There’s something to be said for video games you can complete in an afternoon, but sometimes you want to dive deep into a game and play it for weeks or even months. The problem is, not many games are worthy of that much attention. Either the story dries up after a 15-hour campaign, or the game world simply isn’t interesting enough to keep you coming back.
But some games are special. Some games can support multiple play-throughs, or offer an interesting game mechanic that keeps you craving more. Others are so packed full of content that you can play for 100 hours and still not see everything the game has to offer. However they do it, games you can play endlessly are as special as they are rare. Here are a few games that fit the bill.
1. Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is set in a post-apocalyptic world where bottle caps are the currency and irradiated mutants live in the sewers. You can embark on quests both large and small, or just roam a destroyed, futuristic Boston, blasting enemies and mutated animals using a clever battle system called V.A.T.S. Essentially, V.A.T.S. turns the game’s real-time combat into turn-based shoot-outs in a deeply satisfying way. With the staggering amount of high-quality missions and side-quests, Fallout 4 is an easy game to start playing, but a tough one to stop.
2. World of Warcraft
Every massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is designed to keep you coming back for days, weeks, months, and even years. The way developers accomplish this feat is by constantly updating their games with more and more content: more quests, more team-based dungeon raids, new areas to explore, and new gameplay mechanics to keep the experience from feeling stale. No game has done these things more consistently over the years than World of Warcraft. When this game gets its hooks in you, the amount of time you spend in it is only limited by your free time.
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
While the single-player campaign in any Call of Duty game only takes about a dozen hours to complete, the multiplayer mode is where most people spend the bulk of their time. In this mode, it’s usually two teams shooting it out to see who can earn the most kills. The reason you can easily spend 100 hours here is because the developers have built some very rewarding game mechanics that make it more fun the more you play.
You can spec out your weapons by adding useful items like scopes and grenade launchers. You can gradually chip away at nuisances like recoil and reload times. As you play, you earn experience points that unlock additional perks and equipment, making it even easier to rack up higher kill counts. It’s as well-designed as a casino — but at least it doesn’t take your money.
4. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Turn-based strategy games are like chess, but with extra layers of complexity. One of the deepest is Disgaea 5, a game that puts a party of characters at your disposal and has you deploy them on a grid to take out the enemy — but that’s just for starters. It’s packed to the gills with levels, weapons, armor, spells, and upgrade paths for each character. You can equip monsters to use as weapons and combine them to create new ones. You can permanently tweak the rules of the matches from within the game. Your characters’ abilities can even change depending on which tiles they’re standing on. In short, if you want to master all the aspects this game offers, you’re in for a long (but rewarding) ride.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Some games give you a grand story and then force you down a linear path to experience it. Not The Witcher 3. This game drops you in an enormous, awe-inspiring fantasy world and lets you explore it in any way you see fit. See those mountains in the distance? You can hike to the top of them right now if you want to. There’s still a central story line to follow, but at any point you can cast it aside in favor of one of the hundreds of side missions that range from simple fetch quests to massive eight-hour stories that could be entire games in themselves. Even if you somehow manage to complete every quest in the game, you can download several bulky packages of additional content to play through, or endless mods on PC. Casting spells and fighting ferocious beasts has rarely been this engrossing.
6. Dota 2
Like Disgaea, Dota 2 is painstakingly deep — e’re talking Grand Canyon levels of depth here. As such, it takes effort to get into, but its legions of fans can’t get enough. Essentially, Dota 2 is an online real-time strategy game in which two teams of five players try to destroy the other’s base. Players can choose from over 100 “hero” characters that each offer unique abilities and take a lot of time to master. To succeed, your team needs to be well-balanced, with each player taking a specific role in the overall strategy. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, but many devotees have regular game sessions with friends and spend upwards of 1,000 hours figuring out reliable strategies.
7. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
You’d be forgiven for thinking Pokémon is a series for kids. Its main characters are children, after all, and it has spawned multiple animated series and movies. But, despite all that, these games can easily support hundreds of hours of high-level play. If you’re serious about Pokémon, you can spend scores of hours collecting all the monsters in the game, breeding them together and working on their stats until you’ve shaped them into finely tuned weapons. It’s not glamorous work, but judging by the size of the dedicated fan base, it certainly appeals to a large number of gamers.
