The Witcher 3
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Closest in tone to Game of Thrones’ dirty and pitiless fantasy, The Witcher 3 is a truly superb fantasy game as full of sex, dirty tricksters and political betrayal as any Thrones fan could wish for, with a more generous dose of fantasy creatures. You play as a monster-hunting outcast, Geralt, caught up in a rulers’ war. Interestingly, The Witcher lets you see the impact that the egotistical nobles’ struggles actually have on the people forced to live under them, rather than casting you as the hero who rides in on a white horse. Its characters and writing are excellent, and the socio-political intrigue will be irresistible to anyone who appreciates GoT’s tangled webs of houses and rivalries.
PC/Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, Nintendo Switch
Step into the shoes of a king (or, on Reigns: Her Majesty, a queen) and see how long you can survive without being murdered by rivals, assassinated by the church, or trampled to death in a stampede of adoring subjects. Reigns is played a bit like Tinder, getting you to swipe left and right to make decisions as advisers, priests and mysterious strangers come to you with their various demands. You rarely last too long before making the wrong enemy. There is even a Game of Thrones-specific spinoff that lets you play out scenarios as characters from the show, from Cersei to Jon Snow. It’s a lot better than either of the officially licensed Game of Thrones video games that have appeared since the TV series started.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Dragon Age marries close interpersonal relationships between its characters with grand-scale world-in-peril storytelling, with great success. It’s more intimate than Thrones, with a small core cast, but with interesting interracial politics and lore to dig into. Everyone’s wary of mages, people are mean to elves, and the Grey Wardens try to hold back civilisation-destroying creatures called the Darkspawn. It’s in the dialogue – the joy of picking your retorts and interruptions, directing conversation, having meaningful chats with the people around you – that Dragon Age shines. It’s a fantasy world that really makes you feel a part of it.
Total War: Warhammer
This is intimidatingly nerdy even for people who love a TV show about politics and dragons, but, if you want to stage something as overwhelming as the Battle of Winterfell, it’s the fantasy strategy game to go for. It’s got enough different types of factions and units to make battles and sieges a spectacle, and each campaign culminates in an invasion of demonic hordes from the north. There are dwarfs who keep constant track of every invasion or grievance and use their resentments to motivate their armies, and vampires that raise the dead in battle. And, hey, it might get you into Warhammer, a geeky obsession that could sustain you long after Game of Thrones has ended.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
A role-playing adventure set in a snow-dusted northern land, Skyrim is a straightforward power fantasy where you start off as a nobody and slowly acquire swords, axes, spells and the ability to shout dragons to death with your magical powers. It lacks the complex character development and intriguing writing of Game of Thrones, but it’s got the dragons, the scenery and the spectacle – and the amount of control you have over what to do and where to go is comfortingly empowering.
Crusader Kings 2
If it’s the dynastic intrigue you enjoy in Game of Thrones – all that jockeying for power between ancient families, and obsessions over heirs and birthrights – there is really only one game for you. Crusader Kings 2 is a vast strategy game set in medieval Europe where you must ascend to power and then keep it for as long as possible. But unlike, say, Age of Empires or Civilization, you’re not placing grain stores and commanding armies: you’re down there at court level, plotting and conniving, blackmailing important dignitaries, torturing enemies and manoeuvring your psychopathic sons into the palaces (and bed chambers) of powerful foreign rulers. The only way to win the game is to ensure your legacy lives on by establishing an heir, making this the greatest ever Tywin Lannister simulator.
Shadow of Mordor
PC/Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
This is an action game based on the Lord of the Rings universe that also frequently puts you at the centre of huge battles. (Its sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, is almost as good.) But here’s the twist: the orcs that you stalk and defeat as a supernatural assassin come back stronger and more pissed off. The thorny, sometimes absurd rivalries that you develop with these recurring nemeses give each player a different set of stories to tell, like this hilarious account of one man’s desperate struggle with an unbeatable poison-disfigured orc.
Nintendo Switch, iPhone, Android, Nintendo 3DS and older Nintendo consoles
If “Game of Thrones, but animé” sounds appealing, give Fire Emblem a try. It’s a series of turn-based games in which you direct a small group of fighters, mages and knights around, trying to best each scenario with your brilliant strategic brain. In between battles, Fire Emblem is just as interesting: characters form bonds and loyalties with each other, becoming stronger when they fight together, and evolving from scrappy soldiers to lethal battlefield heroes. And, if someone dies, that’s it: you’re never getting them back. When you lose a member of your little cast, you lose their story as well as their usefulness in fights, making it just as gutting as any high-profile Westeros death.
PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
If it’s sword-fighting you’re into (or spears, or axes), For Honor is the greatest realisation of close-quarters fighting in video games. The deadly clash of steel, the weighty movement, the feinting and parrying: if you want to feel like Brienne of Tarth (or Sandor Clegane), this is your game. As you run through the battlefield seeking an enemy hero to face off against, lesser combatants skirmish around you. For Honor nails the feel and energy of sword combat, and over the years it’s amassed a huge roster of ancient weaponry and combatants to try out, from knights to samurai.
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
Not yet released
This isn’t actually out yet, but we can pray to the gods (old and/or new, whatever’s your bag) that it’s not too far away – it’s been in development for years. Mount & Blade 2 is a medieval behemoth of a game that will set you loose in a verdant European-style land and let you do what you want, whether that’s cutting down bandits from horseback, riding into full-scale war at the head of an army, siring a dynasty, or meddling in noble politics. There are no dragons or wights here, just regular human villainy. Meanwhile, you could always play its beloved medieval-battle predecessor, 2008’s Mount & Blade. It’s a bit rough and ready, but it also proffers a wish-fulfilling journey from nobody to knight (or knave).