Ah, role-playing games. There’s something magical about becoming totally immersed in a universe not your own, donning the armor and weapons of some customizable hero and saving the world. RGPs give gamers the ultimate out-of-body experience, and the entire genre makes for a perfect method of escapism (which is a big reason why people play games in the first place). From fantasy-esque open-world games like Skyrim to laid back and hilarious shooters like Borderlands, RPGs give every type of player something they can enjoy.
We’ve rounded up the best role-playing games ever made and listed them here. If you’re itching to get into an RPG, these titles aren’t a bad place to start.
1. Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition
“War never changes.” At least, that’s what your dad tells you throughout the imaginative and addicting Fallout 3. As its name implies, Fallout 3 takes place in an alternate history where the United States was nuked, forcing survivors to seek shelter in giant underground vaults. As the player, you escape your metal prison of a home to take on quests across a desolate Washington D.C. where mutants and robots run rampant. Danger lurks around every corner, as do mysterious locations and unique stories waiting to be discovered. Best of all, the Game of the Year Edition comes with all the DLC and only costs $9.99!
Price: $9.99 (67 percent off MSRP)
- Mysterious setting
- Fun role-playing opportunities
- Addicting gameplay
- Tons of quests
- Bland world
- Combat isn’t the best
- Outdated graphics and mechanics
- No sequel in sight
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition
BioWare is known for its ability to craft deep, intricate, personal stories. Just look at the best-selling Mass Effect series, which, in this humble editor’s opinion, is the best sci-fi universe to be created in any medium ever. The original Dragon Age was a critical and commercial success, with its long and detailed campaign where choices mattered. Dragon Age II didn’t hold up as well, though it’s still a great game. With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare went all out in an effort to create one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever. The developer’s track record proves they were capable of handling the task, giving players a sprawling world to explore, a brilliant story where player choice matters and a fun combat system players can tailor to their play style.
- In-game choices matter
- Style combat your way
- Customize your party and hero
- It’s not Dragon Age II
- Say goodbye to hundreds of hours of freetime
- Story is a bit cliche
- Combat could be more strategic
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Legendary Edition
I’ve poured way too many hours into Skyrim. There’s something about the fully realized world, the infinite lore and the hundreds of dungeons that keep me coming back even three years later. No other game has made me feel more like a fantasy hero than Skyrim, and that’s quite the accomplishment. Sure, some of the characters are annoying, and the quest design is pretty repetitive, but with so many places to explore and endless options to create the hero you want, Skyrim makes for a truly delightful fantasy RPG. Just announce the new-gen port already, Bethesda!
Price: $34.32 (14 percent off MSRP)
- Incredible lore and world
- Fully customizable Dragonborn
- Tons of skills to level up
- All DLC included in the Legendary Edition
- Some irritating characters
- Clunky combat
- Repetitive quests
- No new-gen port announced
4. Bravely Default
This JRPG takes the classic turn-based combat system and gives it a much-needed tune up to make battles far more interesting. In Bravely Default, you can “Brave” (attack or use a move) or “Default” (pocket a turn and defend). Through strategic use, players can empty their pool of turns by Braving multiple times in a row or build their pool to high levels for an all-out assault by Defaulting, leading to far more strategic battles than the genre is known for. As complicated as it sounds, it’s incredibly simple and intuitive in practice, and it makes grinding against low-level enemies a quick and easy process. The unique combat system adds some spice to an otherwise staling genre. The story may not be anything special, but with Bravely Default, you’re there for the classes and combat and not much more.
Price: $33.49 (16 percent off MSRP)
- Unique combat system
- Funny dialogue
- Pretty aesthetics
- Tons of classes
- Lackluster story
- Annoying sexual innuendo
- Cliche lore
5. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII shook the world when it launched. Before Square’s can’t-miss RPG came along, there were no console games that took nearly as long as Final Fantasy VII to complete (to clarify, it’s about 50 hours long spread across three discs). Though outdated now, the game’s graphics were second to none when it originally launched on the PlayStation in the late ’90s. The unique characters come with different weapons, armors and limit breaks, which allow them to use special attacks that deal extra damage when their health drops to a certain point. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot; without this game, your favorite RPG probably wouldn’t exist at all.
