Top 100 Rpgs Of All Time – The Best Rpgs On Pc In 2021

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Much like punk, RPGs aren”t dead. Indeed, the genre seems to only be growing in popularity, with outstanding games like Disco Elysium bringing modern design sensibilities to classic tropes. Even long-established games like Stardew Valley are still being updated, and there are still plenty of stone-cold classics that are excellent to pick up and play in 2021.

As is our way, we haven”t done a lot of nit-picking over how much playing of a role or upgrading armour stats you need to do for a game to count as an RPG. We take a broad view of the genre and go with our hearts, to give you the best offering possible. Whether you want turn-based combat, chill farming, Japanese RPGs, or games with enough text to qualify as a novel, you”ll find something below. The main rule is that the game needs to still be fun to play today, and not simply groundbreaking when first released.

Prefer information to be delivered in your earholes, along with moving pictures? Our video team have done you a more condensed list of great RPGs you”ll enjoy:

You can find the full list of the best RPGs on PC below. If your favourite isn”t among them, it was probably at number 51. If you think it should be on the list, then why not write your own impassioned entry for it in the comments? We always consider suggested games for inclusion in future lists.

50. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing: Few games come close to matching Revenant Kingdom”s broad spectrum of ideas (except maybe Nier: Automata), but if it”s more strategic battles you”re after, Valkyria Chronicles should be your first port of call. Fancy a bit more town-building that you can customise the nth degree and only have to deal with a smattering of real-time battling? Check out Dragon Quest Builders 2.

More often than not, the best JRPGs on PC first enjoyed life on other platforms. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, however, feels like it was born for it. On the surface, it looks like your standard anime JRPG, what with its cute Studio Ghibli-inspired characters, cat-eared protagonist, world-ending plot and bright, colourful art style. But underneath all that is a game that taps straight into the veins of all the classic PC staples, from town-building to real-time strategy battles.

Naturally, it doesn”t go so deep into these elements that it”s going to trouble the very best games from those genres, but building up your titular kingdom, recruiting villagers from other towns to come and man special buildings and occasionally setting off to defend your lands from unwelcome intruders are all welcome additions and diversions to this otherwise fairly traditional JRPG. They”re also way more engrossing than the Pokémon-style monster battling / collecting of its predecessor, Wrath Of The White Witch. Revenant Kingdom also improves on the shortcomings of White Witch by giving your AI-controlled companions an actual brain when it comes to taking care of themselves in combat. Its wider plot may tread familiar ground compared to other JRPGs on this list, but with so many PC-friendly nods feeding back into its core systems, Revenant Kingdom remains one of the most refreshing JRPGs we”ve played in years.

49. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask Of The Betrayer


Where can I buy it: GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: Dragon Age: Origins for sure. If you”re after something that”s hardcore D&D, have a look at Black Isle”s Icewind Dale.

It”s odd that Neverwinter Nights 2 tends to get forgotten when listing Obsidian”s RPGs. Although it”s likely for the finest of reasons – it”s so close to the glorious work of BioWare and Black Isle that you”d think it was theirs. With Chris Avellone behind the pen, it took BioWare”s much more DM-focused original and developed it into an elaborate, enormous single-player RPG. Seeking silver shards, and an ancient baddie called the King Of Shadows, it closely followed D&D”s 3.5 edition, and indeed came with the tools for people to play their own campaigns. But where it shined the brightest was its companions. The star is Khelgar Ironfist, a furious dwarf who is probably the best RPG companion to have been written. But tiefling Neeshka and sorcerer Qara also stand out. It is a stunningly funny game.

Then along came expansion Mask Of The Betrayer – more of a sequel than anything – and was perhaps better than the main game. Split into two mirrored worlds, it borrows rather heavily from Zelda as it lets you explore two versions of the same areas. Spirits are devoured, gargoyles kidnap, and the soul of the Founder is up to naughty business. The companions aren”t nearly as fun, but the story is epic and compelling, exploring themes of religion in a deep and intelligent way.

48. Hand Of Fate 2


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: The first game previously had a home on this list and is still excellent. Or go play some pen-and-paper roleplaying games with your mates.

Hand Of Fate’s Dealer is the best attempt games have made at a virtual dungeon master: a goading, hooded figure who lays down cards from a deck of narrative events, building short-form RPGs across a table top. Maybe the next draw will be a brawl, played out in simple third-person hack-and-slashery, or perhaps a mystic glade, full of replenishing balms. Knowing the bastard in the hood, it’ll likely be whatever you don’t want to happen. But at least there’s less chance of repetition in Hand of Fate 2 – the Dealer can screw you in many more colourful ways.

What elevates the sequel, beyond more polished combat and greater event variety (including companion cards granting you sidekicks with their own side stories to explore), is a twist to each miniature campaign. In one you might be sniffing out the culprit of a murder, hoping to find evidence hidden in the cards laid on the table. In another you’re protecting a lovestruck fool, his injuries eating into the resources needed to carry you through the adventure. These wrinkles lay extra layers of strategy on an already diverse deck of encounters, giving the game a much needed hook missing in the first.

47. Dwarf Fortress


Where can I buy it: It”s free

What else should I be playing if I like this: If you can overcome the initial learning required to play Dwarf Fortress in Fortress mode, then you can learn to play anything. Why not pursue similarly grand and human anecdotes in Crusader Kings 2.

Dwarf Fortress is a fantasy simulator which doesn”t just do a lot, it does a lot well. It”s not simply that it generates a vast fantasy world with history, culture and enormous landscapes; it”s that choosing your starting location within that world works like a kind of granular difficulty setting, letting you pick the level and type of challenge you want to face. It”s not simply that its physics simulation allows for the creation of complicated machinery; it”s that the game incentivizes those creations as dynamic goals in a way that suits the in-game fiction, sending nobles with increasingly grand demands to stay in your colony. There”s so much that”s weird and intimidating about Dwarf Fortress, but there”s also a lot of game design behind the stories of mourning pets and the simulation of growing finger nails.

