Action-adventure games allow players to start an epic journey, no matter the setting – fantasy worlds full of dragons and magic can be just as exciting as Western-themed games or the ones set in modern times. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, so fasten your seat belts and check out some of the best action-adventure games of all time.

Keep in mind that due to limited space it’s not possible to list all of the good video games – we had to pick just a few so don’t be surprised if your favorite game doesn’t appear down below.

Action-adventure Games

Borderlands 2

Release year: 2012
Genre: Action role-playing, first-person shooter
Developer Gearbox Software

On a more casual side we’ve got Borderlands, or more specifically, Borderlands 2 – a title that combines the first-person shooter with RPG, meaning you can expect to find randomized loot, a semi-open world, great humor, and a seemingly infinite number of exciting quests, all packed inside a single game.

Borderlands 2 - shooting

Return to the Borderlands universe with style and start an epic adventure where your own skills are as important as the skills of your character. Explore the world and earn experience to make your avatar stronger and more efficient in using either guns or magic-like abilities. Hunt for rare loot and use even more powerful weapons to wreak havoc upon those who are unreasonable enough to cross paths with you. The game is unique on several levels, including visuals – its comic-like art style is what the series is best recognized for, but humorous dialogues and puns also deserve a mention.

Key features
  • An engaging story that takes place after the events of the first Borderlands game
  • Four different character classes with their own unique skill trees
  • Randomized loot system with increasingly powerful guns and equipment items to be found as you play
  • Lots of memorable characters and a great dose of humor

Assassin’s Creed II

Release year: 2009
Genre: Action-adventure, stealth
Developer Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed 2 starts the trilogy of Ezio Auditore da Firenze – the trilogy that is considered by most the best thing that could have happened to the entire AC franchise by a long shot.

ac 2 ubisoft

AC 2 takes place in modern times and medieval Italy simultaneously – playing as Desmond Miles in the present you will use the Animus machine to travel back in time and relive the past of your ancestors, looking for clues that could help the Assassins gain the upper hand against the Templar Order in their centuries-lasting conflict. There are multiple improvements over the title’s predecessor, making it a much more enjoyable experience – for example, the combat system was completely overhauled, now putting more emphasis on parrying attacks and countering incoming strikes.

Key features
  • Medieval Italy setting with beautiful landscapes and detailed surroundings
  • An addictive story that involves some historical figures, including a young Leonardo da Vinci
  • Huge open world environment full of hidden collectibles designed with completionists in mind
  • A satisfying combat system that allows players to approach missions in different ways

Grand Theft Auto V

Release year: 2013
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer Rockstar North

GTA series was always known for the amount of freedom it gives to players, but with GTA V things went over the roof. Ride a car, shoot some baddies, fly a helicopter, visit a local cinema, play some golf, or go for a relaxing session of yoga – the possibilities are almost endless.

gta 5 2013

GTA V focuses on a story of a group of three people who get involved in a plot that reaches some of the most important figures in the fictional world, including the Federal Investigation Bureau, the International Affairs Agency, and the Merryweather private army. In GTA V there’s always something to do, even after completing the story mode – if you somehow managed to find all collectibles, master all skills, fully upgrade all weapons, and finish all side missions, there’s also an online mode where the fun never ends, thanks to constant updates and occasional events.

Key features
  • An engaging and addictive story that won’t allow you to be ever bored
  • A huge and realistic open-world environment that lives its own life
  • Tons of customizable weapons to choose from
  • Constantly updated online mode with tons of multiplayer-exclusive content

Portal 2

Release year: 2011
Genre: Puzzle-platform
Developer Valve

Following the success of Portal, Valve decided to put even more effort into the sequel, giving us one of the best puzzle games ever created. Portal 2 focuses on solving a series of increasingly difficult puzzles with the use of a portal gun – a gun capable of creating portals on suitable surfaces you can freely move between.

Portal 2 - enemies

As you move through the test chambers with a sarcastic GLaDOS artificial intelligence acting as the guide, you will learn that there’s more to the place you found yourself in than first meets the eye. It’s worth noting numerous improvements over the game’s predecessor, with the most notable being an introduction of new materials and objects for players to interact with, such as lasers, light bridges, and paint-like gels that alter the surface’s grip, and a well-designed multiplayer co-op mode.

