, with a gorgeous reimagining of this alluring science-fantasy setting.
While the combat happens in real time (though there is an optional turn-based mode), Final Fantasy VII Remake has a unique fusion of action and command-based skirmishes that harken back to the original’s turn-based action. Don’t let that fool you: Remake is a wonderful hybrid of the two worlds. You’ll have a lot of room for strategy while still feeling like you’re right there, swinging a buster sword into Shinra troops, casting spells, and summoning ancient forces. And if The Witcher 3’s more simple magic system felt a little underwhelming, Remake has a much more dramatic suite of spells that you can spec out to some wonderful builds across a party of any three characters at a time.
Remake is a linear trip, so you rarely have the kinds of choices you have in The Witcher, and there aren’t too many opportunities to go off and explore (though the game does have its moments of freedom). Still, if you just want yet another great action-RPG experience with excellent characters, Remake will make for a good follow-up to The Witcher 3.
Oh, and one final thing. The Witcher 3 is known for many accomplishments, one of which is its excellent soundtrack featuring expert use of recurring themes to make the presentation feel cohesive and instantly recognisable. Final Fantasy VII is no different. Remake features one of the best executions of its classic gaming melodies; and be sure to pay attention to how many times the soundtrack reinterprets the main theme across the spectrum of different genres. I mean, just listen to all seven+ minutes of this. The world is better for composer Nobuo Uematsu being in it.
For more of: Dark medieval fantasy, open-world exploration
Notable differences: Customisable protagonist, considerably higher base difficulty, a more mysterious story
At its hardest difficulty, The Witcher 3 is no slouch. But if Geralt’s high-fantasy adventure against fearsome foes has you in the mood for a greater, tougher fantasy challenge, look no further than Elden Ring. Set in an open world that gives a level of freedom, exploration, and choice that the previous FromSoft games don’t; you’ll explore dungeons, face down epic bosses, and roam across a haunting world on your trusty spirit steed, Torrent.
Read More: Elden Ring: The Kotaku Review
Elden Ring’s much higher difficulty level is one of the most notable differences from The Witcher 3. Since it’s set in an open world, however, you have a bit more freedom to determine where you want to spend your time grinding and against which foes, choosing to wait for the greater challenges once you (or your build) are ready. It’s kind of like an invisible difficulty slider (shh, don’t let the purists know).
There’s dramatically more flexibility in how you can spec out a character in Elden Ring as well. Whether you favour steel or spells, there’s a lot of fun in figuring out where you want to take your build as you travel across The Lands Between.
One key difference is in how Elden Ring tells its story. The Witcher 3 certainly is more traditional in how it conveys the saga of the world and its characters, with cutscenes and moments of stand-still dialogue. Elden Ring is more cryptic, some might say austere, in how it presents its world to you, but if you love a good fantasy story, Elden Ring sure is a world to remember.
Also, as The Witcher has its narrative roots in a wonderful set of written fiction, so too does Elden Ring draw its material directly from the work of one of fantasy’s great contemporary authors. George R.R. Martin built the foundation of Elden Ring, on which director Hidetaka Miyazaki crafted the game.
Elden Ring’s open world and choice over where you want to go certainly makes it more resonant to The Witcher 3 than, say, any of the Souls games. But you may wish to consider those if you’re a little burnt out on a vast, open world.
Ghost of Tsushima
For more of: The fantasy of being an expert with a blade, beautiful open-world traversal, engaging narrative
Notable differences: Few if any RPG mechanics, more action-oriented, stealth gameplay, a slightly more grounded, historically inspired setting
Availability: PS4, PS5
If The Witcher 3’s gripping narrative and fantasy of being a master swordsman has you desperate for more, you might wish to shake things up a little bit with Sucker Punch’s samurai sim Ghost of Tsushima. With a demanding cinematic approach that takes its cues from classic samurai films like 1954’s Seven Samurai and 1965’s Red Beard, Ghost is both a great action game and an engrossing visual treat.
Read More: Ghost of Tsushima: The Kotaku Review
It’s worth noting that Ghost of Tsushima technically isn’t an RPG. But with a drop-dead gorgeous open world that will give any beautiful sunset in The Witcher 3 a run for its money, a horse to race through said world, side-quests, and a variety of ways to improve protagonist Jin’s samurai skills, it sometimes feels like a more immediate, action-oriented take on much of what folks love about The Witcher 3.
