Millions of Nintendo Switch owners loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and if you’re one of them, you might be searching the horizon for your next Zelda fix. The good news: To celebrate the series’s 35th anniversary this year, Nintendo has more Zelda on the way. The bad news: It isn’t Breath of the Wild 2, which Nintendo has very tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2022 if we’re lucky.
Instead, on July 16 Nintendo is offering the remastered HD release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which came out on the Wii all the way back in the fall of 2011. Skyward Sword received near-universal critical acclaim, but over time it has proved to be a somewhat more contentious installment in the franchise, with its prolonged tutorials, its introduction of weapon durability, and its love-them-or-hate-them motion controls. At the very least, almost everyone agrees that the lore is fascinating—Skyward Sword is set at the very beginning of the Legend of Zelda timeline and serves as an origin story of sorts.
Nintendo has made a handful of quality-of-life improvements in the HD remaster to fix the game’s biggest annoyances, like making those motion controls optional. But if you’re hankering for more games like Breath of the Wild, we have some other options that might be more enjoyable. Whether you want more open-world exploration or beautiful worlds to fly around in, here are five games you can play if Skyward Sword HD isn’t what you’re looking for.
A Greek-mythology-themed clone: Immortals Fenix Rising
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Price: $60 at the time of publication
ESRB Rating: T
Similar to Breath of the Wild is almost every way, with an intoxicating theme of Greek mythology.
If you don’t want to wait until next year to play Breath of the Wild 2, you’ll find a similar experience in Immortals Fenix Rising. From action-limiting stamina bars to ubiquitous climbing surfaces, almost every aspect of Immortals feels like a carbon copy of something in Breath of the Wild—but I’m not mad about it.
In Immortals Fenix Rising, you play as Fenix, a demigod tasked with finding and saving the Greek gods to defeat a menacing Titan. The game goes for the same upbeat tone and colorful nature I loved in Breath of the Wild, and its open-world is just as bewitching to explore. I soared around with my wings of Daedalus the same way I did with Link’s paraglider, flying past giant statues and ethereal gardens on my way to visit characters such as Aphrodite and Athena. The artwork is lovely, and the story is lighthearted and fun to progress through.
I was frequently sidetracked in my quest to defeat the Titan Typhon by the abundance of quests and puzzles scattered around the map. I often pulled over during my journey to race in an impromptu time trial or to solve a fresco puzzle in which I pushed painted tiles around a grid to form a complete picture. Immortals even has its own version of Breath of the Wild’s shrines, called Vaults of Tartaros, which feature time-consuming puzzles to solve in exchange for special items and gear. I liked that the combat system wasn’t too bloody or realistic, and although it featured a wider range of moves and abilities than what I’ve found in any Zelda game, it was still easy to get the hang of.
A mobile meditation: Sky: Children of the Light
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
ESRB Rating: E10+
A calming game that emulates Breath of the Wild’s beautiful scenery and peaceful vibe.
For me, Breath of the Wild’s true magic lies in its stress-free pace, positive feel, and overall beauty. You can find plenty of captivating open-world games with mature themes and complicated gameplay, but few actually make me feel good. Sky: Children of the Light isn’t an open-world game, but it has the same sort of tranquil magic and gorgeous landscapes if you want something short and digestible to pick up next.
I’ve sampled Sky on both my iPhone and my Switch, and the mobile version compromises little to nothing in comparison with its console counterpart. It looks amazing and performs well on iOS, and the controls are extremely simple whether you play on the touchscreen or with a controller. The game doesn’t provide much concrete guidance, instead of nudging you here and there in the right direction.
I spent most of my time flying around Sky’s various biomes, going in directions I didn’t need to and lighting candles just because it felt nice. The game has no traditional quest structure, nor does it have combat, crafting, or many actions that you can perform outside of character emotes and a couple of abilities—features our other recommendations do incorporate. But Sky does have some small puzzles to solve throughout, and if connecting to nature, admiring art, and recapturing Breath of the Wild’s mood is what you’re after, Sky is a great choice.
A better Zelda remake: Link’s Awakening
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Price: $60 at the time of publication
ESRB Rating: E
Definitely not Breath of the Wild, but a beautiful, bittersweet Zelda adventure.
If only more Legend of Zelda will scratch that itch for you, play Link’s Awakening. Although Link’s Awakening isn’t an open-world sandbox and has no hang glider, the basic Zelda formula still applies: explore the world, enter dungeons, solve puzzles, and earn tools to solve even more puzzles. Despite its being a smaller game overall, exploration in Link’s Awakening felt rewarding to me, and the puzzles are engaging and fun. Also, you can fly with a rooster, and that rules.
Link’s Awakening is a full remake rather than a more straightforward remaster, with a new, charming, claymation-esque art style. The story is the same poignant and bittersweet tale is the original, and the updated art style adds a moving sense of beauty that the original Game Boy title could only hint at. The ending makes me cry every time.
And I genuinely love how short Link’s Awakening is—even as a completionist you can beat the game in around 20 hours. Sometimes I don’t have endless hours to wander around the countryside, climbing any mountain that catches my fancy. Sometimes I just want to solve some puzzles while looking cute as heck and then get emotionally devastated.
A beautiful, unique take on the formula: Okami HD
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Price:$20 at the time of publication
ESRB Rating: T
A Japanese folklore-inspired, Sumi-ink-driven, Zelda-style adventure.
Okami places you in the paws of Amaterasu, the Shinto sun goddess, who has taken the form of a white wolf bearing a magic Sumi brush in classical Japan. Okami is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time, and for good reason—it’s stylish Sumi-ink drawing aesthetic and heavily Zelda-influenced gameplay interlock to create something distinctive and beautiful.
Launched in 2006 on the PlayStation 2, Okami has since seen versions on basically every system around. In the game, Amaterasu encounters a cast of characters drawn from Japanese folklore as they seek to defeat powerful dark forces using a variety of tools and power-ups. And with plenty of side quests, there’s a lot of painterly, Zelda-influenced game there to get lost in while you’re waiting for a proper, truly new Zelda title to show up next year.
In case you missed it: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Platforms: everything short of a toaster oven
Price: $40 at the time of publication
ESRB Rating: M
The best choice for those who want to get lost in another immersive open world.
If you’ve existed in the world for the past 10 years, you probably don’t need me to tell you about Skyrim. It’s one of the most popular games ever made, and it has been ported time and again to nearly every console and platform—even Amazon’s Alexa. Despite the game’s age, it’s still my favorite recommendation for anyone looking to follow up Breath of the Wild. It may not be the cheerful follow-up that Immortals Fenix Rising is, but like Hyrule, the kingdom of Skyrim is another enchanting world to get lost in.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the fifth installment of a series that started in 1994, but knowledge of or experience with previous Elder Scrolls games isn’t necessary to enjoy it. Diving into and understanding the world of Skyrim comes naturally—even novice players are likely to pick up on things right away from the copious lore books scattered about and the deep conversations with characters. Immersion is the game’s strongest suit, and the scenery is every bit as mesmerizing as the soundtrack that accompanies it. I’ve stopped countless times on my treks through the forests or up mountains to admire the colorful night skies or peaceful vistas, which feels akin to my experience with Breath of the Wild.
But if you want more of Breath of the Wild’s approach to combat—or avoiding it—you may not enjoy Skyrim as much. Fighting in Skyrim is not as bloody or graphic as it can be in games of this type, but it’s still present and basically required. If you can get past that, the game gives you a thousand things to do, and exploration is just as rewarding as it is in Breath of the Wild—maybe even more so. I’ve returned to Skyrim regularly for the past 10 years, and I discover something new every single time.