And if fortress mode doesn”t appeal, there”s always adventure mode, which lets you explore those same generated worlds – and your own failed fortresses – as a single explorer in a traditional roguelike experience. Dwarf Fortress may have twenty years left in its development, but it”s very much worth playing today. If you”re looking to get into Dwarf Fortress, a starter pack from here, which will set you up with a pre-installed tileset and some useful third-party applications for managing your fortress. Then hit the Dwarf Fortress wiki.

46. Diablo 3


Where can I buy it:

What else should I be playing if I like this: Diablo 2 reigned supreme in previous versions of this list, and we still prefer it in lots of ways.

Diablo 2 is still an atmospheric treasure worth revisiting, but Diablo 3 has become the definitive way to play a Diablo game. It takes everything you love about the series and polishes it up a bit. Controls are simpler, enemies more menacing, locations more beautiful. Updating the style from a 2D isometric game to a 3D game but viewed from an isometric angle gives so much more depth to the world. The introduction of new classes like the Demon Hunter and Monk made ranged and melee RPG characters fun. Imagine an RPG where you don”t default to a spellcaster as the most enjoyable class to play. Imagine!

Diablo games are meant to be played repeatedly, and in groups, and Diablo 3 is the best version of the game for that too, with better random encounters and loot drops. It”s still a game where you can spend hours theory-crafting the best builds with guides open on a second screen, but you can also lean back and let it wash over you while you chat and blow apart skeletons with friends. In a clever move, Diablo 3 also leverages the tyranny of nostalgia. Potions glug in exactly the same way you remember from the old Diablo. Treasure makes the same bright shiny ting! when it drops. And, of course, everything starts off in Tristram, a town once again overrun with the undead.

45. Chrono Trigger


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing: Chrono Trigger is still in a class of its own when it comes to its time-travelling story-telling (at least until Nintendo DS gem Radiant Historia makes its way to PC). I Am Setsuna will scratch a similar battle itch for a while, but you”re probably better off going full Final Fantasy. VI is made by the same team, but the PC version is sadly a port of the “HD” mobile version, not the original SNES game. If you can stomach the art style, go for it. If not, stick with IV, whose PC port is based on the excellent DS remaster. Also check out Octopath Traveller if you dig Chrono Trigger”s huge cast of characters.

They really don”t make “em like they used to. Indeed, when Chrono Trigger”s long-awaited PC port finally teleported onto Steam in 2018, there was absolute anarchy. What should have been a celebration of one of the best JRPGs of all time turned into an uproar over font choices, audio bugs, and other assorted technical hitches. We”re almost surprised Chrono Trigger didn”t just disappear entirely and go back to the rosy SNES-filled heyday where it came from. Something had clearly gone wrong in an earlier timeline.

Thankfully, a couple of repeat trips to the past (or, err… patches) have corrected the course of this time-travelling epic, and have left it in a much better shape than when it first launched. And what an incredible journey it is, too. Born from some of the best JRPG minds in the business, Chrono Trigger was truly ahead of the curve compared to the Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests of its day (which is ironic considering the creators of both those series were spearheading this one), telling a story that spanned thousands of years, from prehistoric times right up to the flying cities of the future, with multiple different endings.

Then there was its exquisite active time battle system. Part turn-based, part real-time, Chrono Trigger let you combine certain party member”s attacks for even greater damage, adding a welcome layer of strategy to the mix as you chopped and changed characters. Other games have tried to ape it since, most notably Tokyo RPG Factory”s I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, but there”s no topping Square”s original and best.

44. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: The original Fallout games are Bloodlines’ ancestors – though lacking the gothy or erotic aspects, the amorality’s there.

A broken mess in many ways, but as, if not more, timeless than anything else here. This adaptation of the modern-day vampires pen ‘n’ paper RPG is steeped in sex, grime, horror and manipulation, and despite some pulp sensibilities it still goes to places other mainstream games dare not. To places other vampire fiction dare not, too. Though it boasts a particularly excellent haunted house sequence and the option to play as someone capital K “Ker-azy”, it’s the game’s dark exploration of sex, control and dependency which prove most memorable. It’s this, rather than the outright horror elements, which makes Bloodlines’ Santa Monica such a sinister and destabilising place – and one in which you get to experiment with your own dark side.

But yeah, bugs: Bloodlines comes from that grand tradition of uncommonly ambitious RPGs which shipped before they were finished. The worst ones are fixed now, but expect a bit of a rough ride unless you install the robust fan patch, which polishes a lot and completes some unfinished and cut content. Of course, there”s also a sequel in the works, but given the project”s troubled development so far, there”s no telling when it”ll come out or what it might be like when it does.

43. Horizon”s Gate


Where can I buy it: Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this: Kenshi (below) and Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord are RPGs with similar rags-to-riches character arcs, albeit with very different styles.

Your party of mercs and adventurers can explore and fight on foot in Horizon”s Gate, but the game is at its best when you get back on your boat. This is a seafaring survival RPG about increasing your reputation and growing a fleet of ships. You hire party members in port, become friends over drinks, and set sail to find new lands or battle sea monsters. When everyone is hungry and there”s no port in sight, you eat the sea monsters.

