Immersion in modern action games today has been evolving with every release, which makes it somewhat tricky to rank the best action games of all time. Some of the more prominent titles, like God of War Ragnarok and Elden Ring, have managed to fully immerse players into their extensively lore-filled worlds and stories without ever being truly recognized.
While every action game has gameplay, music, characters, and settings, it is only after combining every component that a video game that feels the most alive is made. It wouldn’t make sense for one of the most immersive horror games about salvaging resources from a post-apocalyptic world to have cheery music in the background while some radioactive beast mauls a player. And this is what God of War: Ragnarok and Elden Ring do best. Their themes are always consistent, each game has defined rules that are never broken, and like all the other best immersive action games, the two feature believable worlds and characters.
10 Metro Exodus (2019)
The post-apocalyptic experience Metro Exodus provides is several times that of any game in the Fallout series. Taking the role of a character named Artyom, players are tasked with exploring the nuclear-winter world of the former Russian Federation with constant looming threats over their shoulders.
The only downside to it is that often the player doesn’t have much time to take it all in, as the game is eager to throw a group of awful enemies in an otherwise great video game. While the title does present a story, the clear focal point for the player is the world itself as they pass dilapidated structures and areas each possessive of their own stories. In all, it makes for an immersive atmosphere that’s slightly eerie yet full of mystery as the player wanders around wondering what happened and where everyone is.
9 Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)
Despite Cyberpunk 2077’s somewhat disastrous launch, it can’t be denied that the beauty of Night City lies much deeper than its aesthetic. The roaming enemy gangs, the Night City Police Department at every corner, glowing advertisements on every wall, and even the desolate wastelands far from the city are all composed together to tell one great story of a city where legends are born.
It’s a real shame that this action game with the best storyline is broken up by the clunky combat system and lackluster hacking system that consists of clicking squares. The gameplay even goes into further detail in the game’s world with the variety of enemy types. For instance, most enemies in the game have a set of apparel or color scheme that makes it obvious as to what faction they represent.
8 Kingdom Come: Deliverance (2018)
Sometimes, too much immersion can be a bad thing. Starting from the beginning of the game, players take control of a blacksmith’s son, Henry, who wishes to avenge his parents. From there it becomes the player’s chore to raise Henry from apprentice to knight.
However, this process often overwhelms players once they realize how painfully slow it is. The general case is that it may take several hours before players can even wield swords. Nevertheless, the game provides insight into accurate historic events from an immersive medieval world that makes it the best medieval fantasy RPG.
7 Grand Theft Auto 5 (2013)
The single-player story mode of Grand Theft Auto 5 is the true experience of the title. It’s where players learn about the relationships, struggles, and demons of the three main cast members. If that doesn’t seem interesting enough, all over the game’s large map are things for players to do like missions, races, or even random events if a player is lucky enough.
The best thing about GTA 5 is its always-bustling world modeled to look exactly like the modern one with its vivid imagery of life in Los Angeles from its people to places. It is a video game grounded in realism where the only thing that stands out is that the characters can take a couple of bullets more than the average person and walk away from it. Driving around in a car can provide one of the most vivid feelings of liberation as players are given the choice to go anywhere they see however they see fit.
6 Fallout New Vegas (2010)
Fallout New Vegas tasks the player with uncovering the mystery surrounding the parcel they were ordered to deliver at the beginning of the game, which resulted in their near-assassination, though they quickly find their time is spent wandering Nevada distracted by the more than 130 hours worth of content that the exciting post-apocalyptic wasteland has to offer.
Considered one of the best Bethesda games ever, Fallout New Vegas only has its fault in its primitive gameplay system that was developed well over a decade ago, but what it does well covers what it lacks. This includes exciting quests, interesting characters, extensive lore, and the dynamic of the game’s top factions that make it feel as though the world is inhabited by a post-apocalyptic society of survivors who want nothing more than to be at the top of the food chain.
5 Escape From Tarkov (2016)
Defining the Extraction Looter genre, Escape From Tarkov provides the ultimate first-person experience a shooter game can provide. The main objective of the title is for players to salvage as much as they can from the abandoned cities of the game to get back to their bunkers before being killed or robbed by other players and enemies.
Escape From Tarkov provides the ultimate hardcore experience more suited to war gamefans, so it may not be for everyone. However, the title’s gameplay stands out compared to other games. Every sense is vital to a player’s survival in Escape From Tarkov, whether it be sight, hearing, or even wit. While fights are mostly determined by who has the better gear, with superior reflexes and game knowledge, even the weakest characters can come out on top.
In Kenshi, players can become anyone, so long as they can survive long enough in its vast world full of hostile factions, terrifying monsters, and desolate landscapes. A warrior, adventurer, thief, farmer, merchant, or even a ruler as players can even take it upon themselves to build their factions and kingdoms.
But what makes it considered one of the greatest RTS games of all time is the fact that it always goes on, regardless of the player’s actions. Even with a player being far away, developments can occur that affect the entire game. This feature provides an immersive feeling to the world as it makes it seem as though it’s alive, with far-away NPCs making decisions based on their emotions and feelings. That said, this feature in itself may also deter new players from sticking around, as the unpredictability of it all will frustrate many.
3 Ghost Of Tsushima (2020)
In 2020, Ghost of Tsushima blew away the gaming scene with its narrative, gameplay, and atmosphere. The overall prospect of venturing around an island as its sole defender against an onslaught of invaders captivated many immediately. Needless to say, the choice to play between a ruthless rogue or honorable samurai only added to the experience.
As indisputably one of the best video games with even greater melee combat, Ghost of Tsushima immerses the player with its riveting combat system that always puts the player on edge as a single improper response could cost them their life. But Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t try to force realism in the sense that it inhibits the player’s actions. Instead, it flawlessly implements them in the samurai/rogue experience. If anything, the only downside to the title is that there’s nothing to do but fight, making it a chore in later stages.
2 Bloodborne (2015)
As typical of a FromSoftware game, Bloodborne does not hold a player’s hand at all. Whether it be in gameplay or story, players are left to their own devices as they journey through the gothic streets of Yharnam in search of putting the never-ending night to end. Always surrounded by blood-starved beasts and demented humans, players must become strong or die.
Being one of the best-selling FromSoftware games, Bloodborne lives up to its identity by immediately invoking feelings of mystery and fear the moment players are first able to move in the world. Its murky city and deafening silence are almost as fearful as the monsters that attack players add to the overall atmosphere with their grotesqueness. All in all, it provides a riveting experience that gamers are unable to forget, even almost a decade later.
1 Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
When people think of Western games, no doubt, they’re thinking of Red Dead Redemption 2. Arguably the video game of the decade, Red Dead Redemption 2 tells the story of an outlaw named Arthur Morgan in an era where he and his gang are starting to become obsolete. And the game’s story provides an unforgettable experience about an outlaw and what he stood for.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has more than just stunning visuals. Players get a feeling that the open world is alive from doing the many missions and activities scattered around it. Anywhere the player sees is a place they can explore. The weather in the game is ever-changing and actually affects the character depending on their clothing. Other lifestyle choices, like what food a player consumes and how often, even take a physical toll on appearance and gameplay. This game is the closest to real life without actually existing in the real world.