In this big, wide world we live in, we’ve developed so many different ways to travel around it. Our own legs are a fine start, but they won’t bring you anywhere fast. That’s where horses come in, or carriages, cars, planes, and, of course, those wonderful vessels of the sea, boats!
With the popularity of open-world games, you need a reliable way to travel across those vast swathes of water that’s more than just swimming. Many games will treat a ship like a home for you to build yourself, while others will feel more thematically prominent, but all of them are etched on our hearts for how great they are.
8 Final Fantasy 15 – The Royal Vessel
There’s so much you could say about Final Fantasy 15’s troubled development – by all means, it’s a series with history. So many entries though have put a heavy emphasis on the vehicles that bring across their large worlds, and for 15, that was the Regalia, your family car.
Of course, FF15 came with years of updates, one of which massively expanded the Royal Vessel. A personal yacht, its gameplay isn’t actually all that deep, but it plays into what makes FF15 so great. Sailing the seas while taking pictures with your friends, and catching a few fish for dinner while sightseeing is so memorable.
7 Dishonored – Samuel/Meagan’s Boat
Arkane has found great fame for the immersive sim games starting with the Dishonored series. Though Dunwall is often seen as the face of the series, it’s only one of many more island nations, and so the sea is a major aspect of the world, from the dreary piers of Tyvia to the sun-bleached shores of Serkonos.
In the original game, just about every mission opens with Samuel Beechworth bringing you to missions on his little boat, and is even where he says his final farewells. The same is true for the sequel, with Meagan Foster bringing you to shore, not in the great Dreadful Whale but in that little unnamed dinghy. It sees every mission with you, that modest thing.
6 Spiritfarer – The Spirit Ferry
Released to critical acclaim in 2020, Spiritfarer focuses on something many of us in life find struggles with: Death. It teaches us that death shouldn’t be a sorrowful thing but instead a celebration of life as it was lived, no matter how long or short it was. You’ll shed tears without a doubt, but at least you’ll know they’re not entirely of sorrow.
This whole journey takes place aboard your very own ship, the ferry of the deceased. Paying as Stella, you grow the ferry and customize it, building a home for these spirits on their final voyage, forming memories along the sea before sending them off. It’s poignant, and a ship is a perfect metaphor for that tale.
5 Sea Of Thieves – Your Ships
Who can say they don’t love a good pirate adventure? It’s a tale that’s enamored society for centuries, a world of hidden riches and reclaimed treasure all the while rebelling against zealous overlords. Pirate crews are the definition of fun when you’re on them, and Sea of Thieves flies that flag with glee.
The game has grown exponentially over the years, but your ship has always been at its core. The ship is more than just a vehicle across the choppy waves, it’s a home for you and your crew. It sees every adventure you do, and it needs to be kept in tip-top shape to survive encounters with other crews too.
4 Skyrim – Jorrvaskr
Skyrim is a game that needs no introduction and has achieved countless things with its world that few others can emulate. Such deep lore and mythos weaved into the world, a sense of scale with minute details throughout, and great variety in gameplay. Funny enough for a game focused on Nordic inspirations though, very few boats.
In fact, the most notable ship in the game is one that is hardly sea-worthy at all! Jorrvaskr is the hall of the Companions of Whiterun, and also the name of the ship from which the hall is constructed. There’s an incredible history at play in the building, a testament to the legacy of the world. Even if you can’t use it as a boat anymore.
3 Animal Crossing – Kapp’n’s Boat
There are a lot of animals in Animal Crossing. It’s in the name, after all. It’s actually kinda weird that you can go fishing when there’s an octopus villager… Anyway! Not every entry has been on an island like New Horizons is, but just about all of them feature Kapp’n to bring you around.
From his appearance in the very first game until now, his primary vehicle has been his motorized boat. He brings you between other islands and sings a few shanties along the way, and will even scold you for trying to skip them in New Horizons. It’s a simple little boat, but it’s a symbol of both Kapp’n and the series at large.
2 Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – The Jackdaw
Assassin’s Creed has jumped around quite a bit, chronologically and mechanically, from the simplicity of the original to the bloated nature of its more recent entries. Assassin’s Creed 3 presented the beginnings of the series’ love affair with all things naval – a relationship it’s struggled to drop since.
Though it’s appeared in many entries since, it peaked with the Jackdaw in Black Flag. Sailing that great beast across the West Indies, boarding other ships, and sailing from island to island completely seamlessly was a joy, and all of it in a ship that grew and changed alongside you.
1 The Wind Waker – The King Of Red Lions
One of the many pillars of The Legend of Zelda, the two you could argue are the most primary are music and vehicles. From horses to trains and even the Loftwings of Skyward Sword, all of these are great, and essential to their worlds, but there’s just nothing else like Wind Waker.
Link here is… a bit less majestic than usual, being a simple boy who seemingly doesn’t even seem to be bothered with an adventure at the beginning. So having a sentient boat called the King of Red Lions back-talk to him while literally sailing inside him never got boring. That flaring red stood out great against the blocky blues and greens of the rest of the world.
NEXT: Games Where You Control Massive Vehicles