It used to be common for video games to have a set ending, or a point where there isn’t anything else for players to accomplish. With the ever-increasing popularity of live service games, as well as DLC drops and the inclusion of fanmade mods, many games can now go on well past their pre-defined “end.” Gamers are more concerned with getting the most out of their purchases and usually equate higher hours of playtime with a higher quality gaming experience overall.
Life simulation games excel at this, as they typically have tons of goals for players to complete but not a set ending point. Other games might have a set ending, but plenty of content to complete afterward, and either mods or fan communities keep the game alive and well even a decade later.
Minecraft is an incredibly popular sandbox game that offers limitless potential to players. From creative mode that lets players build to their hearts’ content to the many modded servers that offer different, unique ways to play, there’s no shortage of available content in Minecraft.
Despite this, Minecraft does have an ‘ending’ that players strive to beat, even if there are thousands of hours of content waiting after. Beating the feared Elder Dragon and seeing the credits roll is Minecraft’s technical end, though many players see this as only the beginning.
9 Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Over the past few years, the Animal Crossing series has seen unprecedented success since the release of its Nintendo Switch title, New Horizons. Its main appeal is its endless gameplay loop, as players can theoretically spend hundreds or thousands of hours designing and re-decorating their dream island.
Technically, beating New Horizons doesn’t take long. Players just have to get the famous musician K.K. Slider to come perform on their island, and to do this their island must reach a three-star rating. Moving in new residents and decorating the island, tasks players will do naturally, are the fastest way to accomplish this goal.
8 Dwarf Fortress
Anyone looking for a deep, engrossing simulation game that provides endless content will love Dwarf Fortress. Each world is randomly generated and provides a vast number of challenges for players to overcome as they try to keep their civilization of dwarves alive.
Dwarf Fortress doesn’t have any form of win condition, and there’s no event that will trigger a victory screen. It is, however, possible to lose. The true goal of Dwarf Fortress is to see how long you can keep your civilization alive, striving to beat your own previous record.
Fans have been waiting for twelve years for The Elder Scrolls’ sixth installment, but many are still keeping themselves busy in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Despite being an over decade-old game, community-made mods as well as the open nature of Skyrim itself mean there’s still plenty to explore.
Technically, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is beaten once players finish progressing through the main storyline. Even after this, though, there’s a plethora of side content as well as ever-repeating radiant quests that extend Skyrim’s playtime as long as players are still interested.
6 Final Fantasy XIV
While most other Final Fantasy titles are RPGs with set endings, Final Fantasy XIV is instead a live-service MMO that’s constantly being updated. From huge expansion drops every few years to the plethora of releases in-between, there’s always something for players to work towards.
There’s no way to beat Final Fantasy XIV, though the closest criteria would be to level all classes and jobs to their maximum level, or clear the main storyline. New story missions are constantly being added, and expansions often add new classes and increase the level cap, making Final Fantasy XIV a game that doesn’t stay beaten for long.
5 The Mainline Pokémon Games
Every mainline Pokémon game has countless hours of content, from shiny hunting to putting together teams for competitive battling. Just filling out the entire Pokédex for any given region is a time-consuming undertaking, and players even come up with challenging, alternative ways to play through the story to add replayability.
From the original Red and Blue to the recently-released Scarlet and Violet, every mainline Pokémon game is technically beaten once players conquer the Elite Four. Many Pokémon fans agree that rather than this being an ending, this is where the games truly open up.
4 Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley tasks players with rebuilding their grandfather’s farm to its former glory, but that’s far from their only objective. Between interacting with NPCs, collecting recipes, filling out the museum, and earning all the achievements, there’s no shortage of tasks to keep players busy.
There’s no set ending in Stardew Valley, and the community has varying ideas as to what it means to beat the game. The consensus is that Stardew Valley is beaten after completing the community center and earning the highest rating from Grandpa.
3 Left 4 Dead 2
Released fourteen years ago, Left 4 Dead 2 still has a passionate fan community. It’s not designed to be played forever, but the game’s mod community helps keep it alive over a decade later. There are countless fanmade campaigns to run through, as well as other mods that change various gameplay aspects.
Left 4 Dead 2 is considered beaten once players complete all the base campaign stages on the hardest difficulty. There’s still multiplayer modes to dive into in Left 4 Dead 2’s base game that extend playtime, and over 100,000 fanmade mods to check out.
2 Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V has been out for a decade and is still a beloved title to this day. Its free mode allows players to explore the city as they please, such as taking part in races, robbing trucks, and taking down local gangs. Players can also buy alternate clothes, their own car, and even a house.
There is a set story campaign in Grand Theft Auto V, and the game’s considered beaten after this is complete. There’s still a plethora of content to enjoy, from replaying missions to achieve the highest score to taking on the wealth of side activities that open up after the main story is finished.
1 The Borderlands Series
The Borderlands series is a top-tier example of what the looter-shooter genre should be like. It has a unique world and atmosphere combined with colorful characters and a near-limitless amount of loot to mix-and-match into the perfect build. It’s also a great co-op experience, with later titles adding extra improvements to make teaming up feel even better.
Any Borderlands title is technically beaten after finishing the main story, but this is where the games truly open up. Players can re-experience the campaign on a new, higher difficulty setting for the chance to get even better loot, or spend their time farming bosses to work on perfecting their builds.
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