10 Must Play RPGs
Over the years I’ve seen countless games come and go, but some titles just stand out as timeless. Ones that absolutely must be experienced at least once, if not several times over. These are 10 RPGs of various styles you owe it to yourself to play in your lifetime.
Dying Light is everything that Dead Island tried to achieve in a zombie-based RPG adventure and more.
Enjoyable on your own, or in co-op, players take on the role of Kyle Crane in the midst of a viral outbreak in the city of Harran. An enthralling main plot and an addicting assortment of sidequests meets satisfying melee combat and parkour through a city where the dead rule and the quickest survive. Just be careful if you go out at night, as terror looms constantly when the sunlight fades.
The middle child in the series to date, Diablo 2 serves as the quintessential action RPG.
Picking up after the events of Diablo, a new threat arrives in the form of The Dark Wanderer and evil now begins to flow freely over the lands of Sanctuary. Players can find themselves engaging individual enemies, but more often than not they’ll take on hordes of demons and other nasty denizens at the same time. You’ll grow in strength at a relatively good pace so that you won’t have to fear the hordes long, and of the five classes to pick from you’ll feel like you’ve gone from zero to hero. Spoiler Alert: Pick the Necromancer for an incredibly good time.
#8—Final Fantasy VIII
My personal favorite of the PlayStation installments to the franchise, Final Fantasy VIII is a game that I first played in childhood that seems like it only gets better as time goes on.
While it plays very similarly to other entries in the series, Final Fantasy VIII took the largest graphical leap for the franchise at the time, along with sound design and the story spares no expense going all-out that by the end if you’ve blinked, you may have missed something important. There’s a lot of wheels moving at once in the plot and once it all comes together at key moments, you’ll go “Oh! It all makes sense!” until it happens again, and again, and again. The story is a rollercoaster, and it’s a fun one at that and once all the pieces finally stay together offers up an ending you won’t soon forget, and may even bring tears to your eyes.
War. War never changes.
The same cannot be said for the Fallout franchise which has had quite the makeover since Bethesda took control of the IP. Where Fallout currently feels like a post-apocalyptic take on the typical Bethesda formula, there was a time when Fallout was an isometric rpg with a heavy emphasis on party building and tactical turn-based combat. Of the early days of Fallout, nothing stands out more than Fallout 2.
Fallout 2 has some of the most memorable cast of characters in the franchise, including a boss that seems ridiculously hard at first glance. It also boasts a wide variety of side quests, like getting an old car up and running so you can blow through the overworld map like it’s nothing. Or if starring in a fade-to-black adult film is more your character’s style, do that too and earn some quick caps.
Fallout 2‘s set up was all about variety, and if you’re not using an in depth guide, you’re going to be finding new things each time you play through.
#6—Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin harkens back to the isometric era of RPGs, despite only being made a few years ago.
The thing that makes this a must-play for me is precisely that it allows players who aren’t willing to take that trip back-in-time to a lower resolution era to experience the same thrills of the time with a new, fresh coat of paint. Pile on some of the most addicting co-op turn based combat where player abilities actively compliment each other, a plot that makes me strive to see what comes next, and a balance of fun and difficult enemy encounters makes Divinity: Original Sin a clear choice for any RPG fans.
#5—The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Immersion is an important staple in any RPG, and while many on the list do it well, perhaps none more so than The Witcher 3.
The Witcher 3 has players once more in the boots of Geralt of Rivia, this time in search of his daughter Ciri across not only one of the largest worlds in a modern RPG, but also one of the most densely packed. It seems around every corner, behind every tree, beneath every stone there is something new to discover. What’s more, within the main plot and sidequests are so many branching side stories that you feel less that you’re playing a game, but more that you’re really experiencing the life and travels of a Witcher.
The name alone elicits groans and cheers in equal measure, the Dark Souls games are known for being incredibly difficult.
You’ll clench the controller, you’ll grind your teeth, you’ll turn the game off time and time again in frustration—and if you’re stubborn, as many of us gamers tend to be, you’ll keep coming back. You’ll find yourself getting a little further each time. Before you know it, you’re not the lamb to the slaughter, but the wolf hunting them. You’ll tear through enemies and traps as though they’re nothing… only for the game to throw another surprise at you, and show you you’re not done learning yet. Equal parts RPG and a learning experience, Dark Souls is a must especially for those craving a challenge.
Deus Ex was one of my first forays into the cyberpunk genre.
What starts out as a game where you serve as a cybernetically enhanced government agent soon opens a Pandora’s Box of conspiracy and intrigue and it’s up to the player how to navigate it. Are you a smooth talker who sticks to the shadows when talking isn’t an option? The hacker who isn’t afraid to get some blood on his boots if things go south? Or a pure agent of death, dealing out the carnage to get to the truth perhaps? Deus Ex has one of the robust skill trees for a 2000 RPG, and taking you to locales around the globe you’ll get plenty of time to build your agent and really make the experience yours.
#2—The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
While most veterans of the series will nod to it’s predecessor Morrowind as the ‘must play’ of the series, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the essential choice in my opinion based on its setting and main questline.
Taking place in Cyrodil, the seat of the Septim Empire the player will find themselves as the last line of defense against an impeding daedra invasion from the realm of Oblivion. The main plot itself is exciting. You’ll see yourself driving back repeated daedric sieges across the land, and countless sidequests along the way. Environmentally, the lush forests of Cyrodil still offer breathtaking views even over a decade later that keeps me coming back for more.
Oblivion also has what I consider to be the best expansion in the entire series, entitled The Shivering Isles, which brings us to the realm of the mad god in a visual feast that explores themes of both mania and dementia among the isles which eventually leads to an ending where you find yourself face to face with order that threatens to put an end to the realm of madness.
The first three games of the Mass Effect series are among my favorite RPGs of all time, and a testament to pushing the boundaries that Bioware was once known for.
A sci-fi experience of epic proportions, I think I’ve put at least 50 days into it over 30 different character playthroughs. I love the story that sets the stage of a meteoric rise of an alliance officer, Shepard, as they and their allies move to stop a foe who turns out to only be the tip of the iceberg for what’s lurking in the shadows.
What appeals to me the most about Mass Effect is its freedom of gameplay. Every starting class feels unique, and within those classes, there’s so much variation to be had you can make countless new builds. Every world you visit, and the choices you make upon them, feels like it affects the events going forward. Every friend you make, and noteworthy foe you face, has a role large or small that is apart of this intricate web that sometimes displays itself immediately, and others may linger until the sequels. I’d say the first three games in their entirety are worth playing—but where it all began, remains the best among them.
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