With the instant success of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you would like to check out games that fall not too far from the wishing well of great exploration games. We’ve got you covered!
These 16 games will spark your childlike curiosity, open new worlds for you, and hopefully, keep you coming back to excellent single-player experiences.
Release Year: 2021 | Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
It’s not every day that you get to play as a cute (but deadly) Crow with a menacing sword. Death’s Door is an isometric adventure that has you play as Crow, who slashes his way through Soulslike combat, puzzles, and treasure. It has a structured, dungeon-centric approach that leads you to a concise and gripping narrative in which you take on the role of a crow, a reaper who collects souls and solves mysteries.
You can use a sword, a bow and arrow, various unlockable weapons, and magic projectiles for different playstyles. In contrast, Tears of the Kingdom may encourage creativity by allowing players to combine items and change time.
Release Year: 2022 | Platforms: macOS, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Tunic is about a little fox who uncovers the mysteries of his world, as he wields a simple sword and shield for much of his journey. While Tears of the Kingdom strongly focuses on an interwoven narrative of larger elements, Tunic thrives on its cryptic storytelling and simpler aesthetic. Both games present fascinating environments, with a vast scope for adventure, sophisticated skillsets, and an intriguing plot with interesting characters.
Tunic uses an isometric perspective to entice players into a post-apocalyptic fantasy world while asking them to guide an anthropomorphic fox. The difference between both is how they convey their stories: Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom follows a more conventional narrative, whilst Tunic embraces ambiguity, having its story revealed through gameplay and secret manual pages.
Star Fox Adventures
Release Year: 2002 | Platform: GameCube
Fox McCloud’s quest to save Dinosaur Planet is the main emphasis of Star Fox Adventures, a voyage that is full of intriguing characters. Fox Adventures relies on the appeal of its characters and the novelty of its location to captivate players despite having a more linear plot with a clear objective.
On surface level, it is clear that each game offers a distinctive gaming experience. Tears of the Kingdom places a lot of emphasis on the interactions between the characters and their relationships to one another. It focuses on survival crafts and offers fresh gameplay elements, like Link’s ability to control items and time. In the case of Star Fox Adventures, the experience of each new space adds to the narrative in its entirety.
Release Year: 2006 | Platforms: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
With a blend of Zelda-style action, platforming, and puzzle components, Okami spins a story steeped in Japanese folklore and aesthetics. You play as the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu, who transforms into a mythical white wolf. She’s on a journey to thwart Orochi, an eight-headed demon and tyrant monster responsible for destroying the realm of Nippon.
Both games include vast areas to explore, but they take different approaches to progression: Okami contains a sizable amount of side quests that affect the story’s pace, and Tears of the Kingdom feels rich yet linear.
Release Year: 2023 | Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Tchia centers on the journey of a daughter looking for her kidnapped father and presents a new world based on New Caledonian culture. The core of Tchia’s gameplay is the protagonist’s unique ability to soul leap, which offers a novel way of interacting with the outside world and solving puzzles. Despite their differences, both games strongly emphasize creativity and exploration in their distinct settings.
In Tchia’s open world, you can control any animal or object. You get to explore a vast and stunning archipelago that New Caledonia inspired, and you do so by climbing, gliding, swimming, and sailing.
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Release Year: 2020 | Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Immortals Fenyx Rising and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom have several clear contrasts that stand out when compared. Both games have extensive mythology and lore, yet their stories are very different from one another.
The storyline in Tears of the Kingdom is more linear and places more emphasis on the relationships between the main characters as well as dungeons and boss fights. Immortals Fenyx Rising, in contrast, offers an open-world experience right away and strongly emphasizes Greek mythology. Players take on the role of Fenyx, who is tasked with saving the Olympian gods.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Release Year: 2020 | PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
In comparison, although the worlds in both games are impressively well-built, the gaming mechanics and story structures are very different. Focusing on Zero Dawn instead of directly diving into Forbidden West is important since we believe the first game builds a strong foundation for Horizon’s game mechanics and somewhat linear storytelling.
With a sophisticated crafting system and distinctive enemy AI behaviors, Horizon Zero Dawn offers a third-person, action role-playing experience set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by robotic beings. You take on the role of Aloy, who navigates her way through gorgeous landscapes that portray a mix of nature and artificial technology.
Shadow of the Colossus
Release Year: 2005 | Platform: PlayStation 2
Despite being very distinct from one another, both games focus on exploration and powerful combat in common. They offer players expansive, open-world settings that inspire exploration.
Environmental challenges are highly valued in games like Shadow of the Colossus and Tears of the Kingdom, frequently requiring players to use their surroundings wisely during epic boss encounters. Link in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom uses special powers to navigate his environment. Similarly, Wander in Shadow of the Colossus must find and employ each colossus’s weaknesses, making for an exciting and constantly changing gameplay experience.
Release Year: 2021 | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, macOS, Windows, Xbox One
Eastward is a gorgeously designed and endearing adventure game. It focuses on a future society on the verge of disintegrating, and the number of people on Earth is at an all-time low. The land has been overtaken by a terrible toxic presence destroying and devouring everything in its path. It investigates novel gameplay with new skills that alter how players engage with the surrounding area.