Key features
  • Increasingly difficult puzzles that will test your wits to the limits
  • A humorous narrative that often breaks the serious atmosphere
  • Online cooperation mode with a multiplayer-exclusive set of challenges that require teamwork
  • Can be enjoyed by the younger audience and children due to lack of blood and casual gameplay

Shadow of the Colossus

Release year: 2018
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer Bluepoint Games

Shadow of the Colossus is a fantastic adventure in a mysterious world inhabited by giant and powerful colossi – as you might have guessed, your task will be focused entirely on exploring vast open land in order to find them and defeat them.

shadow of the colossus

The game is a remake of a 2005 production of the same title and it tells a story of a man seeking a way to bring a young girl named Mono back to life. His search leads him to an ancient shrine where a mysterious being promises to make his wish come true only if he accepts to find and defeat several powerful colossi that roam the land. As such, the gameplay revolves around exploring the area and fighting with said colossi – each boss is more powerful than the previous one and requires a different approach to defeat. Figuring out the weak spot is a huge part of the game – harder bosses may even require the environment to be used against them.

Key features
  • Vast open-world environment
  • Gameplay focused entirely on demanding boss fights
  • Skill-based combat system
  • Stamina gauge that turns scaling colossi into kind of a mini-game

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Release year: 2011
Genre: Action role-playing
Developer Bethesda Game Studios

Skyrim is a true RPG experience, and even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre, you should at least give it a try, or you’re missing one of the best sandbox adventures ever made.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - fight

Skyrim allows players to return to the Elder Scrolls universe once more, this time focusing on the Dragonborn’s adventures in the snowy and dangerous lands of Nords. With a great character progression system, an open world that feels alive, tons of crafting recipes, and lots of side quests waiting for heroes like you, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun while exploring the cold and frosty Skyrim province. What’s more, the title is still quite popular, thanks to a large fanbase and an active modding community that constantly releases new ways to alter the core experience in a meaningful way, so even if you finish the base game you will easily find new mods filled with alternate content.

Key features
  • Huge open world environment with beautiful landscapes and memorable landmarks
  • Character progression that gives more freedom and doesn’t tie players to any particular playstyle
  • Satisfying combat system with the use of melee weapons, magic spells, and powerful dragon shouts
  • Addictive side missions that will keep you busy for days to come

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Release year: 2016
Genre: Action-adventure, third-person shooter, platformer
Developer Naughty Dog

If you’re looking for some intense and action-packed adventure, then look no further than Uncharted 4, as it has everything a good action-adventure title should be filled with.

Uncharted 4

The game tells the story of the Drake brothers as they search for the long-lost pirate treasure. During their journey, they will meet dangerous people they’ll need to deal with, and they will need to solve some mind-bending puzzles in other to get closer to their target. It’s important to note the game’s amazing narrative, smooth combat and gunplay mechanics, stunning graphics, and beautiful locations you’ll be able to explore. Unfortunately for some, the game is only available on PlayStation 4 but if you didn’t play this title yet it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider getting the console just for this one exclusive – it’s one of the best-selling PS4 games and not without a reason.

Key features
  • An addictive story focused on the adventures of an experienced treasure hunter
  • Gameplay that combines a variety of activities, including climbing, shooting, exploring, and sneaking
  • Astounding graphics and smooth animations that make the game feel extremely realistic
  • Multiplayer mode for up to 10 players with several available game modes

God of War

Release year: 2018
Genre: Action-adventure, hack and slash
Developer SIE Santa Monica Studio

When you finally decide to get your hands on the PS4 console, don’t forget to also try God of War, another exclusive title that should keep you busy for some time.

God of War 2018

God of War follows the story of the former Greek God of War, Kratos, and his son, Atreus, as they venture into the Northern lands to fulfill Kratos’ wife’s last wish. Inspired largely by Norse mythology, the game lets you explore ancient Norway in the realm of Midgard, where dangers in form of hostile monsters and Norse gods themselves will try to stop you from desecrating the forbidden lands. The title is a fast-paced game with a combo-based combat system that rewards chaining attacks and successfully landing hits, but character progression should also be mentioned.