- The definitive RPG
- Fantastic story
- Awesome characters
- Available on the PlayStation Store
- You can only experience it for the first time once
- Outdated mechanics
- No HD port announced
- Somebody’s probably already spoiled part of it for you
6. Mass Effect 3
I don’t care what you say about Star Wars. In my opinion, the Mass Effect series features the most detailed, believable, well-built science fiction universe in any medium ever. In the game, you play as Commander Shephard (whose appearance, traits, history and more are completely customizable) as you quest to save the entire human race from an ancient alien species that wants to wipe out all organic life. In the third game, which is the final arc for Shephard, conflict climaxes as the human race is pushed to the edge of extinction. Everything from the dialogue, character development, plot and lore are meticulously crafted to give you the best sci-fi role-playing experience possible.
Price: $25.99 (35 percent off MSRP)
- Awkward combat
- Strange animations
- Characters you love will probably die
- Controversial ending
- Incredible world-building
- Brilliant pacing
- Tons of planets to explore
- The best science fiction in existence
7. Fable Anniversary
Fable takes the serious, end-of-the-world scenarios so many video games are known to utilize and parodies them all. In Fable, it’s not uncommon to take on unorthodox quests that require you to, say, fart or belch your way to victory, among other things. The game can be crude, but it’s also hilarious and cartoony and even fairy tale-like in its presentation (which is probably where it gets its name), which certainly makes it memorable. You choose what kind of person you want to be. If you decide to go around kicking chickens or giving innocent civilians the bird, you’re likely to grow horns as your taste for debauchery grows. But if you go out your way to help the needy, maybe a halo will begin to illuminate above your head.
Price: $31.86 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Living and responsive environment
- Good and evil dynamics
- Playful presentation
- Genuinely funny
- Doesn’t take itself seriously
- Fart emotes might gross you out
- Standard combat
- Characters’ faces look creepy
8. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
If you’ve played World of Warcraft, you know Blizzard sure knows how to make games that fit into the fantasy genre. Diablo III is a perfect example. It’s an action-RPG that’s all about one thing: loot. As you and your friends go through the procedurally generated dungeons slaughtering literally thousands of Diablo’s hellish minions, you constantly find shiny new gear and weapons. Half the fun of the game is customizing your hero to look and play as you want with the best equipment possible, which makes for an addicting loop: Kill baddies, equip new gear, repeat. As simplistic as the story and characters are, the gameplay is fast and fun, and it certainly keeps you coming back for more.
Price: $34.99 (42 percent off MSRP)
- Addicting gameplay loop
- Diverse classes
- Endless loot
- Incredible cutscenes
- Lackluster story and characters
- Nephalem Rifts not available before beating story
- Some classes feel underpowered
- Hardcore Mode is terrifying
9. Borderlands 2
Another game that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still provides dozens of hours of fun is Borderlands 2. The series is known for its cel-shaded art style, humorous writing and literally millions of unique weapons. Throughout the story, you and up to three friends go on a series of quests and missions to stop the sadistic (and hilarious) Handsome Jack. Along the way you’ll loot and shoot thousands of enemies, constantly upgrading your arsenal and character into what eventually becomes an unstoppable killing machine. Borderlands 2 makes for some fun cooperative gameplay and more than a few good laughs.
Price: $14.99 (25 percent off MSRP)
- Tons of guns
- Colorful art style
- Fun co-op
- Handsome Jack, Claptrap and all the other hilarious characters
- Zer0 is a disappointing player character
- You might have to fight your friend for that shiny new gun that just dropped
10. Pokémon X/Y
The Pokémon games have been releasing for years, and they’re all pretty much the same thing: You’re a 10-year-old kid who leaves his or her home to capture Pokémon, earn eight gym badges, defeat some evil regime bent on world domination and become a Pokémon master. The formula hasn’t changed because it’s just so fun. Pokémon X and Y introduced plenty of new content to make the first 3DS games in the series some of the best ones ever developed. There are mega evolutions, which allow your Pokémon to make powerful (though temporary) extra evolutions mid-batle; new Pokémon and type combos (plus Fairy types_; easier breeding mechanics and so much more. If you have a 3DS and haven’t played Pokémon X or Y, please kick yourself and go buy a copy.
Price: $38.41 (4 percent off MSRP)
- Mega evolutions
- Breeding is a breeze
- That classic Pokémon formula
- Easier than ever
- Lumiose City is confusing
- Only a handful of new Pokémon
- Distracting side content
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