The RPG genre is one of the most long-living types of leisure. Before the computer RPGs, there were tabletop games or tactical wargames, which were predecessors of the cult RPG classic. The possibility of being someone else, playing a different role, and making the real difference is especially visible when a player dives deep into an RPG game. The genre went through text-based adventures to full-blown, epic blockbusters and then to the mix of the best of these approaches. RPG games tell stories of the distant past and future, explore human emotions, conditions, and thoughts. RPGs give us a glimpse of our true selves through the prism of mighty heroes and despicable villains.
Over the forty years of genre existence, there were numerous games, which deserve your attention. From this myriad of gems, we’ve picked the best RPGs of all time, which you should try. This top is an accumulation of the highest score of critics and regular users. There are far more best RPG games than in this list, so consider it as a starting point of your adventure into this genre of videogames.
Top RPG games of all time
10. Age of Decadence
There are not many games, which dedicate themselves to the ancient Rome setting. Even the less of these games belong to the RPG genre. However, the Age of Decadence is a rare exception from this rule. You choose one of the dozen roles which fit for the ancient times: slave, gladiator, senator, etc. After choosing one, you go into the unknown world, which lives for the rules of ancient Rome. The game is peculiar by the fact that you are not a chosen one, not the almighty savior but a regular, mortal man who has reasons to move forward. The game was developed by Iron Tower Studios and released in 2015. Unfortunately, the game was in development for more than five years, so it was unnoticed by the majority of the audience and did not receive any of public awards. Still, it is a hidden gem of the genre.
Available on: PC.
Kyros announced the edict! Tyranny was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and released in 2016. It is one of the rare games, which offers you the role of a bad guy from the very beginning. The setting is a bronze age fantasy world, which contributes to the peculiarity of the local story. You are a judge of the overlord, and you are to conquer the last bit of continent, which still resists the will of the ultimate ruler. The game is compact and is relatively short in comparing to other massive games of the genre. However, in return, it shows you the alternative point of view – you are the evil from which heroes save the world, and you should act respectively. Tyranny received the reward “Best RPG 2016” from the “Game Debate” portal and was sold in more than half a million copies.
Available on: Pc.
8. Dragon Age: Origins
The game from the masters of the genre, Canadian studio Bioware. Dragon Age: Origins was released in 2009 and momentarily captured the hearts of millions of RPG fans. The story of a Grey Warden, who had to stop an army of undead, might not be the best start in the genre, but it captured the attention of the highly detailed world, in which you believed from the first minutes. Also, the Grey Warden had a company of charismatic and interesting friends, who represented different worldviews and values. The game’s combat system included deep progression mechanics, fine tunning of the companions’ AI, and challenging combat. All these elements worked together as a solid mechanism, which brought us one of the best RPG experiences. The game was sold in 3.2 million copies and awarded as “The best PC game” and “The best RPG game” by VGX.
Available on: Pc, Xbox 360, PS3.
7. Pillars of Eternity 1&2
Another RPG masterpiece from Obsidian Entertainment. “Pillars of eternity” was crowdfunded on Kickstarter with the aim to resurrect classic RPGs, and it achieved this goal masterfully. The game’s plot tells the story of a Watcher – a hero who can pierce the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead and communicate with the perished souls. “Pillars of Eternity” uses its own RPG system and does not refer to the regular mechanics such as DnD. Besides, the setting is also original, despite being inspired by numerous similar games. “Pillars of Eternity” gives you the adventure, which you wanted, with interesting quests, ambiguous antagonists, and the possibility to build up the personality of your avatar. The sequel expands the ideas of the original and adds new elements to the gameplay.
The series was a nominee for the “Best RPG” award and sold in 800 thousand copies.
Available on: Pc, PS4, Xbox one.
6. Divinity: Original sin 1&2
Divinity: Original Sin was a great, positive surprise in the gaming world. Larian studios, as well as the Divinity series, existed pretty long, but the recognition came with the Original Sin dilogy. At first glance, these games are a classic fantasy adventure – be a hero, save the world, defeat the baddies. However, the details make a true difference. The first unique feature is the facetious, ironic tone of both games. Despite the urgency to save the world once again, you may mess around with people or your companions, pull pranks and simply have fun. A very rare amount of games can afford some silliness in their narrative. The second major feature is highly experimental combat. It consists of elemental damages and resistances, which combine with the battlefield itself. Numerous possibilities make combat fresh and engaging even 100 hours later. The series was sold in 1.5 million copies and awarded with “Best Rpg,” “Best Multiplayer,” and “Game of the Year” titles.
