Not too long after language was invented storytelling came along. The principal purpose of storytelling, as opposed to speech, was about internal patterns.
Storytelling was also about the past and future. The heroes we created reminded us who to be and how to be great. Roleplaying, which came as a result of the story, is how we mentally practice being better.
Roleplaying is a skill that everyone on the Internet needs. The best RPG games chart a history that intensifies embodiment and emersion.
Read on to see how top RPG games bring out our best traits.
Best RPG Games to Date
For the purpose of this list, roleplay games are defined as the following:
- A game with a definable character shaped by player choice
- A game set in a static, well-defined world
- A game where player choice defines play style
RPG games cover a broad group of sub and hybrid genres, but all follow these core rules.
Sorry, Zelda fans, that series of enjoyable adventure games continues to not branch into RPG territory. The linear gameplay eliminates true player choice.
This list includes games from recent years and the distant past (of the 90s) to show top RPG games across tech advancements. No online RPG Games make this list as they all tend to suffer from the MM part of MMO.
1. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Wicher 3 will sit proudly at the top of lists while we wait for Cyberpunk 2077 to come along.
A masterpiece in the combination of narrative and gameplay that gets everything ‘right.’ The player chooses combinations of skills, mutations, gear, and decoctions to make their Geralt unique.
The gameplay is fast paced but not twitchy, the story is epic but grounded, and the side characters are all worth attention.
Even the normally filler addition of a card game is worth investing in and has since spun off into its own thing. That shows some intuitive world design.
2. Mass Effect 2
Avoiding the clunky tank sections and annoying weapon heatsinks of the original, ME2 keeps the right feel of hope.
That’s a funny thing to say about a game that culminates in a mission titled and referred to as a suicide mission.
The characters are fun, your Shephard build matters to how you approach situations, and the world feels real.
The only downfall is the linear levels. But as we saw with Andromeda’s attempt at more open maps, it’s a necessary evil.
3. Divinity: Original Sin 2
A tactical RPG and another sequel that improves upon the original, Original Sin 2 gives a sky is the limit feel to the player.
No hand-holding when it comes to how you can interact with a problem. Fight it, steal it, bewilder it, or any combination therein.
The combat can be sticky for people not familiar with strategy RPGs. However, selectable difficulties provide a fluid learning curve.
The best of the Soulsborne style of games that came out of From Software.
Yes, you love the Lovecraftian/Victorian atmosphere. Sure, the weapons selection is thin in comparison to the Souls games. The faster pace and the spiffy transformable weapons make up that difference.
The world is brutal, the lore is enriching, and the hatred for the woods section is understandable.
5. Diablo 2
Another sequel that improves on the predecessor but misses sees the next chapter miss the mark. Diablo 2 brings in more variety in classes than the original while keeping its intriguing atmosphere.
Diablo 3 certainly has a lot of variety and entertainment in constructing builds, it’s just a shame the story is so flat.
The best thing to happen to Star Wars in the last 20 years.
Finally, be the Jedi/smuggler/pilot of your dreams without being stuck in a hallway or cut down in minute-long deathmatches.
What they got right here is hard to explain. The developer certainly couldn’t, especially if you look at the flaws in the sequel.
Be a character, have that characterization matter to your gameplay, mix and repeat. And by repeat we mean replay with a new build because there isn’t another Star Wars game you can really live in.
7. Planescape: Torment
A groundbreaking RPG and one of the best RPGs of all time. A boast that holds true when looking at the near miss of its spiritual successor in Torment: Tide of Numenera.
Why did it work? It gave nearly endless options but held them in a framework where you felt a sense of agency.
While some games offer lots of path solutions to problems, many of the options don’t feel fun. That’s not the case with Torment. Talking your way through the whole game without firing a shot feels as good as watching a character vaporize a squad with fire.
8. Final Fantasy VI
Why this one and not FF7? Because VI has a better story and more interesting characters.
Final Fantasy, outside of V, III, and I, tends to be lax on the agency of character selection as you improve the characters rather than design them. You can put whatever material you want on Cloud and it’s still Cloud.
What makes FF VI work is the combination of squads and the transformation of the characters. That you can lose, or never find some characters enhances that journey.
9. Bloodlines – Vampire: The Masquerade
A rarer entry that tops many of these lists because of the mechanics involved. The actual game is by far the most linear on this list but, depending on character choices, rarely feels it.
The terrible section in the tunnels under Hollywood being the only real low point.
Feel the visceral roleplaying of a game that was too adult for its own time. A game that can’t find a sequel despite fifteen years of constant fan mods and rebuilds.
10. Fallout 2
Speaking of a game both too adult and too juvenile for its audience…
Fallout 2 is our final sequel that improves on the former without failing like the latter. (Yes, we also love New Vegas but different generation.).
Choice matters from the core character to the companions to the path chosen through the game.
The world is immersive and interesting enough to hold a players attention 25 years later when the lore no longer seems to make any sense.
Build Your Library
Didn’t see a personal favorite on this list? Haven’t played all of these best RPG games?
Get online and find a host of people who will agree with you and explore more than a few sites that will entertain you!