The Witcher 3 changed the way we talk about games. Developer CD Project Red hit a jackpot with their open-world action role-playing, and several years after the release it is still being talked about. But there are no new The Witcher games on the horizon, so one has to find other titles to get a fix of monster hunting, open world exploration, and dramatic stories.
What makes a “The Witcher 3 experience”?
Some time ago a meteor crashed into planet Magalan, shattering a thriving civilisation. On the upside, it brought the titular Elex with it, a substance which helped new societies to emerge and survive in the post-apocalyptic world. The game is a mix of genres, held together by the eponymous substance and Piranha Bytes’ practiced approach to making immersive open world games.
Elex is a solid open world game set in a curious, seemingly disjointed world with PB’s classic faction system and more than a few ending-defining choices to make as you, a former member of the villain faction, need to make. It doesn’t have the polish of The Witcher 3, but it’s worth checking out, especially if you enjoy exploration and verticality in your open world maps.
|Release year:||2004, 2014 (Anniversary)|
|Developer||Big Blue Box Studios, Lionhead Studios|
Fable was a game with grand ambitions. And even though they weren’t all realised, the end result was still a very fun, memorable game. After the short but momentous prologue you become a freshly minted Hero, hired by people of the land to solve their problems with animals, bandits, and threats to the idyllic Albion. And your hero will visibly change as his power and legend grows.
Increase your strength, and you’ll grow more muscular. Use magic a lot, and you’ll get glowing runes on your body. Even a moral stance you represent finds an appropriate visual expression. The world isn’t as open as The Witcher 3’s, and the choices are fewer, but where TW3 is a trip through a Slavic-inspired fantasy, Fable is a (much more cheerful) jaunt through mythic England.
Ghost of Tsushima
|Developer||Sucker Punch Productions|
Unlike most other games in this list, Ghost of Tsushima is not set in a fictional setting. Instead it’s set on the island of Tsushima during the 13th century Mongol invasion of Japan. You’re playing as Jin Sakai, a samurai who survived a disastrous battle against the invaders, and now tries to sabotage the Mongol forces and eliminate their leaders by any means necessary.
Once you’re out of the initial tutorial sequences, the world opens up and you can go out and explore the absurdly beautiful island in its fullness, discovering secrets, honouring shrines, and completing challenges in addition to pursuing the storyline. Although Jin’s fighting styles don’t look quite as graceful as gearlt’s, wading into an enemy camp and defeating everyone soundly is still very satisfying.
Horizon Zero Dawn
With its recent arrival on PC there are even fewer reasons to avoid playing Horizon Zero Dawn. If hunting unnatural creatures in a beautiful open world is what you’re looking for, HZD has that in spades. Although set in a post-apocalyptic science fiction world rather than a deliberately anachronistic fantasy one, there are enough features that can be of interest for a The Witcher 3 enthusiast.
Instead of a grizzled monster hunter Geralt, you’re playing as Aloy, a young woman trained in hunting robotic animals and turning them into useful parts. The story involves investigating what’s causing many robots to become actively aggressive and attack human settlements. During her journey Aloy will discover crucial information about the past of the world she lives in.
Kingdoms of Amalur: (Re-)Reckoning
|Release year:||2012, 2020 (only Re-Reckoning)|
|Genre:||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
|Developer||38 Studios, Big Huge Games, Kaiko (Re-Reckoning)|
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for a long time has been something of an underrated cult classic. It’s set in a place called Faelands, which shows clear inspiration with Celtic and Norse mythology. Lage parts of the setting were written by R. A. Salvatore, best known for his books about Drizzt Do’Urden. You’re playing as the Fateless One, a mortal resurrected through mysterious means in a conflicted land.
There are several distinct regions you get to visit and explore at leisure, although movement is slightly limited in some cases. There are also three skill groups for you to pursue: might, finesse, and magic, which map neatly to the Fighter, Rogue, and Mage archetypes, although in all cases you’re encouraged to use “class” specific weapons for regular, combo-building attacks.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2017’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is possibly one of the best open-world games of its time in general, not just on its native Switch. The land of Hyrule is massive, and Link, freshly out of a century-long sleep, has so much freedom in exploring it that nothing’s stopping him even from going straight to Calamity Ganon’s stronghold and trying to defeat his most famous antagonist.
The world feels incredibly reactive thanks to detailed physics engine encouraging experimentation and unorthodox solutions to problems. LoZ: BotW doesn’t have The Witcher’s dark grey atmosphere and harsh storylines, but it easily rivals TW3’s sense of immersion and the grand scale of the world. It also makes up for lack of alchemy with Link’s preternatural cooking skills providing useful bonuses.
