Games have a very varied approach to longevity. Some games are one-and-done, fun and engaging, but with limited scope and little replayability. Other games bet all-in on making sure every playthrough is (or can be) different, making sure that they can be replayed many, many times without things ever repeating in the same way. Other games still provide systems and mechanics which can make a single playthrough last for hundreds or thousands of hours, even in singleplayer.
Today we will be taking a look at the last two types: infinitely replayable games you could finish many times over, or play forever, without ever growing bored. We’ve made sure to include many different genres, so that you can find something that matches your playstyle. So, without further introduction, let’s move on to our list of…
|Ftl Faster Than Light||2012-09-14||Adventure||Subset Games||60%|
|Ark Survival Evolved||2015-06-03||Adventure||Efecto Studios|
|Grand Theft Auto V Premium Online Edition||2015-04-14||Adventure||Rockstar North||68%|
|The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Anniversary Edition||2021-11-11||RPG||Bethesda Game Studios||71%|
|Sid Meiers Civilization Vi Platinum Edition||2016-10-20||Economy||Aspyr (Mac, Linux)||88%|
|Crusader Kings III Royal Edition||2020-09-01||Strategy||Paradox Development Studio||45%|
|Monster Hunter Rise Deluxe Edition||2022-01-12||Adventure||Capcom||79%|
|Cities Skylines||2015-03-10||Economy||Colossal Order Ltd.||70%|
|Total War Warhammer III||2022-02-17||RTS||Creative Assembly||51%|
|Football Manager 2022||2021-11-09||Sports||Sports Interactive||73%|
Stardew Valley might be one of the most universally beloved games of modern times, and all it needed to get there was a serene fantasy of running a nice farm. Well, that and very good design, friendly, lovely pixel-art graphics, and plenty of mechanical depth within reach. If you’d love a relaxing, low-stakes, high reward game, Stardew Valley is perfect. But what is it about?
In SDV you’re playing as a city-dweller who suddenly received a deed to a relative’s neglected farm. Now you get to restore it to former glory, and join a friendly community from nearby town. You can play SDV forever, even on a single playthrough, just enjoying the productive life on a farm, delving the caves for resources, or interacting with NPCs in town. It’s a calming, friendly fun.
There is no end to Minecraft. The world might have limits, yes, and nominally there is a final boss, so to speak. The thing is… that’s just an excuse to keep playing, and it’s entirely possible that… you need no such excuse. MC’s core gameplay, be it in Survival or Creative mode, is robust enough to sustain hundreds, if not thousands of hours.
Now that the game is in the second decade of its existence and continuous development AND has a thriving mod scene, there’s seemingly no limit to what you can build and create here. You start with a wooden hut with a shoddy door, but if you get into the swing of things before you know it you’ll be making simple computers and detailed cities. And then wipe the server, make something new.
Hades is one of the best roguelikes (or roguelites, if we’re to be specific) out there, and like many games in the genre: there isn’t really an end point, because there’s always another run you could do. The premise is simple: you’re Zagreus, Hades’ rebellious son, and you want to get out of the underworld, for personal reasons. But nobody gets out easily, so you have a long way to go.
To help in your escape, your Olympian relatives provide you boons which not only tweak how your basic abilities function, but also change their appearance. There’s even a great story, because there are plenty of NPCs you can encounter and build relationships with. Better yet: there’s an excellent, extra-challenging endgame you could spend a ridiculous number of hours with.
Football Manager (series)
The Football Manager series isn’t a treat for everyone, but within its specific niche there’s no game that can compete with it on equal terms. FM abandons the glitz and glamour of football matches in favor of deals and strategies which make the matches happen and keep the players ready to win games for you. It’s the ultimate football backstage simulator with no equal.
The infinite replayability of Football Manager lies in its vast catalog of teams and players. In your human lifespan you will likely never run out of teams you could lead to dominating their local leagues or winning the World Cup, or any other goal you set for the given playthrough. Any scenario that isn’t outright impossible IRL football is possible in FM. If you don’t believe us, check for yourself.
Total War (series)
If you’re keen on grand-scale strategies you should give the Total War series a look. It’s been running since 2000 and has covered many historical settings, like ancient Rome, the conquests of Attila, or Napoleonic wars. It has even dipped into fantasy in Warhammer-based games! And in every case, there are so many factions that each game can take forever to exhaust all playthrough options.
No matter which Total War game you pick, you can always expect the gameplay to be split into two layers. The first is the strategic map divided into regions and provinces, where turn after turn, you build and move your armies, build and break alliances, and plan your conquest. The other layer are real-time battles where your and your enemies’ armies eventually clash, hundreds-strong.
|Developer:||Colossal Order Ltd.|
For a long time SimCity had little competition on the field of modern city-building games, but then Cities: Skylines came to bring in fresh air to a time-honored genre. From traffic simulation and district policies to zoning and water services powered by a realistic model, Skylines offers virtually anything you need to become a mayor of a city you built yourself.
Cities: Skylines also supports modding, in case you somehow ever decide that you’ve seen everything on offer in the vanilla game (and its DLCs). If you’ve a knack for civic engineering and management, you can’t go wrong with Colossal Order Ltd.’s game. There’s always another city to build, another calamity to plan for, another creative concept to test.
Monster Hunter (series)
The Monster Hunter series, including the most recent installments: World and Rise, are well known for their lengthy playthroughs. Between farming materials for new equipment, figuring out good builds to use against each monster, and mastering each weapon class, there are easily hundreds of hours of fun baked into every game in the series.
