Best RPGs of All Time
There isn't a much gaming experience better than sinking your teeth into a good RPG. With vast storylines and character development, filled with dungeon exploration and leveling up your party members. To the epic boss battles that go on for what seems to be an eternity.
With epic franchises that have evolved over the years, from Final Fantasy to Breath of Fire to name a few. The RPG genre of a whole grew ever so popular in the 90s thanks to publisher Square. Countless spinoffs were brought to light in order to cash in on the hype.
The RPG genre is vast, spanning all the way back to the 70s and evolving to what can be considered the best genre in gaming history. Here are our choices for the greatest RPGs of all time.
Table of Contents
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
How was KOTOR not made sooner? The Star Wars franchise was desperately begging for an open world RPG game that players could sink hundreds of hours in. It is a testament to the strength of Knights' initial design that it is able to be gripping and engaging despite having technical issues that are distracting.
The immersion in the Star Wars universe is unparalleled in any other Star Wars game, including "Star Wars Galaxies. It is impossible to complete the game without experiencing some sense of accomplishment.
Mass Effect 2
The elements that made the original Mass Effect a memorable game are present in Mass Effect 2, demonstrating once more Bioware's mastery at crafting memorable characters and compelling narratives. Not content with that, the studio shows their determination to surpass themselves by introducing a significantly improved combat system that approaches the gameplay of the best third-person shooters in a number of positive ways. It's possible that the team went overboard in streamlining some aspects of the first game, losing some of the original creativity, but the end result is unquestionably a more polished and focused game.
I haven't had a game in years that lived up to all of its promises and met all of my expectations like ME2. A real role-playing game in which the choices you make follow you until the end, not just leveling up.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The world of Skyrim features mountains, hills, open fields and catacombs. The visuals are absolutely fantastic. Every piece of equipment is beautify crafted and detailed.
The possibilities are endless in Skyrim. I doubt you'll find two people who have accessed the storyline and all of the quests in the same order. Every voice is acted beautifully with 70 voice actors. It's huge open world atmosphere shines strong in Skyrim.
Skyrim's combat has hundreds of different weapons to choose from. From dual wielded axes to bows. The spells are per hand with a combination of attack or defense. Skyrim had some big shoes to fill with the success of Morrowind and yes it does!
What a huge game with so many characters that can be played. Suikoden II is a great choice if you're looking for an incredible story. If you see a sprite once and never again, don't be surprised. The story begins with a group of two friends who split up while making a risky decision.
The story and character growth are clearly the highlights of this collection. The battlefield combat, in which you play as a general commanding your troops, is an addition to the standard JRPG combat. A significant improvement over their previous series, which was essentially a massive rock-paper-scissors competition.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana does everything well. Hit detection, massive boss battles, colorful graphics, spell casting all in action RPG fashion. It's so easy to get sucked into such an immerse world navigating through the dungeons, talking to NPCs and exploring new areas with your party.
Travelling using the cannon travel system helps speed things up when moving from area to area. If you're able to find two other friends, you're able to play with a SNES multitap in a coop setting.
What sets Secret of Mana apart from the rest is the memorable soundtrack. The beginning intro is fantastic and we could listen to the soundtrack from front to back at the drop of a dime.
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is the result of taking Fallout 3 and expanding it with more diversity, give it more unique locations, triple the number of factions, give it a better theme, and more immersion. Obsidian has elevated a decent game to greatness. Naturally, you have some of the same issues because you use the same engine. However, since they only need to be ported, a new mod is released every hour.
Fallout: New Vegas combines the best of Obsidian's storytelling, writing, and quest design with the best of Bethesda's open world tradition. This is a huge, fun role-playing game with a lot of options and content for the player to choose from.
The Witcher 3
Considering how well parts 1 and 2 were executed of the Witcher franchise, The Witcher 3 blows them out of the water. The amount of exploration you can do in this massive open world adventure is insane. The mini map guides you where to head to on your next quest.
The skill system gives you a great option for flexibility but leaves the most hardcore players level up the entire character. The story has Geralt running around (or riding his horse) around for errands that people want in exchange for information.
Even though the story is a little bland, the open world adventure shines bright on The Witcher 3. With it's excellent combat system and expansive open world this makes The Witcher 3 a top choice for an RPG.
