Game Freak and The Pokémon Company were met with a lot of cheer from fans all over the world when Pokémon Legends: Arceus was announced back in February.
While the announcement of a new Pokémon game is always a cause for celebration, what makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus special is that it's the first open-world Pokémon game and it will be developed by the longtime series developer, Game Freak.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus will essentially serve as the Pokémon Platinum for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. However, unlike Pokémon Platinum, Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be set in the distant past as players explore Sinnoh and set out to build the region's first-ever Pokédex.
With that said, Pokémon Legends: Arceus won't be releasing until January 2022. This means that it will be some time before players can get a chance to experience the first-ever open-world Pokémon game ever released.
Until then, fans can keep themselves busy with these games like Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a launch title for the Nintendo Switch that made a lasting impact on the video game industry.
Regardless of whether people think it's the best Legend of Zelda game or not, the effect of Breath of the Wild has had on the titles that succeeded it cannot be denied. Not to mention, it's responsible for selling a lot of Nintendo Switch consoles and attracting a bunch of new players to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Even today, players are still discovering ways to explore Hyrule as they wait for the sequel to Breath of the Wild, which may or may not release in 2022.
What made Breath of the Wild such a breathtaking game (pun intended) was how it proved just how capable the Nintendo Switch was.
True, there've been numerous games released since that have proven that the Nintendo Switch is lacking a bit in the power department. But, most of those games weren't exactly developed specifically for the Nintendo Switch. Breath of the Wild was.
If nothing else, Breath of the Wild's success should dispel any notion that Pokémon Legends: Arceus won't look good and play well on the Nintendo Switch.
Double Fine's indie adventure game, Ooblets, wears its inspiration on its sleeves. It's clearly a Pokémon game, just under a different guise. However, what makes it different is also what makes it special. Ooblets features everything from extensive character customization options, building houses, living plants, and a bunch of other activities that you can partake in to entertain yourself.
The core gameplay revolves around planting seeds that become baby ooblets that you can level up by participating in wholesome dance battles against other ooblet trainers.
Make no mistake. The combat is nuanced, as adorable as it may be. The turn-based battles are influenced by typing and multiple mechanics. It's not nearly as complicated as that in Pokémon, but it's not too far off either.
There's farming, dancing, exploration, making friends, and just, well, kicking back and relaxing into the comforting monotony of living in a small town.
Ooblets might be only available as an Early Access title for now, but we wouldn't be surprised if you picked it up and play the game until its full launch.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
Earlier, we talked about the lasting influence of Breath of the Wild. Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a good example of that.
Ubisoft is no stranger to open-world games, having gone this route since Assassin's Creed: Origins back in 2017. However, the graphics of Fenyx Rising are all very much like that Breath of the Wild, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Fenyx Rising also manages to separate itself with its art style and humor, with fun gameplay to boot. On top of this, Ubisoft released multiple noteworthy DLCs for Fenyx Rising that explore other genres and even the mythology of other countries.
Fenyx Rising was easily one of the more underrated games released in 2020. A year and multiple DLCs later, it's only gotten so much better.
Digimon World: Next Order
Ever since Digimon was released, it has always played second fiddle to Pokémon. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it has managed to carve out its own niche. Not to mention, the franchise has had far more freedom to explore multiple playstyles considering that studios don't have as much to lose if ever the game isn't as well-received.
While this has led to some lackluster releases, Digimon World: Next Order isn't one of them.
If you prefer to play a game where you can raise your Digimon from birth, raise, and train it, until it evolves into its final form, Next Order is the game for you. It's essentially a bigger version of the Tamagotchi-like premise that Digimon built itself on. It's set in an open world and you have two Digimon that you can evolve and train, as well as bond, and fight against other trainers in real-time fighting combat.
Temtem is another Pokémon-inspired title that's not afraid to claim where it took its inspiration from. Even the Spanish developer, Crema, knows why the game was made - to improve on the outdated mechanics of the Pokémon series.
So far, Crema seems to have done just that. It's not necessarily better than Pokémon, but it does some things in a different if not better way. Plus, because it's an MMORPG, the world is as open as you can get, with vast environments that players can explore and catch monsters in as well as battle against other tamers.
