6 Open-World Games With Realistic Animal Behaviour


  • Games like Metal Gear Solid 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 have managed to create realistic animal AI, making them responsive and natural in their behavior.
  • Final Fantasy 15’s wildlife is influenced by small details, such as gender, adding depth to their actions and interactions with the player.
  • Far Cry Primal’s animals are dangerous and clever, bringing the game’s prehistoric world to life with immersive encounters and unpredictable behavior.

Animals are notoriously difficult to replicate in video games, primarily because a lot of developers struggle to find the perfect balance between them being hostile, but also passive to the player. It can be pretty immersion-breaking when an animal in a game will immediately start attacking the player if they have no real reason to, but there have actually been a few games which managed to make their animal AI feel a lot more realistic and responsive.


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It’s easy to see just how far human AI has come with open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto, so it only makes sense that animals should also be granted more of a complex behavioral pattern as opposed to just being dangerous or friendly. These games listed below managed to demonstrate just how realistic these creatures can become when made to be a part of a video game world.

The Sporadic Nature Of MGS 5’s Animals Makes Them Very Tricky To Capture

Martial Eagle

Animals in Metal Gear Solid 5 actually play a big part in the main gameplay loop, as Big Boss can escort them back to Mother Base, no matter how small or massive they might be. However, actually chasing down a brown bear or a wild dog isn’t always easy because of how sporadic they can be in their behavior.

Animals who turn hostile won’t just run at Boss in a straight line, they’ll try and maneuver their way around him to avoid his shots so that they can stay alive long enough to throw out an attack. Because of how risky it can be to take a head-on approach, the game highly recommends setting traps, reminding the player just how fearsome a lot of larger animals can be when provoked. It’s also extremely impressive just how natural a lot of the smaller animals feel, often scuttling away whenever they hear anything bigger than them within a close proximity.

5 Final Fantasy 15

Final Fantasy 15’s Wildlife Is Influenced By Very Small Details

Gladiolus readying his weapon against a giant beast

A lot of people criticized Final Fantasy 15’s open world upon its release for being just a little too empty in regard to quests and activities, but many players will still admit that the wildlife was done incredibly well in this game. Nearly every single animal featured in the world is designed to be a fantasy version of real life creatures, but while they may look a little different, they still retain a lot of the same characteristics as their imitations.


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What really makes them so believable though is that the actions of the animals will be influenced by very small details. For example, the giraffe-like Anaklaban is a slow-moving mammal who usually just keeps to themselves while grabbing food from trees, but if they happen to be a male, there’s a higher chance they will lash out at Noctis and the boys for getting too close. There’s also the fishing activity, which is the best of its kind ever seen in a video game for many fans because of how difficult, but also satisfying it is to take part in.

4 Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Animals Will Use A Variety Of Tactics To Try And Outsmart Lara

Lara aiming her bow and arrow at a large white cat

Each game in the Tomb Raider Survivor Trilogy does a few things better than the others, and for Rise, it was the hunting mechanic. In order to survive in the dangerous climate of Siberia, Lara must use her bow and equipment to hunt down a range of animals to use for clothing and weapons. Each animal in the game has a very unique reaction to Lara depending on their size. For example, the squirrels and beavers will run around in a frenzy if they hear Lara shooting at them, while a bear will charge at her full-throttle if provoked.

What also helps the animals stand out is how realistic they are outside of actual combat. There are some areas in the game where packs of wolves will slowly start to encircle Lara without actually attacking her, and the bears will wander around actually looking for food before taking it back to their caves to eat, in order to enjoy their meal in a more secluded setting.

3 Avatar: Frontiers Of Pandora

The Realistic Behaviour Of Frontiers Of Pandora’s Creatures Adds An Extra Layer To The Hunting System

Na'avi riding alongside some other animals in a field

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has received a lot of praise for its expansive and immersive open world, and while it looks beautiful from a visual standpoint, the hundreds of animals that roam across the Western Frontier also massively help bring it to life. While traveling between quests, it’s common to see groups of animals hunting together while venturing through a forest, while others who are a lot bigger, like the Hammerheads, instead form small families who move together as one.

If the player is initiating a hunt themselves, the animals will respond very naturally, which actually adds a lot of strategy to the gameplay. If the player fires an arrow at the younger animals, then their parents will rush to their defense, but on the other hand, a father will always be enraged if they’re the only ones being targeted head-on. Learning the unique and complex behavioral patterns of animals through the Hunter’s Journal is necessary to becoming a strong Na’vi warrior in Frontiers of Pandora.

2 Far Cry Primal

The Dangerous But Clever Pre-Historic Animals Help To Bring Far Cry Primal’s World To Life

Player aiming a spear at a mammoth

Far Cry Primal

February 23, 2016

Ubisoft took quite a gamble with the pre-historical setting of Far Cry Primal, but while some fans were worried that the game would end up being too slow or boring, this luckily wasn’t the case because of how unique and interesting the animals were. Whether they’re openly aggressive to the player, or if they’ve been tamed and are actually a companion, all animals in the game feel very real in the way they respond to the world around them. The sabertooth tiger is just one example of an animal who thinks on their feet, as while they will initially lunge at the player to tear them apart when their territory is threatened, they will sometimes back off and run away if they take too much damage, but since this is never predicable, it makes every encounter extremely immersive.


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Animals won’t just become mindless followers when they are tamed either, instead, they’ll often scout on ahead to find any enemies lurking in the shadows, before rushing back to the player’s aid if a gunfight breaks out. What makes them even more believable is that they will individually react to certain commands depending on the situation, so if the player were to order them to run through a pit of fire for example, they wouldn’t do it in order to protect themselves. It’s these kinds of small details that really take Far Cry Primal’s animals to a whole different level, and it massively benefits the wider world of the game as a result.

1 Red Dead Redemption 2

It Doesn’t Matter How Big Or Small An Animal Is, They All Have Their Own Personal Traits In Red Dead 2

Group of ducks sitting together

Despite having been released multiple years ago at this point, Red Dead Redemption 2 still stands as a shining example of how to create a massive, but also very engaging open world which is packed full of detail to elevate the immersive experience. When it came to the animals though, Rockstar really went above and beyond to make them as real as possible. Wolves, for example, can sometimes be spotted rolling around with their friends in a field, while small cats will often be carrying around a rat in their mouth before settling down to enjoy their snack.

A few other incredible examples of this include ducks dunking underwater to catch fish, bears scratching their backs on trees, and frogs washing their bodies with their hands. It truly is astonishing just how realistic the animals in Red Dead Redemption 2 really are, and it makes it a ton of fun to both hunt in the open world, and to simply just observe the environment and the beautiful creatures that occupy it.MORE: Minecraft: The Best Animals To Tame