Video games weren’t initially considered to be able to adapt narrative experiences all that well: the medium was so primitive when it was first introduced that two lines batting a square back and forth was about as gripping a tale as could possibly be weaved. Even as technology improved, it took time for developers to cobble together a proper on-screen story. Of course, that isn’t an easy thing to do with pixels the size of a fist and 4 kilobytes of memory to work with.
Horizons were vastly broadened with the introduction of 8-bit consoles in the mid 1980s. Though still primitive by today’s standards, a story could be feasibly told without an over reliance on instructional manuals or ancillary lore. In fact, one of the most prolific and compelling video game narratives—that of Nintendo’s iconic The Legend of Zelda series—got its start around this time.
As developers began to push technological boundaries and craft digital experiences once believed to be impossible, games grew larger in both scale and scope. As a result, some titles became so totally full of content that they couldn’t be experienced in multiple gameplay sessions, let alone one.
Today, it can take those with little free time months of on-and-off play to finally reach a game’s end credits, and some titles can offer upwards of a hundred hours of unique content to experience. Disqualifying certain titles that turn into thousand-hour time sinks thanks to their lack of a definitive end goal, here are thirty games that take an insane amount of time just to reach the finish line.
30 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (46 Hour Average)
While Nintendo’s Wii U was a bit of a flop which featured no exclusive Zelda title, the Nintendo Switch launched with what may be the best game in the franchise. That may be a bit of a polarizing statement, but there’s no arguing that Breath of the Wild is a fully-realized, eloquently designed game which strikes at the very heart of what series fans love. Plus, BotW may also be one of the longest Zelda games, as many players seem to clock in somewhere around fifty hours before all is said and done. New and innovative while maintaining franchise staples that helped make the early games great, this Zelda title is a blast for the entire 46 hour campaign.
29 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (46 Hour Average)
While Skyrim is famous for its potentially endless gameplay and Daggerfall is notable for including one of the largest open worlds to date in a video game, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind shouldn’t be overlooked for the startling amount of playtime made available during a time in which fully-fledged 3D open worlds were still sort of a new concept. Morrowind may not be the most memorable entry into Bethesda’s hit high fantasy series, but, demanding slightly under fifty hours of total playtime on average to reach the end credits, it certainly deserves a place in the hearts of fans of the land of Tamriel.
28 Tales Of Graces F (47 Hours Average)
2012’s Tales of Graces F is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first of a significant amount of JRPGs slated to make this list. Though a major success in Japan, the series popularity among Western audiences has been unreliable when compared to other, more exemplary titles in the genre. Tales of Graces F was originally developed for the Wii, though it later found its way to Sony’s PlayStation 3, earning generally favorable reviews in the process. Much like many modern JPRGs, this anime-inspired title weaves a long and complex narrative which players aren’t likely to sort there way through until they near the fifty-hour mark.
27 Star Ocean - The Last Hope (48 Hour Average)
Originally released in 2009, Star Ocean - The Last Hope is billed as a precursor to the mainline Star Ocean franchise and carries with it many of the sci-fi anime overtones for which the series is known. It is vaguely reminiscent to something like Final Fantasy VII blended with a space exploration title like No Man’s Sky, though it released nearly ten years before the latter game. JRPG fans had ought to get their money’s worth out of the roughly 48 hours it takes the average person to beat the main storyline, and those looking to get in on the interstellar fun can pick up last year’s remaster on the PlayStation Store and Steam.
26 Dark Souls (50 Hour Average)
Though Demon’s Souls was the first FromSoftware game to really introduce the concept of a fully-realized, immensely difficult dark fantasy RPG to the masses, 2011’s Dark Souls was the release which brought both the series and studio fame. Touted as being one of the most compelling RPGs of the seventh console generation, novice players can expect their first journey into Lordran to take up to and perhaps beyond fifty hours. While veteran gamers with extensive experience may be able to breeze through this game in a matter of hours, most will be in it for the long, failure-ridden haul. The release of a brand-new remaster of this title means that there has never been a better time for curious players to see how they fare in this cruel world.
25 Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (50 Hour Average)
The Final Fantasy series is known for its lengthy games, but the amount of content on offer in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is made all the more impressive by the fact that it was developed for Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance console. Notable for its extensive narrative and gameplay reminiscent of other GBA titles like the Advance Wars series, Tactics Advance remains one of the most talked-about classic Final Fantasy games in the modern era. This little gem proves that gamers don’t need larger-than-life boss fights or 700 square miles of plays pace to have a good time—the only thing we really need is a keen tactical instinct.
