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Best Treasure-Hunting Games

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open-world explore tombs

Highlights

  • Embark on epic treasure hunts in video games for exhilarating adventures and the thrill of discovery!
  • Dive into open-world games for a chance to become a treasure-hunting hero, raking in loot and uncovering ancient secrets with every step.
  • Uncover treasures in diverse gaming experiences, from archeological adventures to high-seas piracy, all while enjoying thrilling set pieces and romances.

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Buried deep below the earth or drowned far below the ocean surface sleeps the promise of untold riches. Or so they say. The treasure-hunting gig not only promises fresh sights, puzzle solving, and a chance to make history, but it also offers the opportunity to rake in vast amounts of wealth at the end of the journey. Watching or reading about plunderers of riches old in movies or books is fun, but there’s nothing quite like being able to do it for real.

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6 Open-World That Let You Explore Ancient Tombs

Along with plenty of loot, open-world games often use tombs to showcase lore and history.

Sadly, not many fortune fans have the training or resources to spelunk into ancient caverns or set sail for an obscure and uncharted island of ruined ships heavy with precious cargo. Thankfully, video games offer the next best thing by allowing players to experience life-threatening excursions into lost tombs and hideaways in the comfort of their homes.

The Borderlands Series

It’s Not The Most Famous “Looter-Shooter” For Nothing

Borderlands 5 Unique Weapons

  • Borderlands
    not only has a story about treasure but constantly piles the player with it in the form of new gear and upgrades
  • The player isn’t the only one looking for the treasure and will encounter crazed enemies on the way

As one of the most famous examples of a “looter-shooter,” Borderlands weaves a story following the exploits of various “Vault Hunters” on their quest to carve fame and fortune from the dangerous moon world of Pandora, combining it with the thematically appropriate gameplay mechanic of burying the player with rewards at every turn. A loot chest punctuates each sequence, and the player is constantly showered with drops of newer, shinier guns, armor, and mods.

Of course, it’s not just the Vault Hunters looking to make it rich, and there are plenty of violent idlers hanging around to make the journey interesting. Expect mad robots, super mutants, and feral punks to get in the way of the prize, as well as a series of twists and turns.

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

Chock-A-Block Full Of Nostalgic Museum-Filling Excitement

Indiana Jones and a partner escape a rolling boulder

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

Released
June 3, 2008

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure , Platformer , Puzzle , Fighting

  • The
    Original Adventures
    features stories from the first three
    Indiana Jones
    movies
  • The game is a lovingly tongue-in-cheek take on the action archeologist’s escapades

The Lego rendition of the classic Indie trilogy surely belongs in a museum for its commendable interactable rendering of the first three blockbuster adventures of the world’s most intrepid action movie archeologist, albeit in colorful, blocky form. Seeing Lego Indie whipping down blocks as he delves for treasures such as the Ark of the Covenant is almost as fun as using them to build towers and tombs in real life.

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Of course, like the movies, players will mostly be engaging in para-archeological action in Lego Indiana Jones, rather than real archeology or meticulous treasure hunting, but all the beats from the classic trilogy are there, and with its charming, tongue-in-cheek attitude and breezy gameplay, players will be swept along by John William’s score while out on their grand adventure.

Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

Fetching A Knight’s Ransom In Gems And Jewels

Shovel Knight alongside the other Knights of the Order of No Quarter

Shovel Knight

Released
June 26, 2014

Genre(s)
Platformer

  • Treasure can be found throughout the castles and dungeons of Shovel Knight’s rivals
  • Given that his main weapon is used for unearthing soil, expect plenty of treasure-digging

Gamers who would rather eschew the act of map reading and clue solving for the simple joy of ripping up chunks of earth for the discovery of jewels, gemstones, and precious metals will dig the 2D retro platformer gameplay of Shovel Knight, especially as there are secret hoards of loot carefully hidden in each area.

The titular knight of shovels earns his fortune through campaigns of single-handed conquest, putting down other knights, and looting their castles. However, as his primary weapon is a digging implement, it makes sense that he would be able to engage in heaps of treasure-hunting activities on the way.