Combat is kinetic, and deeply rewarding. It revels in the samurai fantasy in the same way The Witcher fantasizes about being a monster hunter. You can challenge foes to a classic standoff which never gets old and, unlike The Witcher, there’s a satisfying stealth element at play.
If you loved the thrill of sword fighting in The Witcher and desire more metal-on-metal action unchained from stat numbers, Ghost of Tsushima is a thrilling experience.
God of War (2018 and Ragnarök)
For more of: Melee-focused combat, tough dudes, cool monsters and side-quests
Notable differences: Not as big, more puzzles, no horse to ride, easier difficulty
God of War (2018): Windows (Steam Deck OK), PS4, PS5
The rebooted God of War and its 2022 sequel, God of War Ragnarök, are fantastic third-person action-adventure games that combine melee combat, exploration, and magic together in a similar way to The Witcher 3. While The Witcher 3’s combat is a bit more intense and tricky, requiring you to prepare ahead of big fights, God of War is easier to just jump into and enjoy. (That said, some later endgame fights and optional bosses can kick your arse pretty good.)
Read More: God of War Ragnarök: The Kotaku Review
Players wanting a big open world like The Witcher 3’s will likely prefer Ragnarök over its predecessor. However, skipping right to the sequel might be a tad confusing so you might want to watch a YouTube catch-up video first. Regardless, Ragnarök, like The Witcher 3, features some really interesting side-quests off the beaten path. Some areas of the latest game even feel like a mini open world, complete with dungeons and quests you can tackle in different orders.
Kratos and Geralt share a lot in common, with both men being tough as nails and of few words. However, Geralt has the better hair and laugh. Sorry, Kratos. At least you have the cooler weapons! — Zack Zwiezen
For more of: An epic RPG with memorable characters
Notable differences: Customisable protagonist, science fiction setting, multiple party members, not open-world (except Andromeda)
Mass Effect original trilogy: Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS3 (ME3 also on Wii U)
Mass Effect Legendary Edition (Remastered original trilogy): Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
Mass Effect: Andromeda: Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
Maybe you’re in the mood for another epic RPG, but you’re tired of the sword and sorcery. Maybe you’re looking to set sail across the stars and between worlds, unravelling the secrets of the galaxy. If so, it’s hard to pass up Mass Effect.
Some might say that we still haven’t had a sci-fi RPG to truly surpass the phenomena that is Mass Effect. Despite a controversial ending to its first trilogy, Mass Effect remains a titan of a shooter-RPG set in a far future in which humanity exists among a diverse spectrum of alien species.
The main trilogy has you take on the role of Commander Shepard, whose personality and morality is under your control. Some of the “morality” choices feel a little dated by modern standards, but all three games, and even its flawed spin-off Andromeda, feel very open to your actions and decisions.
Mass Effect will give you some RPG stats to chew on as well. Shepard and the cast of characters she or he will meet along the way each have different class roles and will make use of unique firearms and the game’s science-based magic: biotics. As in The Witcher 3, you’ll also have some romance options. The first game has more of a tactical feel to it, but 2 and 3 start to feel closer to Gears of War than an RPG if I’m being honest.
Let’s not totally leave out the ill-fated and much-maligned Mass Effect: Andromeda, either. Though its quality is well beneath the series at its best (which many would say is Mass Effect 2), it still takes place in the same imaginative sci-fi universe and is enough of a satisfying open-world RPG to give it a whirl. (The original trilogy, despite some freedom of exploration, isn’t what we’d consider open-world.)
The Middle-Earth Lord of the Rings Games
For more of: Medieval fantasy based on literary works, open-world RPG gameplay
Notable differences: Arkham-style combat, no spellcasting, dragon riding in the sequel
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: Windows (Steam Deck OK), macOS, Linux, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS3, PS4, PS5
Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5
Fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is rife with storytelling potential, and Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth series proves just that. Two games, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, placed between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, centre the non-canon character Talion just after the Elf lord Celebrimbor forged a new Ring of Power to battle against the Dark lord Sauron and his rising army.
Sure, that doesn’t sound anything like CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but the comparison is in the Medieval fantasy setting, monster slaying, and open-world RPG gameplay. There are creatures to ride (like dragons), minor magic to unlock, and plenty of fascinating characters to interact with, all on top of Monolith Productions’ game-changing yet patented Nemesis system. These games will hit that The Witcher 3 fix you’re looking for, for sure. — Levi Winslow
Dragon Age: Origins
For more of: Excellent worldbuilding, great characters, and smooching a hot witch
Notable differences: Older visuals, no card game, custom protagonist
Availability: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV), macOS, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS3
Funny story: The Witcher 3 is actually the game that I played to fill the Dragon Age: Origins-shaped hole in my heart. While Origins’ graphics are significantly less impressive than what CD Projekt Red came up with six years later, the game nails similar spooky medieval fantasy vibes. Origins does do one thing better than Witcher 3: The character customisation is much more extensive. You can play a do-gooder hero, or a complete jerk.