Horizon”s Gate”s approach to worldbuilding seems to throw everything at the wall. There are underwater Nessies, and mysterious cults, and Cleevers who make weapons and ships out of chitinous carcasses, and green people with snake tails instead of legs, and cricketine humanoids that go bzz-bzz when you talk to them. The result is that you are rewarded with something you”ve never seen before each time you set sail and discover a new harbour, and there”s great satisfaction in gaining wealth, growing your armada, and returning to a long-ago visited port to find everyone now knows of your accomplishments.

42. Kenshi


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Fallout 4 has companions and settlement building in its familiar nuclear post-apocalypse. Rimworld is a colony management game with a similar story-making quality.

A “free-roaming squad-based RPG” says the Steam page, somewhat underselling this laughably complex supergame. Kenshi begins as many other open world fantasy roamer might. You create an average schmuck in a tough post-something desert world. Maybe a slave, maybe a farmer. But it soon turns out to be deeper than that. It’s about stealing food to survive, or getting fatally mugged on the road to the next town. It snowballs into a management game about a small group of misfits (mercenaries, settlers, explorers – your call).

Stick with the weirdo interface and puzzling world of rice paddies and dive bars and you may eventually be building a whole town for your clan by plopping down huts. Or, more likely, you will be lying in the dunes, playing dead among the corpses of your family. Death in Kenshi comes quick, whether by starvation or by the club of a bandit. This is a harsh RPG that often doesn’t stop to explain itself, but to those who fight through the repeatedly fatal learning curve, it will give you stories far unlike the usual quest to become a common world-saver.

41. Avernum: Escape From The Pit


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: Vogel has been making RPGs under the Spiderweb moniker for two decades and there”s plenty in the back catalogue to sink your +4 teeth into. The Geneforge and Avadon series are both fantastic, and the former contains unusual gene-splicing.

If Spiderweb Software didn”t exist, somebody would have to invent it. The studio, led and operated by founder Jeff Vogel, has been responsible for some of the finest RPGs of the last twenty years. When Kickstarter kickstarted their “old-school” RPG revival, anyone clued in to Vogel”s work would have been entitled to raise an eyebrow in wry amusement.

Through several series and one standalone game, Spiderweb have never shifted from their recipe of wide-ranging plots, turn-based combat, isometric graphics and detailed worlds. Avernum: Escape From The Pit, the latest revisit to Spiderweb”s original Exile trilogy, is a great starting point into these wonderfully well-crafted non-linear behemoths.

40. The Witcher 2


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, obviously, which is bigger and better in most ways.

If choice and consequence are your hallmarks of tasty RPG quest design, then look no further than The Witcher 2’s daring middle act(s). Who Geralt allies with at the end of part one sends him to either end of a battlefield for two distinct campaigns, packed with mad kings, blood rituals, dragons and, er, poker dice tournaments. CD Projekt Red fully commit to what could have easily been achieved with an army reskin or an expository shrug: there are bespoke missions, exclusive maps and consequences that echo through to The Witcher 3. It’s a fractured timeline most quest designers would balk at.

It’s chewy stuff, too, more interested in politicking than apocalypsing as Geralt hunts the titular kingslayers and ponders how many dead kings is too many dead kings. Meet the crown-wearing sods of The Witcher 2 and you’ll see there are no easy answers. Importantly, the brief campaign – a relatively swift 25 hours to encourage those multiple playthroughs – gives this a very different rhythm to Wild Hunt (found elsewhere on this list). It’s The Witcher in a pressure cooker: smaller hubs leading to a denser adventure, with sympathies from each campaign carried into the other to further muddy the waters. Geralt’s signature scowl is well earned in this responsive, twisted tale.

39. Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: Its spiritual predecessor, King Of Dragon Pass, is a similar game in a different fantasy world. It sometimes shows its age (it was released in 1999), but it”s had modern re-releases and is still great.

Six Ages will never conform to a genre. It is a game almost entirely unique, and stands out defiantly on any list, jutting its chin and daring you to categorise it. Yes, you manage your tribe. You strategise and jostle for success among your neighbours. But most of all, this bronze-ish age fantasy village sim is about defining the ethos and personality of your people.

Those people have their own culture, shared with some neighbouring clans, and conflicting with other local cultures due to your diverging histories and beliefs. You must lead them not as a faction to efficiently game the numbers until you”re unbeatable, but by earning respect, trust, and sometimes fear through your decisions. People come to you with their problems and challenges, and your advisors will inform and opine to the best of their ability (and personality), but the decisions are yours, as are any decisions about the rippling consequences of those decisions.

That culture draws on the extremely rich Glorantha setting, without asking familiarity with it. You”ll come to understand how its societies work, but still get to define your clan”s role within it, whether you”re the hardy explorers, the vicious bullies, the gang who are always feasting, or some combination of all three. But despite being the most impressive exploration of a fictional culture in any game, it never takes itself too seriously. It”s about whatever brilliant, weird, tragic story your people live through.

38. Brogue


Where can I buy it: It”s free.

What else should I be playing if I like this: The entire genre of roguelikes. Maybe try descending further into the past and trying Nethack, which is also free and has many fine tilesets. Or try Streets Of Rogue for something more modern.

Brogue is your stepping stone between the modern roguelike (Spelunky and Dungeons of Dredmor, et al) and the ASCII-drawn progenitors of the genre like Nethack, Zangband and, you know, Rogue. It”s the mouse controls that do it. Instead of stumbling around for which keyboard buttons will quaff a potion, you click to move, click to attack, click to wear that cursed ring, and hover over any character to read a description of what it is.

Beyond its accessibility, it”s a tightly designed game in its own right. You”re descending through dungeons as normal, but the flora and fauna you encounter interact in more interesting ways than steadily increasing damage output. Find a monkey, for example, and he might steal from your pockets and run off. Find a monkey being held prisoner by some kobolds however, and you can set it free and gain yourself a monkey ally. When combined with a system of potions and scrolls that encourages a casual disregard for your own safety, Brogue feels like a polished iteration of the systems that make the roguelike genre so compelling.

37. Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: The Troika team moved on from Arcanum to create Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, elsewhere on this list, and it”s a similar triumph of world building and writing, albeit marred by bugs and a ropey last third.

A lot of isometric RPGs from the golden age of the late nineties and early noughties are fondly remembered – for good reason. But very few still hold up to repeated plays 20 years later, and Arcanum is undoubtedly one of those that do. There”s little to complain about in any of Arcanum – the writing is fabulous, the character creation deep even by today”s standards, and the art a feast for the eyes even now.

But it”s the setting that deserves some special attention. The world Troika created (a traditional fantasy setting undergoing its own version of a late-Victorian industrial revolution) feels totally original, despite elves and orcs running around threatening to make it a bit Tolkeinist. Look, this orc is wearing a fancy jacket and shirt with a high starched collar. Didn”t expect that, eh?

Magic and technology are not only ideologically opposed, but literally, and this comes out in fabulous bits of world building as you play. If your character is a mage you have to ride in a special compartment on trains, “lest the engine explode at your very presence! Oh, there”s some sort of epic quest, assassins are after you and someone is trying to end the world, but you can handwave that away and concentrate on crisscrossing the world map, visiting cities and towns positively stuffed full of different sidequests: murder mysteries involving demons, stolen paintings, strange fiefdoms clinging on to weird Medievalism, all with branching solutions to choose from, and very little handholding from the game itself. It”s a real feast for the imaginative roleplayer looking for fantasy larks that are a bit different than the norm.

36. Titan Quest


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Get yourself to Torchlight II, and of course take a look at Grim Dawn.

At a glance, the action RPG seems like it should be easy to get right. And yet so few ever do. Alongside Torchlight, Diablo, Grim Dawn and Path Of Exile, Titan Quest makes up the top five A-RPGs, each a league ahead of sixth place.

Part of its success is its relative simplicity – whether in solo or co-op, it”s the most pick-up-able of RPGs, letting you immediately get into bashing your way through a series of mythological settings, hoovering up loot, and constantly upgrading your equipment. With Brian “Age Of Empires” Sullivan at the helm, and a team featuring at least one ex-Looking Glass developer, it certainly had an advantage starting out. But despite just how brilliant a game they made, and the continued brilliance of its expansion, Immortal Throne, it wasn”t enough of a success for Iron Lore to keep going. Which remains one of gaming history”s great injustices. If you”re looking for a way into action roleplaying games, then this is the one. Incredibly accessible and enormously fun, Titan Quest stands over the gaming landscape like a… well, you know.

35. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Octopath Traveler and I Am Setsuna probably come closest to capturing that retro vibe in modern clothing feel, with Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Remastered coming a close third, but all three can veer into tedious grind fests. If it”s more Dragon Quest you”re after, though, Dragon Quest Heroes injects a welcome dose of action to the mix, and lets you fight alongside classic Dragon Quest characters and monsters.

If you”ve ever looked at the evolution of JRPGs in dismay and declared, “Why can”t things just stay the same like the good old days?”, then Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age is the game for you. Despite being the 11th entry in the series (most of which have never been available on PC, sadly), Echoes Of An Elusive Age is as retro and traditional as they come.

Playing Dragon Quest XI now is like playing a JRPG from twenty years ago. Sure, the graphics are prettier, the orchestral music more stirring, and the world itself more open and more expansive than practically every other Dragon Quest game put together, but peel away that shiny 2018 veneer and its epic tale of a world-consuming evil and simple turn-based combat will have you cooing about “the good old days” in no time. Indeed, the only big new improvements Square Enix added to Dragon Quest XI was a free-camera mode and some horse riding (those mad mavericks), which should give you an idea of just how slow-moving this franchise has been over the years. Still, there is something admirable about how closely Square Enix have stuck to their guns here. It”s warm, it”s cosy, it”s familiar, and by god is it soothing. If you”re after a classic JRPG with all the visual trappings you”d expect from a modern 2018 release, there really is nothing quite like it on PC right now.

34. Star Traders: Frontiers


Where can I buy it: Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this: FTL is a spaceship and crew strategy game that lets you live similar fantasies among the stars, but with less role-playing variety.

This open world turn-based space captain RPG has influences from all over the place, both in structure and setting, and they”re assembled fantastically well. Choose a starting career, ship, and snazzy outfit for your ship”s boss, then head out into the void to do whatever you can find.

Where other RPGs will find you cubbyholed into being a trader or soldier, Frontiers”s busy, dynamic world and endless opportunities for profit, influence, and political intrigue will inevitably tempt you in another direction, and with the right ship and crew you can have a go at anything. Until they die, and suddenly you can no longer use that vital ship boarding attack you were counting on. Oops. But you can switch death off if you want a stress-free time of it.

Your crew”s skills contribute to the running of your ship, and gain special talents every few levels based on their job. Those talents range from mundane but vital re-rolls for background tests to powerful combat attacks or ship-saving escape manoeuvres. They can emphasise your captain”s playstyle, shore up weaknesses, or you can scout the galaxy recruiting and training up a crew of specialists that let you cover your weird hybrid pirate-diplomat-doctor playstyle. The same is true of ships, with their extensive upgrade systems. Want to refit your cargo barge to launch a wing of fighters? Go for it. A barely-armed spy ship that can flit up close and let you board attackers so your quartet of saboteurs can kill off their crew and blow up the engine? Doable. You should be a pirate, though. Pirates in this just want your cargo, not to murder everyone for nothing. Star Traders: Frontiers gets it.

33. Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director”s Cut


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Shadowrun: Hong Kong came next and some people prefer it, or the stealth-focused Invisible, Inc. is the better experience if you want turn-based, hacking-augmented combat.

Clearly, the vast majority of RPGs on this or any other list are fantasy-themed, but the other great roleplaying setting is cyberpunk. The Deus Ex games have arguably claimed the crown there, but for solid, generous, fully-fledged cyberpunkery in the classic Gibsonesque vein, Dragonfall hits the spot despite throwing a whole lot of fantasy into the mix.

Between its West-meets-East fusion-world, replete with cybernetic implants and Blade Runneresque neon noodlebars, are elves, dwarves, trolls and dragons. It sounds faintly absurd on paper, but seems like the most natural thing in the world in practice. To see these fantasy races adopting the world-weary, hard-bitten cynicism that is the de facto cyberpunk tone is to redeem them from the often cloying earnestness with which they’re usually depicted. It took this 21st century revisit to the 80s pen ‘n’ paper RPG three rolls to get it right, but the Director’s Cut of Dragonfall finally adds the relative freedom of action and depth of conversation that the hitherto restrictive series sorely needed.

32. Anachronox


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: There’s nothing else quite like Anachronox – you’re probably better off poking around outside RPG land. Beyond Good & Evil is a more heart-led approach to crazy sci-fi, while Sam & Max Hit The Road offers more nonchalant absurdity.

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It might be ageing faster than Julian Glover in The Last Crusade, but Deus Ex studio Ion Storm’s other great game remains Ion Storm’s other great game. A delirious science-fiction / noir adventure which resolutely refuses to take itself seriously and willingly embraces every wild idea its drawing board ever saw, whether or not it’s able to depict it well, Anachronox is the antidote to roleplaying’s tendency towards the over-earnest.

Also, you get a talking planet as a party member, but that’s the first (and often only) thing anyone ever says about Anachronox, innit? It”s far more important to know that this is a game about roleplaying as a gumshoe in a case which only ever gets stranger.

31. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: If you liked Final Fantasy XII”s Gambit system, play Dragon Age: Origins, which is also on this list. If it”s another Final Fantasy you”re after, though, the recent X/X-2 HD Remaster remains our pick of the bunch for PC. Final Fantasy XV is another good”un, too, and features another rebel royal on the run along with a huge open(ish) world to explore. It”s a bit rushed toward the end, but it”s one roadtrip that sticks in the memory.

Final Fantasy XII is the best Star Wars game you”ve never played. In this iteration, you”re cast as Vaan, a scrappy orphan thief who dreams of making it big in the world. After a chance encounter with a rebel princess and a pair of sky pirates (one a posh Han Solo, the other a tall rabbit lady with infinitely better quips than Chewie), he”s off on his grand adventure, eluding the evil empire as they work to get Ashe back on the throne. See where we”re going with this?

It”s a bit of a slow starter (although less so now thanks to The Zodiac Age”s new fast-forward feature for PC), but once you get to the meat of its semi real-time, semi turn-based combat, it really comes into its own. Known as the Gambit system, XII effectively lets you program your fellow party members to do whatever the hell you want. It”s a bit like Dragon Age: Origins” tactics. The Gambit system also gives you a lot more freedom to create the types of characters you want, too. Unlike Final Fantasy X”s Sphere Grid, there are no obvious paths for moulding your characters here, which, yes, can mean you can accidentally screw yourself over early on if you don”t know what you”re doing, but does let you create some interesting class combos later on if you pick your abilities carefully.

The Zodiac Age also brings some important quality of life improvements to this rather aged PS2 classic that smartens it up for a modern playthrough, including that aforementioned fast forward button that lets you battle and run around town in double quick time (seriously, all JRPGs should have this as standard), a 60fps frame rate, ultrawide support and higher resolutions. It”s not the first Final Fantasy we”d recommend to newcomers of the series, but it is one of the more playable and interesting entries on PC today.

30. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Skyrim if you want a flashier Elder Scrolls with far better combat. Or Disco Elysium if you want different kind of RPG with a setting that feels strange in a completely different way.

Skyrim might get most of the memes, but for some people, Morrowind will always be the best Elder Scrolls game. It’s the one that doesn’t compromise for anyone, a beautiful relic of a bygone era when Bethesda either weren’t trying to chase the mass-market, or didn”t believe they could. It’s weird. It’s surprising. It’s experimental. It’s difficult to decipher, at first. It’s clunky, too, but that fades away once you realise quite how much you have at your disposal. Very few edges are filed off in the name of explicability or trope. It is one of the best ‘stranger in a strange land’ experiences you can have in a game.

With mods, you can make it feel something close to new again, too. There are HD texture packs and quality-of-life tweaks aplenty to make it accessible. Its age means it”s still not the Elder Scrolls game we”d recommend you start with, but if you”ve experience with the genre and are looking to visit a place you”ve never seen before, Morrowind holds up.

29. Ultima VII: The Complete Edition


Where can I buy it: GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: The Enlightenment Trilogy represents the best of the rest of Ultima. It spans the games IV-VI and brought ethical questions and complicated the usual good vs evil conflicts that fantasy RPGs often rely on. Divinity: Original Sin 2, elsewhere in this list, isn”t quite a spiritual successor but its intricate world owes an acknowledged debt to Ultima VII.

Ultima VII is a game engineered to convince the player that they are part of a world that doesn”t revolve around their character. You are not the centre of the system, the sun around which all things orbit. More than twenty years later, it”s still one of the best examples of its type. It”s an RPG that starts with a murder investigation rather than a dungeon crawl, set in a place where NPCs work, eat and sleep. It is an RPG about life rather than death and the experience that death bestows.