Even after you have everything and have conquered every monster, the combat system is engaging enough to keep you trying to pull off bolder moves or finish the hunt in less time. The newest instalments have fourteen weapon types, each a playstyle of its own that can take many, many hours to reach the skill ceiling. It’s an always-exciting time sink if you want it to be.
Crusader Kings 3
|Developer:||Paradox Development Studio|
Crusader Kings 3 is (currently) the latest in the series of games which are extremely fun anecdote generators… and quite complex grand strategies. You get to become the head of a medieval dynasty, and your job is simple: make sure your family rises in status and influence. What it means and how you do it is up to you, and the game is happy to give you many, many, many options.
The simulation is very complex and reacts believably even to your wildest political plays. You can arrange marriages, form new religions, and concoct conspiracies against your enemies only to be stabbed in the back. Eventually your starting leader’s children take the lead, and then their children, and who knows, maybe 200 years down the line your family will be in a civil war with itself.
|Developer:||Aspyr (Mac, Linux)|
The latest (at the time of writing) in the long-running series of games which not only invite dozens and hundreds of playthroughs, but also are incredibly hard to put down. The “just one more turn” syndrome is exceptionally strong in Civilization, and its sixth main instalment is no different in that regard. Leading a civilization through ages of history never gets old, just like your avatars.
Civ6 refined both the classic elements of the series, like the turn-based strategy bits and research, and the new additions from Civ5, like hex-based maps. It also brought in changes to city-building, which now revolves around districts: upgrades and expansions now surround your city, instead of being stacked on it. There’s a lot to love, and since every playthrough is unique, you’ll never get bored.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
If you’re seeking a singleplayer game which can serve you for hundreds of hours, but also isn’t a survival-style sandbox, why not give The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a chance? Bethesda Softworks’ hit can provide many, many things to do in its open world, and that’s before you check the mods. Skills alone provide fodder for many playthroughs.
You could become a dedicated crafter of gear and potions, or a rogue working for the Dark Brotherhood. Don heavy armor and a greatsword and work with the Companions, or devote yourself to making the coolest villa you can in the Hearthfire expansion and invite a spouse and your adopted children in. Become a werewolf or a vampire lord. Who cares about dragons or the civil war?
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V, like many previous games in the series, is an excellent urban sandbox which is happy to let you loose on an (not-so-)innocent city. Unlike previous installments this time you get to wear the shoes of three distinct characters: retired thief Michael, young repo-man Franklin, and a complete mess of a person that is Trevor. The city is not ready for their/your shenanigans.
The attention to detail in creating the sprawling map of Los Santos means there are plenty of activities you could engage in instead of pursuing the next plot point. Or you could just ride or run around doing anything you fancy. Even when you exhaust everything GTA5 has in store for you… there’s GTA Online, where you and some like-minded people can wreak multiplayer chaos.
Much like in Minecraft, the endgame is merely a suggestion, nobody will eject you forcibly from your carefully designed home base just because you defeated the mightiest boss. You can still explore the world, expand your base or build a new one, and interact with the NPCs whom you invited to your residence. You can also play in co-op, in case you need help with monsters or construction.
The Sims 4
If you’re tired of The Sims, you’re tired of life. Almost literally, because it’s a famous, humorous life sim which proves to be fun with every installment. Every DLC and expansion also adds many hours to the potential playtime of every playthrough. The currently latest game in the series is The Sims 4 and since release in 2014 is has grown considerably, making the simulation more complex…and fun!
The Create-a-Sim portion allows you to customize your Sim family to an unprecedented degree without sacrificing the cartoonish art direction, while house-building options remain robust and empowering, letting your creativity run wild. Playing god with the Sims, their ambitions and personalities never gets old and can lead to a lot of memorable emergent storytelling.
ARK: Survival Evolved
If you love survival games, but you’ve always thought they need more flair, try ARK: Survival Evolved. The flair comes in the from of dinosaurs and other ancient beasts, and more than a few creatures whose place is in legends and science fiction stories. It’s probably a good thing that you ARE in a SF story: you awaken on a weird world with a device bolted onto your forearm.
You can even tame the beasts and use them to defend your base, assuming you are able to survive long enough to build one. ARK is fully featured in terms of being a survival game, with meters to maintain, schematics to unlock, and worlds to explore. It’s one more case of a game which supports players setting and pursuing their own goals, but it does provide some guidance for those who want it.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Let’s finish the list the same way we started: with a game that hides its incredible complexity behind simple, retro graphics. FTL: Faster Than Light puts you in the difficult position of a space ship captain who needs to take his crew across the galaxy to deliver a crucial message. Unfortunately, there are plenty of enemies and threats along the way, so you must be vigilant and smart.
FTL is a phenomenal roguelike, and each run takes you through procedurally generated, branching paths to your goal and you’ll spend much of the time assigning your crew to crucial tasks and crises and making narrative decisions in random encounters. FTL can be hard as nails, but it’s absurdly engaging and there’s always an excuse to do another run. Only one more, for sure…
Buy once, play forever
This covers our list of games whose replay value is through the roof and approaching stratosphere. Some provide an infinite number of playthroughs, others provide playthroughs which might never end, all of them could keep you entertained even if you were immortal.
Hopefully you’ve found something that matches your gaming preferences, and you’ll have untold hours of great fun ahead of you!