Skyrim is one of the most famous games out there, and has been talked about even before its 2011 release. Part of the reason are the numerous re-releases updating TESV for new platforms, but there’s also the fact that it is still an impressive game after all those years.
But there have also been other open-world RPGs released since and before, some which might strike your fancy if you found yourself enjoying Skyrim. We will present a number of them, alongside information about which features of Bethesda Softworks’ opus each of them shares.
Games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
- Two Worlds II
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Divinity: Original Sin 2
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- Red Dead Redemption 1&2
- Dragon’s Dogma: Dak Arisen
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Mount & Blade: Warband
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
The Skyrim experience
However, before we can write a list, a brief rundown of key aspects of TES V: Skyrim is necessary to that everyone is on the same page.
As a fully open-world sandbox game, Skyrim has multiple systems designed to enable the player to engage in various avenues of activity. For clarity’s sake, we will describe them briefly in separate paragraphs.
Exploration of the open world
The Elder Scrolls V features a large map of the overworld, which is full of locations and points of interest. They may be instanced behind a loading screen, like dungeons and cities, or be available immediately in the world, like groves and standing stones.
Typically the player is the most likely to discover them as their respective icons appear on a radar: small first, and growing in size the closer a player it to the point of entry. This exploration design leaves the bulk of exploration to the player while also unobtrusively notifying them when they are close to something interesting.
Faction politics and perks
Much like previous The Elder Scrolls games, such as Morrowind, Skyrim features a number of various groups to which the protagonist can swear allegiance. Each of them has an extended quest dedicated to it, exploring the lore behind a faction, and taking a player from a fledgling novice to, potentially, the leader.
Some of them are also connected to unique perks, such as the ability to turn into a werewolf or a vampire. The latter option was then further deepened in the Dawnguard expansion.
Item creation and enhancement
There are three distinct crafting systems in Skyrim, and a creative and patient player can use synergies between them to achieve interesting results. Blacksmithing allows the player to forge and improve armour, weapons, and jewellery of your protagonist.
Alchemy lets you brew potent potions enhancing the character’s abilities, restoring health, mana, or stamina, and provide other bonuses. Enchanting places magical effects on the protagonist’s physical gear, for instance imbuing their sword with fire damage.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Skyrim was it being themed around playing as a destined dragonslayer (known in-universe as Dragonborn), and the vicious reptilian monsters are present throughout the game, sometimes taking you by surprise, other times being surprised by you. Demanding from a player a good use of ranged and close-quarters attacks, fighting dragons felt suitably epic, as confronting giant beasts should.
Skyrim has some features which don’t provide any immediate and substantial mechanical benefit, but allow the players to play a character. One such example is the option to build a mansion on a plot of land you gain the ownership of. Other examples include getting married, adopting children, or collecting books. Getting married in Skyrim works particularly well if you already have a mansion built and furnished.
Regardless of the instalment, The Elder Scrolls games allow the player to take direct control of their character in a third- or first-person perspective. With responsive, action-based combat and exploration TES makes for quite an immersive experience.
Games similar to Skyrim Now that we know what the defining features are, we can find games which share some of them.
16. Two Worlds II
|Main similarity||Open world RPG with freeform progression|
Two Worlds II is a game that isn’t very easy to get into immediately, but really grows on you if you let it. It is separated into several large maps you unlock in a linear manner as you progress through the story, but once in, you are to explore as you wish.
Each region is large and has a distinctive identity, and features a lot of places worth seeing during exploration. Although some of them will be locked off until the story opens them up, it still leaves a lot to do for a player who has a habit of investigating every corner of the map.
15. Dragon Age: Inquisition
|Main similarity||Large open areas, map markers, and juicy dragon fights|
DA: Inquisition is definitely less committed to providing an open-world than Skyrim, but it has its share or large areas to visit, and while DAI’s dragons are nowhere near as numerous as TESV’s, they more than make up for it in quality.
There is a strong crafting element, possibly more engaging than Skyrim’s own, and the locations are littered with collectible shards, as well as connect-the-dots puzzles completing which reveals small pieces of lore pertaining to the constellations of Thedas.
14. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
|Genre:||Action role-playing, stealth|
|Main similarity||Skill trees, loot, and open world full of side quests|
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey continued the change initiated in AC: Origins, and fully embraced the action RPG genre. Now in addition to Ubisoft’s practiced open world mechanics, there’s a wealth of items to get from the enemies, quests, and exploration.
There’s also a levelling system and skills to unlock, as well as plenty of side quests to spend your time with between following the core storyline quests. It also has the bonus of being a really stunning recreation of ancient Greece.
13. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
|Developer||CD Projekt Red|
|Main similarity||Huge world full of monsters, villages, points of interest|
The Witcher 3 is a huge action RPG based on the prose of Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s the closing chapter in the long journey of Geralt of Rivia in search of his found family. Also monsters to hunt, and cards for the minigame Gwent.
Each of the areas in TW3 is different, and the Skellige islands are going to feel very familiar to the fans of the harsh, mountainous province of Skyrim. It has the best of two worlds: a dramatic, cinematic storyline, and an open world ripe for exploration. There are even a few villages you can liberate from monsters or bandits to allow the original inhabitants back in.
12. Divinity: Original Sin 2
|Main similarity||Game mechanics supporting more than just combat and conversation|
The Elder Scrolls games aren’t as big on dialogue as other RPG franchises, but it’s not where the series strength lies. Few, if not: none at all, RPGs deliver a world with a breadth of systems large enough to allow you to just…be and play around. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is like that, albeit in smaller, more measured portions.
Much like Skyrim, or a playground like Dishonored, Original Sin 2 gives you a map, a physics system, and the ability to play with it. You can move crates around to set up an explosive surprise for your enemies or block a trap. There’s almost always a way to get to a seemingly inaccessible part of the map, and frequently there’s some small treat waiting there, left by the devs. You can lose yourself in this interactive world.
11. Horizon Zero Dawn
|Main similarity||Large, brutal, barely tamed world with giant machines instead of dragons|
Guerilla Games managed to create a vision of post-apocalyptic Earth that felt fresh instead of being overused. After a cataclysm, humanity is little more than a bunch of tribes living off the land, and the planet is dominated by robots resembling various kinds of animals.
In HZD you are given the run of a huge, detailed map, and you can roam freely, hunting the machines for parts, exploring each of the biomes making up the map, and gathering natural resources for crafting. There’s also a pretty interesting storyline to follow, explaining how the world came to be the way it is.
[buy,Horizon Zero Dawn]
10. The Elder Scrolls Online
|Developer||Zenimax Online Studios|
|Main similarity||A multiplayer version of the Elder Scrolls|
It’s baffling, why it took so long for the Elder Scrolls license to get a multiplayer instalment, but with The Elder Scrolls Online this inevitability was realised. TESO’s storyline takes place around a thousand years before Skyrim, but the game definitely benefits from some of Skyrim’s iterations on the Elder Scrolls formula.
The world is large, and populated by both NPCs and player characters, the storylines deal with a daedric incursion as well as political turmoil, and you get to pick sides in all of this. The one difference from Skyrim you’re definitely going to notice is the ability bar where all your special skills dwell. But on the whole, it’s a very similar experience.
9. Red Dead Redemption 1&2
|Release year:||2010 (RD1), 2018 (RDR2)|
|Developer||Rockstar San Diego (RDR1), Rockstar Studios (RDR2)|
|Main similarity||A large world where the players are free do to as they please|
True, RDR’s Old West setting is far removed from Skyrim’s snow-covered plains and mountains as it gets, but on the other hand Rockstar’s games are incredibly detailed, almost to a fault, and if there’s another non-urban story-driven sandbox like TES games, it’s absolutely Red Dead Redemption.
Especially the second game (which is a prequel, slightly confusingly) takes great pains in giving the players a chance to do… anything that would be in line with the presented world. Hunting, getting into saloon shenanigans, robberies, and cultivating a 19th century facial hair, it’s a phenomenal simulator of life during the tail-end of the Old West.
8. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
|Genre:||Hack and slash RPG|
|Main similarity||Giant monsters to hunt|
Dragon’s Dogma is only a year younger than Skyrim, and it delivers an unmistakeable experience which blends features from many games.
Much like in Skyrim, DD’s protagonist’s fate is tied to a powerful dragon, and before said fate is fulfilled, many massive monsters will die. The game also features an open-world environment, and diverse (but not nearly as flexible) character builds.
What it has that Skyrim doesn’t are weapon classes which are and feel unique, and monsters which require more than just a ton of damage to be defeated. The character creation also allows for much more visual customisation. The character’s height and weight even influence gameplay!
Oh, and much like in Skyrim, you can get a Beloved in Dragon’s Dogma, although it requires a bit of work before you get to see the romance played through to its conclusion.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
|Main similarity||Sandbox experience in an open world|
Breath of the Wild took the world by storm, and with good reason. Part of its success can be attributed to a beautiful open world filled with various (more or less) optional activities.
