I've been thinking about horses a lot recently, mostly because there are horses in Dragon Quest XI and I'm always thinking about Dragon Quest XI. I mean, it's just so good; planning your battles in turn-based combat, feeling like the characters are your real friends. I could go on forever about how much I love Dragon Quest XI (and how I have the platinum trophy for it), I'm getting off track. Basically, it's the best game ever and if you disagree, you haven't played it. But, back to the point; horses. Horses are a mode of transportation in loads of games, like Skyrim for example (which won't be on this list, for obvious reasons).
5) Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Remember when I said that I could talk about Dragon Quest XI all day? Yeah. You might think that me talking about Dragon Quest XI is just a way for me to brag about the fact that I've platinumed it. You'd be right. Well, partly right. I do actually want to talk about the game, in particular, its horse. The horse doesn't have a name, which at first I thought was weird, but in the end it doesn't really matter what the name of your horse is when you’re trying to save the world from the lord of shadows (and yes, I do know that I just described nearly every JRPG ever to grace this earth but Dragon Quest did it when it was still fresh).
The horse mechanics are pretty simple. R2 to sprint and push the left thumbstick to ride at a normal pace. If your horse sprints, it will bash enemies out of the way so you don't have to fight them, which comes in handy when making your way to the nearest town to rest at the local inn. If you encounter an enemy when you're not sprinting, you'll engage in combat without a chance to preemptive attack. Next to every campsite (and sometimes on their own) will be a horse bell at which you can summon your trusty steed after resting in the camp and set back off on your adventures at full health. Early on in the game, you can entre horse races to win small rewards and in post-game (NO SPOILERS) you can win mini medals and some other rewards essential to obtaining that platinum trophy. The races are good fun but there isn't much variation in courses but you can change the difficulty of the races. You can't upgrade your horse in any way which is something I would have liked but that doesn't mean that the horse is bad, it's just personal preference. Really though, go play Dragon Quest XI!
4) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher is undoubtedly one of the most popular games out there. If you haven't played it, you've heard of it. Admittedly, I've not played too much of this game, mainly because there are so many games to play and this was just one (of the many) that I never really got into. This isn't the game’s fault, what I did play was great and I do wish I did get stuck into it, maybe someday I will. But what I did do was ride around on roach. The gameplay is pretty standard, it's what you'd expect from any game that has rideable horses in it. I remember getting stuck on a small fence when I tried to jump over it which was mildly annoying but that was the only bug I came across.
The thing that I didn't experience was getting upgrades for Roach. There are over 30 upgrades you can get for Roach which can increase your stamina, increase your inventory weight and reduce your horse’s fear level. I think that upgrades are always fun in games and I often find myself writing in my notepad, thinking which upgrades will best suit my needs. But I don't think that I would do that while playing The Witcher 3. The thing is that all the things that I have just mentioned are all the effects that the upgrades can have, which means that you won't have to decide which upgrade to sacrifice in order to gain a different effect. While this isn't necessarily a con, I prefer having to trade out equipment to help with my current situation but, to be fair, there's only so many upgrades you can make to a horse without making it ridiculous. Overall, I think that the horse riding in The Witcher 3 is pretty good, but if I were to play it I would prefer to have some more variation in the upgrades.
3) Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin's Creed Odyssey has been incredibly well received since its release and there are many reasons for that. There's the fact that the game is massive and has no invisible walls, there are the multiple choice decisions and the map is HUGE. It seems that Ubisoft made the right choice when they announced that they would be taking a one year break from the series, with Origins and Odyssey receiving such positive reviews. The horses are no small addition to the game, there are multiple horses (and skins) in the game and each will make your horse look increasingly cool. There are many horse skins in the game with different categories, but at the end of the day, skins are just skins and I couldn't care less about them.