We don't want to spoil anything with the plot of Undertale just because of how good it is. You have to go in and play Undertale without any expectations. Undertale expects you to go in knowing how an RPG is played and plays on that aspect.
You can talk or even flirt your way into making your way out of battle and doing so impacts the storyline. Undertale's writing and storyline are downright clever. Undertale users random battles to unravel a storyline. It's an incredibly impressive game and uses it's plot and experience to make up for the low quality graphical presentation.
In such a unique situation Earthbound presented itself in. It started off with extremely weird advertisements like "This Game Stinks" ad campaign that was featured in the magazines back in the 90's. It has suddenly become the definition of a cult classic in recent times.
Earthbound has graphics that have stood the test of time thanks to their sprite-based design. No matter where Ness and her friends are in the strange or spooky area, everything is alive and colorful. There are times when the entire palette changes, as in Moonside, where neon colors take up the entire screen.
Earthbound offers a touching story, outstanding but peculiar audio, and buckets of charm making it worthy of a playthrough even through the pacing can be somewhat slow at times.
Pokémon Red and Blue
The Red and Blue releases on the GameBoy were the ones that started the entire Pokémon phenomenon. Game Freak took the world by storm with the two featured RPGs.
You start off by selecting your choice between three options and head out to each of the towns, battling the gym trainer and receiving a badge to enter the tournament. Along the way you'll encounter 150 Pokémon that you can capture and train using your Pokeballs.
Pokemon isn't the flashiest looking RPG on the Gameboy by any means, but boy does it pull off the rock solid gameplay. It's incredibly impressive to fit such a large game on the Gameboy hardware. Pick up a link cable and trade Pokémon with your friends. Collecting all 150 Pokémon could take upwards of 100 hours to accomplish.
Final Fantasy VII
We talked about Final Fantasy VII in our best PS1 RPGs list, so it's only fitting that FF7 made the cut. When Final Fantasy VII was released, many of gamers were introduced to the RPG genre for the first time. The enormous 3D world in FF7 was something new. There weren't many 3D role-playing games available at the time, and none to the scale of this.
The story was fantastic and had numerous subplots, such as Red 13 and discovering Tifa. When it came to video game storytelling, Final Fantasy VII set new standards. There are also a lot of ways to get lost, like riding around on a Chocobo, finding new limit breaks, and finding new weapons and items to boost your party's power.
Diablo 2 is simply a masterpiece when it comes to the action RPG as a whole. Made famously by Blizzard Entertainment who were notably making Warcraft at the time. The classes and paths to upgrade the characters through a chart system was ever so addicting. The random item drops that allowed you to power up your character with rare or legendary items was icing on the grind heavy cake.
Diablo 2 shined in it's online experience. From player vs player deathmatch or teaming up in a coop setting to complete the game was ever so rewarding playing with someone halfway around the world. Trading was another element to allowing your character to become more powerful. Just be careful to not get scammed by an opposing person with a fake.
Final Fantasy III
Often to be considered the best Final Fantasy game in the series, FF3 or FF6 in Japan is the third game released in North America and this did not let you down. Everything was here that you would expect for a game of it's time. It had gorgeous cinematic cutscenes, a fantastic set of characters, a branching plot all baked into a 16 bit package.
A twist on the typical medieval plot line, Final Fantasy 3 is set out in a cyberpunk world. The way that the character's storyline are unlocked at certain areas of the game is simply fantastic. The use of the airship helping you fast travel from area to area. The narrative alone is worthy of a playthrough of one of the top role playing games.
Receiving so many rave reviews all by tons of media outlets, Chrono Trigger is simply a masterpiece. Chrono Trigger has some abnormal expectations to deliver on and checks all the boxes.
The pacing of Chrono Trigger is what makes it so special. Since heading to the fair to find his friend, getting sucked into the time machine that takes his party to a prehistoric era. Time travel was an afterthought up until the release of Chrono Trigger but performed so well.
Put forward by what's considered the "Dream Team" by Square that consisted of Hironobu Sakaguchi, who is the creator Final Fantasy; Yuji Horii, creator of Enix's Dragon Quest series; and Akira Toriyama, character designer of Dragon Quest also was famous for the Dragon Ball manga series. How could a game with a team this strong fail?
With so many epic characters like Frog, Marle, Luca, Robo, wielding their combination attacks to inflict massive amounts of damage on enemies. Chrono Trigger is the best RPG of all time.