Temtem is essentially the Pokémon MMO that many fans have wished for and if it succeeds, who knows?
With that said, Temtem isn't out just yet. It's still an Early Access title that's exclusive on the PC via Steam. Those on other platforms will have to wait for a while to see Temtem in action. But, if you've got a PC, Temtem is well worth downloading and playing if only to scratch your Pokémon itch until January 2022.
World of Final Fantasy Maxima
World of Final Fantasy Maxima follows the story of the twins, Lann and Reynn, who have amnesia and can't seem to remember anything. A mysterious woman then greets the two of them and tells them that they are Mirage keepers in Gymoire, a land filled with Mirages, who are monsters that are similar to Pokémon that the twins can also catch, train, and fight others with.
Ultimately, the twin's goal is to help out Gymoire in its battle against the Bahamutian Army who wants to destroy the kingdom. Throughout the journey, the twins encounter characters from other Final Fantasy games, who each belong to their own faction.
World of Final Fantasy was first released in 2016 with the Maxima update/re-release being made available in 2018, which adds more Mirages, as well as Final Fantasy characters like Yuna, Noctis, and Lightning.
Slime Rancher and Pokémon couldn't be anymore similar. The two have the same premise of, well, "catching 'em all". The main difference in Slime Rancher is that the things you catch and take care of are a bit more slimy than usual.
In Slime Rancher, you take on the role of Beatrix LeBeau, who goes out and explores vast lands with a vacpack that you can use to suck up all kinds of different slimes. Then, once you've caught the slime, you can plop them up into your ranch and feed them until they burst out with plorts that you can use to buy stuff.
With a whole variety of slimes for you to catch, raise, and manage, you'll have your hands full in Slime Rancher before you know it. You can even create your own special slime, which is an entirely different story.
Just be careful. Not all slimes are decile. Some can and will attack you on sight. Not to mention, if you're not careful, you'll find yourself surrounded by aggressive slimes that could kill you.
Monster Hunter Stories
For as long as the two Japanese games have existed, fans have compared Monster Hunter and Pokémon with each other. This is surprising since the two could not be any more different. Outside of, well, monsters, Monster Hunter was always more combat-centric and gory. However, with the release of Monster Hunter Stories, the comparisons have become more valid.
Unlike the more serious Monster Hunter games, Monster Hunter Stories is more light-hearted. In it, your goal isn't exactly to hunt down monsters. Instead, your goal is to catch the said monsters, hatch monster eggs, and befriend them, which isn't too different from the monster-catching concept popularized by Pokémon.
Monster Hunter Stories also switches up the formula, using a similar turn-based combat system to the Pokemon games.
Nexomon is as close to a Pokémon clone as any can get. It's basically a re-skinned Pokémon game, although one can argue that both still look pretty similar. However, what separates Nexomon is that it is a much larger single game, made up of different regions that each have their own interesting creatures that you can raise and battle against.
Similar to the Pokémon games, Nexomon gives you over 300 creatures, called Nexomon, to catch, and each one has a unique evolution too. And, oh, did we mention that there are Legendary Nexomon for you to chase around and catch as well?
With bright and colorful animated creatures that each have their own attractive designs, as well as a quirky story-driven adventure, Nexomon is a great way to get your Pokémon fix on your smartphone.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the reason why we haven't seen a sixth mainline installment in the TES franchise yet. Sure, the argument exists that it's not the best TES game. A lot will argue that the honor belongs to Oblivion or Morrowind. However, Skyrim can silence all the discussion when it brings up the fact that it's been ported over to nearly every console released after 2011, including the Nintendo Switch.
At this point, a standalone mobile version of Skyrim is all that's missing given that you can technically play it on mobile phones via Xbox Game Pass.
With that said, if you're looking for an open-world title to keep you busy until the release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Skyrim is for you. It's stuffed with so much content and tiny little details that gamers are still discovering new things today.
On the off chance that you do spend hundreds of hours actually seeing everything that Skyrim has to offer, there are dozens of mods for you to try out and keep the adventure going.