Monster Hunter: World
Whereas The Witcher 3 splits its attention on monsters and humans alike, Monster Hunter World doesn’t mess around and focuses its gameplay almost entirely on defeating huge beasts. With its theme and combat system it would likely appeal not only to the fans of The Witcher 3 but also to Dark Souls enthusiasts, because large monsters require being patient and figuring out their movesets.
There are fourteen weapon types, each with a completely unique playstyle and niche, and a ton of different armour sets conferring useful skills. MHW also has something that other games on the list don’t: a special assignment featuring Geralt himself hunting a monster none of the local hunters are equipped to deal with. The mission even has dialogue options, unlike normal MHW gameplay.
Outward’s world is one where nothing comes easy, least of all personal power. In this way Outward’s setting isn’t too dissimilar from TW3’s Continent, which, despite having wizards and superhuman monster hunters, isn’t a high-fantasy place at all. You start out in debt you have only five days to pay it back, and what happens afterward is going to change the story ahead of you in some big ways.
Outward also does it’s best to be more realistic than many other RPGs, and applies this even to spellcasting, which isn’t as simple as pressing LMB to chuck bolts of fire at enemies. There are also three major factions your character can ally themselves with, in a move somewhat reminiscent of games like Risen or Gothic, or The Witcher 2. What it doesn’t have in graphics, it makes up for in complexity.
Red Dead Redemption 2
A total genre shift, true, but Red Dead Redemption 2 has a huge world you can completely lose yourself in, putting the main story off almost indefinitely if you so choose. There may be no Gwent, but there’s plenty more thing to do, including hunting rare wildlife, chasing bounties, and more. The world is incredibly detailed, with stunning graphics and detailed animations for almost every activity.
The gruff protagonist this time is Arthur Morgan, a member of a notorious gang led by Dutch van der Linde, whom many people familiar with the first RDR already know. Here we’re seeing the story of the group’s twilight years, and the prequel to the events of RDR. There’s also an online component, letting you play as your own outlaw, trying your luck in a world shared with dozens of other players.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadows Die doesn’t have many similarities to The Witcher 3 in its gameplay, but there are some things that may resonate with people yearning for more Geralt in their lives. The main character is nicknamed “Wolf”, which is nice, and the main story involves dealing with rescuing a younger protégé (in this case: a young noble Wolf is supposed to protect) and dealing with their mystic importance.
The game itself is a demanding action game, putting your skills against fast and deadly enemies, human and monster alike. Sekiro’s combat system strongly relies on parrying and dodging to throw your enemies off balance and be able to move in for the killing blow. You also get a few cool gadgets which will substantially help you with your enemies, most of which are susceptible to a specific tactics.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios|
Before The Witcher 3 arrived, Skyrim had been the biggest fish in the open-world RPG pond. One of Bethesda’s most popular games, Skyrim lives on years later thanks to extensive modding community and Bethesda’s dedication to bringing it over to newer consoles with technical upgrades.
At your disposal is a large world filled with locations and activities, letting you roleplay anyone from an alchemist to a monster hunter, to a blacksmith. It’s lighter on story than TW3, but offers much more by way of immersion and roleplaying possibilities.
Fallout 3, New Vegas, 4
|Release year:||2008 (FO3), 2010 (FNV), 2011 (FO4)|
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios, Obsidian Entertainment (only FNV)|
The Fallout series has some obvious crucial differences from The Witcher 3. The world is very different and follows a very different literary genre, but there are still elements both games have in common.
For one, much like Skyrim, they feature a large world filled with NPCs and activities. They differ a lot from game to game, but the common thread is that the maps are hardly empty of things to do. Both franchises also focus on an action-based combat system, even if Fallouts have a heavier emphasis on ranged combat than The Witcher 3. Fallout 4 even has a similar “find your missing child” storyline, which can get easily derailed by the side-activities typical for an open-world game.
|Genre:||Action role-playing, hack-and-slash|
If what has drawn you to The Witcher 3 are the monster fights, then Dragon’s Dogma should be right up your alley. It’s more relevant to the topic than Monster Hunter: World thanks to its open-world structure and strong action role-playing underpinnings, including a curious storyline, sidequests, and character progression.
The Witcher 3 is undeniably a prettier game, but Dragon’s Dogma rivals it as far as designs are considered, and has it squarely defeated in terms of how it feels to use weapons. The Witcher’s oddly graceful death ballet has little on Dragon’s Dogma’s crunchy hits and ground-shaking impacts.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition is much more outwardly cheesy than The Witcher, but underneath the high fantasy facade there is a story dealing with some issues that The Witcher does too. Discrimination of non-humans, war between religious fundamentalism and magic users, and a foreign power trying to get a foothold in the continent.