You can also come across enemies on horses on the road and engage in horseback combat. You can use your bow and arrow on horseback, making it very useful to deal some preemptive damage as your enemy rides up to you and then you can switch to your sword for close combat and knock your enemy off their horse. Then you dismount your horse, seamlessly I might add, and finish the fight on the ground. Overall the horse gameplay is pretty good, it's always nice to have combat on horseback but truthfully, it's pretty similar to The Witcher 3. The only reason that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is higher on this list is that you can seamlessly dismount your horse. This means coming to an abrupt stop (which would definitely fling you off your horse like snot on a finger, killing you almost instantly).
2) Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come is often praised for its insanely realistic sword combat, and you can't argue with the fact that it is the most realistic combat in a game. The combat can be very challenging, but I wouldn’t go and say that sword fighting is easy in real life. When you swing your sword, you can feel the weight behind it, when you use your shield to block, you fell the impact of the sword strike. And in the end, that's half the reason the horses are so good. The combat on the back of your horse is just as realistic as combat on the ground.
Unlike most games in which you can fight on your horse, Kingdom Come requires more than a simple press of square and your enemy is sprawled out on the ground. The fighting is still realistic and the enemies are still hard. You can't choose the direction in which you swing your sword like you do when fighting normally, but I imagine that it would be quite hard to fight even remotely as you do on the ground on a horse. Being on a horse limits your movement, so having the exact same fighting system on a horse as you do on foot wouldn't really make much sense. You can also have your horse wear armor (well only one piece), a saddle bag and a saddle. The horse gameplay in Kingdom Come is great, but there's one game that does it better.
1) LEGO The Lord of the Rings
Yes, this is the game with the best horse gameplay that I've come across in my entire gaming life. I mean, it might not seem like a game with great horses but you must never judge a book by its cover. All you have to do is play it and you'll see what I mean. You really should trust me on this one, there's a reason that I've got the platinum for this (and LEGO The Hobbit). You won't get the platinum for this without spending a few hours on horses. That's all that needs to be said on this entry, just play it and love it.
Now that was, of course, a joke. HAHA, am I right? No, the actual first place entry is of course...
1) Red Dead Redemption 2
The real first is Red Dead Redemption 2 and rightly so. I get that no one is probably reading this because they left as soon as they see The Lord of the Rings as the first entry but who cares? I'm sticking with it. RDR2 has the best horses in games, in my opinion, it's very in-depth, to the point that your horse's testicles will shrink in the cold, but everyone has used that excuse. The thing that sets Red Dead aside from the other games is that you form a real bond with your horse. Which only makes it worse when you decide to jump off a steep hill because you thought it would look cool, only to completely crush the horse that you definitely named after your favorite pop culture character/horse.
Your bond with said horse will bloom over time, like a small, fragile yet beautiful flower but fertilization always makes it better (I'm talking about the flower, not the horse, that would be weird...). To increase the bond and make it grow faster, there are multiple things that you can do. Calming your horse will increase the bond between you and the animal. Your horse can be easily scared when going over rough terrain and in gunfights and who can blame it? If some random man suddenly climbed onto my back and rode me into battle, it would take more than a simple "Easy!" and a stroke on the neck to calm me down (and increase our bond, I mean, we've only just met...). When dismounted, you can also pat your horse to increase your bond. The other way to increase your bond is to feed your horse. What relationship isn't improved with food? Feeding your horse will increase your bond as well as improving is stats, just like Arthur. The better the food, the better the bond. The last thing you can do to improve the bond is grooming. On your travels, your horse is bound to get muddy and won't like this. So, what do you do? Simply clean it. You can brush it to clean it or ride it through water (though your horse will have to trust you to do that). Cleaning it will increase your bond with your beloved horse and make it look its best. Red Dead Redemption 2 has the best horses by far in gaming, you can't really deny that.
So, that's my list of best horses in videogames but this is entirely my opinion so you don't have to agree with it (but you really should). If there's one thing to take away from this feature, it's that if you feed me, clean me and calm me, I'm happy for you to ride on my back.