Interacting with the world is as unusual and gratifying as observing it. There is no crafting skill in Ultima VII, you simply learn to make things. You can bake, you can make clothes, you can rearrange the books on a shelf, position your bedroll in a clearing under the stars, shift the furniture around in an NPC”s house when their back is turned. It”s still rare, that sense of visiting a living world, one that seems capable of continuing when the lights are switched off and where every tree that falls makes a sound whether you’re there to hear it or not.

28. Fallout


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Fallout 2 is more of the same and Wasteland 2 goes some way toward recapturing the radioactive magic.

The iconography of Fallout”s world has become so powerful that it can make a crowd at E3 holler in excitement and is suitable for merchandising and special edition branding opportunities. Vault Boy, the vault dweller”s uniform, the faux-fifties post-apocalypse – these are big budget concerns and where the series once parodied popular culture, it has now become a part of it.

With the sound and fury of the Wasteland louder than ever, it”s easy to forget where it all began. The first Fallout game, released in 1997, was as memorable for its societies of ghouls and weird religions as for its between-times flavour. It”s a wonderfully liberating game. Interplay throws so many ideas at the wall, it doesn”t matter when a few slither to the ground rather than sticking. There”s a richness and weirdness to the tonal shifts – from grave survivalism and harrowing oppression to B-movie trashiness and Dr Who references – that the shift to 3D has never entirely recaptured. Most importantly, beneath all of the surface feeling there is a solid RPG system that encourages playful experimentation rather than determined min-maxing. It”s a system entirely in keeping with the unexpected playfulness of the setting.

27. Darkest Dungeon


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Dungeon Of The Endless for another very different take on the roguelike formula, or there’s Sword & Sworcery: SuperBrothers EP for a far more maudlin and scripted look at the heavy toll adventuring can take on its heroes.

Darkest Dungeon would be an inventive and challenging roguelike even without its two major innovations: ongoing, reactive narration and an extended investigation into the psychological effects of repeatedly chucking adventurers into dungeons full of unspeakable horrors. The more you make them fight, down there in the dark, the more vices and phobias they develop, steadily becoming greater liabilities even as their skills improve.

This is presuming you can keep them alive in the first place, of course. The Dungeon has a high turnover. Where the Bioware model of RPGs has you chat to team members at length to keep them happy, Darkest Dungeon is a thoughtful – and stressful – management game. There are no magic bullets to cure insanity – it’s ongoing and expensive work, and if things get too out of hand you simply need to let your heroes go. The papercraft visual style is a treat too, while the turn-based combat is massively strategic and full of deadly variety.

26. Legend Of Grimrock 2


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Of course check out the first Legend Of Grimrock, and if you somehow never did, get Skyrim.

After the delightful Dungeon Master tribute that was first-person RPG Legend Of Grimrock, Almost Human could likely have rested on those laurels and created another series of descending dungeons packed with monsters and puzzles. But they decided to go bigger, and indeed better. Grimrock II takes things upstairs and outdoors, with an enormous, sprawling map of multiple regions, to explore one tile at a time.

It’s a much more difficult game, not just with tougher puzzles and enemies, but by being open enough that you can wander into areas far too tricky to cope with early on. Then it’s packed with multi-floor dungeons all over the place, each a trove of challenges and treasures. Superbly put together, and surprisingly tricky, it’s perhaps the Chaos Strikes Back tribute no one was expecting. Ooh, and that fireball spell – what a treat.

25. Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Chivalry or Mordhau for swordy combat without the adventuring, or M&B: Warband for an older Mount & Blade experience with more available mods.

Bannerlord expands on the Mount & Blade template in almost every way. You create a character, and then wander a huge world looking for an army to recruit. To begin with, you”re crap at everything, but through play your mental and physical stats improve. You win fights, use your winnings to pay and grow your army, and win bigger fights. When not hitting things with swords or poking them with spears, you deal with a dynamic economy of traders and caravans, do jobs for the criminal underworld, or try to woo the nobles.

Where previous games in the series painted every part of your adventures with a broad brush, Bannerlord dives down into the details. There are more weapons and different kinds of soldiers to hire, and more complexity to combat. There”s more variety in jobs to perform and far less repeated dialogue. Each system is now more interesting to tinker with, and you need a lot less imagination – or fewer mods – to string those systems into a fun story than before. The only caveat is that Bannerlord remains in early access, with balancing and bug fixing still in progress.

24. Fallout: New Vegas


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Fallout 3 or Fallout 4 are options, of course, but they don’t have the same old-world-meets-broken-world weirdness of New Vegas. Obsidian”s own Alpha Protocol might be a better fit and there”s always Wasteland 2.

New Vegas crafts a more believable world than any other Fallout game to date. Where the other games in the post-nuclear series have been crammed with colour and flavour but somewhat lacking in theme, Obsidian”s take on the Wasteland borrows inspiration from the water wars of Chinatown and the great Western land grab.

It asks how and why people will struggle to survive in a place that is at best inhospitable and at worst outright hostile to human survival, and it plants the player character in the burned-out remains of a region that was already parched before the bombs fell. There”s an attempt to make sense of the weird clash of cultures and styles that had become a hallmark of Fallout”s world and it”s all wrapped in a story, engine and reputation system flexible enough to allow for free-form roleplaying within the boundaries of its blighted territories.

23. Sunless Skies


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Sun Dogs is a minimalist text-driven journey through the solar system, and worth a punt if you want a small transhumanist adventure.

Who among us has not looked at the stars and thought: “I would like to fly through those in a steam train”? A common dream, and one which is indulged by the Victorian astro-wanderers of Sunless Skies. Like its predecessor, this is often a game about turning your ship slowly around to fire steampunk cannons at unimaginable horrors.