Available on: Pc, Xbox One, Ps4, Switch.
5. Mass Effect trilogy
Once again, Bioware enters this list with its renowned game. Mass Effect became an icon of action-RPG games and set the standard for the genre on years ahead. The adventures of Commander Shepard, who has to stop the invasion of the alien race of sentient machines, concentrate the epicness of the sci-fi genre with RPGs flexibility. The trilogy captures attention with its cinematographic dialogues, smooth action, and interesting characters. The roleplay mechanics allow you to shape Shepard into a heroic figure and a true moral pinnacle or to be a sinister bad guy who gets the job done. Mass Effect games sold over 14 million copies, gave a start to the whole new franchise, and get numerous awards, including “Best Rpg” and “The Game of the Year.”
Available on: Pc, Ps3, Xbox 360.
4. Witcher Series
The saga about the witcher Geralt conquered numerous fans all over the world. The game trilogy adaptation by CD Project Red greatly contributed to such admiration. The games were released in 2007, 2011, and 2015 respectively, gaining more and more fans. The plot of the games continue the original book story and make favorite characters alive on the screen. Geralt loses his memory and tries to remember who he was, protect his friends, and play a vital role in a grim prophecy resolution. This RPG series features a rich story, full of ambiguous moral dilemmas and charismatic characters, action-packed combat, and deep alchemy mechanics. All of the games were renowned by critics and players as one of the best RPG games. The Witcher 3 gained titles of the best RPG of the year and game of the year.
Available on: Pc, PS4, Xbox One, Switch.
3. Fallout: New Vegas
Legendary sequel to one of the best modern RPGs. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, Fallout: New Vegas takes the best from classic Fallout games and enhances it with modern technology and action combat. The story of F: NW starts unexpectedly – with the main character catching a bullet in the head. However, courier six (the protagonist) survives and seeks revenge. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic Nevada desert, full of mutants, monsters, and maniacs. A player may join the ranks of madmen or try to be reasonable and compassionate. The game does not make a clear distinction between good and bad actions, and just show you the consequences of your decisions. Moreover, you have the power to change the status quo of this small world, to make a real difference. That’s what makes Fallout: New Vegas an unusual game. It was sold around 12 million copies and was awarded by Golden Joystick as the “Rpg of the Year.”
Available on: PC, Ps3, Xbox 360.
2. Planescape: Torment
What can change the nature of a man? Planescape: Torment greets you with this existential question and keeps asking it through your journey. The game was developed by Black Isle Studios, released in 1999, and re-released as “Enhanced edition” in 2017. The surrealistic and frankly strange adventure of the Nameless on in the phantasmagoric city of doors, Sigil, is a living classic of the RPG genre. Instead of bored “battle against world evil,” Planescape offers a journey inside one’s thoughts and mind, exploring of fictional personality and its recreation through quests in the universe, where each philosophical conception has a material body and even a whole specie, which represents it. Well-written text, unusual setting, and original themes made Planescape: Torment one of the best RPG games of all time. It was sold around 100 thousand copies and awarded as “Best Rpg.”
Available on: Pc, Ps4, Xbox One, Android, Switch.
1. Disco Elysium
“No trust with the furies” – the opening words of Disco Elysium, a breakthrough RPG by ZA/UM studios, meet a player with anticipation and thrill. The story begins with a guy who has the worst hangover in the world. It is so bad that he can’t even remember his name and his face. At the same time, he ought to solve the mysterious murder of a foreign mercenary. Under the facade of surrealistic adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the world of disco lies a deep and thoughtful commentary on modern society and a place of a man in it. The game explores politics, psychology, philosophy, and existentialism of mankind through well-written and ingenious dialogues, which made it one of the best RPG games of the year. As for the title, which appeared out of nowhere, Disco Elysium received great renown and numerous awards, such as “The RPG of the Decade” awarded by Forbes or the Bafta prizes for the best narrative, best debut, and the best music.
Available on: Pc, PS4, Xbox One, Switch.
The RPG genre is much wider than the list represented here. It is nearly impossible to try each good game of the genre. Luckily, we do not stop only on that list. On the youtube channel “What’s happening?!” you may learn not only about the best RPG games but about interesting news, the latest events in the gaming industry, and many more.
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