If you’re playing an RPG, you’re in it for the long haul and want an experience that’s going to immerse you and keep you entertained the whole way through. A genre that is both familiar and constantly evolving, RPGs are often tasked with having the total package. The best ones contain all the key ingredients, masterfully combining exciting combat, memorable characters, larger-than-life bosses, and a gripping storyline.
If you’re looking for RPGs that excel in those aspects, look no further than this list. The following games all share common elements but carve out their own unique path in the genre and promise a narrative-focused adventure full of thrilling encounters around every bend. Listed in no particular order, here are 10 stellar RPGs worth the time and effort.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt Red’s open-world adventure is far from fresh, but it was such an ambitious and stunning game that it remains the gold standard for RPGs. It delivers in all the important areas: fantastic storytelling, unique characters, memorable battles, and choices with unpredictable consequences, and exciting exploration. And the game has only gotten better since its release with several updates alongside a recent Switch port that allows you to take your journey on the go. Come for monster slayer Geralt of Rivia’s dry wit and impressive battle moves, but stay for Ciri’s rise into the woman she was destined to be. Making difficult choices and watching their effects ripple across this vast open world makes your presence matter in a way few games can mirror.
Persona 5 Royal
When Persona 5 launched in 2017, it took the series to the next level, enhancing the stellar turn-based combat, refining the popular social elements, and raising the series’ stylish appeal. Leading the Phantom Thieves as the group reforms society and takes down big bads is a blast, especially building your friendships along the way. That being said, Persona 5 Royal is the definitive way to experience the excellent RPG; it adds new characters, story arcs, and a meaty post-game palace, while also offering a climatic and cinematic endcap to your time as a Phantom Thief. Throw in a grappling hook, new collectibles, and fun team-up attacks, and there’s a lot here that strengthens the original, which remains one of the best RPGs of the last decade. Whether it’s your first time meeting the Phantom Thieves or you’re looking for a reason to revisit Café Leblanc, you’re in for a memorable and satisfying ride.
If you’re looking for something more action-packed and philosophical, look no further than Nier: Automata. Come for the crazy boss fights and unforgettable domains, but stay for the fantastic soundtrack that fully makes you feel the weight of the world. Oh, and it just might make you contemplate your own life and purpose. The game is a fantastic fusion of Yoko Taro’s masterful storytelling and Platinum Games’ flair for stylish action. Equal parts unconventional and profound, Nier: Automata is unlike anything you’ve played, with an ending that really hits home its message and the power of others to get us through the difficult times. The action/RPG has its flaws, but the way certain moments stick with you more than make up for these shortcomings. Very few video games make you think and feel like Nier: Automata does. Better yet? Once you finish, Nier: Replicant is also waiting for you with another powerful journey.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
If strategy/RPGs are more your thing, you can’t go wrong with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Intelligent Systems put more social elements into this entry, and it paid off, especially in giving you a personal stake in the story by being a professor of your chosen house. Having the ability to shape and mentor your allies forges an even stronger connection to them. But it’s the unfolding political war that really holds the intrigue – expect betrayals and bloodshed as you must make difficult decisions of who to align with. The choices aren’t easy, but how the young leaders of the game’s three houses grow and shape the future is where things really take an interesting turn. Succeeding in the against-all-odds battles is a highlight, but you surely won’t forget the relationships you’ve formed and the sometimes devastating turns they take.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
The Yakuza series is a great blend of heartfelt and absurd moments, and Like a Dragon doesn’t disappoint there. However, where it really impresses and sets itself apart is with its loveable goof of a protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, and a turn-based RPG with depth beyond throwing your fists around. Up until this point, Yakuza had been an action-centric series, but developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio went all-in with its RPG inspiration to great effect. Ichiban is a diehard Dragon Quest fan, and you bond with party members Persona-style. Among the massive list of side activities, there’s even a “gotta catch ‘em all” system where you collect “Sujimon” for a professor. If that’s not enough, you can swap jobs, becoming everything from a breakdancer to a chef for entertaining ways to take on the enemy. Ichiban’s journey isn’t just about silly minigames and outlandish ways to attack baddies, however. There’s also plenty of emotional and captivating moments as you try to piece together why his former father figure betrayed him.
What games on this list do you enjoy? What games would you add that aren’t listed? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out our other recent genre lists:
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