Key features
  • The game set in a world inspired by Norse mythology
  • Third-person action with dynamic and fluid combat system
  • Large maps that encourage exploration with hidden collectibles
  • Stunning visuals that greatly enhance the experience

BioShock

Release year: 2007
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer 2K Boston

BioShock is one of the classic games that every fan of action-adventures should be familiar with. Explore remains of what once was an isolated utopia and learn the truth behind its collapse.

BioShock Remastered - shoot
BioShock Remastered

The game combines the first-person shooter with stealth and adds survival horror elements to the mix. It takes place in the seemingly abandoned underwater city, but you will quickly discover that it’s not exactly devoid of inhabitants. The story revolves around ADAM – a drug-like substance capable of altering the DNA code to grant people whatever supernatural powers they wish. As you venture into the unknown trying to find your way out of the secluded place you will face several dangers, mainly in form of ADAM-addicted individuals and massive Big Daddies – living diving suits that appear on the game’s cover.

Key features
  • A unique setting that takes players back to 1960 to the underwater city of Rapture
  • Dynamic encounters that encourage the use of both traditional weapons and special powers
  • Interesting narrative and well-thought plot
  • Dark and claustrophobic locations that increase the tension and the feeling of helplessness

Dark Souls 2

Release year: 2014
Genre: Action role-playing
Developer FromSoftware

You might be wondering why we picked this one instead of the latest installment in the Dark Souls franchise that appears to be better in almost every aspect, but according to Metacritic, it’s DS 2 that holds the title of the best Souls game.

Dark Souls II Steam lighting

Dark Souls series is unique for several reasons, but most notably for its incredibly high but rewarding difficulty. Dark Souls 2, however, seems to strike a balance between hardcore and casual gameplay, making it still a very challenging title, but also slightly more accessible for newcomers. Character movement is much smoother and convenient than it was in the first game, bosses are usually not as demanding and frustrating, and healing is easier, thanks to having access to an infinite number of healing consumables that can be bought directly from a merchant. With that being said, the game is still quite hard and will surprise you on numerous occasions so you better prepare to die. A lot.

Key features
  • Dark fantasy setting full of twisted and creepy creatures
  • A skill-based combat system that greatly rewards learning the game’s mechanics
  • Demanding gameplay focused on fighting increasingly difficult bosses
  • Incredibly rich lore hidden in descriptions of items you find during the game

Red Dead Redemption 2

Release year: 2018
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer Rockstar Studios

Although we don’t have many Western-themed titles, when we finally do get one it’s absolutely amazing. But it’s Rockstar, after all, so what else did you expect than yet another masterpiece?

Red Dead Redemption 2 - shoot

While RDR 2 has some similarities with Grand Theft Auto V, it would be unfair and plain wrong to say that it’s just a reskinned GTA with a new plot and characters. The game does a fantastic job at creating a true Western atmosphere with a huge open-world that feels alive – it’s done to a point that you can watch people actually do their chores in a very realistic way and observe how they just lead their busy lives as the time goes on from dusk till dawn. Gameplay-wise it’s especially worth noting satisfying gunplay and complex interactions, with the world reacting to whatever you decide to do.

Key features
  • Memorable story with some incredibly touching moments
  • Outstanding visuals made with extremely high attention to details
  • A huge open-world environment that lives its own life
  • A wide array of available weapons to use, from simple knives and tomahawks to revolvers and shotguns

Batman: Arkham City

Release year: 2011
Genre: Action-adventure
Developer Rocksteady Studios

Batman also made its way to the list with its 2011 entry called Arkham City – a game that should be known not only to fans of dark knight’s adventures but also to those who love some good action mixed together with an interesting story.

Batman: Arkham City graphics

Batman: Arkham City gives you an opportunity to play as the well-known DC Comics superhero, and it does it flawlessly. The game not only managed to capture the spirit of the famous cape-wearing pacifist but also gave players dynamic gameplay with a fluid combat system and a story that begs for unraveling. Expect to meet numerous familiar characters, including Riddler, Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Joker himself, as you explore a vast city that once again cries for Batman’s assistance.