But it is also about adventuring across terrifying voids, about meeting ancient interdimensional beings in the cosmos, eating the cooked flesh of your first mate because he died yesterday and, let’s face it, we’re out of food. There is horror here, yes, but there is also wonder. And most of this wonder is delivered not with sprawling vistas or anime bombast, but in ticking prose that lets your own imagination fill in the gaps of your space train’s story, ill-fated or otherwise.

22. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: The Obsidian-developed KOTOR 2 is, in many respects, the better game, and it wasn’t an easy decision to settle on a single KOTOR for this list. As was something of an Obsidian trend, KOTOR 2 wasn’t entirely finished however, and while fan patches have restored much of the cut and broken content, the first game remains far more self-contained and complete-feeling.

Lots of games are the best Star Wars game, but KOTOR can lay claim to being both the best Star Wars RPG and the best Jedi/Sith game. This was Bioware both hitting their populist stride and being unabashed Star Wars fans, folding the guns ‘n’ conversation structure they’d later nail in Mass Effect into a sort of greatest hits tour of the house of Lucas.

By rewinding the timeline to centuries before the original films, they had free reign to use everything we so badly wanted to see in a Star Wars game without any fear of toe-treading. Add to that persistent choice to be a cosmic hero or a galactic prick (or something in between), some chunky plot twists and what might just be the best ever Bioware supporting cast, and you’ll find that KOTOR remains a classic despite increasingly showing its age.

21. Monster Hunter: World


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Dauntless is a very similar free-to-play hunt ‘em up. TheHunter is a sim that lets you stalk and kill non-fantasy animals, if you’re into that.

Monster Hunter: World is about being the most fashionably efficient beast killer in the jungle (or desert, or swamp). It has a story campaign about catching a gargantuan beast, along with some questionable ecological practices. But really this is a solid turn-your-brain-off tramp through a detailed landscape, full of slow, careful brawls with giant beasts after which you collect their skulls to wear as bone helmets.

There is so much gear to craft. Scaley kneepads, massive hammers, pooey slingshots – you will make use of all these and more to track and tranquilise a big fire-breathing T-Rex. There are 14 different main weapons and they all handle in different ways, often changing how you’ll conduct your whole hunt. All this gear-chasing does mean there is the endless levelling-up feel of an MMO at times, but when you stumble across a new species, part Jesus lizard, part Jaguar, all that dissipates like a puff of tranquiliser gas, and another long fight begins.

20. NEO Scavenger


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a more traditional roguelike take on a similar scenario.

NEO Scavenger initially seems like a roguelike. You wake up in a cryogenic facility with no idea as to who or where you are, and then stumble across a countryside wasteland populated by mutated animals, radioactive sludge, and most terrifyingly, other NPC humans trying to survive in the wilderness. You get in a fight and you die. You try again, get in a fight and win, but your wounds become infected and so you still die. You try and try again, eventually learning to tear old t-shirts into bandages, to boil water to avoid illness, to select the botany trait at the start so you can tell the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms and berries.

Then, as survival begins to seem possible, you unearth a whole different genre of game. Beneath NEO Scavenger”s survival mechanics lies a proper, Fallout-style RPG world, with scripted characters to talk to, cities and towns in fixed locations to explore, and factions vying for control of the wasteland to work for, to fight, to be killed by. The best part however is undoubtedly the combat. Most games that let you kill other people are power fantasies, ultimately depicting you as stronger than your opponents whether or not you”re good or evil. NEO Scavenger depicts fights that play out like two shoeless drunks fighting in a parking lot. There”s lots of scratching, scrabbling, tripping over, desperate attempts to crawl away, and even if you win, the high likelihood that your night will be ruined by the experience.

19. Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster


Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: If it”s another Final Fantasy you”re after, play XIII next. It shares a lot of the same DNA as X (especially its linear storyline), but has a more interesting battle system and a wider variety of job classes to get to grips with. From something a bit more traditional that has a similar story vibe, try Tales of Symphonia.

Final Fantasy X is one of the most beloved Final Fantasy games of all time. Its direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, is err… slightly less well beloved, but you might as well bop along to its pop-infused story of doppelganger ghosts and girl-band power ballads when it comes part and parcel of Square Enix”s recent HD remaster. Despite being nowhere near as deep or emotionally gut-wrenching as its lauded predecessor, X-2″s class-swapping battle system remains one of the most interesting combat puzzles of recent Final Fantasy games, evolving the groundwork laid down all the way back in Final Fantasy V and paving the way for what came later in Final Fantasy XIII.

Really, though, it”s Final Fantasy X we”re stomping our feet for here, as this epic tale of boy meets girl / girl meets scary lizard priest / girl almost gets eaten by scary world-ending whale metaphor is a true classic for our times. Sure, its plot sounds bonkers when you try and explain it (let”s be honest, what Final Fantasy game doesn”t sound like a mad fever dream?), but trust us on this. It”s really very good. Once again, part of its brilliance lies in its excellent battle system. While each character has a class they”re naturally kitted out for, Final Fantasy X”s Sphere Grid gives you the freedom to mould your party how you like, letting you turn mages into fighters and warriors into support characters. Plus, it has some of the best music of all the Final Fantasy games, with To Zanarkand never failing to get the heartstrings going.

Sure, you could argue that Final Fantasy VII is the true bestest best (even though that title should clearly belong to VIII), or that IX captures the series” retro roots while still delivering a bang-up story, but let”s face it, a lot of the Final Fantasy games are pretty fugly on PC. X and X-2″s PC port, on the other hand, don”t come with nearly as many compromises, or require nearly as many caveats, making them our top FF of choice in 2020.

18. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: Dishonored 2 will offer you more first-person sneaksing in a big city.