24 Darkest Dungeon (52 Hour Average)
23 Stardew Valley (53 Hour Average)
Another recently-released indie darling, Stardew Valley merges all of the fun of farm management ala something like Harvest Moon and combines it with the action-packed dungeon crawling bliss of a title like Crypt of the Necrodancer or The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. As relaxing and leisurely-paced as it is enthralling and time-consuming, this unique combination of gameplay will help to propel players past the fifty hour mark. Stardew Valley isn’t necessarily a game for completionists, though; it’s more about kicking back, relaxing, planting some crops and tending to the needs of your burgeoning farm.
22 Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (60 Hour Average)
21 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (63 Hour Average)
An adaptation of a polish series of high fantasy novels of the same name, The Witcher series of video games, through spawned of humble origins, has gone on to include some of the most compelling gameplay experiences of the last ten years. Anyone even remotely interested in fantasy RPGs needs to give the series third entry, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a try, and there’s enough content on offer in the base game and its two expansions to keep invested players returning for years to come. The series has become so popular that Netflix is in the process of creating a show based on the property—an unmitigated testament to the title’s quality.
20 The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel (63 Hours)
19 Heroes Of Might And Magic III: The Restoration Of Erathia (64 Hour Average)
18 Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King (66 Hour Average)
17 Divinity: Original Sin (67 Hour Average)
A traditional, pen-and-paper-esque RPG adventure first released in 2014, Divinity: Original Sin is almost overwhelmingly complex and should be met with a bit of apprehension from genre newcomers. It is, nevertheless, a fantastic title brimming with content and adventure, and even seasoned RPG players may find themselves approaching the seventy hour mark before they see all of the content on offer here. Gripping, fun, and thoroughly addicting, this title may be one of the best classic RPG titles to be released over the last decade. Plus, a fairly accessible set of modding tools are sure to keep the community thriving for years to come.
16 Forza Motorsport 5 (69 Hour Average)
An Xbox One launch title, Forza Motorsport 5 offers perhaps the most depth and complexity available in a game of this nature to date. Offering around 200 vehicles to race, tinker with, and drool over, Motorsport 5 delivers just shy of seventy hours worth of pure, next-gen racing bliss, though hardcore fans of the series are likely to spend much more time with the title. That said, Forza Motorsport 5 was a notable downgrade from the series previous title, which boasted an impressive 500-odd cars. At the end of the day, though, this Xbox One exclusive still provides plenty of content for the average fan to sink their teeth into.
15 Xenoblade Chronicles X (70 Hour Average)
A successor to the fantastic yet relatively overlooked Wii exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles, 2015’s open-world sci-fi JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles X was an evolution for the series in every sense of the world. Jaw-dropping in terms of both size and graphical fidelity on Nintendo’s comparatively under-powered Wii U console, X invites players to hop into a mech suit and explore the desolate and often inhospitable landscape surrounding New Los Angeles. A fanciful and decidedly Japanese take on space colonization, the title’s weird and wonderful world, though entirely detached from prior franchise titles, should keep players engaged for quite a long time.
14 Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition (70 Hour Average)
The 2013 remastering of the 90’s RPG classic Baldur’s Gate II introduced a few quality of life features and generally improved what was quickly becoming a relic of a bygone computing era. That said, in keeping with RPGs available at the time, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is remarkably complex and a Dungeons and Dragons-esque romp intended for players at home with titles of that sort. Featuring character creation and customization options thorough enough to put the likes of Bethesda’s Skyrim to shame, players will likely invest at least seventy hours in conquering the content present in Baldur’s Gate II, its Throne of Bhaal expansion, as well as a few new pieces of content exclusive to the remaster.
13 Dragon’s Quest VII: Fragments Of The Forgotten Past (74 Hour Average)
Originally released at the turn of the millennium on Sony’s PlayStation console, Dragon’s Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past was, and still is, such a massive game that making it to the game’s ending credit crawl is nothing short of impressive. With around 74 hours of content through which to quest in this JRPG’s lengthy campaign, Dragon’s Quest VII can, to some, feel totally overwhelming. While the outdated isometric visuals featured in the original PlayStation release may be unappealing today, publisher Square Enix produced a fully-realized remake of the game for Nintendo’s 3DS in 2013.