Key features
  • Game set in the Batman universe, starring many well-known characters and villains
  • Open world environment that encourages exploration, thanks to the generously scattered collectibles
  • Gameplay that combines smooth and fast-paced action with stealth elements
  • Character progression with a possibility to unlock new skills and equipment upgrades

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Release year: 2015
Genre: Action-adventure, stealth
Developer Kojima Productions

Snake returns, but he’s suffered a lot and his body is weakened. Following the events of Ground Zeroes, the Big Boss awakens from a nine-year coma and has yet another dangerous mission ahead of him.

METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Phantom Pain - robot

The game is set in 1975 and will let you take on a series of the most difficult tasks in Afghanistan and Central Africa. Working as an infiltrator behind the enemy lines you are expected to act silently and without raising suspicions – stealth plays a major role in the game, which is emphasized by giving the protagonist an ability to sneak, hide bodies, make silent takedowns, and equipping him with tranquilizer darts and decoys, to name some of the available options. With that being said, going full Rambo style is still possible but discouraged.

Key features
  • A dynamic third-person game with a lot of action going on
  • Vast open world environment with visually-stunning landmarks
  • Emphasizes stealth play and favors taking a more careful approach
  • World-class voice acting

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Release year: 2015
Genre: Action role-playing
Developer CD Projekt Red

Cited by many as one of the best games ever made, it’s no wonder it appeared on the list of the best action-adventure games of all time. Based on a series of Polish novels, The Witcher tells a story of a hirable mutant tasked with undoing hexes and hunting down folklore beasts for a living.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY Edition - dead man

The final part of The Witcher trilogy concludes Geralt’s journey, but the toughest battle that will decide the fate of the entire planet is yet to come, and it’s up to you how the adventure will end. The game is a classic action RPG experience but polished to the point where it would be hard to make anything better than it already is. Expect to visit dozens of mysterious places and beautiful locations in a vast living open world, fight legendary beasts, find powerful loot, and face off against the most dangerous beings in the series, threatening the very existence of mankind. And after an exhausting day of slaying hostile creatures, you can take a break, visit a nearby tavern, and play a relaxing round of Gwent with the locals.

Key features
  • Takes place in a beautiful fantasy world, where the player’s choice matters
  • Combat that encourages using a combination of melee attacks, magic signs, and decoctions
  • A believable open world that feels alive and can be explored freely
  • Character progression with an experience system, skill trees, and equipment management

Half-Life 2

Release year: 2004
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer Valve

We didn’t forget about classics – although not a typical action-adventure game, this iconic and genre-defining first-person shooter has all the rights to appear on the list, as it features both action and adventure, among other things.

Half Life - wallpaper

Half-Life tells the story of Gordon Freeman as he fights the mysterious alien empire known as Combine. Unwelcomed guests attracted by the events from the previous game decide to pay the Earth a visit and quickly conquer the entire planet, leaving people no other choice than organize in small groups and form some sort of resistance power. Gameplay-wise the title focuses on gunplay, but also throws environmental puzzles to the mix – what’s interesting is the fact, that these can be usually completed in a few different ways, thanks to the physics-based world that encourages experimenting and rewards finding creative solutions to presented problems.

Key features
  • Sci-fi setting with aliens and advanced technology
  • Satisfying first-person experience in one of the most popular classic games
  • Physics-based puzzles that require manipulating the environment
  • A diverse set of enemies, each requiring different tactics to defeat

The Best Action-Adventure Games

Action-adventure games mix elements from both action and adventure genres in order to create a title that is usually story-driven, but at the same time, they give players a lot of challenges, most often in form of dynamic combat and puzzles, that require players to use their wits and reflexes to overcome and finish. Because of the genre’s hybrid nature, action-adventure games are probably the most popular and most inclusive of them all, sometimes even appearing in conjunction with other genres if that wasn’t enough – it’s not uncommon to see a role-playing game, a shooter, or a platformer that can also be considered both action and adventure. The same goes to the visual style, as action-adventures can be 2D or 3D, or even 2.5D, there’s no rule.

On the list above we carefully picked some of the best action-adventure games for your convenience, in case you missed some great game you didn’t even hear or know about. Take your time and decide yourself which game to play next – will you give a chance an entirely new production, or maybe nostalgia kicked in and you’ll play one of the classics once more to remember the old days?