Open-World Games With The Best Progression Systems


  • Dive into games with unique progression systems for a truly satisfying experience beyond just leveling up skills and characters.
  • From Prototype to Assassin’s Creed, explore games with diverse progression styles to enhance gameplay and character development.
  • Get lost in the immersive world of Elden Ring where progression paths are vast and player discretion is key for a rewarding experience.

For people who enjoy a full-on, hardcore gaming experience and treat it as a second job rather than just casual fun, there’s something truly satisfying about seeing all that hard work pay off within the game.


Games That Have Unique Progression Systems

Games that think outside the box and provide players with a unique progression system can make it more rewarding to get through the game.

Typically, the journey begins with a protagonist who’s almost completely useless and desperately in need of some sort of development to advance to higher levels—both in terms of skills and character. The more hours players sink into the game, honing their character, and gaining experience, the more satisfying the whole ordeal feels. And that is why a well-developed, all-rounded progression system is essential for a game to feel complete. While there are a lot of good open-world titles out there that have pretty neat progression mechanics, some games (particularly RPGs) stand out more in this department.

1 Prototype

Main Character Has Boundless Growth Potential But Still Has “Rational” Limitations

Alex looking at enemies in Prototype 1


June 9, 2009

Radical Entertainment

Prototype is a 2009 action-adventure game known for its excellent scaling system and gameplay. The game is open-world, fully set in Manhattan, and showcases some of the most notable monuments pretty accurately.

Alex Mercer’s strength is highly multi-faceted and could even prove to be a bit too much for newer players. He starts as an average weak guy but can be turned into an absolute abomination with his non-stop growth. The progress of the game is entirely based on experience points referred to as EP (Evolution Points), which are almost always generously rewarded for completing missions, side quests, and one-on-one encounters.

That said, these EPs are drained just as quickly as earned since every upgrade requires them in large amounts. The skills that can be upgraded range from movement and survivability to subclasses such as sprint and jump. Certain events trigger the unlocking of additional events and award medals, which can then be utilized to enhance Alex’s strength further.

2 Far Cry 5

A Simple And Effective Progression System Backed By The Resistance Meter

far cry 5 map editor eiffel tower

Far Cry 5 is the fifth installment of the renowned Far Cry series and is categorized as an action RPG for its extensive and immersive gameplay. Just like its previous releases, Far Cry 5 is once again set in an open world, this time with Montana serving as its central region. And like every other Far Cry game ever made, it has no shortage of places to explore, quests to complete, and bad guys to defeat.

In terms of story, Far Cry 5 has a very straightforward way of indicating its progress. Players simply need to accumulate lots of Resistance Points (the experience points in this particular game) and use them to go further down the boss hierarchy to fight stronger and meaner bosses—or in this case, cult leaders. To develop new skills and abilities for their character, players need to earn perk points by doing certain tasks and completing challenges. One can use these perk points to obtain skills ranging from increased health and inventory space to improved weapon handling and the ability to tame wild animals.

3 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Three Skillsets Players Can Work On Separately Or All At Once

Assassin's Creed Odyssey Kassandra Ikaros Cropped

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

October 15, 2018

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the eleventh installment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. This particular entry sets itself apart from the other Assassin’s Creed games in terms of being centralized more around combat and story rather than stealth, which ultimately makes it a game with a decent progression system. However, most Assassin’s Creed games have awesome progression systems, and Odyssey is no exception—it’s just the one that made the list.


Every Assassin’s Creed Game, Ranked

From the original to now, every Assassin’s Creed game has its highs and lows, but which is the best?

Most skills and items in Odyssey are upgradable. The main character has a skill tree that is divided into three types of abilities: Assassin, Hunter, and Warrior. Players can use XP points to upgrade any of the sub-skills in these branches, and opt for a certain playstyle suited to their taste. Additionally, there’s a plethora of weapons available throughout the game, ranging from swords and tridents to armor and bows, each capable of being boosted in its own right.

Finally, the most major aspect of Odyssey is its significantly improved naval element. Players can take control of the ship, Adrestia, and utilize and enhance it for combat, exploration, and even just for wreaking mindless havoc.

4 Ghost Of Tsushima

Very Realistic Progress That May Vary Depending On The Source Of Conflict

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima was praised for its exquisite setting and enormous open-world map. But what set Ghost of Tsushima apart from the pack was its strangely lifelike and super-flexible progression system.

The game doesn’t depend on the player grinding for XP points. Instead, it’s more centered around the player learning new techniques and honing skills. Sure, the general gist is sort of the same old thing—completing side quests and challenges to learn said new techniques—but none of it feels forced. Players do not get stronger for the sake of progressing in the story, but rather for the sake of actually getting stronger.

5 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

A More Streamlined System Compared To The Other Games, Offering A Variety Of New Upgrading Options

Geralt in The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is that one game that set a precedent in the realm of progression systems for all the other open-world RPGs that followed. The Witcher 3 has one of the most streamlined progression systems that allow players to tangibly feel Geralt’s growth as he becomes increasingly powerful.


The Witcher 3: 5 Things To Do If You’re Bored

Geralt spends most of his time killing monsters, but that’s not the only activity to pass the time in The Witcher 3.

The skill tree featured in the game has four main skills: combat, alchemy, signs, and general—all four are upgradable using ability points. Ability points are essentially the currency for leveling up, and naturally, they’re earned by playing the game. Weapons and armor can also be upgraded and enhanced using runes, glyphs, and smithing.

6 Elden Ring

Nothing Is Forced Or Linear, Everything Is Up To The Player’s Discretion

elden ring cover art cropped logoless

Elden Ring

February 25, 2022

It would be sacrilege not to include Elden Ring on a topic celebrating the best progression systems in gaming. To put it simply, the game is utterly daunting. It’s a 2022 action RPG developed by FromSoftware and does a great job of establishing itself as one of the most difficult games ever made—as one might expect from a FromSoftware game.

The game has multiple—and that’s putting it loosely—progression routes and players get to choose whichever one they want and still have a unique path. Each path offers its own leveling-up assignments and mechanisms, rewarding players with runes upon completing challenges and quests. These runes can be used to enhance abilities and upgrade items/weapons. There’s also a plethora of other progression mechanics, such as Ashes of War and crafting.


Soulslike Games With The Best Progression Systems

Soulslikes may copy Dark Souls in their difficulty, but they often make the role-playing their own.