12 Fallout 4: GOTY Edition (78 Hour Average)
2015’s mainline Fallot release, despite serving as a fantastic visual upgrade, disappointed many longtime series fans. Stemming from hardcore isometric RPG roots, the Fallout series seems to have emphasized its shooting mechanics and gradually stripped away many core RPG elements since Bethesda Softworks began producing franchise titles back in 2008. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Fallout 4 is necessarily lacking in content. With an adequately sized slice of New England and a smattering of DLC locations to explore, the Game of the Year edition of Bethesda’s second in-house developed Fallout title can take gamers around 78 hours to explore on average.
11 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (80 Hour Average)
Before Grand Theft Auto V modernized the series and included the beloved yet often critiqued Grand Theft Auto Online, series fans by-and-large looked to 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the greatest example of the open-world mayhem sandbox formula. Though 2013’s iteration may have offered a visual upgrade, San Andreas still has the newer title beat in terms of sheer gameplay possibilities. Leisurely players can quite easy pass the 80 hour mark before wrapping up the game, and some hardcore fans have yet to put the game down fourteen years after release.
10 The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (80 Hour Average)
Ever since Bethesda Softworks’ The Elder Scrolls I: Arena debuted in 1994 players have fantasized about the chance to explore Tamriel in a full 3D, modernized experience. Affording players the opportunity to explore each of Tamriel’s nine regions, TESO should have gone down as one of the best games in the series. Unfortunately, thanks to a buggy launch and general lack of initial content, the game wasn’t well received. However, community opinion has changed over the years, and frequent MMO players may want to give the world of Tamriel Unlimited another chance.
9 Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (83 Hour Average)
Though just about everyone in the Monster Hunter community is obsessed with the recent PC port of Monster Hunter World, 2015’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate still stands as one of the series’ longest, most content-rich entries. While it bears several striking similarities to many popular recent RPG releases, Dark Souls fans may feel particularly at home in this large-scale boss fight-centric game, tired though that comparison may be. World may be a fairly extensive game, but the upwards of eighty hour campaign present in Ultimate just barely tops the newer title.
8 Dragon Age: Inquisition (84 Hour Average)
Though the series has recently fallen prey to the notoriously iffy tactics employed by Electronic Arts, Dragon Age Inquisition was a well-received, fantastically-structured fantasy RPG title which likely performed well in spite of its publisher’s many missteps. The series may have had its ups and downs, but Inquisition was a captivating title which players seem to have, on average, spent around 84 hours in before finally reaching the ending. Visually stunning and, to some, on par with titles like The Witcher 3, the only real downside of Inquisition is that PC players must have an EA Origin account to get their hands on it.
7 Record Of Agarest War (87 Hour Average)
6 Rainbow Moon (93 Hour Average)
5 Persona 5 (96 Hour Average)
4 Final Fantasy XII (120 Hour Average)
Final Fantasy XII was a triumph on the PlayStation 2 and often heralded as one of the console’s last great RPGs. Releasing in 2006, a time during which the sixth generation consoles were quickly waning, XII never perhaps lived up to the potential set by some of its predecessors. That said, Final Fantasy XII (and its re-master of sorts for modern hardware) brought the game, albeit briefly, to the forefront of gamer’s attention. Final Fantasy XII is one of the most industrious, innovative titles in a series already populated by classic games, and its 120-hour average runtime is a testament to its developer's abilities.
3 ARK: Survival Evolved (131 Hour Average)
Hitting the scene in early access at a time during which survival/crafting titles were selling like gangbusters on Steam, ARK: Survival Evolved quickly became the unfinished, roughly hewn darling of the genre. Though simple enough at the outset, ARK eventually mutated into a game sporting such a complex, cerebral plotline that H. P. Lovecraft himself may have shed a tear. Gamers have been mulling over what the super-ambiguous ending might mean since it was first discovered, though simply getting to that point takes some serious dedication. On average, the game is said to take around 131 hours to beat, though that estimate is subject to change based on the player’s familiarity with the game.
2 Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (133 Hour Average)
1 Animal Crossing: New Leaf (400 Hour Average)
Claiming that Animal Crossing: New Leaf requires approximately 400 hours to get through is a bit of an outlandish statement: the game doesn't really offer a firm ending, though paying off the housing debt screwed through each subsequent home upgrade could roughly be interpreted as the game’s overarching goal. That said, while players making a mad dash to the finish line may not be tied up with this one for too long, players taking a leisurely approach—a gameplay style congruous with the game’s laid-back vibe—could find themselves running small errands for their animal neighbors and digging up fossils for a long, long time.