Another part, however, was a flexible physics engine, which in conjunction with several gadgets available to Link enable a determined and creative player to perform wild stunts or solve puzzles in unorthodox ways.
It’s this freedom that makes BotW in a way close to Skyrim, despite their aesthetic and mechanical differences. You’ll find that the Switch-exclusive Legend of Zelda gives you plenty of ways to have fun and immerse yourself in the land of Hyrule.
6. Mount & Blade: Warband
|Genre:||Action role-playing, strategy|
|Main similarity||Medieval-like open world, a lot of player freedom|
For all intents and purposes, the Mount & Blade series is about playing as a newcomer to a land ravaged by wars, and divided by political machinations.
What a player does to find their place in this setting is up to them. An obvious choice would be forming one’s own band of mercenaries and trying to carve out a piece of land for oneself.
Or one could swear allegiance to one of the rulers to get a village to manage, and, in the future, a castle or a city. One could also turn to industry and trade, producing wine or other highly sought-after wares and selling them elsewhere, building their own fortune before solving all problems with money.
Ultimately Mount & Blade: Warband is as much about chasing whatever course of action you find interesting, as most of Skyrim is. Except Warband has better castle sieges.
5. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios|
|Main similarity||More mechanically complex Skyrim|
It could be argued that as far as general design is considered, Bethesda peaked in Morrowind. It definitely laid the groundwork for the subsequent instalments of the franchise: Oblivion and Skyrim.
Mechanically Morrowind was more complex than Skyrim, something easily seen in the crafting and enchantment systems. Both offered more freedom in picking effects, as well as allowed more leeway in customising their strength, scope etc.
Although aesthetically quite different from Skyrim (ash-covered island instead of a fantasy Scandinavia), its open-world is huge and fascinating, there is plenty of lore to discover, and one never knows if an entrance to a previously undiscovered ruin doesn’t hide around the bend.
4. Fallout: New Vegas
|Main similarity||First-/third-person RPG with a war in the background|
Fallout: New Vegas uses the framework familiar to everyone who has ever played a Bethesda game, Skyrim included, to bring to a life a post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Mojave desert.
Developed by Obsidian, New Vegas was an immersive, story-driven RPG with all the freedom of exploration that Skyrim had, and many more meaningful conversations than TES 5.
If you loved the way Skyrim structured its world and how much freedom it gave to the players, but the setting itself didn’t appeal to you, try New Vegas. You’ll get more story, comparable exploration, and a science fiction setting with the aesthetics inspired by the USA of 1950s.
3. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
|Main similarity||Skyrim without fantasy, but with better melee combat|
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set in the 15th century Bohemia, and the developers did a lot of research to ensure the game is as historically accurate as possible, especially in terms of environments and equipment.
The protagonist, a young man called Henry, is a blacksmith’s son, and knows only as much as a blacksmith’s son would. He can’t read, for instance, or alchemy, and he needs to learn these skills once the plot begins in earnest.
Henry is free to travel around the map, completing quests (assuming they don’t play out without him present), practising swordfighting, etc. If you enjoy historical settings, check out Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
2. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
|Genre:||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
|Developer||38 Studios, Big Huge Games|
|Main similarity||A world full of cities, NPCs, quests, and choices|
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning in a big part came from the union of Todd McFarlane’s (the creator of Spawn) visual flair and R. A. Salvatore’s (creator of numerous books under the Dungeons & Dragons license) way with words.
KoA:R features three robust skill trees, four races to choose at character creation. It also has a very engaging combat system which mixes timed strikes with Quick-Time Events, and rewards additional experience points to a player with good reflexes. Other than that, there is a wealth of equipment and faction-related quests, as well as a useful and sensible crafting system. All of the above make Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a game definitely worth checking out by anyone, not only just fans of Skyrim.
|Main similarity||Fantasy open world with rewarding exploration|
Piranha Bytes’ games exist in their niche, where they are comfortable, but while not widely talked about, they are very good at creating interesting and reasonably sized open world environments.
One of the best examples of this talent is Risen, a game that’s in a way a conceptual remake of the first two Gothic games, except under a new IP.
Risen has it all: a diverse open world with no loading screens at all, clashing factions, and cool rewards hidden off the beaten path. It also has an immersive progression system which requires you to find a teacher of a specific skill: there are no skills which magically rise after the character reaches a new level like in many other RPGs.
Go out and explore
This concludes our selection of games which have something in common with Skyrim. Whether through their open world, freedom to make one’s own fun, or other features, these games are likely to be of interest to everyone who enjoyed their times in the harsh Imperial province depicted in Bethesda’s game.