While there’s no denying the appeal of a tight, focused, concise experience that doesn’t wear out its welcome by dragging on too long, at the same time, the value of a well-made, addictive game that can keep you hooked for endless hours can also not be overstated. Thankfully, we’ve have plenty of both kinds of games in 2023, and here, we’re going to look at a few of the best in the latter category that can easily give you dozens upon dozens of hours of enjoyment.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM
Let’s start things off with one of the more obvious picks for this list. 2017’s Breath of the Wild was already a gargantuan experience in and of itself, but with Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo delivered something that was somehow several times larger. The main story itself can easily take you between 60-70 hours, but there’s just so much else to do beyond that as well. Exploring the caves all across Hyrule, the massive map of the Depths beneath the ground, and the Sky Islands floating up above can keep you hooked for almost an unreasonable amount of time.
BALDUR’S GATE 3
CRPGs, by their very nature, are designed to be immensely replayable experience, and Baldur’s Gate 3, as probably one of the greatest games of its kind, succeeds on that front in a way that very few other games do. Its narrative and systemic reactivity make it the perfect game for those who want to go through it again and again, but even for those who would only rather play it once, it houses a startling amount of content for players to lose themselves in.
Bethesda Game Studios is keenly aware of the fact that its games are often played by players for years and years on end, and Starfield has very clearly been designed to go above and beyond all previous titles by the studio in that regard. A beefy main story, a bevy of side quests, a massive galaxy to explore, and incredible systemic and emergent depth make Starfield a game that you can sink endless hours into, something that is only compounded by things such as its ship building mechanics, its procedurally generated planets, and its outpost building activities.
There are millions out there who have sunk multiple hundreds of hours into Diablo games over the years, and sure enough, Diablo 4 is very much the sort of game that encourages that in spades. In addition to its 25-30 hour main campaign, it offers a bevy of optional and endgame content that, in true Diablo fashion, is the real star of the show. With Blizzard having pledged consistent and prolonged post-launch support for the game in the form of free seasonal updates and paid, large expansions, this is clearly a game that many of us are going to be playing for a long, long time to come.
Even when it launched in early access last year, it was clear to most who played it that Marvel Snap’s dangerously addictive core gameplay loop had the makings of something special, so it’s no surprise that since its full release in August, it has been a game that many have found it incredibly hard to pull themselves away from. The quick, snappy nature of its battles combines with the inherent addictiveness of its card collecting and progression systems to create a game that, once it has its claws in you, it won’t let go easily.
FOOTBALL MANAGER 2024
Football Manager games are pretty much guaranteed a spot on lists such as this one every single year, and Football Manager 2024 doesn’t buck that trend either (not that anyone expected it to). Though the improvements it makes over last year’s game are iterative ones, they come together to collectively offer notable upgrades to the overall experience. That, in turn, means it’s even easier to lose all semblance of a social life or a healthy sleeping pattern thanks to the addictiveness and endless replayability of Football Manager 2024.
LIES OF P
Lies of P instantly became a fan-favourite for those who enjoy Soulslikes upon its release, and the fact that it’s a game that you can play for multiple dozens of hours without getting bored of it has contributed to its success significantly. Admittedly, you will need multiple playthroughs to hit that 100 hour mark, but thankfully, this is a game that can carry itself for that long without stumbling or feeling like it’s wearing thin.
FINAL FANTASY 16
If you’re sticking to Final Fantasy 16’s main story and nothing else, it’s still quite a meaty experience, falling in that 35-40 hour range, but with all of its generous optional offerings take into account, it can be significantly longer. In spite of not being an open world experience, Final Fantasy 16 is packed full of compelling side content, including monsters to hunt, special weapons and gear to craft, and more. Add to that things such as Arcade Mode, New Game Plus, the Final Fantasy and Ultimate Modes, Stage Replay, and more, and you get an absolutely gargantuan experience.
Forza Motorsport is the sort of game that you can play as much or as little as you want, but if you’re a racing sim enthusiast, chances are you’re going to be playing it for a long time. In addition to its beefy Career mode – aka the Builders Cup – the newest Forza entry boasts a vast pool of vehicles to unlock and upgrade, and of course, sizeable multiplayer offerings. With Turn 10 having promised consistent post-launch support for some time to come, Forza Motorsport is a game that many are going to keep coming back to.
STREET FIGHTER 6
In recent years, nearly everything that Capcom has touched turned to gold, and the same is very much true for Street Fighter 6 as well. Its stellar fighting mechanics and roster of characters are backed up by healthy content offerings across the board, from its story mode to its multiplayer offerings to even the many optional offerings of the Battle Hub. For fans of the fighting genre, spending an inordinate amount of time playing Street Fighter 6 is all too easy.
MORTAL KOMBAT 1
Speaking of fighters that you can play endlessly, we’d be remiss not to mention Mortal Kombat 1 as well. NetherRealm Studios’ second reboot of the franchise certainly packs a punch in more ways than one. On top of its story mode and traditional multiplayer offerings, it packs in the excellent new Invasions mode, and all of that put together can keep you occupied for hours and hours on end. Invasions is, in fact, a mode that NetherRealm intends to keep adding to for the foreseeable future, so fans are going to have plenty of excuses to keep jumping back in.
An expansive open world game set in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was something millions had been dreaming about for years, and earlier this year, Hogwarts Legacy delivered exactly that (and then some). Even though there are parts of the Hogwarts school life fantasy that it lacks – like playing Quidditch, for instance – its open world is teeming with things to do, from side quests to collectibles to simply exploring and taking in the lovingly crafted and obsessively detailed environments.
LIKE A DRAGON: ISHIN!
Fans of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise have become all too familiar with the series’ knack for delivering massive, chunky experiences, and Like a Dragon: Ishin! certainly lived up to expectations on that front when it came out earlier this year. Its blend of Yakuza-style storytelling, design, and mechanics with an excellent period setting makes it an absolute joy to play- which is a good thing, because there’s a lot to see and do here, to the extent that completionists can easily get over a hundred hours out of this game.
THE LEGEND OF HEROES: TRAILS TO AZURE
Falcom has been in the process of bringing over past games in its Legend of Heroes series to Western audiences in the last couple of years, and this year we got Trails to Azure, roughly a dozen years on from its original Japanese launch. It’s fair to say that it was worth the wait though, because not only is it a dense, compelling RPG like other games in the series, it’s also a staggeringly massive one that you can pour dozens of hours of your life into (also like other games in the series).
The Monster Hunter franchise hasn’t had much competition over the years, and though EA and Omega Force’s Wild Hearts may not have done quite enough to emerge as a legitimate contender to that throne, it’s got more than enough going for it to warrant a look. And if you do give it a look, there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself lost in its offerings. Even after you’re done with the 45-50 hour main story, Wild Hearts has enough on offer to keep you occupied for at least just as long, if not more.