The consequences in the game are also a lot more reactive. And I found the writing to be much better at making you care about the setting of the game as a whole, rather than specific main characters. There’s a reason I’ve spent 1,167 hours in this game: Origins is among the best fantasy RPGs that the West has to offer. — Sisi Jiang
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
For more of: Epic open-world adventure
Notable differences: Customisable protagonist, climbing and parkour, historical fiction over other-worldly medieval fantasy
Availability: Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox One, Series X/S, PS4, PS5, (and yes, Stadia)
Ever wished Geralt could climb? Ubisoft made three games trying to answer this question, each one succeeding in new and different ways. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is arguably the best overall culmination of the French publisher’s attempt to recreate The Witcher in various real-world historical time periods. A dazzling and sprawling map lets you climb cathedrals, loot tombs, and fight everything from knights to mythical beasts. It can’t hold a candle to The Witcher’s character-driven vignettes, but its world is richly layered with ruins and secrets that tell a story all their own.
Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are both great too, and surpass Vahalla in their own ways. Origins is more focused and has a stronger narrative throughline with fascinating implications for the series’ lore, while Odyssey lets you set sail across dozens of beautiful Greek islands. Play them all…if you have 300 hours to spare! — Ethan Gach
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
For more of: Excellent storytelling, class building and RPG questing
Notable differences: Distinctly Xbox 360-style visuals, silent protagonist
Original: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS3
Remaster: Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is known for a lot of things, including the depth of character Geralt displays during his journey. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games’ 2012 open-world action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which was remastered in September 2020, doesn’t have that on account of the protagonist being silent throughout the entire game. However, it does have solid combat, a captivating world, interesting characters, tons of magic, and copious bouts with grotesque monsters, making Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a great notch in your belt of medieval fantasy games. — Levi Winslow
For more of: A medieval fantasy setting, monster slaying, RPG gameplay
Notable differences: Travel buddies, silent protagonist
Availability: Windows (Steam Deck OK), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS3, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
Capcom makes some solid games, but one that’s always stuck out to me was the 2012 medieval-esque action-RPG Dragon’s Dogma. It’s a little Devil May Cry, a little Monster Hunter, and a little Skyrim, which is a great combination of games. But if you’re looking for something closer to CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, then Dragon’s Dogma will totally fit that bill. You play as a silent protagonist who, after getting their heart ripped out by a giant dragon, goes on a revenge hunt to retrieve it with the help of travel buddies and magic spells. The storytelling isn’t as evocative as in Geralt’s journey, but the intriguing world and tight combat make Dragon’s Dogma a worthy follow-up after you’ve finished slaying monsters in the White Wolf’s world. — Levi Winslow
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
For more of: Dense, adventure-filled world, terrific character writing, tortured protagonist
Notable differences: Humble overhead 2D visuals, turn-based-ish combat
Original: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV), macOS
Remaster: Windows (Steam Deck YMMV), macOS, Linux, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
The Witcher 3 occupies a lot of the same space today that Baldur’s Gate and its incredibly fleshed-out sequel Shadows of Amn did two decades earlier, in that both have been the nigh-unassailable standard-bearers for fantasy role-playing in their respective eras.
Starting Baldur’s Gate II fresh, first impressions will likely centre on its now-humble 2D, pre-rendered visuals, with the tiny heroes, NPCs, and villains viewed at a far remove via an era-appropriate overhead camera. If you’re not using mods or playing one of the Enhanced Edition remasters you might have trouble just reading the text on today’s high-resolution 4K monitors.
But once past those early road bumps it’s easy to start losing yourself in the dense fantasy world that BioWare constructed. Quests and detailed conservations lurk almost everywhere, even within your own party. Talking to allies brings forth some of the most memorable character writing in CRPGs, and some of the best romances this side of Mass Effect. Your protagonist, too, reveals hidden depths, and their dark heritage weighs heavy over the present.
Baldur’s Gate II is incredibly dense with potential adventure, and always makes you feel rewarded for following your curiosity and traipsing off the beaten path.Is this all sounding familiar yet? — Alexandra Hall
How about you? What are some games that’ve scratched your own post-Witcher 3 itch?
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