Of course the gameplay is very different: team-based and relatively tactical, with active pause, but Dragon Age: Inquisition has dramatic storytelling, quite a few beautiful locations, and a grand scope of events.
Assassin’s Creed Origins & Odyssey
|Release year:||2017 (Origins), 2018 (Odyssey)|
|Genre:||Action role-playing, stealth|
|Developer||Ubisoft Montreal (Origins), Ubisoft Quebec (Odyssey)|
After a long time of making action-adventure recreations of medieval-to-modern cities, Ubisoft decided to take a couple of steps back in time, and a massive and risky leap forward in mechanics. In Origins the developer decided to lean into RPG systems, and, seeing the success of this solution, turned the next game, Odyssey, into a full blown action RPG, and one taking obvious inspiration from The Witcher 3.
Now Assassin’s Creed games have a solid loot system giving the players always a new toy to play with, extensive skill trees catering to different playstyles, and Odyssey puts a lot of story agency in players hands. If you want to play an RPG taking place in ancient Egypt or ancient Greece, that’s the way to do it.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Where The Witcher 3 felt realistic and believable due to its serious tone and story, Kingdom Come: Deliverance took pains to be as realistic and historically accurate as possible. You’ll engage in tense melee fights, learn how to read, and brew herbal potions. And all of it takes place in a quite faithfully recreated medieval Bohemia.
KCD doesn’t provide the sense of power that being Geralt does, but the general atmosphere of the world in both games is quite similar. Bohemia of KCD also feels very much alive, so much so that certain events can happen even without player’s input. Notably, KCD is a first-person perspective game, rather than TPP like The Witcher 3, but it shouldn’t take more than just a little time of getting used to.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor & Shadow of War
|Release year:||2014 (Mordor), 2017 (War)|
|Genre:||Action-adventure, hack-and-slash, action-roleplaying|
The Shadow of… series shares a fair bit with The Witcher 3. Both have a gruff, but roughly likeable protagonist, both feature improbable sword skills, and both have an open world littered with things to pick up and miniquests to deal with. Monolith’s games also have magically enhanced social engineering and in Shadow of War: a subdued strategic layer.
The Nemesis system allows Talion not only to always have a new foe to hunt him, but, mixed with the hierarchy of orc horde, lets Talion plant spies in Sauron’s army and exploit them when he sees fit. This is one of the pillars of Shadow of…’s loop, alongside combat, parkour, and gathering collectibles for upgrades.
Mass Effect trilogy
|Release year:||2007 (ME1), 2010 (ME2), 2012 (ME3)|
|Genre:||Action role-playing, third-person shooter|
The Witcher games owe a fair bit of their story presentation to the standard BioWare established in their Mass Effect series. ME was the first popular game to blend cutscenes with fully voiced, interactive dialogues to such a degree, and the conversation wheel became a standard for other action RPG games, The Witcher 3 included.
The story of Commander Shepard leading a multi-species charge against a primordial threat coming from beyond the Milky Way galaxy definitely captures people’s attention, and the conversation scenes made for a very memorable presentation, emphasizing the personalities of companions and NPCs and making conversations more dynamic.
|Release year:||2009, 2012, 2014|
The developers of The Witcher games cited the Gothic series as an inspiration for their games. Which puts Risen, developed by the creator of Gothic, as an obvious candidate for this list. Risen gives the player a large island to explore, several factions to navigate, and an ancient mystery to uncover.
If what you loved most about The Witcher 3 was the world itself, then you’ll likely take a shine to Risen. No markers, no minimap, plenty of ways of engaging with the environment, functional climbing, diverse biomes, and tailor-made loot waiting for the most dedicated explorers make traversing the island of Faranga pleasant, worthwhile, and entertaining.
|Developer||CD Project Red|
In the absence of The Witcher 4, there is only one recourse for the fans of CD Projekt Red’s productions is their next game. Although any information about it remains limited and the full scope won’t unveil until it’s release in 2020, it’s reasonable to expect that the depth of the world and the attention to detail will be comparable to those of The Witcher 3.
Cyberpunk 2077 is based on a tabletop role-playing game Cyberpunk 2020, and will take place almost entirely in Night City, a metropolis controlled by gangs and corporations. Unlike The Witcher 3, CP2077 will be a first-person perspective game, although fans of slicing people up with sword will get a proper Cyberpunk katana.
A round of Gwent?
Thus concludes our list of games which may fill a part of the void left in your heart after completing CD Projekt Red’s hit game. Are there other RPGs like The Witcher 3? Certainly, but this list takes from the top. We hope we sufficiently helped you find the next title to play, one sharing your favourite features of The Witcher 3.