With its wide-open world, interactive environments, open leveling and character development, and multitude of quests Skyrim has plenty to offer the gaming world. By Talos, it's one of the most immersive games in existence—and it's a title we named our game of the year back in 2011.
Given not just its popularity, but the sheer fact that it offers many fantastic features, other games have sought to borrow elements from it. It's not to say that Skyrim itself didn't borrow elements from other previous games—it's just that it's the culmination of everything right about the role-playing genre.
With that in mind, we've compiled this list of games similar to Skyrim, which include titles influenced by Skyrim as well as those which may have influenced the game. All these titles are, in their own ways, fantastic games and well worth playing.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
With Morrowind, Bethesda had already developed one Elder Scrolls game for consoles. With Oblivion they should finally arrive in the midst of the mainstream market. The game got a visual overhaul, getting the aesthetics more in line with the established Lord of the Rings fantasy look, and subsequently it was heaped with praise and sold millions. While being a pretty great game too, and one of the defining titles of the Xbox 360’s first year.
Before there was Skyrim, there was Oblivion. And after Oblivion, there was the shorthand “Oblivion with Guns”, that served to describe both the STALKER games, and this one right here. A sequel to the long running, venerated Fallout franchise, this game is loved by a lot of people, while being hated by the purists. A true classic.
Fallout New Vegas
A sequel to a sequel. Regarded by many old fans as “the true Fallout game” of this generation, New Vegas does away with the east coast location, going back to more familiar territory. More tounge in cheek, more player agency, a bigger world with more colors and a lot more freedom make this one of the best open world games yet.
Kindgoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Created by baseball star Kurt Schilling’s bespoke game developer 38 studios, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a truly ambitious project, that was supposed to kickstart Kingdoms of Amalur as a franchise, serving as an entry point for an MMO that was supposed to be released later on. While a financial failure, it was still a very good game.
With The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion being as big of a success as it was, it’s not very surprising that others wanted in on the open world fantasy RPG bandwagon. Which is where Two Worlds comes in. Initially regarded as a game lacking ambition beyond cashing in on Bethesda’s success, developer Reality Pump’s game eventually got a small, dedicated cult following, and a sequel.
Two Worlds II
Having learned their lessons, the sequel to the somewhat lackluster Two Worlds was a marked improvement. Part II no longer seemed as dreadfully close to Skyrim as the first installment, even though the game still is a pretty standard meat and potatoes fantasy affair. But especially the crafting mechanics made this game stand out from all the rest, making it a great addition to the open world genre.
With the rights to the Gothic franchise remaining with publisher JoWood, German developer Piranha Bytes went on to create another series, which eventually became Risen, the spiritua successor to Gothic. Like Gothic, Risen is a huge, open world fantasy game that takes some hints from Bethesda’s formula, while offering a lot of individual touches and tweaks, especially different climate zones and job vocations for the characters.
A perfect game to some, a horrible pile of hatred to others. Demon’s Souls is a game that is either loved or loathed, but never anything in between. Yes it is a hard game. A very hard game. But its airtight combat, bleak visuals and towering awe inspiring bosses make it into something else. An experience that will not let a player go, one that will shower a player with rewards that are intangible, less material than “achievements”.
Bigger, badder, Dark Souls. The sequel to Demon’s Souls presents an open world that will devour the player if the attention slips even for a second. Just as with Demon’s Souls, the player will die, and die again, and then some, and ask for seconds and thirds. Or leave the game weeping for something less punishing to play. Dark Souls is tough, but just as rewarding an experience to master as Demon’s Souls.
Game of Thrones - The Video game
As far as chickens coming home to roost go, this one really goes full circle. It is hard to imagine Skyrim without George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books. The draugers, mammoths, giants and mystical dragons all bare some trace elements, are all things that got swept into mainstream fantasy fiction with Martin’s big fantasy series. So here is a game that turns the source material into it’s own interactive treatment.
Viking: Battle for Asgard
Who doesn’t love vikings? This one here is a strange one. Developed by The Creative Assembly, the guys responsible for all those Total Wars out there, it’s a third person action RPG with intricate squad mechanics, where the player has to rip and tear through enemy hoards as an axe wielding viking warrior. Some of those mechanics would have worked wonders for Skyrim as well...
Age of Conan
What’s best in life? Oh how about a massive multiplayer roleplaying game that’s based on Robert E. Howard’s legendary barbarian, created by the people who made the equally legendary MMO Anarchy Online, and which has become free to play in recent years? Oh and it’s gorgeous to behold, tons of fun and still kicking it out there. Just as Anarchy Online.
A lovechild of a bunch of legendary Japanese designers, Capcom’s supermassive hack’n’slash open world semi-multiplayer supergame is truly something. Carving out a niche of its own in the open world sector, Dragon’s Dogma presents a world that’s huge, alive and breathing, populated by monsters large and small and there for the player to take, loot and conquer.
Risen 2: Dark Waters
Pirates! Where Skyrim stood out with vikings (okay, “Nords”), Risen 2 tried the same with Pirates. Agreed, Risen 2’s locales are much warmer and less bleak as Skyrim’s mountain plateaus. Also there are ships to be commandeered and lost treasures to be found in what is a slightly clunky but thoroughly enjoyable RPG romp through a huge open world.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Based on a super popular series of Polish fantasy novels (from Poland) [this is supposed to be a bad pun, Ed.], the second installment of the Witcher video game series presents a world that could give Westeros a run for its money when it comes to political intrigue and weird magic. There are a lot of factions to be toyed with, a lot of people to be slain and some witching to be done in one of the best fantasy RPGs of this generations.
Arcania: Gothic 4
In an attempt to keep up with the big players in the genre, JoWood had Gothic 4 streamlined for the mainstream market. With little success. The critics hated the game, the sales were lackluster, so much even that the DLC for the game that the developers promised never saw the light of day. What will happen to the Gothic series now that JoWood has been acquired by Nordic Games? We will see. The legacy lives on with the Risen games for now.
Divinity II: Ego Draconis
A Belgian game (Europeans love their PC RPGs), this sequel to the 2002 classic Divine Divinity pits the player into another open world where there’s tons and tons of mythical creatures to be slain and corpses to be looted. Seriously, ever think about how many corpses you loot in an open world fantasy game? Makes you wonder if any developer will ever come up with a mechanic that makes that more interesting the usual “press A to loot all”.
Guild Wars 2
At the intersection of massively multiplayer games and standard regular games there was Guild Wars. In a move to make a commitment to one or the other, there is now Guild Wars 2, which embraces the MMO fully and truly and champions them all. Now with a truly open world that’s free for all players, here is a game that could. But there is no subscription fee, so chances are, ArenaNet will never outshine Blizzard in the revenue department. But at least, they’re still there.
Divinity: Original Sin
The recently successfully kickstartered successor to Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga will return to the roots. Original Sin is conceptualized as an old school, turn based game, but one that goes all the way back to the lost virtues of Ultima and gives the player a huge, detailed open world to rummage through and explore. Definitely something to look out for.
Arriving on the heels of the release of the big competitor, Oblivion, Gothic 3 had somewhat of a rough start and standing. Almost unplayable and incredibly bug ridden on release though, it eventually became a game that should turn out to be one of the best hardcore open world titles out there.