Minecraft is one of those ubiquitous games that just about everyone under 20 has played — often obsessively. Kind of like a digital set of LEGOs, Minecraft lets you create just about anything you want out of the various blocks it offers. If you search Google for incredible Minecraft creations, you’ll discover that people have made just about everything in the game from cities and castles to working roller coasters and graphing calculators. It’s incredible what you can build with a little planning and artistry. Oh, and a whole lot of time.
9. Civilization V
In Civilization V, you control a group of people from the beginnings of civilization onward. The goal of the game is to turn your small tribe into a world power by the year 2050. Each group gets a particular boost, so if you choose to be the French, you get a culture bonus that will help you earn a cultural victory. The Germans, meanwhile, have a military bonus to help them achieve world domination. You can set all kinds of parameters, like your starting era, how many continents are in the world, and the number of other civilizations you’ll have to compete with. An average game takes between six and eight hours to complete, but if you want to try out everything the game has to offer, expect to gladly hand over several hundred hours of your life.
Destiny is basically a massively multiplayer online shooter set in space. You create a persistent character and go out in the galaxy and run missions to level up and collect ever more powerful gear. The great thing is, you don’t need to pay a monthly subscription to keep going. Developer Bungie releases downloadable expansions semi-regularly, but everything released so far comes in the Taken King Legendary Edition version of the game. Whether you play solo or band up with a group of like-minded Guardians, this game can easily keep you going for hundreds of hours over the course of years instead of days or weeks.
11. Tom Clancy’s The Division
Ubisoft’s take on the shooter MMO is The Division, a game set in New York City after a virus has wiped out the lion’s share of humanity. You play as a member of The Division, a group of elite soldiers sent in to maintain the peace. It’s not easy, thanks to violent gangsters and rioters, but it’s a living. Like in Destiny, you create a unique character and run missions to level up and earn better weapons and armor. There’s a strong multiplayer component here, with raids and other kinds of missions that help ratchet up the time you spend with the game.
When developer Blizzard enters a genre it hasn’t dabbled in before, it tends to do so in grand fashion, by offering a unique, accessible spin on the standard conventions. That’s basically what’s going on in Overwatch, an online team-based shooter that pits some of the most original characters you’ve ever seen against one another.
Each character is overflowing with personality, and plays an important role on your team, whether that means healing your squad-mates or absorbing enemy fire so your assault-oriented teammates can inflict maximum damage. The game is accessible, but with each character controlling so differently, it’s also deep enough that you could spend months playing its and still find new things to do. Just don’t confuse Overwatch with Battleborn.
13. Dark Souls III
The game world in Dark Souls III is expansive, but it’s also filled with mysteries and secrets. Finding them all on your own would take searching every inch of the game with a fine-toothed comb — which the game’s methodical combat actively encourages you to do. Even if you use the internet as a resource, it can still absorb many hours of your life. Add in some time spent shepherding other players through tough boss fights and invading people’s games to challenge them to a duel, and you’re looking at well over 100 hours worth of challenging yet satisfying content.
14. Grand Theft Auto V
The most time-sucking aspect of Grand Theft Auto V isn’t the campaign, which centers around three very different criminals as they work together to pull off crimes big and small. The single-player portion of the game lasts around 40 hours, depending on how many of the extra things you do.
But once you complete it, you’ll find yourself with tons of reasons to keep coming back. Grand Theft Auto: Online, as the mode is called, lets you create a character and run around in the game world with other players online. You can compete in races, run missions, buy real estate, and team up with other career criminals to pull off intricate heists. It’s enough to satisfy any gamer for hundreds of hours.
15. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard’s digital take on the collectible card game could easily consume your life if you’re not careful. It came out in 2014, but it’s still going strong, with regular content updates and a smart plan to keep the game from going stale as the years roll by.
There’s so much to do in Hearthstone it’s hard to know where to begin. You can level up each of the nine heroes to find the one you like best, filling out your card collection along the way. Then you can assemble decks and tinker with them endlessly, play in ranked and unranked matches, try out the expansions, and then start looking into the tournament scene if you’re serious about it. Like the others on this list, it’s a deep game that’s fun and addictive enough to keep you going well past the 100 hour mark.