The Prague of today is overrun with drunk tourists, don’t go there. Go to future Prague, where the crackdown on absynthe-fuelled British hooligans has extended the baton to people with metal swords for arms. As a sometimes-stealthy, sometimes-shooty immerso-sim Mankind Divided does not do much radically different from its predecessor, Human Revolution. It’s still a sci-fi RPG about crawling through the vents of a cybernetically segregated city and intimidating small business owners. And it’s still a characterless wall of conspiracy theories featuring a dull, gruff man who never asked for this.

But the city of Prague is the real star, not gruff-voiced Adam Jensen. Almost every building has multiple points of entry. The streets are full of doors you can actually open, or failing that, walls you can break right through. Alleys and balconies and windows, oh my. If sneaking into all the flats in your home apartment block goes against your ethical code, then your ethical code is probably 0451. Use it. Your first foray into Palisade Property Bank will show you the light. This is a sci-fi action game on the cover but really it’s all about being an expensive metal burglar. Get thieving.

17. Pillars of Eternity


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: The piratey sequel, Pillars Of Eternity 2. The Baldur’s Gate series – especially II and its expansion, Planescape: Torment, Tyranny, the isometric list goes on…

Both a love letter to the cRPGs of the past and a sort of “what-if?” A continuance of what might have been if publishers hadn’t lost faith in that model for the best part of a decade. Obsidian’s crowdfunded fantasy roleplayer is vast in scope and rich in words, as well as offering its own take the fiddly highly-strategic, D&D-inspired combat seen in Infinity Engine games such as Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2.

A paradigm of both quantity and quality, and with a party system which evokes pen and paper roleplaying, this is basically your 1990s RPG comeback wish-dream made flesh. It is a bit rough around the edges when it comes to fights, but the extensive mythology, bags of choice and surfeit of side-quests more than makes up for this.

16. Path Of Exile


Where can I buy it: It”s free, but you can grab it through Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this: You”ll find hack-and-slashers Diablo 3 and Titan Quest elsewhere on this list. It”s a big genre.

At launch, Path Of Exile seemed like a decent and traditional action-RPG with a stronger focus on character builds than some of its immediate peers. Since then however, its developers have regularly added new content to the game, including nine expansions. It has consequently bloomed into the most engrossing hack-and-slasher around.

It”s still the builds that do it. Path Of Exile let”s you create delightful machines of destruction, and then walk them about hundreds of dungeons as you turn every enemy into mush. It does this via vast and flexible skill trees, and the regular addition of new leagues, new enemies, new items have only made the options available more rewarding to experiment with.

15. Planescape: Torment


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: Its spiritual successor is Torment: Tides Of Numenera, but the game that really challenges for its crown is Disco Elysium, elsewhere on this list.

Still a touchstone and a still a high watermark of writing in games, the introspective Torment is entirely determined to go its own way – a stark and rare difference from the vast majority of RPGs, which are primarily concerned with indulging their player’s yearning for adventure. Everything here serves the story, and while you make momentous decisions within it, it’s only going in one direction – because that’s its intention, not its limitation.

Torment is the tale of a man and his regrets, and whether he can ever be a better man. Yet despite this, and despite containing a large novel’s worth of reading, its visual strangeness, its dark secrets and its determination to invent new places and fascinatingly twisted people rather than recycle tropes saves it from navel-gazing bleakness. Too singular to change the nature of RPGs’ direction, but more of an inspiration to latter-day games’ morality themes than it’s often given credit for.

14. Stardew Valley


Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: My Time In Portia is a similar trip to another life of farming and chores. Graveyard Keeper is a darker twist on setting up a new life.

If you do not pet your cows every day in this beautiful country life sim, you are playing it wrong. Not just because they”re cute, but because if you don”t they will produce substandard milk, and therefore you will make lower quality cheese. For many of those who disappear to Stardew Valley, the fishing and farming will become a ritualistic second life. Even the opening of the game sells that as the dream: you were an office worker, but you’ve been left an overgrown farm to tame. Irrefutable proof that the ultimate cubicle-escaping fantasy for an entire generation is not to become a superhero in a long coat and mirrorshades, but to be a carrot baron.

Stardew could have left it there, a straightforward life-swap about buying organic seeds and feeding the cat. But it also turned the whole surrounding town into a neighbourhood of gentle hobos, friendly fishermen, thick-skinned drunks, and more.

There”s never been a better time, either, as the 1.5 update that dropped at the start of 2021 added a whole new region, Ginger Island. It has new NPCs, events, minigames, and even a new questline involving multiple NPCs. There are loads of updates and improvements on the farm as well.If you have never dropped the weekly numbercrunch for the crunch of a good parsnip, you owe yourself a trip to the valley.

13. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing if I like this: There are a lot of other Yakuza games to choose from, all offering adventures in the life of Kiryu Kazuma. Start with Yakuza 0, but follow it up with Yakuza Kiwami.

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Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a fresh start for the series, making two important changes. One, it swaps the action brawling of the previous games for a new turn-based combat system; two, it trades wrestledad protagonist Kiryu Kazuma for puppyish newcomer Ichiban Kasuga. This makes it the perfect time to start playing the loveable series.

For all it changes, Like A Dragon maintains everything great about previous games, and it”s still a warm hearted journey through the underworld of Japan. Ichiban is younger and less serious than Kiryu, and his playful personality quickly net him allies in the city of Yokohama. These friends become an RPG-like party, helping you in fights and elsewhere, and they”re a likeable bunch including ex-detective Adachi, a former nurse who can summon crows called Nanba, and Saeko, a formidable hostess club manager.

Despite being set among the flick knives and popped collars of a criminal underworld, there”s little gritty about a Yakuza game. Ichiban dreams of being a hero and spends most of his time helping his friends and other people

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