Minecraft

Treasure Hunting And Anthropology Is Built In

Minecraft Wandering Trader Trails Tales

Minecraft

Released
November 18, 2011

  • Players can find and follow treasure maps, or they can try their luck by digging beneath their feet
  • As well as exciting loot gathering, there is also a more delicate archeology mechanic for the more careful treasure hunters

While it isn’t exactly called “MineTreasurehuntCraft,” there are plenty of reasons why Minecraft makes for one of the best treasure-hunting games out there. For one, players can sink their shovel into any part of the world (provided there’s dirt or grass) and have a chance to uncover some lost loot of old a few blocks down, whether precious metals or enchanted weapons and artifacts. Some chests even contain randomly generated treasure maps that can lead to some serious booty elsewhere else in the world.

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Treasure maps even include an “X marks the spot” and an organic search to the location, be it land or deep beneath the sea. Players can even partake in archeology with the 1.20 “Trails & Tales” update. Upon finding “suspicious” sand or gravel, it’s possible to dust down some ancient relics, including pottery shards, music discs, ruins, and even a mysterious egg. Discovering the secrets behind these lost wonders can be a treasure in itself.

The Tomb Raider Series

The Original Resting-Place Plunderer

Tomb Raider Remastered Collection Shiva Statue fight promo screenshot

Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered Starring Lara Croft

Released
February 14, 2024

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

  • Although the series has changed over the years, there is always a focus on snagging ancient fortunes
  • The
    1-3 Remaster
    offers a chance to relive the classic gameplay of the original trilogy

With over twenty years of history and around as many games under her belt, Lara Croft is gaming’s archetypal and original treasure hunter and a treasure in her own right. The Tomb Raider games have come a long way since the pointy polygon, tank-control tomb raids of the 90s, but gamers can relive those adventures with some modern tuning thanks to the Tomb Raider 1-3 Remaster.

Lara lost some of her invincible-action-hero appeal in the remakes, turning her into a more vulnerable but still impressive protagonist. That aside, the new era Lara takes on plenty of great excursions to lost, gold-gilded temples and raidable, bejeweled civilizations, where fantastic and explosive set pieces await.

Sea Of Thieves

Lend A Hook And Fill Yer Boots

sea of thieves ship promo art

Sea of Thieves

Released
March 20, 2018

Genre(s)
Adventure

  • Sea of Thieves is best enjoyed with a crew of likeminded, treasure-loving friends
  • The visuals, humor, and side activities help give some breathing room between the constant loot-hauling

Treasure hunting and high-seas piracy go hand-in-hook, and Sea of Thieves is still one of the best ways to experience a swashbuckling adventure, provided that some multiplayer mateys can be wrangled up to sail along. The point of piracy is, of course, to get stinking rich on plunder, whether from the depths of a dig or an enemy galleon, but it is best done as part of a tight crew.

Rare’s classic stylized visuals and quirky humor help set the mood for treasure-seeking. Sea of Thieves offers a fleshed-out world full of divergencies and side activities, such as brawling and land raids, between dopamine-inducing treasure digs and hearty hauls to keep the pickiest peg-leg amused.

The Uncharted Series

Treasure Hunting Isn’t Just About Unearthing Bountry, But Discovering Adventure

Nathan Drake

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Released
October 9, 2015

Genre(s)
Action , Adventure , Third-Person Shooter

  • The
    Uncharted
    series rivals that of Hollywood’s best action titles in terms of setpieces and thrills
  • The focus is always on treasure, but there’s plenty of exploration, romance, and mystery-solving throughout

With blockbuster, high-octane action sequences sprinkled generously throughout each chapter, this action-adventure romp depicted in the Uncharted series manages to top just about anything Hollywood could put out in terms of adrenaline-pumping spectacle.

From lush jungles to dry deserts, Nathen Drake must push through puzzles, hired guns, and the elements to get his hands on secrets from ages past. Just as any good treasure-hunting adventure should, the series is loaded with tense moments, romance, visual wonders for the eyes to behold, and, of course, an incredible payoff at the end.

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The Uncharted series may be exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation consoles, but there are plenty of other great adventure games for Xbox owners to enjoy.

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