Compared to Tears of the Kingdom, Eastward may not seem to have a narrative that surrounds mystical and legendary folklore, but the apocalyptic and well-written tales of its character make it stand out.
Release Year: 2021 | Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5
Open-world exploration game Sable has a unique narrative style that focuses on player interpretation, discovery, and straightforward puzzle-solving. The non-linear style of Sable and the freedom to explore a barren planet, Midden, contrast sharply with the organization of Tears of the Kingdom.
Sable focuses almost exclusively on exploration without waypoints. Its desert terrain contains a few little puzzles, but the game’s focus is on exploring via riding the game’s customizable hoverbike and getting a sense of accomplishment when you do so without being overbearingly guided. Since there is no combat and the experience is incredibly peaceful, many mechanics that may set it apart from games like Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are eliminated. The overlapping areas on the Venn diagram that distinguish Sable from other games are its colorful visuals and exploration that is motivated by curiosity.
Release Year: 2023 | PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, and Series S, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Elden Ring, an open-world action RPG by FromSoftware, is one of the best new open-world games ever created. As they are summoned back into the Lands Between to reinstate the Golden Order, players in the game build their Tarnished protagonist.
Elden Ring provides a comparable free-flowing open-world experience in addition to the creator’s distinct brand of fascinating and subtly developed storyline and worldbuilding. Even though it uses a darker fantasy background, it is sure to please fans of the genre and promotes experimentation with different battle techniques.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Release Year: 2022 | Nintendo Switch
The Pokémon franchise may have seen the verge of saturation, but Game Freak’s Legends: Arceus gave it a fresh start. Players explore the Hisui region while learning about the Pokémon they still attempt to live alongside. The game’s mechanics cross between Monster Hunter and Breath of the Wild.
Legends: Arceus’ habitats are a collection of semi-open-world sandboxes where players can catch and fight Pokémon under various climatic conditions. After finishing Tears of the Kingdom, Legends: Arceus’ blend of turn-based battle, real-time action, and the opportunity to explore the surrounding natural areas should make for an enjoyable experience.
Release Year: 2019 | Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows
Death Stranding by Kojima Productions is a similar open-world adventure, even though it has a less conventional name. Sam Porter Bridges is driven by players across the devastated United States, bringing supplies to isolated colonies and assisting them in reestablishing contact with larger civilizations.
Fans of Hideo Kojima would expect a weird, complicated plot from Death Stranding, but its focus on open-world exploration is noteworthy. How players engage dynamically with Hyrule will be at the heart of Tears of the Kingdom, and Death Stranding uses that idea in its own way.
Release Year: 2020 | Platforms: Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows
Another game that obviously draws a lot of inspiration from Breath of the Wild is Genshin Impact. While Breath of the Wild’s elemental interactions and the ability to glide across a stylized world are also present in Genshin Impact, the game is considerably more of an RPG. Thanks to these RPG systems, it stands out and makes its battle considerably more intense.
Since it’s a free-to-play game, it makes sense that developer miHoYo is still supporting it. Even though the game has been out for three years, there is still a lot to play and unlock for those who choose not to pay.
The Swords of Ditto
Release Year: 2018 | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Linux, macOS
Although The Sword of Ditto offers isometric dungeon crawling and appears to be another adorable game that references Link’s past, it also has some similarities to Breath of the Wild. The final monster can be faced at any moment, but players can make it easier by levelling up and defeating other bosses in a manner that is not unlike how Calamity Ganon can be faced right away in Breath of the Wild. It offers the player some welcome freedom and gives them more control over their course in life.
Since its levels are procedurally created, The Swords of Ditto also makes use of its roguelike nature to guarantee that every run is unique. These origins also meant that it wasn’t welcomed when it first released; thankfully, the Mormo’s Curse update completely redesigned the game to make it more forgiving after many players complained that its death mechanic was too harsh. Additionally, that patch welcomed new foes and stages and even enhanced the ending by introducing extra activities.
Release Year: 2010 | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Xbox 360, Wii U
Compared to Tears of the Kingdom, Darksiders is a much more traditional Zelda game that is open about its fondness for Ocarina of Time. It has several similarities to the Nintendo 64 game, including Link’s horse Epona, boomerang, and hookshot, but it completely covers them in darkness and greatly amps up the tension. The mount of the main character War isn’t cute and innocent; he’s covered in ominous runes, pitch-black fur, and, of course, raging flames.
Although it is derivative, everything is executed well enough to make up for its comparatively low originality. The well-designed, puzzle-filled dungeons offer rewards for skillful tool use. Darksiders includes a lot of dungeons to make up for Breath of the Wild’s dearth of them, which will appeal to those who shared this popular criticism. While the third game was a mistaken soulslike that distorted the Dark Souls design and its sequel chased Devil May Cry and Diablo, the original’s purity stands out even though another game obviously influenced it.